Guest Author: Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, MD
When a woman becomes pregnant, we immediately think happy thoughts: a new addition to the family, a new grandchild, the baby shower, what colors to paint the nursery and, of course, the challenging role of becoming a parent. We make the assumption that everything will be okay during the pregnancy but sometimes it’s not. Complications can occur during the pregnancy, during labor and even after the baby is born.
The human body is a fascinating creation and it speaks to us if we have the wisdom to listen. The ability to recognize the “language” of the body can save our lives, especially during pregnancy. What are the symptoms that pregnant women need to recognize?
- A headache that occurs during the late second or third trimester and doesn’t go away with acetaminophen. This is one of the beginning signs of pre-eclampsia.
- Bleeding during pregnancy. There is no such thing as “normal” bleeding or spotting. Bleeding could signify an infection or a problem with the placenta. A pelvic exam should be done as well as an ultrasound.
- Gaining five pounds or more in one week. This is not normal and could represent the beginning of pre-eclampsia.
- Back pain that that is beyond a 5/10 scale, especially if it moves to the front of your abdomen. This is a sign of preterm labor until proven otherwise. This requires a phone call to your provider and a trip to labor and delivery.
- Fever and chills could represent an infection called chorioamnionitis which could directly affect the unborn baby.
- A headache or high blood pressure that continues AFTER the baby is born. Pre-eclampsia can last for several weeks after birth.
- Not able to have a bowel movement after a c-section. This could possibly indicate a complication called “bowel obstruction” and is a surgical emergency. You should not be discharged from the hospital until you’ve had a bowel movement.
Recognizing these seven symptoms could potentially save your life. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway is a board-certified ob-gyn physician with 30 years of clinical experience, author of a prenatal book and blogger who is passionate about teaching people how to understand their health conditions in order to obtain the best treatment possible. She is an alumnus of City College of New York, Columbia University School of Social Work and Boston University School of Medicine. In addition, she’s earned a certificate in Clinical Informatics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is also a proud mother of two amazing sons and an international adoption advocate. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., she presently lives in Florida.
Related Content: Spotting in Early Pregnancy
There are many changes that happen to the body during a normal pregnancy. A first time experience with something like spotting or light bleeding during pregnancy can wreak havoc on the expectant mother’s nerves. Spotting in early pregnancy is a good example of something that can be entirely normal as part of pregnancy in the first stages. Yet, spotting can also be a sign of a problem. It is important to understand when everything is likely fine, when a doctor should be called or when an emergency is in progress.