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Most women are healthy during pregnancy and do not have serious
health concerns. You may have minor physical symptoms throughout your pregnancy
that are considered normal pregnancy changes. It is important for you to be
aware of symptoms that may mean you have a more serious problem. Talk with your
doctor about any concerns you have during your pregnancy so that your health
problems can be checked quickly.
Many minor problems of pregnancy
can be managed at home. Home treatment measures are usually all that is needed
to relieve mild
morning sickness or discomfort from
constipation. There are also home treatment measures
for sleep problems, hip pain,
hemorrhoids, or fatigue. If you develop a problem and
your doctor has given you specific instructions to follow during your
pregnancy, be sure to follow those instructions.
If you have a
family history of diabetes, you may develop a type of diabetes that only occurs
during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Gestational
diabetes is treated by watching what you eat, exercising, checking blood sugar
levels, and possibly taking oral medicines or insulin shots to keep blood sugar
levels within a target range. Women who have gestational diabetes are likely to have
babies that weigh more than normal. If the mother's blood sugar is not
controlled, this could cause serious problems for the baby before and during
You may also have other common problems, like a cold or
the flu, while you are pregnant that are not caused by your pregnancy. You can
use home treatment measures for these illnesses as well, but make sure to talk
to your doctor if your symptoms become more serious, such as coughing up blood
or not being able to drink enough fluids (dehydrated).
While most problems that occur during pregnancy are minor, you may
develop more serious symptoms that you need to talk to your doctor about. Your
symptoms may be related to:
During the days and weeks after delivery (postpartum period),
you can expect that your body will
change as it returns to its nonpregnant condition. As
with pregnancy changes, postpartum changes are different for every woman. Some
problems, such as high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, or diabetes, may continue
after delivery. You may need to follow up with your doctor about these problems
Check your symptoms to decide if
and when you should see a doctor.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Symptoms of a bladder infection may
Symptoms of preterm labor may
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Pain in adults and older children
Based on your answers, you need
Get down on your knees, bend
forward, and put your head on the floor so your buttocks are higher than your
head. Stay in this position until help arrives.
You can get dehydrated when
you lose a lot of fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever.
Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to severe. For
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
Symptoms of a vaginal infection may
Severe dehydration means:
Moderate dehydration means:
Mild dehydration means:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Temperature varies a little depending on how you measure it.
For adults and children age 12 and older, these are the ranges for high,
moderate, and mild, according to how you took the temperature.
Oral (by mouth) temperature
Ear or rectal temperature
Armpit (axillary) temperature
If you're not sure if a fever is high, moderate, or mild,
think about these issues:
With a high fever:
With a moderate fever:
With a mild fever:
Severe vaginal bleeding means that you are soaking 1 or 2 pads or tampons in 1 or 2 hours, unless that is normal for you. For most women, passing clots of blood from the vagina and soaking through
their usual pads or tampons every hour for 2 or more hours is not normal and is
considered severe. If you are pregnant: You may have
a gush of blood or pass a clot, but if the bleeding stops, it is not considered
Moderate bleeding means that you
are soaking more than 1 pad or tampon in 3 hours.
Mild bleeding means that you are soaking less than 1 pad or
tampon in more than 3 hours.
Minimal vaginal bleeding means "spotting" or a few drops of blood.
Severe trouble breathing means:
Moderate trouble breathing means:
Mild trouble breathing means:
Signs that you are in labor
"Bloody show" is blood-tinged mucus that will pass out of the vagina as the cervix begins to open (dilate) and thin (efface). On its own, however, this is not a definite sign that you are in labor.
Symptoms of a kidney infection may
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
During pregnancy, swelling that may be a sign of a more serious problem may include:
Pregnancy affects almost every part
of a woman's daily life. If you develop problems and your doctor has given you
specific instructions to follow during your pregnancy, be sure to follow those
During your pregnancy, you may have questions about
many of the following common concerns:
For many women, the hardest part of
early pregnancy is
morning sickness. You may be able to use home
treatment to help your nausea or vomiting.
Most women have some fatigue
during pregnancy, especially during the first and third
trimesters. During the first trimester, your body
makes higher levels of the hormone
progesterone, which may make you feel more tired. You
may feel more energy during most of your second trimester. Later in pregnancy,
your growing baby and loss of sleep because you cannot find a comfortable
position can lower your energy level.
To help with fatigue during
Sleep problems are
common during pregnancy. These tips may help you get a good night's sleep.
You may also have other common problems, like a cold, mild
headache, backache, mild fever, or the flu, while you are pregnant that are not
caused by your pregnancy. These minor symptoms generally do not cause problems
or hurt your baby. In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain.
Acetaminophen dosage: The usual dose is 650 mg. Take every 4 hours, as needed, up to 4 times in a 24-hour period. Do not take more than 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
Be sure to follow these nonprescription medicine precautions.
Check with your doctor before you take any other types of medicines.
Most pregnant women have symptoms of
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially
heartburn, at some time during pregnancy. These symptoms are common but do not
usually cause problems or hurt your baby. Most of the time symptoms of
heartburn get better once the baby is born.
You can make changes
to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of GERD. Here are some things
Constipation and hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy. To prevent or ease these
Many women have
pelvic, or hip discomfort during pregnancy. As the
size and weight of your belly increases, strain is placed on your back. Pelvic
and hip discomfort is a normal sign that your pelvic area is getting ready for
childbirth. To help with your discomfort, follow these tips:
After 18 to 20 weeks, you will notice that your baby moves and kicks more at certain times of the day. For example, when you are active, you may feel less kicking than when you are resting quietly. At your prenatal visits, your doctor may ask you whether the baby is active.
Kick counts. In the last trimester of your pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to keep track of the baby's movement every day. This is often called a "kick count." A common way to do a kick count is to see how much time it takes to feel 10 movements. Ten movements (such as kicks, flutters, or rolls) in 1 hour or less are considered normal. But do not panic if you do not feel 10 movements. Less activity may simply mean the baby is sleeping.
If an hour goes by and you have not recorded 10 movements, have something to eat or drink and count for another hour. If you do not record 10 movements in the 2-hour period, call your doctor right away.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
It is important to make healthy lifestyle
choices to lower your chance for serious problems during pregnancy. Learn about
healthy lifestyle choices before, during, and after your pregnancy.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
October 18, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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