Pregnancy is an exciting time! Your body is changing rapidly as your baby develops. Along the way, you may experience new pains, skin conditions and other problems that you haven’t felt before. Here are the nine symptoms to pay attention to.
Pain with Peeing
Let your OB-GYN know if peeing is painful. It could be a simple UTI that can be treated with over-the-counter drugs, but it may still require your doctor’s attention. The pain may signal infection, which could spread to your kidneys (acute pyelonephritis) and lead to kidney failure or even spread through your blood, causing sepsis that if left unchecked can result in death. During pregnancy, your body is more vulnerable and prone to infection, so even something seemingly little like a UTI can be more dangerous. This explains why, during pregnancy, your doctor always runs a urine analysis with each prenatal visit and will check urine culture at your initial OB appointment.
Sharp Pain in the Abdomen
The reasons behind sharp pains in your abdomen area can vary from trimester to trimester. This could simply be growing pains as your pelvic ligaments stretch and the uterus grows to accommodate your baby. You may feel increased pressure on your hips, which is normal; depending on the trimester, you could experience practice contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions. But this symptom could also indicate:
- An ectopic pregnancy
- Abnormal pregnancy or something wrong with pregnancy
- Preterm labor
- Problems with bowel, bladder and other organs
If the pain persists, make an appointment to see your doctor. However, if the pain is so great that you’re curled up in the corner of the bathroom, head straight to the ER.
Fever Over 100.4
If you have a temperature of 100.4 or greater, go right to the ER. A number this high indicates infection.
Nausea and vomiting are common among pregnant women due to a placenta-created hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. However, if you can’t stop vomiting, this could prevent you and your baby from receiving proper nutrition. Too much vomiting can also disturb your electrolyte balance and cause weight loss.
You’ll need to treat it differently, depending on the severity.
- If you can’t eat or drink, head to the ER.
- If you can drink water, wait and see if it gets better, and call your doctor for some anti-nausea medicine.
Most of vomiting will get better as you get further along in pregnancy, but about 2% of all pregnancies will develop hyperemesis gravidarum, which could require multiple hospital stays to help you recover and find the best regimen to help with recurrent vomiting.
Swelling in your face and hands that doesn’t diminish when you rest could indicate preeclampsia or a blood pressure problem. Swelling in your legs that happens gradually tends to be related to diminished blood return to your heart from the legs due to baby and growing uterus pressing on blood vessels from your legs. If this occurs, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss best strategies. If the swelling is affecting only one side of your body and comes on suddenly, it could be a sign of trouble, such as a blood clot forming in your legs, so it's best to head to the ER.
Pregnancy hormones affect vision during the first trimester. Seeing floaters is common. However, if this symptom does not go away, talk to your doctor. It could indicate elevated blood pressure or diabetes. While pregnant, you face a greater risk of developing diabetes due to elevated levels of estrogen, cortisol and human placenta lactogen, (hPL). All these hormones can block insulin, which is responsible for the breakdown of sugar.
Headaches are common early in pregnancy, especially if you have a history of migraines or tension headaches. Headaches are worth mentioning to your doctor as they are associated with:
- Intracranial hypertension
If it is an intense and terrible headache, go to the ER.
Change in Baby Movements
You will start feeling some baby movement at about 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. As the baby grows to about 26 weeks gestational age, you will experience lots of baby movement. This is normal. At this time, you’ll start to notice patterns in your baby’s kicking and rolling. If the kicking has slowed, stopped or you are concerned, one way to check if your baby’s movements are normal is to lie down in bed and count. At least 10 movements in two hours is ideal. If you don’t feel this much activity, go to the ER.
Itching is a common pregnancy complaint. It can be benign, caused by something simple, such as a yeast infection. However, watch for three other signs.
- Severe itching on your hands and the soles of your feet that shows up without any signs of a rash could indicate a liver condition known as ICP. With this condition, bile stays blocked in the liver, and those bile components are deposited in the skin. This can lead to early birth or worse, so let your physician know.
- Blisters on your belly in the second or third trimester could be a sign of pemphigoid gestationis. Tell your physician so that you can get on the right medications.
- Small, red bumps or hives on your abdomen could be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques in pregnancy (PUPP). This skin condition is benign but could indicate a change in your immune system, so also mention it to your doctor.
If any other unusual symptoms arise, contact your doctor. It’s always better to err on the side of safety to best protect the health of you and your new baby.
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