One of the most remarkable things about pregnancy is being able to be in tune with the body and baby. A woman can start learning about her baby and her wants and needs well before birth. With all of these new changes, it’s important to understand how the body functions and changes during pregnancy. Being in touch allows a woman to understand when something is off or feels wrong, and it is always important to take even the smallest changes seriously. Because what may feel like a small change, may speak volumes about the health of the baby or the mom’s body.
For example, imagine a pregnant woman being at home, maybe taking a nap or watching some TV. All of a sudden she starts feeling sharp abdominal pains. These aren’t any sort of abdominal pains that she has experienced before. The pain seems to persist for several minutes and she starts to worry. Eventually, the pain subsides, but it was still abnormal for her to have sharp abdominal pains, and for it to persist so long. Does she brush it off or call a doctor? Experts would suggest she do the latter. It’s important for a woman to make note of abnormal symptoms or bodily changes that she may experience and understand when it’s time to call a doctor and even go to a hospital. Below, we list fifteen signs that it’s time for a woman to get to a hospital.
15 If She's Having Strong, Painful Contractions
It’s normal for a woman to experience some discomfort or contraction-like symptoms during pregnancy. When a woman experiences contractions after thirty-four weeks, they are often times sporadic and unpredictable. However, if the contractions seem to persist every couple of minutes, it’s important to contact a doctor or midwife so they can determine whether or not the mother is going into preterm labor.
If a woman is close to her due date and starts experiencing contractions, it could be signaling that it’s almost time. If a woman is experiencing contractions at regular intervals, this could be a sign that she is going into labor soon. If they’re kind of sporadic, it may not mean as much. Either way, if mom starts to experience unusual or painful contractions, she or a loved one should probably call their doctor or midwife. Extremely painful contractions or discomfort may be cause for concern and again, could warrant a call or trip to the doctor or midwife, especially if accompanied by bleeding that won’t seem to stop.
14 If She’s Experiencing Severe Dehydration
Women who experience severe morning sickness are especially prone to dehydration because they begin to lose a lot of fluid while vomiting. However, pregnant women who don’t have to deal with severe morning sickness are still at risk of dehydration if they aren’t consuming enough fluids. Pregnant women must consume more water than the average person because their bodies can lose water a lot faster. After all, she is sharing her body with another human being. Water intake can also affect the health of the baby, and it is needed to form the amniotic sac during pregnancy.
All in all, water is very important to the health and survival of the mom and baby. A sure sign of dehydration is called “maternal overheating.” This occurs when a mother hasn’t consumed enough water to regulate her body temperature. If a woman’s urine is dark yellow as opposed to a clearer color, this is a sign that she may be dehydrated and should be consuming more water. Dehydration can affect lots of things during a pregnancy like the amount of amniotic fluid a woman has or milk production. It can even cause premature labor and birth defects in some cases. This is why it is important for moms to always stay hydrated.
13 If She’s In Pain While Using The Bathroom
If there’s one room that a pregnant woman may need access to more than any other during pregnancy, it’s the bathroom. It’s not uncommon for a mom-to-be to frequent the restroom, a lot. Likewise, bladder infections are not unheard of during pregnancy either. Pregnant women hit a higher risk of a urinary tract infection during their 6th to 24th week of pregnancy.
This is because as the uterus starts to expand to make room for a growing baby, it can block the urinary tract and prevent urine from completely leaving the bladder when using the restroom. This can lead to a bacterial infection (UTI), and it can cause a painful or burning sensation, and increased need to urinate, blood in the urine, sweating, chills or even a fever. Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney infections which can affect a baby’s weight and cause preterm labor. If a woman starts to experience the symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy, she should go to the doctor so that she can begin antibiotic treatment to get rid of the UTI.
12 If She's Having Severe Headaches
Lastly, headaches are also very common during pregnancy. But, like most of the symptoms on this list, if they start to reach an extreme point, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional. Hormonal increases certainly play a part in the frequency of headaches a woman may experience, especially early on and late in the pregnancy. Headaches can also be caused by low blood sugar, restlessness, stress, and dehydration. Headaches can usually be treated at home, naturally with exercise, rest, balanced meals and ice packs.
If headaches seem to persist for excessive periods of time, get more painful, or if they are accompanied by blurred vision, it may be time to consult a physician or midwife to see what the causes may be and finding a treatment. Headaches can also be avoided in frequency by avoiding certain foods and beverages like chocolate, alcohol, yogurts, cheeses and bread made with fresh yeast. It can be hard to avoid some of these foods during pregnancy, especially as cravings abound. But cutting them out completely or having them in moderation, can decrease a woman’s likelihood of frequent headaches during her pregnancy.
