Serious pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore

Pregnancy symptoms can come in all shapes and sizes, from swollen ankles to developing a sense of smell like a beagle. But despite the endless variety of pregnancy symptoms from week-to-week, trimester-to-trimester, and mom-to-mom, there are certain symptoms that no pregnant woman should ever ignore. If you think that you are experiencing any one of the symptoms below, it’s best to call your healthcare provider right away, even if the symptom turns out to be totally harmless!

  • Vaginal bleeding, spotting, or an increased amount of vaginal discharge. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can range from slight and painless, to heavy with abdominal or pelvic pain, and could indicate a number of serious conditions like an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
  • Intense lower back or abdominal pressure or pain. Slight abdominal discomfort is common, but if the pain becomes persistent or more severe, this could mean that there is an issue.
  • Insatiable thirst is a sign of dehydration, itself a symptom of gestational diabetes. It’s definitely good to call your provider, as gestational diabetes could present a problem for both you and baby.
  • If a baby begins to move significantly less or more often than usual, this could be a sign that something is amiss, so it’s definitely best to see your healthcare provider ASAP. Tracking kicks can help you determine how much movement you expect.
  • Rapid heartbeat, or frequently feeling dizzy or fainting could be signs of low blood pressure, so it’s important that your healthcare provider be aware of this.
  • Double vision, flashing lights, migraines, or intense headaches could all be signs of preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, so it’s definitely important to let your healthcare provider know.
  • A fever over 100oF (about 38 C) could cause your body to overheat, which could definitely do some developmental damage. Calling your healthcare provider upon recording a high body temperature is certainly the smart move.
  • Persistent, uncontrollable vomiting could cause dehydration or be symptomatic of something more serious, so you should get in contact with your healthcare provider if your vomiting is uncontrollable.
  • More than four contractions in an hour (37 weeks or earlier) could indicate that you’re going into preterm labor, so it’s of the utmost importance that you get into contact with your healthcare provider if your contractions are this frequent.
  • Any serious impact to your abdomen could result in damage to a baby's development, so it’s very important that you contact your healthcare provider if you think you bumped into something too hard.
  • Depression, flu symptoms, infectious diseases and any other seemingly pregnancy-unrelated health problems could impact you and your pregnancy in unforeseen ways, so it’s always a good idea to advise your healthcare provider about any changes in your physical or emotional health.
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain can both be indicators that something is amiss, so it's best to call your healthcare provider if you experience either of these.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
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  • "Exercise During Pregnancy." ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, May 2016. Web.
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