Pregnancy Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore
Most of the symptoms women experience during pregnancy are normal, even if they're not exactly comfortable. They are simply one result of being pregnant. Still, it's easy to worry and wonder whether everything is OK and how to know if it’s not. Although true complications are rare, it's always good to know what to look out for. Read on for some pregnancy warning signs that are worth contacting your doctor or healthcare provider about.
Pregnancy Warning Signs
Remember, some of these symptoms may be normal symptoms of pregnancy, but they may also be signs of something more serious, so consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice any of these:
Persistent abdominal pain. It’s normal to wonder: Is abdominal pain a common symptom of pregnancy? Discomfort associated with round ligament pain, for example, may be perfectly normal, but abdominal pain, possibly accompanied by fever or chills, may be a sign that there’s something wrong. In this case, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider.
Severe headache. Headaches during pregnancy can be caused by many factors, including hormonal changes, stress, and fatigue, but if your headache feels severe, it may be a sign of high blood pressure or the high blood pressure disorder called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that requires medical treatment to protect your health and the health of your baby.
Changes in eyesight. Changes in vision, such as temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, or light sensitivity, may be linked to complications like gestational hypertension or preeclampsia.
Fainting or dizziness. Feeling lightheaded can be a normal symptom of early pregnancy. You might also feel dizzy later during pregnancy due to things like circulation problems or low blood sugar levels. But, if this feeling of dizziness persists; if you feel faint or actually do faint; or if your dizziness is combined with other symptoms like blurred vision, vaginal bleeding, headaches, or pain in your abdomen, consult your healthcare provider so that a cause can be identified and treated.
Unusual weight gain, and swelling, or puffiness. Sudden, large weight gain (not related to overeating!) is linked to the possibility of preeclampsia. You may notice this weight gain is combined with swelling of the face and hands (edema). Remember, some swelling of your feet or hands may be normal, but should be monitored.
Urge to pee or burning sensation while you urinate. If you feel an increased urge to pee, but find only a few drops come out, or if you have a burning sensation while you urinate, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other symptoms of a UTI can include fever, chills, or blood-tinged urine. Your provider will be able to diagnose your symptoms and treat the bacterial infection to avoid complications. Keep in mind that frequent urination on its own is a common pregnancy symptom during the first trimester and later on in pregnancy, as your baby grows and presses on your bladder.
Persistent or severe vomiting. Vomiting, along with nausea, can be a completely normal first trimester symptom. It’s more commonly known as “morning sickness,” but it doesn’t necessarily appear only in the morning! If, however, your morning sickness is severe (and it’s combined with other symptoms like dizziness or bloody vomit), it may be a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which requires medical attention. After the first trimester, if you experience vomiting, consult your healthcare provider to rule out anything serious and to treat the nausea.
Severe pain above the stomach, under the rib cage. This pain (especially if it’s combined with other symptoms like blurred vision, severe headaches, or nausea) may be a sign of high blood pressure and an associated condition called preeclampsia. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood pressure during prenatal visits, but if you notice any of the signs of preeclampsia, then contact your provider right away.
Itching all over. Intense itching that is not combined with a rash may be a condition commonly known as cholestasis of pregnancy, which is a liver condition that can occur in late pregnancy. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice an extreme itchy feeling. Remember, having itchy skin during pregnancy can also be completely normal. This is because as your baby grows, your skin stretches, and, as your skin stretches, it can also become dry. This can cause areas like your belly, breasts, and thighs to itch.
Vaginal bleeding or spotting. Early on in the pregnancy, it can be normal to experience spotting that’s known as implantation bleeding, but bleeding can also be a sign of placenta previa or a cervical infection. If in doubt, tell your healthcare provider if you notice any spotting or bleeding during your pregnancy.
Preterm (before the end of 37 weeks of pregnancy) uterine contractions. Although these sensations may be perfectly normal Braxton Hicks practice contractions, if your contractions persist (i.e. don’t stop when you move or change positions) and become painful or regular, it may be a sign you are in preterm labour. In this case, it’s very important to contact your doctor right away.
Gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina before the end of 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature rupture of membranes, also known as your "water breaking," can show as a trickle, steady leaking, or a gush of fluid from your vagina before your pregnancy is full-term. Call your provider right away if you notice this. Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, your healthcare provider will advise on the best course of action. Once you’re full-term, your water breaking is a sign that labour has started.
Feeling your baby move less often. Women typically start to feel their baby fluttering, kicking, or turning somewhere between 18 to 25 weeks of pregnancy. Once you’re well into the third trimester, you can try to monitor your baby's movements. At about the same time each day, lie down, and keep track of how long it takes to feel 10 kicks, rolls, or flutters. It may take only a few minutes, but if an hour passes without any movement, eat a light snack, lie back down, and try again. You can keep track of these movements in a notebook. If you notice an absence of movement, or if your baby isn’t moving as much as usual over several days, call your healthcare provider to double-check everything is progressing well.
Signs of ectopic pregnancy. Some of the symptoms of an .ectopic pregnancy are also normal early pregnancy symptoms. But, if you notice light vaginal bleeding combined with abdominal or pelvic pain, extreme light-headedness, or shoulder pain early in your pregnancy, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
If you experience any of these, call your healthcare provider right away, but remember, these are just some of the pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore. If you’re in any doubt, or if you just don’t feel right, it’s always better to consult your doctor or provider. This way, you won't worry, and if a problem does exist, it can be taken care of immediately.
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