18 Pregnancy Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Being pregnant is a time of great change. Your waistline expands and your body changes daily. Hormonal changes cause completely new sensations. It can be both… Simi - February 4, 2018

Being pregnant is a time of great change. Your waistline expands and your body changes daily. Hormonal changes cause completely new sensations. It can be both marvelous and confusing. Each pregnancy is different and each woman is different.

But some sensations could be symptoms of something more serious. Your body is a pretty finely tuned machine and it tries to warn you when things are not going right. When you are pregnant you tend to get used to ignoring all the new and different sensations of pregnancy, so it is not always so easy to notice early warning signs.

If you learn what to look out for, then early warnings can be dealt with easily. Strange symptoms are best acted on straight away with a call to your doctor. Early in the day means you have time for the doctor to deal with it, whereas after hours means you will need to go and seek medical help. This is not meant to scare you into worrying about your pregnancy. But if there is a warning sign then you can identify a problem early and do something about it.

Although your pregnancy might seem complicated the first time around, your body should generally take care of itself. Most women have healthy pregnancies. Some, however, have some serious problems that can put their babies in jeopardy. What do you need to know about pregnancy so that this won’t happen to you? Experts say that some symptoms should be checked out straight away. Here are 15 symptoms of conditions in pregnancy that you should not ignore.

1. Spotting

Is it Bleeding or spotting? Finding a drop of blood on your underpants during pregnancy can be scary. But it is not always a symptom of something serious. Spotting or light bleeding is sometimes not really a big deal. If you do notice light pink drops on your underwear then you should use a panty liner so that you can track the spotting. If you have identified the color, then you should look at the quantity. Spotting is not enough to fill a panty liner. Spotting is common in the first trimester of the pregnancy and can happen in 1 in 4 pregnancies.

Light bleeding, or spotting, during pregnancy, is common, especially during the first trimester. Usually, this is no cause for alarm. To understand what you are seeing, you should first look at the color. The color of spotting should be a bit lighter than blood and fairly transparent. The shade varies anywhere from light pink to brown.

The fertilized egg can cause spotting when it implants into the uterus wall. This happens because the egg burrows into the blood-rich lining of the uterus. This process starts about six days after fertilization and can often be confused with a period. So, if your period arrives a week before it is due and seems to go away again after a very light bleed then you need to do a pregnancy test.

Spotting can also be caused by sex during pregnancy, as the cervix is very sensitive. Sex during pregnancy does not cause miscarriages. Spotting can also be caused by an infection that is unrelated to your pregnancy. A vaginal infection like candida or vaginosis, or even a sexually transmitted infection can cause an irritable cervix that makes it vulnerable to spotting.

2. Bleeding

Bleeding is like a period. Bleeding is when there is enough blood to resemble a menstrual period. When you are bleeding you will need a pad to keep the blood from soaking your clothes. Bleeding during pregnancy is abnormal. Bleeding can be a serious cause for concern during pregnancy, but at least 50% of women with bleeding go on to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Bleeding is more common during the second or third trimesters. Often bleeding occurs with no pain.

A common cause of bleeding is a condition called placenta previa. This is a condition in which the placenta lies low in the uterus and is attached close to or covering the cervix (the opening of the uterus). Placenta previa occurs in about one in every 200 pregnancies. This is a serious condition and requires immediate care. Women who are at higher risk of this condition are women who have already had other pregnancies, caesarian births, or other types of surgery on the uterus. Women who are carrying more than one baby are also at risk.

Another reason for bleeding is a placental abruption. This is a more serious condition when the placenta detaches partially or totally from the uterus during pregnancy. This can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients, and cause severe bleeding. This condition happens in 1 percent of pregnancies and it usually occurs during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women who are at higher risk of placental abruption are those who have already had children, who have had a previous abruption, who have sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure, trauma or injuries to the stomach or who are 35 years or older.

Abnormal bleeding can also signal an Ectopic pregnancy. This is a nonviable pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, and it requires immediate medical attention. Heavy vaginal bleeding will be accompanied by abdominal pain. vulnerable to bleeding.

