Pregnancy comes with a lot of changes for expectant mothers. Sometimes they could get overly worried because of certain things they notice in their bodies or in the baby growing inside them during pregnancy. This is a normal experience for most women especially if that’s their first pregnancy.
It is good that every pregnant woman should try to get in touch with her doctor or healthcare provider if she notices or feels any abnormal changes during pregnancy just to ensure that everything is alright with her and her unborn baby. However, it is not every change the pregnant woman feels that means something is wrong with her or the baby, and there’s no need to panic over such.
In this article, we will enumerate some abnormal changes or signs during pregnancy that warrants a pregnant woman to see her Doctor who will assess and ascertain that everything is OK or perhaps there is something that needs to be done to preserve the health and safety of both the woman and the unborn baby.
Most of these abnormal changes or signs can be picked up by the doctor during the routine antenatal visits and that is why it is very important that all pregnant women faithfully attend these routine hospital visits. We also advise that the husbands should provide the right support and encouragement for their wives to attend their prenatal visits, and there is nothing wrong if you can even attend the hospital visits with them.
Signs You Should See Your Doctor When Pregnant
For most women who are sexually active and have engaged in unprotected sex (that is, without condom or any other form of contraception), the first sign they notice that tells them to see the doctor is when they’ve missed their period for the month plus the “morning sickness” and other early signs of pregnancy. This is when they either conduct a urine pregnancy test at home or go to the hospital for the doctor to conduct or confirm the test at the hospital setting.
In the situation where the pregnancy test turns out negative, that’s when the doctor will look for other possible causes of your symptoms and treat it. But in the event where the pregnancy test turns out positive, this is when you need to be cautious to heed to all the general advice for pregnant women and report to your doctor if you notice any of these signs:
1. Bleeding From the Vagina
Usually, the woman’s egg gets fertilized by sperm in the Fallopian tubes and the fertilized egg needs to travel to the uterus (womb) where the baby is meant to grow and develop healthily. Sometimes when the egg attaches to the surface of the womb, it can result in bleeding called implantation bleeding, which is not a cause for alarm. It is also possible that a vaginal or cervical injury after sexual intercourse to cause bleeding from the vagina. A simple hospital visit to see your doctor can help ascertain whether the bleeding is due to something serious like fibroid or nothing to worry about.
However, when you start bleeding from the vagina accompanied by lower abdominal pains, it may be signalling an ectopic pregnancy, which means that the fertilized egg has attached somewhere else apart from the womb. This is a medical emergency and you should report to the hospital immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Bleeding from the vagina especially within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy could be signalling an abortion or miscarriage. This can be properly diagnosed and treated when you get to the hospital. Bleeding from the vagina during late pregnancy (after 28 weeks) could be a sign of what is classified as antepartum hemorrhage, in which placenta previa and placenta abruptio are the commonest. They are a medical emergency and requires immediate visit to the hospital.
2. Excessive Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting is quite normal during the early weeks of pregnancy. But when it becomes severe enough that it is almost impossible for you to keep anything down your throat, you should see your doctor immediately. A condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum always presents with excessive nausea and vomiting, and this is a medical emergency. The danger here is that the excessive vomiting can to dehydration which can be fatal to both expectant mother and fetus.
3. High Fever
Fever greater than 38 °C when pregnant is a sign you should see your doctor. High fever signals that you have an infection and your doctor will need to diagnose what kind of infection it is and appropriately treat it. When the high fever is accompanied by rash and joint pain, it could be an infection with toxoplasma, parvovirus or Cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can cause congenital deafness in the baby.
4. Vaginal Discharge And Itching
Vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy but when you notice there is a change in the colour, odour or quantity, it means you should see your doctor for medical assessment. Abnormal Vaginal discharge during pregnancy which is accompanied with itching may indicate a sexually transmitted infection.
In the last trimester of the pregnancy, any vaginal discharge before 28 weeks may be an indication of preterm labour whereby your burst earlier than expected, and that means the baby will have to be delivered prematurely. When you notice vaginal discharge (your water bursting) at 37 weeks or more, it is a sign of normal labour and you need to be taken to the hospital in good time for the delivery of your baby.
5. Painful Urination
Painful urination is a sign of urinary tract infection. It can easily be treated with the right antibiotics. The danger of urinary tract infection during pregnancy is that it can lead to preterm labour and hence, premature delivery of the baby. So it’s important that you pay your doctor a visit in good time if you are having pains when urinating.
6. Leg/calf Pain or Swelling
In most pregnant women, having slightly swollen legs or some pains in the legs is a common normal experience. The pain and swelling should be relieved after a little walking around or massage, but if the swelling looks more on one leg than the other or the pain is severe, it’s good indication that you should see your doctor about it. Swollen legs can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in which blood clots in the veins of the leg and can move to your lungs and block the arteries there (pulmonary embolism). Pulmonary embolism can lead to sudden death.
7. Having Increased Symptoms of Other Chronic Conditions
It is possible that you might be having a chronic condition before you got pregnant. You should see your doctor immediately if you start having flare ups of any chronic illness you might be having during the pregnancy. Chronic conditions that can be worrisome during pregnancy include thyroid disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and lupus.
8. Change in Fetal Movement
First time pregnant women are most likely to feel their baby’s first kick at around 16-22 weeks. As the pregnancy progresses, your baby is expected to have a regular kicking pattern which you should know because it can differ from child to child. When you notice an abnormal change in the regularity of your baby’s movement whether the baby is kicking more or less than expected, you should see your doctor immediately because it may mean that something is wrong with the baby inside the womb.
Having contractions is a sign that you’ve started labour and that your baby is ready to come out. You are expected to begin having contractions at 37 weeks or more and that means you should be on your way to the hospital for delivery. Sometimes you can have what is called Braxton Hicks contractions. This is a false labour in which there is no dilatation of the cervix. You should still see your doctor whenever you start having contractions irrespective of whether it is a true or false labour.