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.