3. Abdominal Pain

Some of your aches and pains are serious symptoms. You can expect some aches and pains during pregnancy. The baby’s growth stretches your muscles and ligaments leading to some uncomfortable symptoms. But there are some symptoms of abdominal pain that are warning signs that should be checked out straight away.

If the pain is severe and constant and accompanied by bleeding or any other of the symptoms on the list you should pick up the phone immediately. If the pain comes when you cough, are active or change position, then this could be round ligament pain. When the ligaments that surround and support the uterus stretch and thicken to support the growing weight of your baby, it can cause sharp pains in your abdomen and hips. This is especially noticeable when you have made a quick movement or a change of position.

You could also have pain from digestive issues, like constipation or food poisoning, or pain from gas. Digestion with a squashed stomach becomes problematic later on in the pregnancy, but you should be able to distinguish digestive pain from pregnancy problems.

The most serious problems that cause abdominal pain are accompanied by bleeding. These include miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Both types are pains are like the cramping of a menstrual period and can be felt lower down and more severely. A low dull backache accompanied by a watery discharge could indicate preterm labor. If you go into labor you could also feel cramps and contractions as well as pelvic and lower abdominal pressure.

4. Swollen hands or face

Sudden swelling is a sign of serious problems. A very common symptom that many pregnant women have to deal with is swelling. During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Up to 25% of your weight gain can be caused by additional fluids. Normal swelling is called edema and is seen in the ankles feet and sometimes in the hands.

The signs to watch out for though are when your face starts looking very puffy. Any sudden change, like a sudden swelling of the ankles and the feet, is serious. These are signs of preeclampsia. This is a condition of hypertension that is induced by pregnancy and is also called PIH or toxemia. Some other symptoms of preeclampsia may include high blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine. Severe preeclampsia will have other symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a tendency to bruise easily.

The doctor will check your blood pressure, urine levels, and order blood tests. The other tests include checking the kidneys and the baby’s growth. If it is not treated quickly it can lead to serious complications for the mother such as liver or renal failure. There could be future cardiovascular issues for the mother and it can prevent the placenta from passing enough blood to the baby.

The doctor will prescribe an exercise and diet regime, this should include the exclusion of junk foods and fried foods, as well as salt. If you are pregnant you should have already excluded alcohol and caffeine, but it is especially important here. You will need to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. You will need to rest, raise your feet several times during the day and exercise regularly.

5. Rapid weight gain

Watch out for sudden weight gain. Most of us spend most of their lives trying not to gain weight. In pregnancy, it is expected that you will gain weight. Your doctor will tell you what to do during the pregnancy to keep your weight in check. You should also have the guidelines for healthy weight gain. After all, you are growing a baby that needs nutrients and calories to stay healthy.

You don’t need to eat for two though. A baby is only a tiny percentage of your body weight so you only need to eat a small amount more and only in the second and third trimesters. Up to 300 calories is probably a good amount for the second trimester while towards the end of the third trimester depending on your body weight this could be raised to 500. 300 calories is equal to an avocado or bowl of Greek yogurt.

Gaining too much weight has been linked to gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and a larger weight baby. This could lead to birth complications and a C-section delivery. For these reasons, it is important to manage a healthy weight during the pregnancy.

However, a sudden weight gain is a warning sign for preeclampsia, which is a serious pregnancy condition. If you have preeclampsia, your hands, face or feet swell excessively and you could gain more than four pounds in one week. This is a condition that develops when you have a combination of high blood pressure and the appearance of protein in your urine. The presence of protein in your urine shows that your kidneys aren’t working 100 percent. Preeclampsia is also known as toxemia or pregnancy-induced hypertension. It is usually diagnosed after week 20.

6. Itching

Intense crazy itching signals a problem. Having your skin stretched over your bump could cause another mildly irritating pregnancy symptom. It could be dry and itchy skin or it could be from PUPPP, a nasty rash which although is irritating is not actually harmful. It is easy enough to help dry and itchy skin with a hydrating cream or oil. It could also be a great excuse to go and get a specialized prenatal massage. Drinking more water will help to hydrate your skin.

