Discusses symptoms that may show a serious problem during pregnancy. Covers vaginal bleeding, fever, or swelling. Describes emergency symptoms like shock, seizures, or leaks from your vagina. Offers tool to check symptoms and info on when to call doctor.
Most women are healthy during pregnancy and do not have serious
health concerns. You may have minor physical symptoms throughout your pregnancy
that are considered normal pregnancy changes. It is important for you to be
aware of symptoms that may mean you have a more serious problem. Talk with your
doctor about any concerns you have during your pregnancy so that your health
problems can be checked quickly.
Many minor problems of pregnancy
can be managed at home. Home treatment measures are usually all that is needed
to relieve mild
morning sickness or discomfort from
constipation. There are also home treatment measures
for sleep problems, hip pain,
hemorrhoids, or fatigue. If you develop a problem and
your doctor has given you specific instructions to follow during your
pregnancy, be sure to follow those instructions.
If you have a
family history of diabetes, you may develop a type of diabetes that only occurs
during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Gestational
diabetes is treated by watching what you eat, exercising, checking blood sugar
levels, and possibly taking oral medicines or insulin shots to keep blood sugar
levels within a target range. Women who have gestational diabetes are likely to have
babies that weigh more than normal. If the mother's blood sugar is not
controlled, this could cause serious problems for the baby before and during
You may also have other common problems, like a cold or
the flu, while you are pregnant that are not caused by your pregnancy. You can
use home treatment measures for these illnesses as well, but make sure to talk
to your doctor if your symptoms become more serious, such as coughing up blood
or not being able to drink enough fluids (dehydrated).
While most problems that occur during pregnancy are minor, you may
develop more serious symptoms that you need to talk to your doctor about. Your
symptoms may be related to:
Depression. If you are tearful, sad,
anxious, or have big mood swings, talk to your doctor. If you are depressed
during your pregnancy, you may have a hard time bonding with your baby after
delivery. Depression can be treated so that you and your baby will be able to bond.
During the days and weeks after delivery (postpartum period),
you can expect that your body will
change as it returns to its nonpregnant condition. As
with pregnancy changes, postpartum changes are different for every woman. Some
problems, such as high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, or diabetes, may continue
after delivery. You may need to follow up with your doctor about these problems
Regular contractions for at least 1 hour. This
means about 4 or more contractions in 20 minutes, or about 8 or more in a
A sudden release of fluid from the vagina.
"Bloody show" is blood-tinged mucus that will pass out of the vagina as the cervix begins to open (dilate) and thin (efface). On its own, however, this is not a definite sign that you are in labor.
Symptoms of a vaginal infection may
that is not normal for you.
Red, irritated skin in the vaginal
Pain when you urinate.
Pain or bleeding when you
Seek Care Now
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and
arrange for care.
If you cannot reach your doctor or you don't have
one, seek care in the next hour.
You do not need to call an
You cannot travel safely either by driving
yourself or by having someone else drive you.
You are in an area
where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.
You can get dehydrated when
you lose a lot of fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever.
Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to severe. For
You may feel tired and edgy (mild dehydration), or
you may feel weak, not alert, and not able to think clearly (severe
You may pass less urine than usual (mild
dehydration), or you may not be passing urine at all (severe
During pregnancy, swelling that may be a sign of a more serious problem may include:
Weight gain of
2 lb (0.9 kg) or more during a
New and increasing swelling, especially in your
face, hands, or feet.
Swelling in your feet that does not improve
even after you lie on your side for several hours.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease,
Long-term alcohol and drug
Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for
Other medicines used to treat autoimmune
Medicines taken after organ transplant.
having a spleen.
Symptoms of a bladder infection may
Pain or burning when you urinate.
frequent urge to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
Blood in the urine.
Severe vaginal bleeding means that you are soaking 1 or 2 pads or tampons in 1 or 2 hours, unless that is normal for you. For most women, passing clots of blood from the vagina and soaking through
their usual pads or tampons every hour for 2 or more hours is not normal and is
considered severe. If you are pregnant: You may have
a gush of blood or pass a clot, but if the bleeding stops, it is not considered
Moderate bleeding means that you
are soaking more than 1 pad or tampon in 3 hours.
