When a woman becomes pregnant, she is very aware that a new life is growing within her for the next nine months. Millions of women give birth to healthy babies every day. On the other hand, one often hears of women who have miscarriages, or who give birth to stillborn children or children with birth defects. This acts as a constant reminder of just how fragile and delicate the process from conception to childbirth is. It is a long road with pitfalls at every turn. While most women negotiate the path to motherhood successfully, always at the back of their minds runs the thought that things can go wrong if they are not careful.
A pregnant woman's body has several ways of indicating that the pregnancy is in trouble. Vaginal bleeding or spotting in the first three months of pregnancy should set off the alarm bells in the mind of an expectant mother. Bleeding accompanied by mild cramps when the uterus is enlarged and the cervix is closed may be a warning sign of a possible abortion. Sometimes the bleeding tends to be heavy and the cramps are moderate to severe. In addition, if tissue is passed, the uterus enlarged and the cervix is open, the condition is symptomatic of a miscarriage. Vaginal bleeding accompanied by moderate to severe pain often confined to one side and fainting could indicate an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tube). When a woman has dysfunctional and variable vaginal bleeding and the uterus is a normal size and the cervix is closed, she probably has a hormone imbalance.
Pre-eclampsia or toxemia
Severe, persistent headaches in pregnant women accompanied by inordinate weight gain, fluid retention, blurred vision and spots before the eyes are a symptom of pre-eclampsia or toxemia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). Sudden swelling of the hands, feet and ankles is also a sign of toxemia. A woman with these symptoms may need to be hospitalized to bring down her blood pressure or for fetal testing. Toxemia could result in complications like inadequate fetal growth, premature labour or fetal distress during labour.
Most people associate pregnancy with morning sickness. Pregnant women are mostly affected by morning sickness in the first three months. However, if a pregnant woman experiences prolonged vomiting over one or two days, preventing adequate intake of fluids, it may lead to dehydration requiring hospitalization.
When a pregnant woman develops fever and chills not accompanied by the symptoms of a cold, she should be careful. A high fever can be dangerous as it can cause premature labour. A sudden gush of fluid from the vagina may be an indication of the premature rupture of the membranes in the last trimester of pregnancy. When this occurs, an infection known as amnionitis develops the symptoms of, which are fever, a discharge that gives off a bad smell and abdominal pain. This is potentially dangerous for the fetus.
Urinary tract infection
Sometimes pregnant women need to urinate frequently. They may also feel some discomfort during urination either as a burning sensation or a dull pain in the lower abdomen towards the end of urination. These are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
Sudden intense or continual abdominal pains early in the pregnancy could signify a miscarriage. These symptoms late in pregnancy could be a precursor for premature labour.
Lack of fetal movement
If a pregnant woman feels a marked decrease in fetal movement, she should consult the doctor immediately as this could indicate fetal distress.