PUPPP has the long serious sounding name of Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. This condition has been known to drive some women crazy with the itch. You can recognize it by small, red, raised itchy bumps on your skin. The rash normally starts from the abdomen and spreads from there. It happens to about 1 in every 200 pregnant women. The best way to treat it is with oatmeal baths and anti-itch creams. It is difficult to prevent but you can keep the symptoms at bay by moisturizing.

There is, however, a symptom that needs to be attended to straight away. If you get a sudden intense all-over itching, that seems to be worse in the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, then it could be cholestasis of pregnancy. Also known as obstetric cholestasis this can develop in the third trimester. It happens when the bile, which is produced in the liver to help break down fats, is blocked and the fluid builds up in the bloodstream. Because this is also a liver problem there is a parallel symptom of jaundice. Jaundice can produce a yellow tint to the skin and the whites of the eyes.

It could simply be triggered by all the hormonal changes taking place in the pregnancy. Apart from the intense itching, it isn’t harmful to the mother but it can be very dangerous for the baby. The baby’s liver isn’t fully formed and all the extra bile could put a great strain on the baby’s liver. If the baby is fully developed the doctor may even want to program an immediate delivery so as to prevent as much harm to your baby as possible.

7. Persistent back pain

Sharp pains can be an indicator of a serious condition. Carrying a heavy baby in your body for nine months can give you more than your fair share of backaches. Having back pain seems to be part of a pregnancy, but you need to be able to tell if it’s just normal pregnancy aches and pains or something else. Back pain can simply be caused by the weight of your baby, which shifts your center of gravity. This makes your spine curve more to help you bear the weight and your back gets strained. Carrying extra weight also makes your muscles work harder. Fatigue and back pain that feels better after a rest could be simply from your body carrying the extra weight of the pregnancy.

To help this kind of back pain you should use flat comfortable shoes to walk in and make sure you are getting enough exercise, Stretching is going to help you stay healthy and being fit is going to help you with birthing your baby. Make sure you don’t make any sharp movements that put unnecessary strain on back muscles and always squat to pick things up from the floor rather than bending over.

Try and sleep on one side, it’s probably the only position you will feel comfortable in any way, and keep a pillow between your knees. This helps to relieve back strain and allows you to sleep in a position which will help you avoid cervical neck pain. A good massage or back rub can really help relieve the strain. A sudden back pain which feels like cramping in your lower back is a bit more worrying. This can mean that labor is setting in. Preterm labor is when labor occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. When you go into labor you have both a thinning of the cervix and contractions.

Preterm labor happens spontaneously but it doesn’t actually mean that you will give birth prematurely. The majority of women who are treated in the hospital for preterm labor are able to go home and then deliver closer to term. The best way to avoid preterm labor is to take care of yourself. Maintaining a healthy weight and controlling your weight gain, giving up smoking and getting diabetes and blood pressure under control before conception can help you avoid this condition.

8. Blurry vision

This can be a serious symptom. If it’s a hot summer’s day and you have been carrying a huge tummy around with you all day, it is normal to have tired eyes. Even if you stood up too fast and you felt a bit dizzy and your vision blurred. There are actually a few reasons why you might not have perfect vision during your pregnancy. Swelling during their pregnancy can affect your eyes enough to change your vision.

However blurred vision from retinal swelling can be caused by preeclampsia. Preeclampsia however also causes headaches, swelling abdominal pain, and weight gain. The swelling and weight gain can be sudden enough to set your alarm bells ringing. You should seek medical attention straight away.

The other condition that can cause blurry vision is gestational diabetes. This is caused when the glucose in the blood ends up in the lens of the cornea and may cause differences in the size of the lens. The other symptoms of gestational diabetes are; tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet, thirst, frequent urination and slow healing skin sores and excessive fatigue. Gestational diabetes puts both mother and baby at risk of complications during pregnancy. You could risk high blood pressure, preeclampsia and preterm labor.

