For most women, pregnancy is an exciting and joyful time. For others, health complications can make the experience less pleasant and more overwhelming and anxiety provoking. There are steps you can take to prevent a pregnancy-related health complication from spiralling out of control and damaging both you and your baby. Keep an eye out for these red flags – noticing them in time could save your life.
High Blood Pressure
There’s a reason your doctor checks your blood pressure regularly throughout your pregnancy. A high reading may be normal, or it could be a warning sign for preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that may mean you have to be induced before your due date to avoid additional complications. Hypertension can cause additional complications like placental abruption, gestational diabetes, and preterm delivery. Your doctor will use a bp monitor to keep an eye on your blood pressure as your pregnancy progresses – as long as it stays in a healthy range, you should be safe.
Bleeding is always an important warning sign to watch out for during pregnancy. If you’re in the first trimester and experience heavy bleeding, it’s important to alert your doctor or head to the emergency room to check that you’re not miscarrying. Bleeding combined with abdominal pain, cramps, and dizziness during the first trimester can also point toward ectopic pregnancy, a condition that must be treated immediately. If you experience bleeding during the third trimester then you may be at risk of placental abruption, a dangerous complication that warrants an urgent response.
Severe Morning Sickness
As many pregnant women can attest, morning sickness is often more like all day sickness. Nausea is a common first trimester symptom, but when it progresses to a severity that prevents you from digesting food or holding down essential fluids, you may need extra medical support. Dehydration and malnourishment can prevent your baby from growing properly and could lead to major health problems for the mother. There are anti-emetics that can reduce nausea and IV fluids can treat dehydration, but prompt medical treatment is key.
Headaches are common for many women during pregnancy, but painful headaches that persist in the third trimester are definitely something to call your doctor about. Severe headaches are one of the warning signs of preeclampsia, so keep an eye on how frequent your headaches are and how intense they become. If they don’t respond to painkillers and continue for more than a few days, it’s time to go for a check-up. If your headaches are accompanied by blurred vision, abdominal pain, or unusual swelling in your extremities then preeclampsia may very well be to blame.
While depression may be a psychological problem, it can have a major impact on women health during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby. Look out for symptoms like low mood, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping, suicidal thoughts, and a reduced level of interest in activities you normally enjoy. Sometimes the symptoms are subtle and difficult to spot, but even seemingly small changes in your mood and energy levels are worth keeping track of. Depression during pregnancy can be a warning sign for postnatal depression, a condition that can make the newborn stage much more difficult. Treatment is available, but asking for help is essential.