Warning Signs of Pregnancy Problems – When to Call Your Doctor

One of the most frequent questions expectant mothers have is “Is this normal?’. Although most pregnancies are normal and healthy, some of the new physical and emotional changes can cause moms-to-be to worry unless they know what to expect. What are the normal signs and symptoms as well as how can you identify the warning signs in pregnancy? Here is a list of things to watch out for at each stage of pregnancy to help you know when to call your doctor or midwife.

Warning Signs in Early Pregnancy

While the early months of pregnancy can be accompanied by many physical and emotional changes, here are several warning signs that might indicate a miscarriage has occurred:

  1. Heavy spotting or bleeding
  2. Cramping or abdominal pain

Should you notice either or both of the above warning signs in early pregnancy, be sure to contact your health care provider as quickly as possible.

Mid-to Late Pregnancy Problems

There are several warning signs to pay attention to whether you are in the second or third trimesters. Should you notice any of the following pregnancy warning signs, you should call your doctor or midwife’s office without delay!

  1. Changes in vision/dizziness/headaches – possible sign of severe anemia, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or preeclampsia
  2. Sudden swelling in the hands, feet and face – another potential sign of PIH
  3. Severe backache/contractions/cramps – these symptoms may indicate preterm labor is starting.
  4. Bleeding – moderate to heavy bleeding later in pregnancy could signal placenta previa, abruption or preterm labor.
  5. Fluid leaking from vagina – this could indicate that your bag of waters has broken and that labor is beginning.
  6. Decreased baby movement – this could mean your baby is not doing well – (see Royal College guidelines to look for decreased fetal movement.)

Warning Signs at Any Stage of Pregnancy

Some health problems can occur no matter what trimester of pregnancy you find yourself! If you notice any of the signs listed below, be sure to talk to your primary health care provider for guidance or to schedule an appointment as quickly as possible.

  1. Fever – elevated temperature of 101F or higher can be a threat to your baby so contact your doctor for his/her advice.
  2. Painful urination – possible an indication of a urinary tract infection, which tend to be more common during pregnancy.
  3. Feelings of anxiety or depression, inability to cope – expectant mothers can experience depression symptoms in pregnancy so it is best to not ignore these feelings.
  4. Fainting/passing out – this could be caused by dehydration or something more serious so contacting your care provider asap is necessary.
  5. Itching/burning or unusual discharge from vagina – this could indicate a vaginal infection.

Normal Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

Of course normal aches and pains happen throughout pregnancy so here are a few of the more common or normal changes that can happen during pregnancy.

  1. Nausea/Morning sickness – in the first trimester is normal, however contact your care provider should you feel persistent nausea later in pregnancy
  2. Digestive upsets – this can happen in late pregnancy, especially before your baby drops into your pelvis
  3. Insomnia – this is a typical pregnancy discomfort however talk to your care provider for ideas to help you sleep better should this become an issue.
  4. Cravings/Aversions to foods or smells – as long as you are eating a healthy diet, cravings or aversions are not problematic. See your care provider should you be craving non-edible substances.

Pregnancy is a time of tremendous change. Moms-to-be can have difficulty distinguishing normal pregnancy changes from problems at times. A good rule of thumb is that no matter what symptoms you are having that are not going away, it can never hurt to pick up the phone for medical advice.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.