By: Margaret Hanahoe
The Golden Rule is: if you are worried that something is wrong with your baby or yourself, contact your Doctor or Midwife straight away. Don’t be frightened that you might be over-reacting, it is really important that you understand what is happening and are reassured.
BLEEDING DURING PREGNANCY
When did the bleeding start? How much blood have you lost? (just spots of blood or a lot of blood like having a period?) Do you have pains in your abdomen?
Sometimes a miscarriage starts with a small amount of dark red bleeding and tummy cramps. However, during early pregnancy, it is not uncommon to have “spotting” which means loosing very small amounts of blood especially at the times when you would normally be having a period. Call your doctor or midwife for advice. Is there someone you can ask to be with you?
Is this sickness different from morning sickness? Can you think of anything you may have eaten which could have upset you? Do you feel feverish and generally unwell? Have you any pains in your abdomen?
Women get minor illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets during pregnancy at any other time of their lives. However, if you think that your sickness may be due to something out of the ordinary, and certainly if you have any abdominal pain, go to see your doctor. Always read the labels of over the counter non prescription medication during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
Did you hit your stomach or head when you fell? How do you feel now? Can you still feel the baby moving?
A fall during pregnancy can be worrying. If you are not bruised and your head is clear and you can feel your baby moving, there’s probably nothing to worry about, but you should call the hospital, your doctor or midwife.
Do you normally get headaches? Have you got spots before your eyes? Does your vision seem to be affected by your headache? Have you got pains in the top half of your abdomen?
Pregnancy is definitely stressful. You may find that you suffer from tension headaches and need to make time to relax, enjoy a bath, go out with your partner or friends, or treat yourself. Sometimes very bad headaches may be a symptom of a disease of pregnancy called Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) or pre-eclampsia. If you have spots before your eyes and pain in the upper part of your abdomen, you should call your doctor immediately.
BABY NOT MOVING AS MUCH / NOT AT ALL
Has today been busy and you have simply not noticed your baby moving? Have you noticed a gradual decrease in your baby’s movements over a few days? How long is it since you last felt your baby move?
It is not uncommon for busy women to get to the end of the day and suddenly become anxious that they haven’t felt their baby move since morning. Sit down or lie down and relax for half an hour and see if your baby starts moving. If you are at all anxious and feel that there’s been a definite change in the pattern of your baby’s movements, call the midwife and seek advice.
The bag of water surrounding the baby either starts to leak or burst with a gush.
You should note the time, amount, colour and odour if any.
Losing water from around the baby means that labour is likely to start soon, and your baby will be born. If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, you should contact the midwife. Try to collect a sample of liquor to bring to the hospital with you. The water should be a clear colour, but if there is a green staining you should attend the hospital immediately.
A disease of pregnancy, usually first time mothers.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Protein in the urine
- High blood pressure
- Headache and spots before the eyes
- Pain in the top half of the abdomen
Although the last two symptoms could be due to something other than pre-eclampsia, you should certainly contact the midwife or doctor at once if you have any of them, as they might indicate very serious pre-eclampsia requiring urgent medical attention.
How do I know if I’ve got it?
Each time you visit the Antenatal clinic or your GP, your urine is tested to see if there is protein in it. Your blood pressure will also be checked at each visit.
What are the problems for my baby and me if I have pre-eclampsia?
If your blood pressure is high, the placenta doesn’t work well and your baby may not get all the food and oxygen he needs to grow properly. Very high blood pressure is also bad for you as it can damage your kidneys and may cause you to fit (although this is very rare).
What will happen if I get pre-eclampsia?
The doctor may want to see you more regularly to check your blood pressure and test your urine. You may be told to rest at home or asked to come into hospital to rest and for observation. If your pre-eclampsia is very bad, you will be induced to start you off in labour, or a caesarean section will be performed so that your baby can be born before either of you comes to any harm.
Midwife and antenatal teacher Margaret Hanahoe founded the National Maternity Hospital’s DOMINO and Home Birth schemes. She is the co-author of the ebook guide “Bump to Birth to Baby” available to download on Amazon. More information from: bumptobirthtobaby.com