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Pregnancy can be an absolutely amazing time. A time filled with joy and great expectations. We all hope to have an easy, complication-free pregnancy, but that cannot always be the case. Though a good majority of pregnancies will carry out with little to no serious issues we should still be cautious and aware of potential warning signs.
Your body is growing and changing at an extremely rapid rate during pregnancy. Sometimes it can be hard to know if that ache, pain or new symptom is something considered "normal" or if you should be heading to the nearest emergency room. Of course, when in doubt you should always trust your instincts. Whether or not a symptom during pregnancy is urgent can really depend on you and your health history. Be sure to talk with your doctor beforehand, so you know what to look out for. Continue reading for a list of warning signs you shouldn't ignore.
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Occasional spotting and even some light bleeding can be completely normal during pregnancy and does not always signify an urgent problem. For example, implantation bleeding can occur when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Not everyone experiences implantation bleeding but if your bleeding occurs before your expected period, this could be the cause. Spotting can also be caused by an increase in estrogen and blood flow during pregnancy.
Although spotting and bleeding during pregnancy can be normal and is not always a cause for concern, it is not to be expected and can be abnormal. It is important if you experience any amount of change in spotting or bleeding, including sudden onset, that you contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
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You may begin feeling your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, most women will begin to feel consistent movement around the 18-24 week mark. If this is your first baby you will generally not feel anything until about the 20-week mark at least. In the beginning, the movements will be sparse and sporadic, but once you start feeling your baby move on a consistent schedule you will start to learn their movements and know what is normal.
Generally speaking, it is expected that the baby will make 10 movements within a two hour period. If your baby is moving less than normal try drinking some cold water or juice and laying on your side. Count your movements. If your baby is still moving less than normal, contact your healthcare provider right away.
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A majority of woman will experience swelling of some degree during pregnancy. Your body begins producing approximately 50% more blood and body fluids during this time to meet the demands of a growing baby. Swelling can occur during any point in pregnancy but it tends to be noticed more around the fifth month and often increases in the third trimester. Swelling that is slight or that occurs as the day progresses is often normal during pregnancy.
However, if you experience sudden swelling of your hands or face this can be a sign of a much more serious pregnancy-related issue called Pre-Eclampsia. It is important to contact your healthcare provider with any sudden swelling.
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Headaches are common during pregnancy (thank you raging hormones), and chances are you if you are pregnant you will begin to see an increase in them around the ninth week. You could, of course, be one of the lucky few and actually experience a decrease in headaches! In the early stages of pregnancy, headaches can also be caused by an increase in the amount of blood flow, caffeine withdraw, feeling stressed or poor posture.
Like the swelling, however, if you begin to see a sudden increase in the pain, frequency or severity of a headache it could signal a serious pregnancy condition. If you have a headache that will not go away despite treatment and/or is accompanied by a sudden onset of swelling you should make an appointment with your doctor, this can be another symptom of Pre-Eclampsia.
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If you haven't noticed yet, you are bound to have some abdominal pain in pregnancy. After all, this is where the majority of the changes are taking place! Your uterus is constantly expanding, your internal organs are being constantly pushed and shifted out of place, your ligaments are being stretched (hello round ligament pain!) and let's not forget the morning sickness, gas and bloating. All of these are perfectly normal, although somewhat annoying, symptoms of pregnancy. While there are plenty of normal reasons you may be experiencing abdominal pain, there are times when abdominal pain can pose a serious risk.
An ectopic pregnancy can cause severe pain located on only one side of the abdomen, a miscarriage can cause abdominal pain accompanied by back pain, cramping, bleeding or spotting and a sudden decrease in other signs of pregnancy. Abdominal pain can also be a symptom of Pre-Eclampsia as well. If you are experiencing upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side, this can be a severe symptom and should be reported to your doctor.
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Morning sickness is a common occurrence in pregnancy and if you have never experienced it count your blessings! During the first trimester, many women will experience nausea and vomiting. Despite its name morning sickness can occur at any time day or night and may be constant. Morning sickness, although often miserable, is completely normal and is caused by (you guessed it) an increase in hormones.
What is NOT normal, however, is when the sickness becomes so severe that you are consistently vomiting multiple times a day and are unable to keep any food or water down. This can cause you to lose weight and become dehydrated. Often times morning sickness of this severity is linked to a more serious form of morning sickness called "hyperemesis gravidarum". If you are experiencing symptoms of this unfortunate pregnancy illness, you should seek help to avoid potential problems.
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Mild itching in pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about. Because of increased blood supply to the skin, you may experience mild itching on and off especially in the beginning months. As your pregnancy progresses further, and your baby continues growing, your skin will begin stretching which will cause itching as well. If you are experiencing mild itching try wearing loose clothing, and using a plain lotion. Mild itching is usually not harmful to you or the baby.
If however, you are experiencing severe itching this could be a sign of a more serious condition called ICP, a liver disorder. If you are worried your itching could be something more serious, it is important to contact your doctor or midwife.
