advertisement
advertisement

SPONSORED BY

Pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore

A pregnant woman in pain, resting on the sofa with one hand on her tummy.
BabyCentre Blog
Have you had any pregnancy health scares?
Girl playing doctorBlogger Molly shares her story.

Even if you’ve read lots about pregnancy and spoken to other mums about your pregnancy symptoms, there will still be times when you wonder if what you’re feeling is normal or not.

The following pregnancy symptoms should set off a few alarm bells. If you experience them you should call your midwife, doctor, or your maternity unit straight away.

I have a pain in my middle

Severe or sharp pain in your middle or upper tummy, with or without nausea or vomiting, could mean one of several things. You could have:


If you’re in the second half of your pregnancy, pain in your middle could indicate pre-eclampsia (Crafter and Brewster 2014, NICE 2016a, 2011). This is a serious condition for which you'll need immediate medical help.

I have a pain in my lower belly

Severe pain on either side or both sides of your lower belly needs investigating to be sure it’s nothing serious. You could have pulled or stretched a ligament (Aguilera 2015, Crafter and Brewster 2014), which is common in pregnancy.

Less commonly, it may be a sign of:

  • an ectopic pregnancy (Crafter and Brewster 2014, RCOG 2016)
  • miscarriage (Crafter and Brewster 2014)
  • premature labour (Crafter and Brewster 2014, RCOG 2014)
  • a fibroid breaking down and bleeding into itself (Kenny 2011, Crafter and Brewster 2014)
  • placental abruption, when the placenta separates from the lining of your womb (uterus) (Crafter and Brewster 2014, Gaufberg 2015)

I have a fever

If you have a fever and your temperature is above 37.5 degrees C, but with no cold symptoms, call your doctor the same day.

If your temperature is more than 39 degrees C, call your doctor straight away. You probably have an infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and rest. If your temperature rises higher than 39 degrees C for a long time it may be harmful to your baby (Dreier et al 2014).

My vision is blurred and I see flashing spots

Call your doctor or midwife if, in the second half of your pregnancy, your eyesight is affected by:

  • double vision
  • blurring
  • dimming
  • flashing spots or lights before your eyes

These visual disturbances may be a sign of pre-eclampsia (NICE 2016a, 2011).

My hands and feet are swollen

Swelling or puffiness (oedema) in your hands, face and eyes is common in late pregnancy. In most cases, it’s not a cause for concern (NICE 2016a). But if your swelling is severe or comes on suddenly, along with a headache or problems with your vision, you may have pre-eclampsia (NICE 2016a, 2011). If you notice any of these symptoms, call your doctor or midwife straight away.

I have a severe headache that won’t go away

If a bad headache lasts for more than two hours or three hours, and you have visual disturbances and severe swelling in your body, you may have pre-eclampsia (NICE 2016a, 2011). If pre-eclampsia occurs, it is usually in the second half of your pregnancy or soon after your baby is born.

I have vaginal bleeding

Spotting or very light bleeding without pain is common in early pregnancy (van Oppenraaji et al 2009). It may be breakthrough bleeding, which happens when the hormones that drive your menstrual cycle continue strongly enough to cause light bleeding.

Try not to worry if you have breakthrough bleeding, as it usually resolves itself and is unlikely to harm your baby (van Oppenraaji et al 2009).

Even so, always check with your doctor or midwife if you bleed at any stage during your pregnancy (NHS 2015). It may indicate a serious complication if it is:

  • Bleeding that’s different from your normal period, so lighter in flow or darker in colour than usual. This, with severe, persistent, one-sided pain in your tummy, may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy (RCOG 2016).
  • Heavy bleeding, combined with persistent back pain or abdominal pain. This may be a sign of miscarriage (NICE 2012).
  • Sudden, painless bleeding. This may happen if you have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia) (NICE 2016a, RCOG 2011a, b), which will have been seen at your 20-week scan.
  • Fresh or dark bleeding with or without clots in later pregnancy could mean you have placental abruption (Gaufberg 2015). This is when the placenta starts to separate from the wall of your womb. Depending on the position and extent of the separation, it can cause either a small amount of bleeding or a gush, as well as pain and tenderness (Gaufberg 2015, RCOG 2011c).
  • Heavy bleeding may mean you’re going into premature labour, if you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant (RCOG 2011c).

In the later stages of pregnancy heavy bleeding is uncommon (HSCIC 2013).

I’m leaking fluid from my vagina

If you are leaking fluid from your vagina before 37 weeks it may mean that your waters have broken early. Contact your maternity unit so that a doctor or midwife can check on your baby’s health (RCOG 2012a). You may need treatment if there are signs of an infection (RCOG 2006).

Once your waters have broken, your baby has less protection against infection. Or you could already have an infection that has made your waters break. You may need to prepare for a premature birth (RCOG 2006). You’ll have a specialist team on hand in the hospital to make sure you and your baby get the right care.

