Pregnancy Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Young pregnant woman suffering from backache
The goal of any pregnancy is always to make sure the mother-to-be feels healthy and supported during those 40 weeks, and to make sure her baby is delivered safely. As the pregnancy progresses through the first, second and into the third trimester, women can experience lots of physical and emotional changes. Each pregnancy is different. Even a seasoned mom may notice different feelings or emotions with one pregnancy compared to others. But there are some health issues that need to be addressed with a health care provider as soon as they arise. Here are some pregnancy warning signs women should not ignore.
Some women may develop cravings for certain foods during their pregnancy, while others may notice annoying things like feeling queasy when faced with certain fragrances or smells. But then there are other signs that could point to a serious issue. Each year, more than 50,000 women in the United States are affected by physical and psychological complications that are known as severe maternal morbidity. These numbers are on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the increase? It’s attributed to several factors, including:
  • Rising maternal age
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Pre-pregnancy obesity
  • Chronic, pre-existing medical conditions
Prenatal care is so important for a healthy pregnancy. Expectant moms should be sure to keep their regular doctor’s appointments during each trimester, but also keep the lines of communication open so they feel comfortable calling their health care provider’s office when questions arise.
Some common complications during pregnancy can be easily treated. For example, women who are found to have a lower red blood cell count and diagnosed as anemic may feel much more tired than normal. Their health care provider can prescribe supplements. Urinary tract infections also are common during pregnancy and can be treated with antibiotics.
Other complications, like preeclampsia, can be life-threatening to the mother as well as to the pregnancy. This condition marked by high blood pressure and high levels of protein in a woman’s urine can develop about mid-way through the pregnancy and needs immediate medical treatment.
Here are some of the warning signs of possible pregnancy complications to watch for, according to the CDC’s “Hear Her” campaign for maternal health. These signs can arise during pregnancy, and some can crop up a year after delivery.
  • A persistent headache, or one that gets worse over days
  • A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  • Vision changes, including double vision, trouble focusing, seeing bright or dark spots
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, inability to keep food or liquids down
  • Fast, irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Swelling and/or redness in arms or legs that does not go away
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Baby’s movement stops, or slows noticeably
  • Swelling of hands and/or face
  • Fainting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Thoughts of self-harm
If any of these signs – or other serious changes – develop, a woman should call her doctor’s office. Sometimes, a nurse or physician’s assistant may ask some questions over the phone, or even set up a remote televisit to discuss the signs and see if a doctor’s visit is needed.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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