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.

Celebrity Pregnancy: Is Your Pregnancy As Important?

So here we go again. Kim Kardashian is pregnant and already it has become a media circus. Ditto the second pregnancy of Jessica Simpson. Quite frankly, it’s a bit annoying and disappointing. I remember being contacted by a reporter from a fairly renowned news agency regarding the first pregnancy of Jessica Simpson. He wanted to ask a “few questions about pregnancy.” Did he ask about nausea or vomiting? Pre-eclampsia or any other high risk issues? No. He wanted to know if Simpson’s breasts were too big and could I please hurry with a response because he was on a deadline.

On December 10, 2012, Laura Landro of The Wall Street Journal wrote an article that should have been discussed on every morning show but it wasn’t. Landro’s article, “Steep Rise of Complications in Childbirth Spurs Action” stated “Given birth has gotten riskier” based on a new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (aka CDC). I finally exhaled after reading the article because the public was finally made aware of something most obstetricians and midwives already know but are reluctant to discuss with patients for fear of “scaring” them. Approximately 52,000 pregnant women endure severe birth complications each year. That’s 1,000 each week for those of you who can do the math; quite an alarming number.

Why are these complications occurring? Older women are having babies but younger women can have problems as well. Significant bleeding after a baby is one of the most serious complications but not in the hands of skilled healthcare professionals and that is the point that needs to be emphasized.

A new patient-safety movement has emerged in obstetrics where “simulation” drills are done before the actual emergency occurs and hopefully you will have your baby in a hospital that does them. Although you might not have a million dollars to shut down an entire New York hospital floor so that you can have your baby “in private” as a celebrity did a year ago, your baby is just as important as hers. Instead of reporting about the latest celebrity baby bump someone has, or if her boobs are too big, how about having some meaningful media discussions about real pregnancy issues? It would certainly be a breath of fresh air!


The Shocking Truth: 10 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Pregnant

The Shocking Truth: 10 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Pregnant 3rd

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting pregnant is easier said than done for at least 10% percent of women in the U.S.  About 90% of women will conceive after one year of trying. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant without success, consider these reasons and possible solutions.

  1. You’re not having sex at the right time. The only way a woman can get pregnant is if the egg is fertilized by sperm but if there’s no egg, there’s no baby. If you don’t get your period every month, there’s a strong possibility that you’re not ovulating. What can you do? Buy an over-the-counter ovulation kit (many are sold at the dollar store) to determine if you’re ovulating.
  2. You might have scar tissue in your tubes or in your uterus.  If you’ve had a history of a sexually transmitted infection or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), your tubes might be blocked. A procedure called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) inserts dye into the uterus and tubes to see if they’re open or closed.
  3. Your partner’s sperm count might be low. Male infertility accounts for 23% of reasons why women can’t get pregnant. If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant after a year, please see your healthcare provider.
  4. There might be something wrong with your uterus.  “Congenital anomalies” means something was wrong with your uterus from birth.  An HSG will make the diagnosis.
  5. You could have endometriosis which is tissue from the uterus on places such as the ovaries, rectum, abdomen or other unlikely places. Severe pain during the times of your period gives a clue about this possible condition.
  6. Your eggs might be too old. Your age plays a significant role in your ability to conceive. If you’re over 30 and can’t get pregnant, please see your health care provider. IVF (in vitro fertilization) is very successful for women in their 30’s.
  7. You’re having a lot of miscarriages. Two or more miscarriages could signify an autoimmune disorder and a good reason to see a infertility specialist.
  8. There might be something wrong with either your genes or your partner’s. Another reason to see an infertility specialist.
  9. You’re trying too hard.  There have been studies that have proven that meditation and hypnosis has helped women get pregnant.  You might be one of those success stories when all else has failed.
  10. You’re overweight.  If you’re overweight and not getting your period, you’re not ovulating. I had a patient who had been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for years. She lost 10 pounds, became pregnant and the mother of a beautiful baby girl. Losing weight can help.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully for over a year, it’s time to move your feet and find out why.