Find out what’s normal and what’s not
Your body goes through so many changes during pregnancy, you’re bound to wonder what’s normal and what might not be. Of course, your frequent doctor visits are an excellent time to ask questions about the changes in your body. But you should also watch out for changes that might signal something is wrong.
"It’s normal to have a lot of questions and feel unsure of exactly what’s happening to your body," explained Geisinger obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Semuteh Rogers. "In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about, but in some instances you should call your doctor immediately."
Here are six pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore.
It’s not uncommon to experience minor bleeding or spotting during the first trimester, but heavy bleeding any time during your pregnancy is a sign that warrants a call to your doctor.
"Early in pregnancy, bleeding is somewhat normal, but it could be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy," said Dr. Rogers. "If you experience vaginal bleeding in the second or third trimester, you should call your doctor immediately because the mother or baby’s health could be in danger."
During your first trimester of pregnancy, you may experience headaches more frequently than normal because of the increase in hormones. They could also start if you’ve abruptly stopped consuming caffeine or if you’re hungry or thirsty.
But headaches later on in your pregnancy—especially if they come on strong or get increasingly worse—could be a sign of preeclampsia, a condition that could prove fatal for you and your baby.
Excessive Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are hallmark signs of morning sickness, a condition many women experience during the first trimester of pregnancy. But if it’s excessive, you could be putting you and your baby’s health at risk.
"If you can’t eat or drink because you get so sick, you need to see your doctor because it could be hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG," said Dr. Rogers. "Leaving HG untreated could lead to low birth weight or your baby being born prematurely."
Calf Pain or Swelling
Leg or joint pain is common during pregnancy and could be a result of weight gain or the changing shape of your body. Similarly, it’s not uncommon for your ankles, feet and hands to swell slightly, especially during the third trimester.
In rare cases, calf pain and swelling could be a sign of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If a blood clot breaks free, it could travel to your lungs and cause a deadly pulmonary embolism.
A fever during pregnancy isn’t uncommon—it may be a mild viral illness. However, if a fever doesn’t get better after taking acetaminophen it could be a sign of a bacterial infection.
"If your fever lasts more than a day or two, you should see your doctor so he or she can determine what the cause is," explained Dr. Rogers.
Decrease in Baby Activity
As your baby grows inside the womb, he or she will start to have less room to kick and move around. However, if you notice a sharp drop-off in how much the baby moves around, it could be cause for concern.
To determine if there’s a problem, drink something cold or eat a snack and lie on your left side. This will often get the baby moving. But if it doesn’t, call your doctor.
"These warning signs aren’t supposed to scare you; it’s better to be educated and know what to expect during your pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy," said Dr. Rogers.
Geisinger obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Semuteh Rogers, MD, sees patients in Wilkes-Barre at 1155 E. Mountain Blvd. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rogers or another Geisinger OB-GYN, please call 800-275-6401 or visit Geisinger.org.