Pregnancy is rough on your body, even in the most ideal circumstances. Aches and pains are common, and things that would didn’t even know existed will hurt. It’s a crazy ride, to say the least. But while some stuff is to be expected, there are certain pregnancy pains that you should not ignore. It’s always best to operate with an abundance of caution when it comes to your health and the health of your baby!
Pregnancy pains, like I said, are to be expected. But it’s important to understand what’s normal and what’s not. For example, your back hurting on occasion? Totally normal!
1. Unending, excruciating back pain? Not normal.
Persistent back pain could be a sign of a more serious problem. Your back will hurt, yes. You may even experience sciatica, which can be awful. But if you are having back pain that doesn’t let up at all, even with ice or heat or stretching, it could be a sign of a kidney or bladder infection, a cyst, or even preterm labor.
2. Leg pain is another pain that needs your attention.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a regular leg cramp and something more serious. But if you’re experiencing pain in just one leg, or you have a red, swollen spot on your leg that’s warm to the touch, it could be a sign of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The hormonal changes in your blood make it more likely to clot coupled with the pressure from your uterus impeding circulation can cause DVT. It can be incredibly serious, even deadly. So take those leg pains seriously.
3. Bleeding gums are a lovely pregnancy side effect, but pay close attention to what’s happening in your mouth.
The hormonal changes in the blood make pregnant women more susceptible to bacterial gingivitis. Left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease. That’s scary because women with gum disease are eight times more likely to go into preterm labor! If your bleeding gums are red, swollen, or painful, get thee to a dentist, STAT.
4. Don’t ignore abdominal pain during pregnancy.
There’s a lot happening in that region during pregnancy, and some abdominal pain or discomfort is normal. You may experience something called round ligament pain, which is uncomfortable but nothing to worry about. But if you have pain in your abdomen that is severe, constant, or accompanied by vaginal bleeding, get it checked out. It could be a sign of a more serious issue like a cyst, an ectopic pregnancy, or even miscarriage.
5. Your feet will very likely swell during pregnancy, but pay close attention to more than a little swelling in your hands or ANY swelling in your face.
Preeclampsia is a condition that endangers the life of the mother and the baby and it’s incredibly serious. Sudden, severe swelling in your feet and ankles or hands, and any swelling in your face is something you should get checked out immediately, because early detection of preeclampsia is vital. Again, better safe than sorry.
6. Headaches are another thing to watch for, especially if they’re really bad and don’t go away.
I had terrible headaches all throughout my first pregnancy, and they became so common that I finally mentioned them to my doc. Off to the hospital I went for a stress test and protein cultures! Headaches are another common symptom of preeclampsia, so don’t ignore them.
7. Pregnancy pains don’t have to be physical to get your attention.
As many as 1 in 8 women will suffer from depression during pregnancy. It’s even more common than postpartum depression. It’s easy to discount your symptoms as regular pregnancy mood swings or hormonal changes. But if you’re feeling unhappy or losing interest in work, your friends and family, or even your pregnancy, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Studies have shown that depression during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy complications like preterm labor, and an astonishing 75% of sufferers go on to have PPD after their babies are born.
8. Symptoms of a thyroid problem can be mistaken for regular pregnancy symptoms
Pregnant women aren’t routinely screened for thyroid disorders. But some persistent symptoms that seem pregnancy-related can actually be signs of a problem. Overactive thyroid symptoms include being warm all the time, insomnia, and heart palpitations. Underactive thyroid symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and hair and skin changes. Talk to your doctor about symptoms that don’t feel normal, especially if you have a history of thyroid problems in your family.
9. While not technically a “pain”, if you notice a decrease in fetal movement, call your doc.
Baby kicks are a great way for you to monitor your baby from the outside. If you feel a kick or a flip, make a note of it. You’ll probably start to notice a pattern, and that’s reassuring. If you notice the kicks and flips are becoming less frequent, call your doc. 10 movements in about two hours is considered normal.
10. Itching isn’t just annoying! It’s also one of those potentially dangerous pregnancy pains.
Itching is incredibly common as your skin stretches and gets drier. But it’s usually confined to certain areas, like your belly. All-over itching, or severe, persistent itching that doesn’t go away no matter what you do, could be a sign of a liver disorder called cholestasis of pregnancy.
Pregnancy pains are literally a pain! But they’re also helpful when it comes to figuring out what’s OK, and what’s not. Call your doc when something doesn’t feel normal, better safe than sorry.
(Image: iStock / nd3000)