The baby risks higher birth weight, congenital malformations, heart disease, neural tube defects, low blood sugar, respiratory distress and even stillbirth. It can be avoided with some basic and easy lifestyle changes. First, visit a dietician for help with a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet to control blood sugars and then start a daily exercise regimen to help control blood glucose levels until you deliver. You will also need to keep your blood glucose levels monitored with the finger prick blood test after meals. After you give birth, your blood sugar levels might return to normal on their own.

9. High fever

Some fevers are not equal to others. Having a fever when you are pregnant is not uncommon. When you are pregnant your immune system is working on protecting both you and your baby, so you may be more susceptible to colds and fevers. The normal signs are high temperature, sweating, shivering, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. There are a number of different viruses and conditions that can cause a fever.

If you have no cold symptoms and the fever lasts for more than a day then check it out straight away. It’s important to get it diagnosed and treated because a high fever that lasts for a long time may be harmful to your baby. During the first trimester, an increased core temperature could cause neural tube defects in the baby like spina bifida. This theory regards very high temperatures at a certain point early in the pregnancy but it doesn’t seem to have been properly proven.

A fever accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, contractions or a rash, could indicate other kinds of conditions. These could be from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS or syphilis. It could also be from other conditions like cytomegalovirus, food poisoning, toxoplasmosis or varicella.

When you have a fever during pregnancy you can take acetaminophen but not ibuprofen. If you want to avoid medications you can try reducing the fever with a cold cloth or the forehead or even a tepid bath. A doctor will confirm the correct medications. They will prescribe antibiotics if necessary for infection and painkillers to reduce the fever.

10. A chronic low-grade fever

This can be even more serious. A low-grade fever can be a symptom of fatigue. But when a low-grade fever is accompanied by swollen glands in the neck and general fatigue it could be a symptom of cytomegalovirus or CMV. CMV is a virus and is probably not harmful to you, but could be extremely harmful to your baby.

It is very difficult to notice as sometimes it causes no symptoms, or the symptoms g away quickly. If you feel as though you might be ill from this you should ask your doctor for a blood test. A blood test can find out whether you carry antibodies to CMV. Urine tests, throat swabs, and tissue samples can be used to diagnose an infection.

Only about 0.7 percent to 4 percent of pregnant women get CMV and only about 24 percent to 75 percent transmit the virus to their babies. CMV is transmitted through bodily fluids and it spreads easily in daycare centers and in homes with young kids. Like preventing the spread of colds and flu you can prevent the spread of CMV by frequent hand washing.

The virus can infect your baby during pregnancy and cause a number of conditions including blindness and deafness at birth. If you have had CMV your baby will be checked for congenital CMV infection at birth. A baby who is positive to CMV will need regular checkups. Most babies born will CMV will grow up without health problems related to the virus.

11. Baby has reduced movement

Some babies just need their sleep. There are various reasons that a baby may move less. Some are not a cause for alarm, but all episodes should be discussed immediately with your doctor. It is not possible to tell what is causing your baby to move less without the help of a CTG or scan.

Babies sleep while they are in the womb and their sleep period might last as long as 40 minutes. It should not last for more than 90 minutes. Usually, a baby will not move in their sleep. Often the emotional and physical state of the mother can influence the amount a baby will move. The hormones released during periods of stress for the mother can cause the baby to move less. If the mother is a bit dehydrated the baby might also move less. If you are concerned that you haven’t felt your baby move for a bit, sit down and have a glass of water. If you still can’t feel your baby moving then contact your doctor.

Decreased fetal movement can be caused by a leak or rupture in the amniotic sac. If fluids leak before the due date it can lead to stress and problems with nutrition and oxygen, and also make infection more likely. This can lead to slowed or stopped movement. If you notice leaking fluid and reduced fetal movement, then you should seek medical help.

Reduced movement can also be caused by placental abruption, as the placenta, begins to separate from the wall of the uterus. In more severe cases this separation can restrict the flow of oxygen and blood to the baby and needs to be treated promptly. When the umbilical cord does not deliver enough oxygenated blood to the baby, it is called fetal hypoxia. When babies experience a sudden dip in oxygen from a kink or a knot in the cord, they usually slow or stop their movements to conserve energy.