When your waters break after 37 weeks, you’re likely to go into labour within the next day or so (NICE 2016b). Call your midwife or maternity unit to tell them what’s happened. You’ll probably be asked to go to hospital to be checked over, and to discuss what’s best to do if your labour doesn’t start within 24 hours (NICE 2016b).

I’m suddenly really thirsty

If you’re suddenly thirsty, and your wee is dark yellow, it could be a sign of dehydration (BDA 2013). You need to drink more fluid when you’re pregnant.

If you’re thirsty and weeing a lot more than usual it could be a sign of gestational diabetes, although this often doesn’t cause symptoms (NHS 2016, NICE 2015a).

Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of complications for you and your baby (NICE 2015a), so tell your doctor or midwife.

I feel a burning sensation when I wee

You may have a urinary tract infection (UTI) if you:

  • feel a painful or burning sensation when weeing
  • have a frequent urge to wee, even if you’ve only just been, and may be wetting yourself when you get the urge
  • pass cloudy, bloody or smelly wee
  • have nausea, tiredness and cold sweats
  • have a pain in your lower abdomen, or feel achy all over

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor, as she can give you antibiotics to treat your UTI (NICE 2015b).

I’m constantly vomiting

Vomiting more than a couple of times a day could dehydrate and weaken you, although it’s unlikely to hurt your baby. You need to speak to your midwife or GP about severe and persistent vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum), especially if you cannot tolerate any food or drink. You may need treatment, possibly in hospital (NICE 2013).

If you’re vomiting during the second half of your pregnancy, you may also have severe pain just below the ribs, and sudden severe swelling in your face, hands or feet. These symptoms may be a sign of pre-eclampsia (NICE 2016a, 2011).

Vomiting accompanied by diarrhoea could be a sign of food poisoning or a tummy bug (NICE 2016b).

If you’re vomiting, feverish and have pain in your side, lower back or around your genitals, it could mean you have a kidney infection. If you have these symptoms you should contact your doctor (NHS 2014, NICE 2013,).

I feel faint and dizzy

Fainting or feeling light-headed may be a sign that you haven’t eaten enough that day. But it could also mean that you have low blood pressure, which is common in early pregnancy (Murray and Hassall 2014). That’s because the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes the walls of your blood vessels.

Many women feel dizzy during pregnancy, but if you faint you should see your doctor afterwards to make sure all is well.

My baby’s movements have slowed down

If your baby’s movements stop or slow down after 24 weeks it may mean he’s in distress. If you have noticed that your baby is moving about less than usual, contact your midwife or hospital, and if you’re over 28 weeks do this immediately (RCOG 2011d, 2012b). Read more about your baby’s movements, including when to seek help.
Should I count my baby's kicks?
You may have heard that you should count your baby's kicks, but is this really what midwives recommend? Watch our video.More pregnancy videos

I itch all over

If you have severe itching all over, particularly at night, you may have obstetric cholestasis (OC) (RCOG 2011e, 2012c). OC is a condition of the liver. You may develop jaundice with OC, which can make your wee dark and your poo paler than usual (RCOG 2011e, 2012c).

If you have mild itching, try not to worry too much. Some itching is normal as your skin stretches to accommodate your growing baby (Crafter and Brewster 2014).

However, it’s best to have intense itching checked out. This is especially the case if the itching is worse at night and centres on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands (RCOG 2011e, 2012c).

I fell and hit my belly

Falls or blows aren’t always dangerous (Cahill et al 2008, Trivedi et al 2012), but call your doctor or midwife on the same day and explain what happened.

If you slipped on the stairs and bruised your tailbone, you probably don’t need to worry. Your baby is well cushioned by your womb and amniotic fluid.

However, blows to your abdomen are more likely to result in complications (Trivedi et al 2012), as are injuries to your bones, tendons or ligaments (Cannada et al 2010).

If you notice contractions, leaking fluid, or any bleeding, call your doctor or midwife right away, or go to your nearest accident and emergency department (A&E).

I just don’t feel right

If you’re not sure about a symptom, don’t feel like yourself, or simply feel uneasy, trust your instincts and call your doctor or midwife. If there’s a problem, you’ll get help right away. If nothing’s wrong, you’ll go home reassured.

Your doctor or midwife expects to get calls like these, and will be happy to give you advice. Your body is changing so rapidly that it’s sometimes difficult to know if what you’re experiencing is normal, or if it’s something to worry about.