Mild bleeding means that you are soaking less than 1 pad or
tampon in more than 3 hours.
Minimal vaginal bleeding means "spotting" or a few drops of blood.
Symptoms of a kidney infection may
Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.
Fever or chills.
or burning when you urinate.
A frequent urge to urinate without
being able to pass much urine.
If you're not sure if a fever is high, moderate, or mild,
think about these issues:
With a high fever:
You feel very hot.
It is likely one of
the highest fevers you've ever had. High fevers are not that common, especially
With a moderate fever:
You feel warm or hot.
You know you have
With a mild fever:
You may feel a little warm.
you might have a fever, but you're not sure.
Symptoms of preterm labor may
Mild or menstrual-like cramps, with or without
A feeling of pressure in your pelvis or lower
A steady, dull ache in your lower back, pelvis, lower belly,
Changes in your vaginal discharge.
contractions for an hour. This means about 4 or more contractions in 20
minutes, or about 8 or more in 1 hour, even after you have had a glass of water
and are resting.
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
You may feel a little out of breath but still be able to talk (mild difficulty breathing), or you may be so out of breath that you cannot talk at all (severe difficulty breathing).
It may be getting hard to breathe with activity (mild difficulty breathing), or you may have to work very hard to breathe even when you’re at rest (severe difficulty breathing).
Pain in adults and older children
Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
is so bad that you can't stand it for more than a few hours, can't sleep, and
can't do anything else except focus on the pain.
Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it's severe when it's
Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.
Try Home Treatment
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Try home treatment to relieve the
Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
You may need care sooner.
You may pass little or no urine for 12 or more
You may not feel alert or be able to think
You may be too weak or dizzy to stand.
Moderate dehydration means:
You may be a lot more thirsty than
Your mouth and eyes may be drier than usual.
pass little or no urine for 8 or more hours.
You may feel dizzy
when you stand or sit up.
Mild dehydration means:
You may be more thirsty than usual.
You may pass less urine than usual.
Severe trouble breathing means:
You cannot talk at all.
You have to
work very hard to breathe.
You feel like you can't get enough
You do not feel alert or cannot think clearly.
Moderate trouble breathing means:
It's hard to talk in full
It's hard to breathe with activity.
Mild trouble breathing means:
You feel a little out of breath but can still talk.
It's becoming hard to breathe with activity.
Pregnancy affects almost every part
of a woman's daily life. If you develop problems and your doctor has given you
specific instructions to follow during your pregnancy, be sure to follow those
During your pregnancy, you may have questions about
many of the following common concerns:
For many women, the hardest part of
early pregnancy is
morning sickness. You may be able to use home
treatment to help your nausea or vomiting.
If nausea is worse when you first wake up, eat
a small snack (such as crackers) before you get out of bed. Rest a few minutes
after eating the snack, then get out of bed slowly.
Do not skip meals or go for long periods without eating. An empty stomach can
make nausea worse. Eat several small meals every day instead of three large
Drink enough fluids every day. Do not become
dehydrated. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or
Powerade, may help if you have ongoing vomiting. Ginger tea may help your
nausea as well.
Eat more protein, such as dairy
Do not eat foods high in fat.
Do not take
iron supplements, which can make nausea worse.
Try to stay away
from smells that trigger morning sickness. Citrus juice, milk, coffee, and
caffeinated tea may make nausea worse.
Get lots of rest. Morning
sickness may be worse when you are tired.
Most women have some fatigue
during pregnancy, especially during the first and third
trimesters. During the first trimester, your body
makes higher levels of the hormone
progesterone, which may make you feel more tired. You
may feel more energy during most of your second trimester. Later in pregnancy,
your growing baby and loss of sleep because you cannot find a comfortable
position can lower your energy level.
To help with fatigue during
Eat regularly. Do not skip meals or go for long
periods without eating. Choose healthy foods.
Get outside, take walks, or keep your blood moving with your favorite workout.
If you do not have your usual energy, do not overdo it.
Try to take
rest breaks often during the day.
Do only as much as you need to,
and do not take on extra activities or responsibilities.
Sleep problems are
common during pregnancy. These tips may help you get a good night's sleep.
Keep a regular sleep schedule.
Keep your naps as short as possible.