12. Discharge

Dampness or a sudden gush. During the pregnancy, there is normally a rather abundant amount of discharge. It is because your estrogen production levels increase, bringing a greater blood flow to the vagina. This discharge called leucorrhea is made up of secretions from the cervix and vagina and is completely normal.

This discharge can change color and consistency during the pregnancy and can be a signal that something is wrong. If it becomes green or yellow and smells strong this could be a sign of infection. If there is a change in consistency before week 37, and if it changes color to a pink or brownish tint this could be a signal of a preterm labor. If the discharge is wet and odorless it could be a sign that you could also be leaking amniotic fluid. If this symptom is accompanied by a reduction of the baby’s movement then you should get checked straight away.

If you feel a sudden gush of wetness then it could be due to the passing of the mucus plug and it’s a signal that the Big Day is near. The mucus plug blocks your cervix to help prevent infection. When your cervix prepares for labor, the mucus plug is released. You may notice a heavy discharge, or a discharge streaked with blood. If the mucus plug comes out before you’re 37 weeks pregnant you should call the doctor.

Keep yourself clean and pat your vagina dry. Use cotton underwear to keep yourself fresh and well-aired. Avoid tight synthetic fabrics, tight clothing, scented pads or any other kind of sprays or perfumed products. Your body will look after itself naturally.

13. Bowel issues

Constipation can cause further problems. Your digestive system might get sluggish during pregnancy and you might experience constipation and difficulty having a bowel movement. You might also experience loose bowel movements or diarrhea, or changes in the color of your stools. Changes in bowel habits are common, especially in the first trimester.

Constipation can be difficult to deal with during pregnancy. Sometimes, the iron in prenatal vitamins can cause constipation. Constipation and the increased pressure that the uterus puts on your veins can cause hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and can account for bloody stools.

It is very important to drink lots of water, increase your fiber intake, eat more fruit and, if necessary, ask for a prescription stool softener, which is completely safe during pregnancy. For diarrhea, drink more fluids, including water, fruit juice, and clear soups. Talk to your doctor before taking any anti-diarrhea medication.

If constipation, diarrhea or bloody stools continue then you should get it checked. In some cases, diarrhea can be caused by food poisoning. Diarrhea accompanied by vomiting should be kept under observation if it doesn’t resolve itself in 24 hours you should head to the doctor. Call your doctor if the bowel issues start up after you’ve been traveling abroad.

14. Excessive sweating

Sweating combined with other symptoms is not normal. The sweat glands in the skin regulate the body’s temperature when you get too hot. Some women sweat a lot more during pregnancy. It might be because of the increase in hormones and blood flow. Your metabolism changes when you are pregnant and so does your body temperature.

If the sweating becomes annoying or uncomfortable and is accompanied by other symptoms like a fever or a rapid heartbeat you should see the doctor. You could have an infection or an issue like hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, having an overactive thyroid gland can speed up your metabolism and affect all your bodily processes.

This can cause you to sweat more and have more frequent bowel movements, as well as lose weight or have trouble sleeping. You might feel anxious and irritable. Although sweating and vomiting are also symptoms of pregnancy, a faster heart rate and weight loss are caused by hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism is a malfunction of the thyroid and will not necessarily be passed on to the baby, but it should be tested after birth just in case. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in babies include an increased fetal heart rate, enlargement of the fetal thyroid gland and poor growth of the fetus.

15. Leg Pain

Be careful with this. If you are experiencing severe leg pain during the last stage of your pregnancy then you should take note. Severe leg pain in pregnancy increases your chances of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that causes blood clots.

Due to the increase in progesterone hormones in the body, the veins in the legs expand. This increase in blood supply can cause blood flow to the legs to slow down, which in turn can cause blood clots. When you are pregnant you are at a greater risk of venous thrombosis, and risk is further increased with a personal or family history.

During pregnancy, your blood is more likely to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor. However, DVT which happens when blood clots form in the legs and pelvic region can occur and is linked with a number of serious health concerns.