11 If She’s Having Severe Stomach Pains
It is not abnormal to experience some abdominal pain during pregnancy. However, as mentioned above, some abdominal pains can be a sign that something is not right and requires immediate medical attention. Some pretty standard causes of abdominal pain can include gas, bloating and round ligament pain. Likewise, you may experience sharp pain due to the expansion of the uterus. It is important to know, though, that there is a difference between abdominal pain and contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions, which will be explained below. All of these symptoms, most times, don’t bring about very severe pain.
While all of the above symptoms are characteristic of normal parts of pregnancy, there are a few instances where severe abdominal pain signals something much less normal and alarming. Severe abdominal pain could be linked to miscarriage or even an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is essentially when a fertilized egg begins to grow outside of the uterus, oftentimes the egg may even get stuck in a fallopian tube. Regardless of the cause, if a woman is experiencing severe pain in her abdomen or uterus, she should seek medical attention immediately.
10 If She’s Bleeding
Bleeding is actually relatively normal for some women during the first part of pregnancy. But, it could signal a miscarriage or other danger to the baby. During the first few days of a pregnancy, a woman may experience bleeding as the egg is positioning itself in the woman’s uterus. This can often be mistaken for a period, which is why some women may not know that they are pregnant at first. As the pregnancy continues, however, especially as a woman gets along into her second and third trimester, bleeding becomes less common and more so a cause for concern.
If bleeding is accompanied by pain in the lower abdominal area it can be signs of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Either way, it requires immediate medical attention and a trip to the hospital. There are plenty of other reasons for bleeding later on in a woman’s pregnancy. Some of those reasons may include molar pregnancy, premature labor, cervical changes and signs of infection along with many others.
9 If She’s Experiencing Severe Sickness
Morning sickness and nausea are normal parts of pregnancy. However, excessive vomiting can be signs of something more serious. It can also lead to other problems down the line for mom and baby. Some women may experience what is known as “hyperemesis gravidarum" which translates into “excessive vomiting during pregnancy” or severe morning sickness. While it is rare, it is not unheard of for a woman to experience severe vomiting during pregnancy.
When a woman has hyperemesis gravidarum, she is throwing up several times throughout the day. If a woman is vomiting so much throughout the day that it is hard for her to function, she is weak or becomes dehydrated because of it, she should call a doctor and visit a hospital immediately. Although there is not much to be said about the cause of severe morning sickness, some experts believe it to be the result of hormonal changes or a hereditary trait.
8 If She Has A Persistently High Fever
A high fever is never a good sign for anyone, pregnant or not. If a woman is experiencing an abnormally high fever, she should seek help from a medical professional. When a woman is pregnant, everything that could have an impact on her body, could also very well have an impact on the baby. A pregnant woman is much more susceptible to fevers and illnesses because her immune system is weakened by the energy directed to protecting the baby. For a pregnant woman, a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is enough cause for concern that she or a loved one should contact a doctor.
It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to catch a common cold or viruses like the flu. For this reason, it is important to take the necessary precautions against illnesses. While a slight fever or cold may not cause many problems for the baby, more serious illnesses can cause birth defects in the baby. Some medicines are off limits too, like aspirin, but a fever reducer like Tylenol may be acceptable for a woman to take to fight off a fever.
7 If Baby Isn’t Moving Around As Much
Another sign that may warrant a trip to the hospital is a lack of fetal movement. As a pregnancy progresses, it is not uncommon for the baby to move around a lot more. A mom will become aware of what her baby’s movements are like and their habits. An active baby is a sign that they are doing just fine. If for some reason the baby stops moving as much or moving around at all later in a pregnancy, it may be important to see a doctor. It’s imperative that a mom learns her baby’s movements and types of movements while they are in the womb so that she can easily spot a potential problem if movements seem to slow down.
Typically a woman will start to feel her child moving around between 16 and 24 weeks. If movements slow down, it can be a sign that the baby isn’t doing well and could potentially lead to a stillbirth in some cases. It is not always the case when a baby’s movements slow down, but it is still important to check with a doctor to make sure that everything is okay.
6 If She's Severely Swollen
Just like morning sickness and stomach pains, swelling can also be a normal part of pregnancy. The issue here is less about swelling in general and more about where the swelling occurs. Swelling often occurs in the hands, legs, feet and face of a pregnant individual. This swelling is also known as edema or fluid retention. Fluid retention is important in allowing the body to expand as the baby grows. So, it is a normal part of pregnancy that most women experience at some point.
