Most women have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. Nevertheless, it’s important to know symptoms that might warrant a call to your doctor and which are perfectly normal.
Spotting and bleeding
During the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, spotting is usually a normal sign that the embryo is implanting in the uterus. The bleedingcould also be from a vaginal tear if you recently had sex or a cervical infection-neither of which are harmful to your pregnancy. If you have spotting and pain, it might mean you have an ectopic pregnancy. Bleeding could also indicate that your cervix is getting shorter or opening up, you had a miscarriage, or a warning sign of placenta previa. Regardless of what you think it might be, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.
Many first time moms worry about Braxton Hicks contractions, which unlike labor contractions are painless and irregular. They are sporadic uterine contractions that start about 6 weeks into your pregnancy, although you won’t be able to feel them that early. You probably won’t start to notice them until sometime after mid-pregnancy, if you notice them at all. Braxton Hicks contractions can happen during the second trimester but are more common in the third. If you’re also dehydrated, you might feel them as well. Before 24 weeks, contractions could also mean that you have a urinary tract or yeast infection. If your contractions are painful or regular, call your doctor.
Baby’s movement have slowed or stopped.
Between 17 and 18 weeks, you’ll start to feel your baby move, although it will probably feel like a flutter. Your baby’s movements (and kicks!) will get stronger and around 24 weeks, you might notice that he’s quiet during the day and more active at night. If your baby’s movements have slowed, drink a cup of ice water or orange juice. Or lie on your side for 5 minutes twice a day and count your baby’s movements. If you have less than 5 in a half hour, call your doctor.
Pregnancy increases your chances for deep vein thrombosis, a condition that causes blood clots and can be life-threatening. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition because blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism). The increase in progesterone that causes veins in the legs to expand and the increase in blood supply can cause blood flow to the legs to slow down. If you have pain in your calf, air on the side of caution and call your doctor.
Between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from depression during pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you have depression now, your chances of having postpartum depression are higher too. Talk to your provider who can make a referral to a mental health professional. Recent observational studies provide some support for an association of vitamin D levels with depression, but the data do not indicate whether vitamin D deficiency causes depression or vice versa.
About 70 to 80 percent of women will have swelling in the feet, legs, face and hands during pregnancy. If you also have high blood pressure or headaches, you could have preeclampsia. Also known as toxemia, it is a disease characterized by the gradual development of high blood pressure (over 140/90) that is often accompanied by protein excretion in the urine and excessive swelling of legs, hands, and face. It only occurs during the last half of pregnancy or in the first few days postpartum and always resolves within a few days to weeks after delivery of the baby. It may be mild or severe. Stretching exercises may have a protective effect against the condition.
It’s normal to have an increase in clear discharge during pregnancy, but if there is also blood, or you have pressure or pain, tell your doctor. During the second trimester, these symptoms could mean your cervix is opening up early which could cause a miscarriage.
Chills with fever.
Any kind of fever with pain has to be taken seriously. The rising pregnancy hormones change your immune responses to help the fetus grow properly. This makes you more susceptible to common viral conditions like fever, cold and cough, often leading to low grade fever along with flu-like symptoms. On the other hand, although the hormones are more likely to make one feel warm and sweaty, some women may get the opposite effects of feeling cold and chilled, commonly early in the first trimester. However, there are many infections and other health conditions that might lead to raised body temperature along with the other symptoms. These include influenza, common cold and a stomach bug. Thyroid problems diagnosed in pregnancy may also cause the unexplained chills while other more serious causes include various infections. If accompanied with pain depending on where the pain is, you could have a kidney infection, listeria, or pneumonia, which are all serious during pregnancy. Running a fever over an extended period of time in the first and early second trimesters can hamper the growth of your baby, leading to various birth defects including central nervous system or neural tube defects, cataracts, heart anomalies, micrencephaly (abnormally small braincase) and abdominal wall defects.
Headaches are a very common complaint during pregnancy and are usually due to the drastic hormonal changes and the increase in your body’s blood volume. Lack of sleep, stress or cutting down on caffeine can make them worse. Although they’re usually nothing to worry about, headaches during the second or third trimesters could be a sign of preeclampsia especially if you never had them before and they’re severe.
Shortness of breath.
The rise in progesterone and your growing belly can make it feel like you can’t catch your breath. It’s completely normal but in rare cases, it could be a symptom of a pulmonary embolism, heart disease or lung disease. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
Do Not Ignore these Symptoms.