Your back aches, you constantly need the loo and you get heartburn after supper. You’ll be very lucky if you go through the next 40 weeks with no pregnancy niggles. While most aren’t serious from a medical viewpoint, there are some you should keep an eye on.
Every mum-to-be dreads this, but it doesn’t always mean the worst. Early bleeding happens in about a quarter or pregnancies and more than half of these women go on to have a healthy baby. But always get bleeding checked out.
If bleeding continues you may be referred for a scan. If you have heavy bleeding and cramps you might be examined to see if your cervix is dilating. If it is, you may be miscarrying.
If you bleed in mid-pregnancy you could have a low-lying placenta. Signs are bright red blood and bleeding after sex. You’ll be scanned and your baby may be delivered early by Caesarean. Bleeding in late pregnancy might be a sign of placental abruption, where the placenta starts to come away from the womb. If it’s mild and your baby is not due yet, you’ll be monitored. If it’s more severe and later on, your baby will probably be delivered by Caesarean.
At least half of mums-to-be notice some swelling. It’s usually due to the extra blood circulating, which causes your body tissues to retain more water. ‘If it’s just your legs and feet, it’s usually harmless,’ says midwife Sue Jacob of the Royal College of Midwives.
You can help yourself by:
- Wearing support tights.
- Drinking lots of water.
- Putting your feet up.
- Walking regularly.
Occasionally, swelling can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition causing high blood pressure that affects about 10% of pregnant women. In the early stages you may have no signs and the only way of diagnosing it is by checking your blood pressure and testing urine for traces of protein. Common symptoms include swelling of hands, wrists, ankles and face, blurred vision and bad headaches. If your doctor diagnoses pre-eclampsia you may be given drugs to lower your blood pressure. If it’s severe, the only cure is to deliver your baby quickly.
- For more info, call Action on Pre-eclampsia on 020 8863 3271 or visit www.apec.org.uk/.
A dry, itchy bump is usually nothing to worry about.
You can help yourself by:
- Wearing loose cotton clothes.
- Using a rich moisturiser.
About 1% of mums-to-be develop a liver condition called obstetric cholestasis. Itching is often the only sign, usually from 28 weeks, especially on palms, soles, legs and arms. ‘Itching isn’t always severe,’ say Jenny Chambers of The Obstetric Cholestasis Support Griup. ‘That’s why it’s important blood tests are done.’ The tests may need repeating as some women itch for a while before getting a positive result. If diagnosed it can be treated with drugs and your baby will need to be delivered around 37 weeks.
- Call The Obstetric Cholestasis Support Group on 07970 367973