Knowing the warning signs during pregnancy

January 2017

Some symptoms can be dangerous or harmful in pregnancy which if ignored could affect the health of the mother, baby or both. An awareness of such symptoms and when to seek medical help is important of which some are listed below.

Keep your hand held maternity records safe together with all of the emergency contact details and telephone numbers of your GP, out of hours and hospital. It is equally important to tell your partner where these details are so that in an emergency he can call on your behalf.

Uterine contractions


Uterine contractions are a normal healthy sign to tell you that your baby will soon be born. This is the case if you have reached 37 weeks or more. However, contractions before this time require you to seek medical attention so that the baby can be safely monitored and appropriately cared for if necessary. At whatever stage of pregnancy you are, any contractions that are increasingly strong, long and regular mean you must to go straight to hospital.

Pain with vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy MUST always be checked out, but during early pregnancy can be an indication of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Bleeding after 20 weeks can be a sign that there is a problem with the placenta. It is therefore crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible to identify the cause of bleeding so the appropriate care can be given.

Loss of blood


Vaginal Bleeding as above requires urgent medial attention.

Abdominal pain


Sudden abdominal pain requires prompt medical attention especially if accompanied with vaginal bleeding.

Breaking of waters, loss of amniotic fluid


This is when the protective membrane sac and amniotic fluid surrounding your baby ruptures. If this occurs too early it can cause miscarriage or put your baby at great risk of infection.

Decrease in fetal movements


Fetal movements are first felt around 18 weeks sometimes later if it your first pregnancy. In later pregnancy much stronger definite kicks are felt.

The sudden absence of these movements requires an emergency consultation.

A fever




A fever in pregnancy can cause termination of pregnancy if the fever is caused by
  • An infection of the egg
  • Infection of the mother's kidneys
  • Listeriosis ... non-exhaustive list


It is essential to consult a doctor from the very first signs of a fever during pregnancy.


Pre-eclampsia


Pre-eclampsia usually happens towards the end of pregnancy and causes one or more of the following symptoms :
  • A sudden rise in blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbance such as blurred vision, sudden loss of vision and flashing lights.
  • Hissing or buzzing in the ears
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling of the face, fingers, body
  • Presence of albumin in urine.


These symptoms can occur suddenly in a woman with no history of hypertension or albumin in the urine.

Any women presenting with theses symptoms or who have Pre-eclampsia may go on to develop eclampsia causing a convulsion or coma.

Genital herpes


Is a virus and usually a sexually transmitted infection. During pregnancy there is a risk of passing it on to the baby, which could be harmful. It is therefore crucial to tell your midwife or GP so you can be advised about treatment and possibly advised to have a Caesarean section to avoid transmission of infection to the baby.

Vaginal discharge with a foul smell


Discharge that becomes yellowish and give off a bad smell can be a sign of a vaginal infection which if left untreated may affect the baby.

Pain, stinging and burning when urinating


If you have pain, stinging and or burning when passing urine. it can be suggestive of a urinary tract infection which requires medical attention.

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