5 Symptoms Pregnant Women Should Never Ignore
Pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful and fulfilling experiences of a woman’s life, but it definitely comes with its fair share of discomfort. Morning sickness, fatigue, and sore breasts are some of the many uncomfortable but perfectly normal symptoms of pregnancy. However, there are some other symptoms that aren’t exactly normal. If you are pregnant and experiencing any of these five symptoms, you should discuss them with your women’s health provider.
In any pregnancy, a bit of swelling is to be expected. But swollen hands, puffiness in the face, or sudden and severe swelling in the feet can be a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension, called preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia occurs in about five to 10 percent of pregnancies and is more common among women who have chronic high blood pressure, are over 40 or under 20 years old, or are pregnant with multiples.
It is treated most effectively when detected early, so contact your provider immediately if you notice any unusual swelling.
Rapid Weight Gain
Every pregnancy comes with a bit of weight gain, but how do you know what’s normal?
“Women with a normal body mass index are expected to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy,” says Kaitlin Cafferky, M.S.N., CRNP, WHNP-BC, of the Crozer Health OB/GYN practice. “But if you find yourself gaining an excessive amount of weight very rapidly, call your women’s health provider.”
During a healthy pregnancy, the mother will put on three to five pounds during the first trimester and then one to two pounds each following week. If you begin to put on more than four pounds every week, this is yet another sign of preeclampsia.
During pregnancy, your skin may be a bit itchier than usual because it’s dry and stretched out. However, if you experience constant itching all over your body, it’s time for a checkup. Itching that is severe enough to disrupt your daily life is a sign of obstetric cholestasis, a condition that impairs the flow of liquids from the liver. It occurs most often in the third trimester and, though it poses little risk to the mother, can be very harmful to the baby. Obstetric cholestasis will increase the likelihood of preterm labor and stillbirth.
Your Baby is Moving Less Than Usual
One of the greatest joys of pregnancy is feeling your baby move for the first time. By the final months, you should be feeling your baby move pretty regularly. If you notice a sudden decrease in activity, there may be something wrong.
“When the fetus suddenly stops moving, it could be a sign that it isn’t getting enough oxygen,” Cafferky says. “That’s why it’s important to monitor your baby’s movement, particularly in the third trimester.”
To do this, many providers recommend doing daily “kick counts” where you count how often your baby kicks or moves during a set amount of time. There are many different ways to do these, so talk to your provider about which works best for you and your schedule.
One of the problems with vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is that you can’t be exactly sure what’s causing it or if it poses a risk to your baby. Sometimes a little spotting or bleeding is perfectly okay, while other times it can be an indicator of a more serious issue.
“If you experience any sort of bleeding, you should always call your provider to be on the safe side because there’s no way for you to identify the underlying cause,” Cafferky says.
Some causes of bleeding, such as implantation of the embryo or sex, don’t pose a risk to your pregnancy. But bleeding can also be the result of serious placental problems, an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus), or a miscarriage.
If you experience any of these five symptoms, it’s important to get in touch with your provider. Together you can take the necessary steps toward a healthy pregnancy.