Pregnancy “Red Flags”

Signs and symptoms, aches and pains, questions and concerns…this might sound familiar. Pregnant bodies do things most people don’t even know are possible. Basically, you’re amazing.

No two pregnancies are exactly alike. Pregnancy-related discomforts are quite manageable for some, while others are not so fortunate. In any case, the signs and symptoms below should not be ignored.

Many of these can be normal; some are common in pregnancy and some are typical signs of labour. Still, all of these *can* be signs that you or your baby are unwell and if you’re the slightest bit unsure, it’s always better to get a professional opinion than to worry at home or – even worse – consult Dr. Google.

You might be thinking, “I already call my doctor too much! I don’t want to be *that* patient.”

Here’s the thing: they’ve seen it all many times before and they can appreciate your uncertainty. Your care provider would rather take a proactive approach. And remember, doctors and midwives are trained to ask the right questions when you call so they can make a recommendation about whether or not you need to be seen in person. Doesn’t it feel good sometimes to hand the decision over to someone else?

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Don’t let your symptoms stress you out. Check in with your care provider.

Call your care provider (your doctor or midwife) if you experience any of the following:

  • Swelling in your eyes, face, or hands
  • Rapid weight gain (more than four pounds in a week)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back pain or pressure that cannot be soothed
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular cramps or contractions before 37 weeks
  • Itching, especially on your hands and feet
  • Your baby is less active than usual
  • One leg more swollen than the other
  • Throbbing pain in one leg
  • High fever
  • Leak or gush of fluid from your vagina

Your care provider will be looking out for conditions such as:

  • Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy hypertension)
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy (buildup of bile, a digestive fluid, in the liver)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (implantation of a pregnancy outside of the uterus)
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm labour (labour before 37 weeks)
  • Deep venous thrombosis (blood clot)
  • Placenta previa (placenta blocking the cervix)
  • Placental abruption (placenta detaching from the uterus)
  • Signs that your water has broken
  • Signs that your baby is in distress

Your care provider might respond in one or more of the following ways:

  • Order tests (a urine test or blood test, ultrasound, blood pressure monitoring, fetal heart rate monitoring, or some combination of those)
  • Conduct a pelvic exam
  • Schedule an appointment in their office
  • Advise you to go to the hospital

Aside from the potential inconvenience, you can’t lose: if it turns out to be “nothing”, you’ll be able to get back to normal without needless worrying and if there is reason for concern, you’ll be glad you reached out and got the care you and your baby needed.

Wishing you a wonderful, happy, enjoyable and red flag-free pregnancy!

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