However, swelling that seems to occur out of nowhere may be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia only occurs in pregnant women and may be followed by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can have negative effects on the mother if left untreated. Liver or renal failure, cardiovascular issues and seizures are among a few things that a woman may experience if her preeclampsia is left untreated.
5 When Her Water Breaks
Actually, you don’t have to rush to the hospital after your water breaks unless you feel that you need to. While it is certainly an indicator of oncoming labor, it doesn’t mean that severe, “time to push” contractions will begin right away. So, you can feel free to take your time in most cases.
However, if a mom starts to feel that it is time to head to the hospital or she feels more comfortable going to a hospital immediately after her water breaks, there is nothing wrong with going to the hospital immediately. TV makes giving birth seem so straight-forward and trust us, it isn’t usually that way. Most women will be in labor for hours and even days. So there is no urgent need to try to get to a hospital as soon as signs of labor start to appear. Still, it is worth mentioning on this list that if you don’t feel comfortable staying at home, it’s never a bad idea to go to a hospital either.
4 If Her Vision Becomes Foggy
If a woman’s vision becomes impaired of blurry during pregnancy, it may be cause for concern. Hormones really are the root of all evil when it comes to many pregnancy symptoms. Hormones that cause fluid retention and swelling in the hands and feet, can also cause fluid to build up in the cornea as well. This isn’t a very serious cause for concern, but there are definitely more extreme cases and it’s always best to be safe than sorry.
Blurry or foggy vision can be a symptom of preeclampsia which we talked about above. Some symptoms may also include dry eyes, irritation, discomfort, spots, double vision and vision changes like blurriness. Blurred vision can also be a symptom of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension. So if mom is having any of these problems it is best that someone drive her to the doctor or hospital so she can be checked out.
3 If She Starts Feeling Faint Or Dizzy
There are many reasons why a woman may start to feel faint or dizzy while pregnant. She may become light-headed if she has severe morning sickness, or it could be something else like rising hormones. A more common reason for dizziness is an increase in blood flow. During pregnancy, the blood vessels expand allowing more blood to pass through the veins at one time, and it increases blood flow to the baby. Of course, having to share half of everything that the body receives with another human being is going to have consequences.
While blood flow increases to the baby, it slows the return of blood flow to the mom, causing dizziness and lower blood pressure and blood sugar, especially in women who may suffer from anemia. A woman can reduce the chances of feeling faint or dizzy by slowly standing up if she’s been sitting or lying down, avoiding hot showers and standing for a long time, and wearing looser clothing so that it doesn’t restrict blood flow. If fainting spells or dizziness is accompanied by bleeding or even if the symptoms seem to persist, it is important to contact a doctor right away. This could point to more serious problems with the pregnancy.
2 If She Just Doesn’t Feel Quite Right
The phrase, “a mother knows,” has never been truer than during a woman’s pregnancy. As mentioned above, pregnancy is a wonderful time where a mother begins learning about her baby and their movements and habits. No one can quite understand what carrying the child feels like except for the mother carrying it. Every pregnancy is different and unique to every woman. Even a woman who has had several children will note that they were all different in some ways. Because of this, it’s important for the mom-to-be to respect the power of her intuition.
There’s no shame in her going to visit her health care provider if she feels a little off. She has a special connection to her baby that no one else has, and therefore, may notice early if something seems to go awry. Even if the off feeling isn’t accompanied by many physical symptoms if any, it’s important for the mother to see a healthcare professional right away. If she can, she should try to explain to the best of her ability why she may be feeling weird. But even if she can’t, her healthcare provider should be able to assist in figuring out if there has been a change in the pregnancy or not.
1 If She's Having Unnatural Discharge
It’s natural for a woman to begin experiencing an increase in vaginal discharge as she gets further along in her pregnancy. This is basically the body’s way of prepping for the delivery of her bundle of joy. There are several instances, however, where discoloration or types of discharge could be signaling something within a woman’s pregnancy. If a woman starts experiencing spotting, or a pink or blood-tinged discharge, she may want to seek medical attention from a hospital.
Blood or bloody discharge can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy as described above, a miscarriage, or something equally serious. If a woman begins to see amniotic fluid, which is usually clear but can be brown green or yellow, it would mean that she is going into labor. Amniotic fluid shouldn’t be leaking during pregnancy because once it starts, it is not likely to stop and signals that it’s almost time to deliver. If a mother starts to experience leaking early, she should definitely get to a hospital to be checked out.