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.

When Swelling Turns to Danger – Guest Blog by Ami Burns

woman-with-preeclampsia Ami article

It is with pleasure that I introduce this very important article written by Ami Burns of SheKnows.

Many moms experience swelling during pregnancy, but sometimes this is a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition for mom and baby.

Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway — and moms who dealt with this situation in pregnancy — share the signs, symptoms and how to have a safe pregnancy and birth.

Many moms-to-be may not be able to wear rings or fit into their favorite pair of pumps, but super swollen hands and feet, along with other symptoms, could mean more than just inconvenience — it could mean preeclampsia. It’s important to understand the warning signs and talk to your doctor or midwife about treatment options to prevent eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition of pregnancy.
Signs you could have preeclampsia

Dr. Burke-Galloway, author of The Smart Women’s Guide to Pregnancy says, “Sudden swelling of the hands, legs or face and weight gain of five pounds or greater in one week” is abnormal and you should call your doctor right away. Other symptoms include “blurry vision or spots in front of the eyes, nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper mid-abdomen area, seizures, pain in the upper right side, {and} a severe headache that won’t go away with over-the-counter medication,” she explains.
Treatment for preeclampsia symptoms

Your doctor or midwife will discuss your options. In general, bed rest, extra monitoring during the remainder of pregnancy and possibly labor induction may be advised.

Dr. Burke-Galloway explains, “The definitive treatment for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby because there is something in the placenta that causes high blood pressure associated with strokes and seizure disorder. Magnesium sulfate is only given to prevent seizures while the patient is in labor. If the patient’s blood pressure is extremely high, medication is given to lower the blood pressure while the patient is being induced.”

Molly F. says, “I had been swelling since about Christmas and could barely wear shoes at this point — not even flip-flops — my feet were too fat!” During a regular prenatal appointment, her blood pressure was high and there was protein in her urine. “My doctor, who was usually so calm and never made a big deal out of anything up until this point, became very intense and focused and said to me, ‘I’m very serious — you need to follow my strict orders of complete bed rest. We are going to monitor you very closely now, and you will come to see me every three days until we can get you to at least 37 weeks,'” she explains.

When it had been 37 weeks to the day, Molly’s labor was induced and she delivered a healthy daughter. She had some complications following delivery, and was closely monitored when she started having high blood pressure toward the end of her second pregnancy. “They say that even though you have preecplampsia once, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get it with subsequent pregnancies — I was just lucky that this was the case,” Molly says. “But by having an attentive doctor (and practice) who took my history seriously, I felt that I had a healthier second pregnancy by being aware of — and possibly preventing — preecplampsia symptoms.”

Rebecca B. had high blood pressure during both of her pregnancies. She was given magnesium sulfate during her first labor, but her second baby had other plans. “My midwife was planning on starting natural induction methods at my 9:00 a.m. appointment the day before my due date. My water broke the night before at 11:10 p.m. and my son was born 131 minutes later. So we planned to naturally induce because of the preeclampsia, but ended up not needing to — whew!”
Bottom line?

“Trust your instincts,” says Dr. Burke-Galloway. “If something doesn’t seem or feel right, contact your doctor immediately. Early recognition of signs and symptoms of preeclampsia saves lives.”
Read more about pregnancy

10 Things Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Pre-eclampsia

Courtesy of WebMD

Courtesy of WebMD

May is Pre-eclampsia Month, a time to empower all women about the dangers of this very deadly disease. It has claimed the lives of many women, including the grandmother of Vanessa Williams. Although it has been described as far back as the days of Hippocrates, we still don’t have a cure in the 21st century.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that involves high blood pressure, swollen feet or ankles and protein in a pregnant woman. It can occur anytime after 20 weeks but usually develops in the third trimester and affects up to 7.5% of pregnant women worldwide. Why is it so dangerous? Because the blood pressure can reach such high levels that a woman can have a seizure or a stroke and die. It can also reoccur for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born, is frequently and regretfully often misdiagnosed.  How is it treated? By delivering the baby and therein lies the dilemma. Sometimes it occurs so early that some healthcare providers will either miss the diagnosis or are hesitant to deliver the baby because of its prematurity. The baby has to be delivered because the placenta is abnormal and must be removed.

Pre-eclampsia is sneaky and the diagnosis is not straightforward so here’s what you need to know to make certain that no one will miss the diagnosis:

  1. A severe headache that doesn’t going away with acetaminophen needs an immediate blood pressure check.
  2. Blurry vision needs an immediate blood pressure check
  3. A blood pressure of greater than 120/80 needs the attention of a doctor immediately
  4. Swollen hands, feet or a puffy face, needs the immediate attention of a doctor
  5. If you’ve developed 5 pounds in one week, see your doctor immediately
  6. If you had pre-eclampsia during childbirth, are sent home and develop blurry, vision or a headache, call your doctor immediately
  7. If you had pre-eclampsia during childbirth, are sent home and develop shortness of breath, return to the hospital immediately
  8. If you had pre-eclampsia during childbirth and are sent home, you should have a repeat blood pressure check at your doctor’s office in one week for follow-up
  9. If you had pre-eclampsia during childbirth and are sent home with a blood pressure that’s greater than 120/80, you should either have been given a prescription for medication or a return appointment to see your doctor in 2 to 3 days for follow-up
  10. If you’re blood pressure keeps going up during your pregnancy and your clinician doesn’t do anything about it, ask for a referral to see a high-risk specialist (aka maternal fetal specialist)

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.