Written by: Cally Worden
The body goes through so many changes when you are pregnant it can be tricky to know what’s normal and what’s not. Most symptoms are just your body’s way of adjusting to the new life growing inside you, but others can be sign there is something amiss. Here is a quick and simple guide to those bodily murmurings you should pay special attention to when carrying your baby:
It may just be indigestion, heartburn, or a stomach bug, but pain in your midriff can also mean food poisoning or, in the second half of pregnancy, it could be an early sign of pre-eclampsia. If it persists it’s time to call the Doc.
Pain in the Lower Belly
The lower abdomen is placed under a great deal of strain in pregnancy, and pain in any part of this area needs to be investigated, if only to rule out anything serious. Lower belly pain may simply be a stretched ligament, but could also indicate ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placental problems, damaged fibroids, or premature labour.
Blurred Vision, Swollen Hands or Feet, Severe Headache
In the second half of pregnancy any or all of these symptoms can be a red flag for pre-eclampsia. Some swelling is inevitable in later pregnancy and is generally not a cause for concern, but if it comes on suddenly and is very severe, and especially if combined with distorted vision and/or a headache, you would be wise to seek medical advice.
If the heat is on in your body and you have no other symptoms of cold or flu, then it can be a sign of infection, which could be harmful to you and your baby. If your temperature stays above 37.5 degrees Celsius for more than a day, or is approaching or higher than 39 degrees Celsius at any point, then it’s time to seek help.
When your baby is conceived the cervix is blocked off by your body, and the amniotic sac inside provides a completely sealed environment for your baby for the duration of your pregnancy. If you start to leak fluid from your vagina, it may be a sign your waters have broken, leaving your baby vulnerable to infection.
Light bleeding or spotting in very early (first four weeks of) pregnancy is quite common. It indicates your body is settling down, and can be a sign of implantation of the embryo in the lining of your uterus. If it persists, and if you experience bleeding at any other point during your pregnancy it is important to consult your Doctor or midwife. A few women continue to experience a monthly bleed during pregnancy, but this is rare, and bleeding is more often a sign that something is not quite right. It can indicate issues such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption or premature labour.
Sudden Thirst and Dark Wee
This can be a sign of dehydration, and may indicate the presence of gestational diabetes. This can lead to complications for you and your baby, and needs to be checked out. In any event, you need to increase you fluid intake to compensate in the short term.
Persistent and/or Heavy Vomiting
In the early weeks this can be a simple (but nevertheless unpleasant!) case of morning sickness. In the later stages of pregnancy it can suggest additional complications such as pre-eclampsia or a kidney infection. If you are vomiting a lot it is important to increase your fluid intake to avoid dehydration, and if it persists then seek advice.
This is particularly common in early pregnancy, and is normally a sign of low blood pressure resulting from an increase in the hormone progesterone to stimulate the relaxation of the walls of your blood vessels to help provide the increased blood flow required for your baby. If you are feeling dizzy a lot, then check in with your Doctor or midwife to make sure all is well.
Change in Baby’s Movements
All babies move at different rates. My first developed a pattern of slow, lazy movements throughout the day. My second would regularly kick and shift so violently it would rock the bed and wake up both me and my other half in the night! You will get to know your own baby’s rhythm, and if that changes (especially if the frequency of movements decreases) it can be sign your baby is in distress and needs to be checked out.
Itching all over
Mild itching during pregnancy is annoying, but quite common. If it becomes intense and is particularly bad at night it can indicate a condition called obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition for which you will need to seek medical help.
Blows to the Belly
If you have a fall or knock that hits your belly hard when pregnant you should see your Doctor to make sure everything is okay. Your baby is well protected inside you, but random blows to the abdomen can occasionally cause unexpected complications, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
You Got that Nagging Feeling
Instinct is a great thing. You may have no symptoms at all, but feel that something isn’t quite right. If that’s the case, then go and see your midwife or Doctor anyway. They are there to help, and would always rather see you for a false alarm than for an emergency.