A clot can form at any stage of pregnancy and up to six weeks after the birth. It can be fatal if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs. DVT is difficult to distinguish from the ordinary leg cramps of pregnancy. But, a sharp pain in your calf in only one leg is a clear sign that you need to talk to your doctor. Other signs include redness, swelling, and the area feeling warm to the touch.

16. Persistent or Severe Headaches

Although headaches are common they can be a serious symptom. Headaches are a very common complaint during pregnancy. They are usually due to drastic hormonal changes and an increase in your body’s blood volume. Being pregnant and having a headache is no fun. Headaches are often caused by tiredness and poor diet. Stress management can help.

A constant lack of sleep and mood swings can make them worse. Minor headaches are often not a worry, but if you start getting severe and persistent headaches during the second or third trimesters you need to talk with your doctor. If you have high blood pressure and no history of headaches and suddenly develop a headache that quickly gets worse, it is a matter of concern. This type of headache may indicate pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia. This condition puts both the mother and baby at risk.

A constant headache can also be an indicator of high blood pressure or gestational hypertension. This should be monitored closely as it puts you at risk of preterm delivery. Sleeping on your left side helps high blood pressure as it takes the pressure off your vena cava. This is the artery that pushes blood from your heart to your lower extremities and allows for maximum blood flow and nutrients to the placenta.

When a headache becomes severe enough for you to suspect that it is a migraine then it is time to talk to your doctor. Often the best way to treat a migraine is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you take of what was happening before you experienced a headache you notice what precedes your migraine and you can try to avoid the triggers.

17. Burning sensation when you pee

This could be due to a urinary tract infection. When you are pregnant your bladder goes through all sorts of changes. Needing to go to the toilet frequently is a common symptom of pregnancy. But when you need to pee more often and it is painful or burns, then you need to get it checked out.

Urinary tract infections, also known as cystitis are quite common, but when you are pregnant you are more susceptible thanks to the hormonal changes. The added progesterone slows down the flow of urine to the bladder, giving the bacteria more time to grow before they get washed out. If you need to go to the toilet more often and more urgently, or you lose a drop of urine on the way to the toilet, these could be other indicators.

As anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection knows, it can pass quickly to the kidneys. If this happens, you might have other symptoms. You could have nausea, tiredness and feel achy all over. You could also have a fever. Your urine might also start to look cloudy, have blood in it or be a bit smelly. These are all indicators that the infection has passed to the kidneys.

A urinary tract infection could harm your baby because it can irritate the womb and cause you to go into labor prematurely. When a urinary tract infection moves on to the kidneys it can also make you seriously ill. The doctor will test your urine for bacteria and give you a course of antibiotics. Urine tests are part of routine pregnancy tests so that if you have an infection that you are not aware of, it can be caught early.

18. Severe Vomiting

Some vomiting in pregnancy is common. During pregnancy, it is common for you to feel nauseous or vomit in the mornings. Some women may also vomit when they are tired later on in the day. Some women even have to take time off from work. If you are vomiting many times a day and are not able to eat or drink anything without being sick, then it could be due to hyperemesis gravidarum or HG.

Excessive vomiting can cause you to become dehydrated and cause your body to lose the nutrients that your baby needs to grow. Fortunately, this condition is quite rare and only affects one in 100 women. It usually begins between four weeks to seven weeks and starts to ease by the time you get to 15 weeks. Most of the time you will be over it by 20 weeks, but you could be one of those rare women who suffer from it right to the end of their pregnancy.

But if it starts after 12 weeks you could have a gastric problem, a urinary tract infection or a problem with diabetes or a thyroid disease. You most likely have HG if you have prolonged and severe vomiting, you can’t eat or drink anything without vomiting. You could lose some of your pre-pregnancy weight and you get dehydrated.

Your doctor might order a urine test to see if you are dehydrated, or a blood test to check for any other problems like kidney or liver problems. If your conditions are severe you could be put on a drip to restore lost fluids, vitamins and minerals. Your doctor will evaluate giving you anti-sickness medications.