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Pregnancy warnings signs

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you are pregnant, there are some warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored and may need prompt medical attention, or you may want to put your mind at ease.

If you’re concerned about anything during your pregnancy - even if it's not one of these symptoms - always seek medical advice or talk to your midwife or GP.

Vaginal bleeding (with or without cramping and pain)

Some spotting or light bleeding during pregnancy can be normal and not a sign of a serious problem. However, it is important to make sure and to find out the cause promptly. Heavy vaginal bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

What to do: If you are concerned, seek medical advice from your midwife or GP. You may be referred for an ultrasound scan or other tests.

Excessive nausea and vomiting

Morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP), is common and normal in the first trimester. It doesn't present a risk to the growing baby and usually clears up by the 12th or 14th week of pregnancy. However, if vomiting or sickness becomes excessive, it can have serious implications. Excessive vomiting can lead to weight loss, dizziness, dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes. A serious form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, may require admission to hospital to treat dehydration.

What to do: Contact your GP or midwife straight away if you:

  • Have urine that is very dark or you haven’t passed urine for more than eight hours
  • Experience repeated vomiting
  • Have blood in vomit
  • Cannot keep food or drink down for 24 hours
  • Feel very weak, dizzy or faint when you stand up
  • Have tummy or abdominal pain
  • Have a fever of 38C (100.4F) or higher
  • Experience a fast, racing heart rate

Fever or raised temperature

A very high temperature during pregnancy may be a serious sign. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications of flu, which is why a flu jab is now advised during pregnancy.

A high body temperature during the first trimester can also be associated with birth defects known as neural tube defects because the neural tube forms during the first trimester.

Raised temperatures during pregnancy that are accompanied with other symptoms such as muscle aches may be a sign of infection such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasma and parvovirus.

The baby and pregnancy charity Tommy's recommends pregnant women without cold and flu symptoms but a temperature above 37.5 C seek medical advice as it could indicate an infection. If the temperature is over 39C, call the midwife or doctor immediately as infection is more likely.

What to do: If you are concerned, seek medical advice from your midwife or GP.

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