Women can experience many pregnancy symptoms, most of which will be completely normal. But it is always best to be aware of the warning signs throughout pregnancy.
If you experience any of the following symptoms or are not feeling quite right, you should seek medical attention straight away.
Vaginal bleeding or spotting during pregnancy is relatively common and doesn’t always mean something is wrong but you should speak to your midwife or GP to rule anything out. Bleeding combined with abdominal or pelvic pain, shoulder pain or extreme light-headedness can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.
Discomfort with pelvic pain due to growth spurts of the foetus and uterus pulling on your muscles and ligaments may be normal but persistent abdominal pain may be a sign that something is not right and will require immediate attention - call your midwife or GP immediately. Red flags to be aware of include severe pain, bleeding, fever, and change in vision.
Pregnancy headaches can have many causes, such as hormone changes and stress but if you are suffering from a severe headache, it could be a sign of high blood pressure or a disorder known as pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition and requires medical treatment to protect you and your unborn baby.
Fainting or dizziness
You may experience a disorienting feeling or vertigo, which for the most part, is a normal and fairly common pregnancy symptom. But, if the dizziness persists and is combined with other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, headaches, blurred vision or abdomen pain, speak to your midwife or GP to identify the cause and receive treatment.
Changes in vision
Changes in eyesight, such as temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, or light sensitivity, may be linked to gestational hypertension (high blood pressure) which can lead to pre-eclampsia. Speak to your midwife or GP to determine the cause.
Swelling caused by water retention can be normal as your body changes throughout pregnancy, however swelling or puffiness of the feet, ankles, face and hands can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Speak to your midwife or GP for monitoring.
Nausea and vomiting, commonly known as ‘morning sickness’, are completely normal pregnancy symptoms. If you suffer from severe vomiting (and dizziness too), it could be a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum which will require medical attention. Contact your Midwife or GP to rule out anything serious and to receive treatment for vomiting and nausea if needed.
Urge to pee or burning sensation when urinating
Frequent urination when pregnant is a common symptom, especially in the first and third trimesters as your baby grows and presses on your bladder. If you feel an increased urge to pee, accompanied by a burning sensation while you urinate, it may be a sign of a UTI - urinary tract infection. Feeling tired, pain in your lower tummy, blood in your urine, and a fever are also symptoms of a UTI. Contact your GP to diagnose and treat a possible infection.
Having itchy skin during pregnancy can be normal - as your baby grows, your skin stretches which can cause your skin to become dry. Intense itching without a rash could be a condition called cholestasis, a liver condition that can occur late in pregnancy. Speak to your midwife or GP straight away if you experience extreme itching.
Changes in your baby’s movement
Generally, women start to feel their baby's movements, flutters and kicks, sometime during the second trimester of their pregnancy. When you are well into the third trimester, it is a good idea to monitor your baby’s movements. If you notice a reduction or change in the pattern of your baby’s movement, call your midwife or maternity unit immediately.
Braxton Hicks practice contractions are normal during the third trimester but if they become painful or regular before the end of 37 weeks of pregnancy, it may be a sign of premature labour. Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately.
Waters breaking prematurely
A trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina can be the rupture of membranes, also known as your ‘waters breaking’. If this happens before the end of 37 weeks of pregnancy, call your midwife or maternity unit immediately. Waters breaking before full term is known as preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) and could put at risk of going into labour prematurely. If you do not go into labour, you and the baby will be at risk of infection.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your midwife, GP, maternity unit or ambulance. If you are concerned or don’t feel quite right, it is always best to speak to your midwife or GP.