But there are also things about pregnancy that just aren’t as pleasant. You may get aches and pains, sleepless nights, and urgh, morning sickness.
While these issues are usually a “normal” or typical part of pregnancy, take note of some symptoms that may point to something more serious…and definitely worth a visit to your gynae to ease your mind.
1. Spotting or bleeding
That tinge of blood may or may not be a big deal. Sex during pregnancy, for example, can irritate your cervix and cause slight spotting. It may also be implantation spotting ― slight bleeding that happens when the embryo embeds itself onto the uterine wall. So, light spotting or bleeding just before your period is due is usually nothing to worry about.
Noting that it is common to bleed during pregnancy Dr Christopher Chong, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, says that about 15 per cent of such cases usually settle with no other issues.
“But the most worrisome problem is that of a threatened miscarriage or a miscarriage,” he adds. Other serious problems may be a placenta abruption*, or placenta previa. So, if you are unsure, see your doctor immediately.
Recurrent headaches should be investigated, as it could be caused by a brain tumour, or high blood pressure.
2. Excessive discharge
If you find that you have excessive or abnormal discharge, you may be having an infection, such as a yeast infection. “Infections can lead to miscarriage in early pregnancy and premature labour, or the premature rupture of membranes in the last trimester,” Dr Chong says. “If the infection worsens, it could cause abdominal pain and bleeding.”
If you constantly feel wet down there, or if you feel a sudden gush, it could mean that your amniotic fluid is leaking. Whatever trimester you are in, it’s important that you see your gynae immediately.
You may have a dull ache at the sides of your head, or at the back of your neck. These are common during pregnancy and could be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, low blood sugar, or a sudden surge of blood from nausea and vomiting. Other reasons include withdrawal symptoms if you’ve quit caffeine suddenly, or a lack of sleep.
“But recurrent headaches should be investigated, as it could be caused by a brain tumour, or high blood pressure,” notes Dr Chong. You may be having preeclampsia, which is also accompanied by an unusual amount of protein in the urine, as well as blurred vision.
If you’re nowhere close to your due date and are experiencing strong, painful contractions, see your doctor right away. These premature contractions are regular and are usually accompanied by menstrual-like cramps, a dull backache and pelvic pressure. Uterine contractions before the 37th week of pregnancy can cause the cervix to dilate earlier than normal, which results in a premature baby. “Medication, if given early, may be able to stop the labour,” says Dr Chong.
Don’t confuse these premature contractions are with Braxton-Hicks ones ― which are “practice contractions” that prepare you for the real event. These are usually not regular or painful, nor do they dilate the cervix.
* Placenta abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from your uterus before your baby’s born. The condition can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients, and cause severe bleeding that can be dangerous to you both.
5. Baby’s not kicking
You should be feeling your baby’s kicks from around the fourth month of pregnancy. Monitor your baby’s movements over a two-hour period: A healthy foetus should be moving at least 10 times ― by punching, jabbing and kicking.
There may be super-active moments, as well as quiet ones where your baby is resting, but if you sense reduction in your baby’s movement, it’s worth a visit to the doctor. You may have low amniotic fluid ― which is usually sorted out after you drink more water.
If the movements slow closer to your delivery date, it could be a sign that he's not getting enough nutrients or oxygen through the placenta. Your doc may induce you early, so as to prevent the umbilical cord from getting tangled or compressed ― both of which are dangerous conditions.
6. Abdominal pain
Common causes could include infection, colic and constipation, says Dr Chong. “The pain may also be caused by a strain of the ligaments of muscles, and these usually resolve on its own.”
7. Extreme exhaustion
It’s common for expectant women to feel tired. A lack of sleep because of fluid retention, for instance, can rob you of sleep. But Dr Chong also notes that a thyroid hormone problem can cause exhaustion.
Hyperthyroidism…can lead to preeclampsia, miscarriage, premature birth, or a low birthweight baby.
Too much thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism, can cause many of your body’s functions to speed up. It can lead to preeclampsia, miscarriage, premature birth, or a low birthweight baby.
Too little of the thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism, can cause many of your body’s functions to slow down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include extreme fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, and muscle weakness. It can cause miscarriage and developmental delays when your baby is born.
8. Pain in the legs
This is common during pregnancy as the expectant mum needs to carry additional weight. “But if the swelling is at the calves, and inflamed and tender, you’ll need to make sure you don’t have deep vein thrombosis ― which is life threatening,” says Dr Chong.
Pregnant women are six times more likely to get DVT ― a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs ― as hormonal changes make your blood more likely to clot. If this clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, you can get a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pains or tightness and difficulty in breathing. You may even collapse.
9. Bleeding gums
Thanks to hormonal changes, mums-to-be are more susceptible to swollen, red, tender gums. This form of gum disease is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Most cases of pregnancy gingivitis are mild and harmless, but if left unchecked, it can deteriorate into periodontal disease. Expectant mums with periodontal disease are up to eight times more likely to have a premature baby. So, be vigilant about your dental hygiene and don’t miss any dental visits during pregnancy.
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