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If you are pregnant you probably feel like you are constantly leaking. One of the first things you will notice is an increase in vaginal discharge this will usually be thin, white, and milky. It is normal to have up to a teaspoon or more of this discharge daily. Your bladder also feels up quicker and you may find yourself leaking urine from time to time.
If however, you feel you are consistently leaking fluid that is clear, white flecked, and/or tinged with mucous or blood, this could signify that you are leaking amniotic fluid and should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
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Leg pain in pregnancy can be caused by your sciatic nerve. As you uterus is growing and expanding the weight can put pressure on your sciatic nerve and cause pain to shoot down the back of your leg. You may also be experiencing leg cramps. Although there is speculation as to what actually causes them a few theories include: pressed nerves, decreased circulation, a vitamin deficiency or even dehydration. Your leg pain could also be the sign of something more severe.
It is important to let your OB know if you are experiencing leg pain, especially if it is centered in the back of one leg. This could be a sign of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and is the most severe potential cause of your leg pain.
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Most of the time back pain in pregnancy is nothing more than an inconvenience. Your growing uterus combined with poor posture creates a strain on your back, and in turn causes your back pain. Hormones can also play a cause in pregnancy-related lower back pain. Progesterone and relaxin are doing their part to prepare your body for pregnancy loosening ligaments, and as a result, the loosening causes an instability in your joints. This can cause imbalanced alignment and your back is one of the most vulnerable spots.
If your back pain is new and combined with uterine tightening, and/or vaginal bleeding this could be a sign of pre-term labor which is an urgent situation.
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Hormones during pregnancy can definitely add some strong emotions in your life. It is normal to be highly emotional, cry more often, become angry at the drop of a hat, and be back to your normal self (all within a span of five minutes). When we talk about antepartum depression, however, we are talking about a much more serious condition. If during pregnancy you experience severe sadness, difficulty concentrating, excessive sleeping, loss of interest in activities, anxiety, or recurring thoughts of death, hopelessness or suicide you should seek help from your doctor. Antepartum depression can be serious but is treatable.
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Weight gain is obviously a normal part of being pregnant. You should expect to gain 35-40 pounds in a normal healthy pregnancy. Nonetheless, this weight gain should be spread out over the entire three trimesters. Weight gain is caused by several factors including, the baby, amniotic fluid, the placenta, and fluid retention. In spite of this fact, if at any point during pregnancy you begin to experience sudden rapid weight gain (more than two pounds in a week)- you should contact your doctor as this may also be a sign of a life-threatening condition that we have previously mentioned, Pre-eclampsia.
If you have been pregnant or been around anyone who has been pregnant, you have probably heard of braxton hicks contractions. These are the annoying "practice" contractions your body puts you through prior to actually going into labor. Braxton hicks contractions are generally felt in the stomach area only as a tightening sensation. They are usually not painful, and quite irregular. You will usually begin to experience these contractions sometime in the second or third trimesters. If at any point before 37 weeks you begin to feel contractions that are painful, and/or are occurring four times or more in an hour- you should head straight into the doctor or hospital to be checked out.
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During pregnancy, it is common to have an increased appetite and you should make sure are staying hydrated. If you are experiencing an unquenchable thirst, or are unable to satisfy your hunger despite several attempts, you may be facing a more troubling issue. These two symptoms could be a sign of a pregnancy condition known as Gestational Diabetes. Gestational Diabetes is regularly screened for in pregnancy because the symptoms may be non-existent or may be mistaken for normal pregnancy symptoms.
If you are experiencing the above symptoms along with frequent urination, blurred vision or tingling/numbness in your hands, you should contact your doctor.
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This one is almost laughable, especially if this is not your first pregnancy. Pregnancy brings about an exhaustion that is unlike any you have ever experienced. Add in a toddler or two and you have a recipe for complete and utter exhaustion and fatigue. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing fatigue that is debilitating and keeps you from performing even the simplest of activities, you may be experiencing a more serious complication, such as anemia.
Severe anemia can increase your risk of having severe complications such as a pre-term delivery, or a low birth weight baby. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of severe fatigue or weakness.
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Unless you are regularly checking your blood pressure at home you may not notice this symptom. It may have little to no noticeable symptoms in itself. If however, you are experiencing a severe headache, changes in vision or abdominal pain, it would be a good idea to have your blood pressure checked and rule out a more serious complication. High blood pressure by itself does not always equal a problem in pregnancy, but if your blood pressure begins to creep up or gets as high as 140/90 it is important to be monitored closely by your doctor. Your doctor can keep an eye on the progression of your blood pressure as well as monitor for more serious symptoms such as protein in the urine.
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During pregnancy, you may feel flushed or more hot than normal. It can be hard to tell if you are actually experiencing a fever or not. Hormonal fluctuations and your baby, in general, will cause a little more heat to your body. Thankfully a mild fever, under 100 degrees is unlikely to have any sort of effect on your pregnancy. Most generally, A temperature of 100-101 degrees is considered a fever in pregnancy. If your temperature reaches 101 degrees you should call your healthcare provider immediately, no matter what time it is. If your temperature is only 100 degrees with no accompanying symptoms, you can try to bring the fever down and call your doctor if the fever persists.