Preventing Pregnancy Problems: 7 Really Important Prenatal Warning Signs to Look Out For by Linda Hanna, RNC, MSN/Ed., IBCLC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 700 mothers die and 50,000 are injured each year from pregnancy or labor problems – and three-fifths of problems could have been prevented. How can women make sure they are safe and protected throughout their pregnancy?
I’m the co-founder of maternity health-tech company Mahmee along with my daughter, Melissa Hanna, and a health-care expert for many years who created the maternity and lactation programs at Kaiser Permanente and Cedars-Sinai. Having worked with so many mothers throughout my tenure, I’ve developed warning signs to watch out for during pregnancy:
- Back or Pelvic Pain: Your OB-GYN should always know about pain in the lower pelvic region or across the front of your belly above the pubic hair line. Back pain is sometimes a sign of uterine contractions and your provider will want to make sure the cervix is not opening prematurely.
- Spotting or Bleeding: Some spotting is normal, depending on the weeks of pregnancy. Spotting or small amounts of blood stain on the pantyliner can occur with implantation of the embryo, but during the second trimester or third trimester any bleeding is particularly worrisome.
- Fever: A higher than normal temperature, paired with body aches and flu-like feelings, is sometimes a sign of an infection that may require testing or medication. It’s important to catch this early.
- Lightheadedness, Dizziness, Vomiting: These could be a hidden indicator of high blood pressure and preeclampsia later in the pregnancy.
- Headaches: Headaches could be normal, but watch out for any unusual changes, like suddenly appearing migraines that you never suffer from. Some medications which are safe for pregnancy but must be prescribed by the physician. Headaches and changes in your vision can be connected to blood pressure issues.
- Swelling: Any major changes in puffiness or if your hands and feet suddenly feel tight could signals of changing blood pressure or increased stress on the heart. Blood flow to the placenta and fetus can be monitored.
- Rashes: Watch out for any changes in skin or unusual redness, rashes, hives, which can be connected to problems with the gallbladder, a disorder known as cholestasis. Sometimes conditions of the liver can present with rashes or hives.
Mahmee is a platform backed by Serena Williams and Mark Cuban that lets hospitals, health plans and their patients closely coordinate comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care so that no moms and babies fall through the gaps in the health-care system.
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