What’s normal and when to worry during pregnancy

Finding out that you’re expecting a baby is a moment you’ll never forget. But while you may be getting excited and ready, it’s also entirely possible that you’re freaking out about every tummy rumble, cramp and stitch.

So what is normal during pregnancy, and when should you begin to worry?

What’s normal?

1

Bleeding or spotting

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually really common to bleed during your pregnancy — and it’s not always a sign that something has gone wrong. “Bleeding in early pregnancy can be very distressing but it does not always mean that you are having a miscarriage,” says a spokesperson for the Royal Women’s Hospital. “Bleeding is very common in early pregnancy, affecting about one in four women, many of whom will go on to have a healthy baby.”

When to worry: The Victorian Department of Health’s Better Health Channel reports that “it’s not always possible to pinpoint why a woman is bleeding,” although bleeding during pregnancy can indicate a miscarriage if it’s combined with cramping and pain. One common cause can be an implantation bleed, which happens when the pregnancy implants (buries) itself into the lining of the uterus.

2

Gestational diabetes

A form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, gestational diabetes is more common than you may think. According to the Better Health Channel, “Between 3 and 8 per cent of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. It is usually detected around weeks 24 to 28 of pregnancy, though it can develop earlier.” After the baby is born, the mother’s blood glucose levels usually return to normal,” they add. “The baby will not be born with diabetes.”

When to worry: Left untreated, diabetes can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which can cause problems for you and your baby — including an increased likelihood of needing delivery by C-section. If you have gestational diabetes, the Mayo Clinic confirms that your baby may be at increased risk of:

  • Excessive birth weight
  • Pre-term labour
  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Jaundice
  • Type 2 diabetes later in life

However, gestational diabetes can be monitored and treated and if well controlled, there’s no reason why your baby won’t be born healthy and full-term. If you have any concerns you should consult your health care provider.

3

Cramping

Pains or cramping in your stomach area alone are rarely a sign of a serious problem with your pregnancy. Carrying a baby puts a lot of pressure on your body, including your muscles and ligaments, so it’s not unusual to feel some discomfort from time to time. As your pregnancy progresses, you may also start to feel “stretching pains”, which are exactly what they sound like: When the ligaments supporting your uterus are stretched, sharp or dull pains can result.

When to worry: If you experience cramping or pains alongside any other symptoms such as spotting, heavy bleeding, fever, vaginal discharge or tenderness, then call your doctor. It could be an indication that something isn’t quite right.

More pregnancy health

Tips to stay fit while pregnant
Foods you can’t eat when expecting
3 Solutions to common skin conditions in pregnancy

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