Throughout your pregnancy, your body and your baby are changing. How do you know whether what you feel is a normal part of pregnancy or a cause for concern?
It’s best to communicate with your obstetrician at your prenatal appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Don’t ignore these symptoms because they may need immediate attention.
An estimated 20 – 30% of women experience slight bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. This may be due to implantation. Every woman will experience a different level of bleeding during this time. Light bleeding may not be a sign of any complications. Heavy bleeding however, may be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing heavy bleeding.
Severe Abdominal Pain
Sharp pains or cramping in the abdomen coupled with heavy bleeding could signal an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is attached somewhere other than the uterus, usually the fallopian tube. This may cause serious complications for the mother, including complications with future pregnancies.
If you experience severe abdominal pain and have vaginal bleeding, call your healthcare provider immediately. Recognizing an ectopic pregnancy early is essential to avoiding extreme blood loss and ensuring the health of future pregnancies.
Your Baby Is Less Active
In order to understand whether there’s been a decrease in your baby’s activity, you will need to monitor your baby’s movements from the beginning. Some women will feel movement as early as 13 – 16 weeks into the pregnancy while others may not feel any movement until week 18 – 20. If this activity level decreases at any time, call your doctor. Your healthcare provider may want to monitor the baby through ultrasound.
Physicians are now offering women the option of non-invasive prenatal testing, which helps provide more information about the health of their baby. This information can help parents prepare to work with their physician to ensure the best care for themselves and their child.
Severe Nausea or Vomiting
To a moderate extent, many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes, nausea and vomiting may persist through the third trimester and may become severe. Severe nausea may make it difficult to eat or drink anything, increasing your risk of malnutrition and dehydration. If you are experiencing extreme nausea or vomiting, contact your healthcare provider for a solution, which may include changes to your diet.
A Persistent and Severe Headache
Persistent and severe headaches could be a sign of preeclampsia – a potentially fatal condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, your doctor will want to test your blood pressure and monitor for signs of preeclampsia.
Contractions Weeks Before Your Due Date
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines an early term pregnancy as being between 37 – 38 weeks and 6 days. The lungs and the brain are still developing during these last few weeks of gestation, making these weeks crucial for the organs to finish their development. If you experience regular contractions (about 10 minutes apart consistently) before your 37th week, call your doctor immediately.
Receiving consistent prenatal care can help reduce complications associated with pregnancy. Speak with your physician about which symptoms may indicate health risk for you and your baby in order to know when seeking urgent medical care is needed.