Use your bed only
Limit your caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola drinks,
Limit what you drink
after 6 p.m. so you do not have to get up to the bathroom during the
Use extra pillows to raise your head or to help you find a
Using medicine to help relieve discomfort or fever
You may also have other common problems, like a cold, mild
headache, backache, mild fever, or the flu, while you are pregnant that are not
caused by your pregnancy. These minor symptoms generally do not cause problems
or hurt your baby. In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain.
Acetaminophen dosage: The usual dose is 650 mg. Take every 4 hours, as needed, up to 4 times in a 24-hour period. Do not take more than 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
Be sure to follow these nonprescription medicine precautions.
Use, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended
Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle
Check with your doctor before you take any other types of medicines.
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Most pregnant women have symptoms of
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially
heartburn, at some time during pregnancy. These symptoms are common but do not
usually cause problems or hurt your baby. Most of the time symptoms of
heartburn get better once the baby is born.
You can make changes
to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of GERD. Here are some things
Change your eating habits.
It's best to eat several small meals
instead of two or three large meals.
After you eat, wait 2 to 3
hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good
Chocolate and mint can make GERD worse. They relax the valve
between the esophagus and the stomach.
Spicy foods, foods that
have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make GERD
symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a
certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get
Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
have GERD symptoms at night, raise the head of your bed
6 in. (15 cm) to
8 in. (20 cm) by putting the
frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress.
(Adding extra pillows does not work.)
nonprescription antacids for heartburn symptoms. Do
not use antacids that have sodium bicarbonate (such as baking soda) during
pregnancy because they can cause fluid buildup. It is okay to use antacids that
have calcium carbonate (such as Tums).
Eat a high-fiber diet with lots of fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially
Talk to your doctor about trying a stool softener.
strain (push hard) during a bowel movement.
Get more exercise every
Back, pelvic, and hip discomfort
Many women have
pelvic, or hip discomfort during pregnancy. As the
size and weight of your belly increases, strain is placed on your back. Pelvic
and hip discomfort is a normal sign that your pelvic area is getting ready for
childbirth. To help with your discomfort, follow these tips:
Try not to stand for long periods of
Stand with a straight back. Do not stand with your belly
forward and your shoulders back.
Rest one foot on a small box,
brick, or stool when standing.
Try heat, such as a hot water bottle
or a heating pad set on low, to painful areas when resting. Do not fall asleep
with a heating pad in place. Place a cloth between your skin and the heating
Sit with a back support or pillow against your lower back. If
you must sit for a long time, get up and move around every
Wear a prenatal belt or girdle around your hips but under
your belly to support your hips.
Sleep on a firm mattress (plywood
under a mattress helps). Lie on your side, with a pillow between your
Do not lift anything heavy. Lift with your legs by rising
from a squat, keeping your waist and back straight.
Do not stretch
to reach something on a high shelf or across a table.
acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. Talk to
your doctor if your discomfort does not get better with acetaminophen. Do not
use more than the recommended dosage.
Fetal movement counting
After 18 to 20 weeks, you will notice that your baby moves and kicks more at certain times of the day. For example, when you are active, you may feel less kicking than when you are resting quietly. At your prenatal visits, your doctor may ask you whether the baby is active.
Kick counts. In the last trimester of your pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to keep track of the baby's movement every day. This is often called a "kick count." A common way to do a kick count is to see how much time it takes to feel 10 movements. Ten movements (such as kicks, flutters, or rolls) in 1 hour or less are considered normal. But do not panic if you do not feel 10 movements. Less activity may simply mean the baby is sleeping.
If an hour goes by and you have not recorded 10 movements, have something to eat or drink and count for another hour. If you do not record 10 movements in the 2-hour period, call your doctor right away.
Uncooked food and other poisons. This
includes raw (unpasteurized) milk and cheeses made with raw milk; raw meat, poultry, or seafood; unwashed fruits or vegetables; and cat
feces or outdoor soil that cats commonly use.
Unusual cravings, such as pica, when a woman craves things that are not food.
Fish that may have mercury. This includes shark, swordfish, king mackerel,
tilefish, more than
6 oz (0.2 kg) of white albacore
tuna a week, or fish caught in local waters that have not tested as safe.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.