By Dr Mini Salunkhe
Are you expecting? It’s an emotional and exciting time, especially if it’s your first baby. Finding out if you are pregnant is exciting and many women probably turn to the web to find information on what to expect as the pregnancy progresses. While there will be lots of changes in the body, women need to understand that these changes are signs of healthy pregnancies.
It’s a great idea to prepare yourself for a wide range of symptoms. There are some conditions which may need urgent attention while there may be others that can wait till the next prenatal visit.
Attention: Red flags
· Severe abdominal pain
· Significant bleeding
· Severe dizziness
· Excessive weight gain or swelling
· Severe headache
Common symptoms during pregnancy
Some common signs like bleeding, nausea and vaginal discharge are not unusual, but they could also mean there’s a problem. Such signs cannot be dismissed as they may be lead to bigger troubles. Backaches, indigestion are some of the most common experiences many pregnant women share. Some soon-to-be moms have trouble with breathlessness due to their increased need for oxygen or have leg cramps from the extra weight needed to safely carry a child to term.
Knowing what to watch for helps you take care of yourself and the little one growing inside you. Any time you’re concerned about what’s going on or how you’re feeling, it’s alright to talk to your doctor.
Common pregnancy tests
· Blood Test – Serum beta HCG
· Diagnosis by an ultrasound to check the number of weeks and if the pregnancy is in the uterus or in the tube.
Some spotting is normal, but heavy bleeding could be the sign of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. The brighter red the bleeding, the more significant it is. If you have bleeding and bad cramping similar to period cramps, this can be a sign of threatened miscarriage. If it is coupled with sharp, lower abdominal pain, it may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, a serious complication that occurs when the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.
It is important that expecting mothers under all circumstances should call the doctor and may have to undergo an ultrasound, an examination and some blood tests based on the symptoms. Though most spotting or light bleeding may not be a serious problem, one should not ignore it if it is associated with cramping, heavy bleeding or abdominal pain.
Excessive nausea and vomiting
Most pregnant women have nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. But if it’s severe or makes you dehydrated, that’s something that needs to be taken care of. If you can’t keep any water or fluids down for more than 12 hours, immediate intervention from the doctor is required. Vomiting interferes with your day-to-day activities and can lead to weight loss, dizziness, dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes. While both nausea and vomiting are normal occurrences during pregnancy, anything extreme can cause problems. The majority of women who have nausea and vomiting in their first trimester will go on to have normal, healthy pregnancies.
Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius during pregnancy may be serious. It could be a sign of infection, which could affect the baby.
Know your trimesters
Common problematic symptoms during the first trimester include breast sensitivity and swelling, tiredness, increased urination, a dislike of certain foods and food smells, stomach upset and vomiting, vaginal discharge, mood swings and high temperature. During this time, the risk of a miscarriage is greater than any other trimester. By the first trimester of pregnancy, many of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing will start going away. At this point, you may start having other problems related to your growing uterus. Spotting is a common occurrence but if bleeding becomes heavy, or is followed by pain or cramping, consult with your doctor. One of the first signs you may be pregnant is that your breasts become tender because your body is going through hormonal changes. Fatigues, morning sickness, and frequent urination are all products of the growing foetus and the hormonal changes that your body is going through. If you experience any of these symptoms in the extreme, visit your gynaecologist at the earliest
The second trimester is often when people feel their best during pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting usually resolve, the risk of miscarriage has dropped, and the aches and pains of the ninth month are far away. Although a miscarriage is much less common in the second trimester, it can still occur. Vaginal bleeding is usually the first warning sign. Miscarriages in the second trimester (before 20 weeks) may be caused by several different factors, which can include uterine septum, a wall or septum inside the uterus that divides it into two separate parts; an incompetent cervix, autoimmune diseases. Many a times, chromosomal abnormalities of the foetus also occur. Some may also need to watch out for the signs of early labour, problems with the placenta or placental abruption (placenta separating from the uterus).
Expecting mothers need to watch out for persistent and severe headaches, abdominal pain, visual disturbances and swellings in legs. There is breast enlargement, constipation, fatigue and frequent urination. Women need to take a lot of care during this phase so that the water bag does not explode.
Pregnancy can be associated with a wide range of symptoms that may be hormone or pregnancy growth related. Some symptoms are significant and some occur in every woman. It is important to mention any concerns to your gynaecologist who will be able to provide you with the best advice.
(The writer is Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Kalyani Nagar, Pune.)