Sometimes pregnancy can seem like an endless round of aches and pains, but here are 10 important pregnancy symptoms that you should never ignore.
1. Vaginal Bleeding
While light, painless spotting may be caused by implantation during very early pregnancy, heavy bleeding with back or abdominal pain can indicate an impending miscarriage.
Bleeding that is accompanied by severe, one-sided pain in the lower abdomen may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo develops outside of the womb). Other symptoms include feeling faint, sweating, diarrhoea, blood in your stools and shoulder tip pain. As an ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening, it is important to seek immediate medical assistance.
In late pregnancy, bleeding can be a symptom of placenta praevia (low lying placenta), placental abruption (where the placenta begins to separate from the lining of the uterus), or the onset of labour.
2. Leaking Fluid
Leaking clear or straw-coloured liquid from your vagina indicates that your membranes have ruptured. If this happen before 37 weeks you will need to be admitted to hospital so that you can be monitored for infection and possibly prepared for a premature birth.
If you have a temperature above 37.5 degrees C, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible. Fever is often an indictor of an infection, which may require treatment with antibiotics. If your temperature is over 39 degrees, you should call your doctor immediately as prolonged high temperature may put your baby at risk.
4. Severe Headache or Disturbed Vision
If you have a headache that last more than two or three hours it may be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, a condition that can lead to serious complications if not closely monitored. Visual disturbances such as double vision, dimming, blurring, or flashing lights that last more than two hours may also indicate pre-eclampsia.
Swelling of the feet, hands and face is generally considered to be a normal pregnancy complaint, but if the swelling is sudden or severe and accompanied by abdominal pain, a persistent headache or visual disturbances it may be a symptom of pre-eclampsia.
6. Pain or Irritation when Urinating
If you are experiencing pain or a burning sensation when you wee, it may be a symptom of a urinary tract infection.
Many women experience a UTI during pregnancy, but if left untreated they can lead to a more serious infection or premature labour.
Itching is considered to be a normal side effect of pregnancy, but if the itching is intense and all-over, it may be a symptom of the rare liver condition, obstetric cholestasis, which can increase your chances of going into premature labour.
8. Severe Vomiting or Nausea
If you are struggling to keep anything down it is important to contact your doctor or midwife. Severe vomiting or nausea [hyperemesis gravidarum] may require treatment in hospital. During late pregnancy, vomiting which is accompanied by pain just below the ribs may be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
False contractions, known as Braxton Hicks, commonly occur during late pregnancy. They are infrequent, irregular, and will not increase in intensity.
In contrast, true labour contractions will have a regular pattern, will be more frequent and painful, and will continue even if you change activity, becoming noticeably longer and more intense over time.
10. A Significant Decrease in your Baby’s Activity
If you haven’t felt your baby move in a while, try having a cold drink or something to eat and then put your feet up. If your baby doesn’t respond, or you if you are still concerned, contact your midwife or doctor — they will always be happy to reassure an anxious mum-to-be.