Discover how to cope with these other pregnancy aches and pains:

Don’t forget to download our free app for a day-by-day guide to your pregnancy. My Pregnancy & Baby Today gives you all the expert advice you need, right at your fingertips.
Last reviewed: January 2017
Next review: January 2020

References

Aguilera P. 2015. Pregnancy, round ligament pain. Medscape. emedicinehealth.com [Accessed December 2016]

BDA. 2013. Food fact sheet: fluid. The Association of UK Dietitians. bda.uk.com [Accessed December 2016]

Cahill AG, Bastek JA, Stamilio DM et al. 2008. Minor trauma in pregnancy: is the evaluation unwarranted? Am J Obstet Gynecol 198(2):208.e1-5

Cannada LK, Pan P, Casey BM et al. 2010. Pregnancy outcomes after orthopedic trauma.J Trauma 69(3):694-8

Crafter H, Brewster J. 2014. Common problems associated with early and advanced pregnancy. In: Marshall JE, Raynor MD. eds. Myles Textbook for Midwives. 16th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 221-42

Dreier JW, Andersen AM, Berg-Beckhoff G. 2014. Systematic review and meta-analyses: fever in pregnancy and health impacts in the offspring. Pediatrics 133(3):e674-88

Gaufberg SV. 2015. Emergent management of abruptio placentae.Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com [Accessed January 2017]

HSCIC. 2013. NHS maternity statistics - England 2012-13. Main tables. Health and Social Care Information Centre. hscic.gov.uk [Accessed January 2017]

Kenny LC. 2011. Antenatal obstetric complications. In Baker PN, Kenny LC. eds. Obstetrics by ten teachers. 19th ed. London: Hodder Arnold, 86-108

Murray I, Hassall J. 2014. Change and adaptation in pregnancy. In: Marshall JE, Raynor MD. eds.Myles Textbook for Midwives. 16th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 143-77

NHS. 2014. Kidney infection. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. nhs.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NHS. 2015. Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy.NHS Choices, Health A-Z. nhs.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NHS. 2016. Gestational diabetes. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. nhs.uk [Accessed December 2016]

NICE. 2011. Hypertension in pregnancy: diagnosis and management. CG107. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2012. Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management. CG154. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2013. Nausea/vomiting in pregnancy. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2015a.Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period. NG3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2015b. Urinary tract infection (lower) - women. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2016a. Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies. CG62. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

NICE. 2016b. Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. CG190. National Instituute for Health and Care Excellence. nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2006. Preterm prelabour rupture of membranes. Minor amendment October 2010. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline 44. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2011a. Placenta praevia, placenta praevia accreta and vasa praevia: diagnosis and management. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline 27. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2011b. Information for you: a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia) after 20 weeks. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed December 2016]

RCOG. 2011c. Antepartum haemorrhage. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline 63. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2011d. Reduced fetal movements. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline 57. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG 2011e. Obstetric cholestasis. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline 43. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2012a. Information for you: when your waters break early. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2012b. Information for you: your baby’s movements in pregnancy. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2012c. Information for you: obstetric cholestasis. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2014. Information for you: premature labour. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

RCOG. 2016. Ectopic pregnancy: information for you. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. rcog.org.uk [Accessed January 2017]

Trivedi N, Ylagan M, Moore TR, et al. 2012. Predicting adverse outcomes following trauma in pregnancy. J Reprod Med 57(1-2):3-8

advertisement

Track your baby’s development

Join now to receive free weekly newsletters tracking your baby’s development and yours throughout your pregnancy.
Trying to conceive?
&

Comments

Log in or sign up to post a comment!

https://imageserve.babycenter.com/15/000/079/P4drmETAeGKDGzHIXdafrYV1d1ncMihb
Well, i have quite a bit of concerns. Im 5 weeks in and when i stand up my vision goes almost to black, i dont have an appetite, im nauseous all the time, and theres a lot of fluid leakage and im not sure why..
https://imageserve.babycenter.com/15/000/079/P4drmETAeGKDGzHIXdafrYV1d1ncMihb
Add a comment
https://imageserve.babycenter.com/15/000/079/P4drmETAeGKDGzHIXdafrYV1d1ncMihb
Am Aving spotting in my 7weeks pregnancy and dis is my 1st child am worried
https://imageserve.babycenter.com/15/000/079/P4drmETAeGKDGzHIXdafrYV1d1ncMihb
hii all i m from kolkata..and m 28 weeks pregnant..i m consulting Dr sarmistha patra..is she ok for normal delivery..please reply
https://imageserve.babycenter.com/15/000/079/P4drmETAeGKDGzHIXdafrYV1d1ncMihb
With constipation use some magnesium it will help or advice a tea spoon of flaxseed mixed in yoghurt it worked for me
Join BabyCentre
Sign up to receive free emails and track your baby's development.
advertisement

Our site uses cookies to store information on your computer.
We want to make your experience easy and help you quickly find information that matters to you. By using our site, we assume that you consent to our use of these cookies. To learn more about our cookies, including how to opt out, please review our .

Getting pregnant
Pregnancy
Baby
Toddler
Preschooler
Life as a parent
COMMUNITY
Meet other mums!
In your Birth Club, you can meet other mums and mums-to-be whose due date, or baby's birth date, is the same as yours. It's the perfect place to share advice, support and friendship with others who know what you're going through, because they are too!
BLOG