Although the normal discomforts of pregnancy can be annoying, they are not life-threatening. However, there are other symptoms that can't be ignored and need attention immediately.
The Three Big Pregnancy “Tests”
The three most alarming warning signs that a pregnancy is at risk are spotting and bleeding, abdominal cramps and sudden weakness.
Spotting and Bleeding
Spotting can signal the onset of a miscarriage. Help the pregnant woman having these symptoms into bed. Have her rest completely, which means staying in bed. Call her obstetrician once she's settled in.
Outright bleeding can be more serious, especially if clots or tissue are eliminated. A sudden heavy flow can signal a spontaneous abortion (which, in most cases, occurs when the fetus is deformed or problematic). Too much bleeding, however, can cause shock. Don't wait; get to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Mild abdominal cramps, even if accompanied by chills and fever, aren't necessarily a cause for alarm. Call the doctor and make the pregnant woman comfortable.
Mild cramps can signal something as simple as slight pressure on the pelvic area. On the other hand, serious cramps are a different matter entirely. If they occur early in the pregnancy, the cramps can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. The cramps might also be accompanied by severe pain, nausea, chills, and fever.
Ectopic pregnancy means that the fertilized egg never made it out of the fallopian tube and down to the uterus. Instead, the egg begins to grow and divide while it's in the small tube.
Today, an ectopic pregnancy can be corrected with an outpatient laser surgery. A tool called a laparoscope is inserted into the belly button while the patient is under anesthesia. If not treated and the egg continues to grow, the fallopian tube will eventually burst and, like a ruptured appendix, infect the body. The end result can be shock, blood poisoning, and the loss of at least one fallopian tube.
Occurrences of sudden weakness can be the result of a sudden hormonal drop as the body adjusts to its pregnant state. If a pregnant woman experiences weakness that immediately passes, she need not do anything more than lie down for a while. However, it can't hurt to call the obstetrician, and definitely report anything out of the ordinary.
On the more serious side, if the weakness is accompanied by signs of shock (such as rapid pulse, pale skin, chills, blurry vision and irregular breathing), a woman should seek medical help immediately.
While you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive, follow these guidelines for treating the pregnant woman:
- Position the pregnant woman on her left side.
- Make sure she is comfortable. Place a loose blanket around her.
- Keep the pregnant woman quiet and calm. Avoid making any sudden, jerky movements. Loud noises and bright lights can startle the woman and add to her stress.
Pregnancy comes with all kinds of symptoms, some dangerous and some just downright weird. Check out The Weirdest Symptoms of Pregnancy That Nobody Tells You About.
Abdominal Cramps During Pregnancy
Dr. Chloe Zera talks about abdominal cramps and what they mean during pregnancy.