What Are the Most Important Symptoms a Pregnant Woman Should Never Ignore?

When a woman becomes pregnant, we immediately think happy thoughts: a new addition to the family, a new grandchild, the baby shower, what colors to paint the nursery and of course, the challenging role of becoming a parent. We make the assumption that everything will be okay during the pregnancy but sometimes it’s not. Complications can occur during the pregnancy, during labor and even after the baby is born.

The human body is a fascinating creation and it speaks to us if we have the wisdom to listen. The ability to recognize the “language” of the body can save our lives, especially during pregnancy. What are the symptoms that pregnant women need to recognize?

  1. A headache that occurs during the late second or third trimester and doesn’t go away with acetaminophen. This is one of the beginning signs of pre-eclampsia
  2. Bleeding during pregnancy. There is no such thing as “normal” bleeding or spotting. Bleeding could signify an infection or a problem with the placenta. A pelvic exam should be done as well as an ultrasound.
  3. Gaining 5 pounds or more in one week. This is not normal and could represent the beginning of pre-eclampsia
  4. Back pain that that is beyond a 5/10 scale, especially if it moves to the front of your abdomen. This is a sign of preterm labor until proven otherwise. This requires an phone call to your provider and a trip to labor and delivery
  5. Fever and chills could represent an infection called chorioamnionitis which could directly affect the unborn baby
  6. A headache or high blood pressure that continues AFTER the baby is born. Pre-eclampsia can last for several weeks after birth
  7. Not able to have a bowel movement after a c-section. This could possibly indicate a complication called “bowel obstruction” and is a surgical emergency. You should not be discharged from the hospital until you’ve had a bowel movement

Recognizing these seven symptoms could potentially save your life. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.

Most Pregnant Women Leave the Hospital without Ever Knowing This

Courtesy of www.mynamesnotmommy.com

Courtesy of www.mynamesnotmommy.com

Although it’s called the “afterbirth,” the placenta should not be categorized as an “afterthought” regarding pregnancy. Its significance dates back almost to the beginning of time. Up until the 18th and 19th century, it was thought that the mother and fetus shared the same circulatory system but now we know that they are actually separate.

Historically, many cultures from around the world including Native Americans traditionally buried the placenta to promote peace, fertility and a connection between the baby and its ancestral land. Moving into the 20th and 21st century, the placenta has taken center stage because of its alleged nutritional value. It has been frozen, chopped, mixed in blenders and eaten.  However, were you aware that the placenta has been used in forensics when there’s a bad outcome after the birth of a newborn? Or that the diagnosis of a placenta might help save a baby’s life?

Let’s assume a pregnant mother has not had prenatal care and goes into labor. Or, she’s had prenatal care but goes into labor early. Neither of these patients has received a Group B Strep culture when it was supposed to be done at 36 weeks. Both women have a “normal” labor and did not develop a fever yet after their babies are born, the placentas are sent to pathology and the findings are “chorioamnionitis” which indicates an infection of the membranes that held the bag of waters (aka amniotic fluid). Although the mothers were not sick, the babies should receive antibiotics as a precaution because the placenta was harboring an infection. Most likely, these mothers had Group B Strep that was not diagnosed. Although most pregnant women are not aware that the baby’s placenta is sent to pathology, they should be. Ideally, before you are discharged from the hospital, you should know the result of every lab test that was done including your baby’s placenta pathology report. Not only could this information save your life, but the life of your baby as well.

Do you know how to recognize a red flag that could potentially harm your pregnancy? If not, then pick up a copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.



Could You Pass This Pregnancy Quiz?

Pregnant moms, are you ready to take a Smart Mother’s quiz? Here’s one that taken from The Smart Mothers Guide to a Better Pregnancy. All rights reserved.

You have been which might be considered fluid for the past two days. You call your provider, who advises you to go to the hospital for further evaluation. Upon your arrival at the hospital, the nurse does something called a nitrogen test.  Nitrogen is a substance that turns blue when exposed to amniotic fluid, mucus or blood. Your nitrogen test proves negative. Should you be discharged home? Yes or No.

The answer is no, you should not be discharged home. You first need to have an ultrasound to make certain you have adequate fluid. You could have legitimately been leaking fluid for several days and now have no fluid. Without fluid, an infection called chorioamnionitis could easily develop. Or if your fluid is extremely low (also known as oligohydramnios), you might need to be delivered.

Did you learn something? Well here’s another quiz also taken from the book:

You have had a dull headache all day. For the past two weeks you have received nonstress tests because you complained of decreased fetal movement. You had a two-hour wait before a bed became available in the triage unit. The nurse takes your vital signs, and your blood pressure is 140/90. After twenty-five minutes, your nonstress test is reactive, the triage unit is becoming busy, and the nurse calls your physician with a report of your NST results but omits your blood pressure result and complaint of a headache. However, she does advise your physician that the labor is busy and they need your bed. Your physician’s midwife is on call and sends you home. Is this correct?

No. Although the nurse was correct to report a reactive nonstress test, she did not mention your elevated blood pressure or your complaint of a headache. In this clinical situation, other tests would be necessary to make certain that you are not developing pre-eclampsia.

In pregnancy, the unexpected things, if not managed properly could get you in trouble. Sadly, many healthcare providers do not discuss potential problems with patients until they are smack in the midst of a crisis.

Want to be prepared? Then order a copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide at www.smartmothersguide.com. Remember a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.