Symptoms you Shouldn’t Ignore

Most pregnancies run smoothly, but this does not mean you should not be cautious when it comes to the health of you or your baby. Many of the symptoms listed below can be harmless, but you should always get them checked out just in case they indicate something more serious. It is entirely normal to worry about the changes in your body and your GP will often be able to go through them with you.


Fever can be a sign of infection. Make sure you have a thermometer to measure your temperature; if it is over 37.5 degrees you need to see a doctor. If it is over 39 degrees you should see a doctor immediately to be prescribed antibiotics.

Severe Abdominal Pain

You may experience sharp pains in your mid to upper abdomen. This can indicate a variety of complaints. It could be something simple and harmless such as heartburn, a stomach bug or food poisoning, but on the other hand it could be more serious. Abdominal pain is a symptom of pre-eclampsia, an illness which affects one in ten pregnant women and if left untreated is potentially life-threatening. This is why it is always best to get yourself checked by a doctor if you are unsure.

Severe pain on one or both sides of your lower abdomen is generally an indication of something more serious. It might be an indication of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, premature labour, placental abruption or a fibroid degenerating and bleeding into itself.

Severe Headaches

It is normal for many women to get headaches during pregnancy. However, severe, migraine-like headaches which last several hours can be a sign of high blood pressure which is associated with pre-eclampsia. If you experience a migraine for the first time during pregnancy, seek medical attention.

Swelling of the Face, Hands and Feet

In most cases this is entirely normal and harmless, and many women experience puffiness or bulges. However, if you get these symptoms very suddenly or severely, and especially in conjunction with other symptoms, you should see your doctor, as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Distorted Vision

Vision disturbances that last up to two hours can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. This may include vision that is blurred or doubled, seeing spots or lights and dimming.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening of the muscles in the womb, and are likely to happen in the third trimester but can occur in the second. They happen now and again and last for about 25 seconds. They are perfectly normal and come and go, unlike real labour contractions which get steadily stronger and don’t go away. If they are painful, your doctor may be able to give you suitable pain medication.

Vaginal Bleeding

Whether this is minimal or heavy you should get in touch with your doctor. Light spotting lacking pain is a standard indication of implantation, but during pregnancy you must still speak to your doctor because in rare cases it can indicate complications. Bleeding which is dissimilar to your typical period and accompanied by severe pain on one side of your abdomen can indicate ectopic pregnancy. Intense bleeding or brown vaginal discharge can be a sign of miscarriage, or potential miscarriage, particularly when accompanied by severe back pain. Towards the end of your pregnancy, bleeding might indicate that the placenta has begun to separate at the barrier of the uterus, or labour that is premature.

Leaking from the Vagina

After thirty-seven weeks, leaking fluid probably means you are going into labour. Before thirty-seven weeks, it may be an indication that your membranes are broken prematurely. You will need to go to hospital to be prepared for a probable premature birth and to avoid infection.

Severe Vomiting

Every woman knows about morning sickness, but if you are vomiting two or more times a day in your first trimester you may become dehydrated. There is a possibility you might be required to go to hospital, so contact your midwife or GP about it. Vomiting in the later stages has different implications. If it comes alongside abdominal pain it could be a symptom of pre-eclampsia. If it comes with soreness and a high temperature it is likely to be an infection. In both instances call your doctor immediately.

Increased Thirst

If this is accompanied by little or no urination it may be an indication of lack of fluids or gestational diabetes. These can cause problems for you and your baby.

Painful Urination

If this is accompanied by backache or fever it could be a signal of a urinary tract infection and needs to be treated by a doctor.

Fainting or Dizziness

If you faint, speak with your doctor. Otherwise, dizziness and feeling faint may indicate that you are not eating enough or that your blood pressure is low.


As your stomach expands some itching is normal as your skin stretches. However, all-over itching including the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet can be an indication of liver problems. The itching may be worse at night and may or may not be accompanied by jaundice, dark urine and pale stools.

Baby’s Movements have Stopped or Slowed Down

If this happens longer than twenty-four hours after twenty-one weeks of pregnancy, it may be a sign that the baby is in distress. You should contact your midwife.

Feeling that ‘Things Aren’t Right’

You may feel that something has changed or is not normal but are unable to establish what it is. Get help straight away to put your mind at rest. A common example of this happens at around 13 weeks. Many women start to worry that they are no longer pregnant because of the changes in their bodies at this time; you stop vomiting, you start to feel more sociable and less tired. However, this is generally just a sign that your baby is growing normally.

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