Pregnancy Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Carrying a child to term is a wonderful experience, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. How do you know whether that sudden ache is normal or something that warrants a late night call to your Women's HealthFirst doctor?
While some symptoms may be more or less urgent depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, in addition to your personal health background, here is a rundown of symptoms that should sound your warning bells. Remember that even if you don't see your symptom on the list, it is always better to err on the side of caution and contact your Women's HealthFirst practioner rather than agonizing for hours and waiting until the symptoms persist or get worse before taking action.
- Your baby is moving or kicking less than usual (once he begins moving regularly, typically around 16-22 weeks). Ask your doctor whether you should monitor your baby's activity by doing daily "kick counts." One common approach is to choose a time of day when your baby tends to be active. (Try to do the counts at roughly the same time each day.) Sit quietly or lie on your side so you won't get distracted. Time how long it takes for you to feel ten distinct movements – kicks, punches, and whole body movements all count. If you don't feel ten movements in two hours, stop counting and call your doctor.
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain or tenderness.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting.
- An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge – if it becomes watery, mucousy, or bloody. Note: After 37 weeks, an increase in mucus discharge is normal and may indicate that you'll be going into labor soon.
- Pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby is pushing down), pain in your lower back (if it's a new problem for you), menstrual-like cramping or abdominal pain, or more than six contractions in an hour before 37 weeks.
- Painful or burning urination, or little or no urination.
- Severe or persistent vomiting, or any vomiting accompanied by pain or fever.
- Chills or fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Visual disturbances such as double vision, blurring, dimming, flashing lights, or spots in your field of vision.
- Any persistent or severe headache accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech, or numbness.
- Any swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, anything more than a little swelling in your hands, severe and sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, or a rapid weight gain (more than 4 pounds in a week).
- A persistent or severe leg cramp or calf pain that doesn't ease up, or one leg significantly more swollen than the other.
- Trauma to the abdomen.
- Fainting, frequent dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, or heart palpitations.
- Difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, or chest pain.
- Severe constipation accompanied by abdominal pain or more than 24 hours of severe diarrhea.
- Persistent intense itching of your torso, arms, legs, palms, or soles, or a feeling of itchiness all over your body.
- Any other health problem that you'd ordinarily call your practitioner about, even if it's not related to your pregnancy (like a cold that gets worse rather than better).
When it comes to your health and the health of your baby, remember the old adage "better safe than sorry." Because your body is changing so quickly, it may be hard to know whether what you're experiencing is normal or is a sign of something more serious, so err on the side of caution, trust your instincts, and call your Women's HealthFirst doctor if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms.
If there's a problem, you'll get help right away. If nothing's wrong, you'll be reassured. After all, isn't that what doctors are for?
[image via BabyCenter.com]