Warning Signs during Pregnancy
Approach to doctor when:
- Some women experience health problems during pregnancy. These complications can
involve the mother's health, the unborn baby’s health or both. Even women who were
healthy before getting pregnant can experience complications shown in figure. These
complications may make the pregnancy a high-risk pregnancy.
- Identifying risk factors, ideally before conception, and taking some preventative strategies is
essential for decreasing mother’s death rate. These include:
- Pre-existing conditions: Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as obesity
(motapa), period for human babies lasts nine months diabetes, hypertension, heart and
- Uterine abnormalities, previous uterine surgery, including caesarean section.
- Adolescent pregnancy doubles the likelihood of developing a condition in pregnancy
characterized by high BP and systemic infections and increase by about 5-fold the risk of uterine infections.
- Advanced mother’s age increases the probability of complications in unborn baby.
- Abnormalities and the risk of developing complications during pregnancy such as
period for human babies lasts nine months diabetes and hypertensive disorders (70%
- The exposure of an unborn baby to mothers smoking triples the risk of sudden infant
death symptom, while taking inside the smoke from other people's cigarettes or cigars
in the first few months of life doubles it.
- High Blood Pressure (BP): Also called hypertension. High BP develops in pregnancy is called
gestational hypertension, this made hard for the blood to reach the placenta, which proves
difficult in getting foods and oxygen to the unborn baby. Reduced blood flow can slow the
growth of the unborn baby and place the mother at greater risk of premature labor and
pregnancy characterized by high BP. Gestational hypertension occurs during the
second half of pregnancy and goes away after delivery.
- Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman who didn't have diabetes
before pregnancy develops the condition during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes, hormonal
changes from pregnancy cause the body to either not make enough insulin, or not use it
normally. Instead, the glucose builds up in women blood, causing diabetes, otherwise known
as high blood sugar.
- Infections: Infections, including some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) may occur
during pregnancy and/or delivery and may lead to complications for the pregnant woman, the
pregnancy, and the baby after delivery. Some infections can pass from mother to infant
during delivery when the infant passes through the birth canal; other infections can infect a
unborn baby during the pregnancy. Some infections in pregnancy can cause or contribute to:
- Pregnancy loss/miscarriage: Before 20 weeks of pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg grows outside a woman's uterus, somewhere
else in her stomach)
- Premature labor and delivery: Before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects including blindness, deafness, bone deformities and intellectual
- Stillbirth: At or after 20 weeks of pregnancy
- Illness in the newborn period (first month of life)
- Maternal health complications
- Preeclampsia (a condition in pregnancy characterized by high BP): Preeclampsia
is a serious medical condition that can lead to premature delivery and death. Preeclampsia is
the occurrence of BP ≥140/90 mmHg in the third trimester (begins in week 28 of pregnancy
and lasts until you give birth), with proteinuria (the presence of abnormal quantities of
protein in the urine) ≥300 mg/24 hours, developing at the same time or shortly thereafter.
Risk factors include:
- First pregnancies
- Preeclampsia (a condition in pregnancy characterized by high BP) in a
- Existing conditions such as high BP, diabetes, kidney disease and systemic inflammatory disease causing scaly red patches on the skin, especially on the face.
- Being 35 years of age or older
- Carrying two or more fetuses or obesity
- Preterm Labor: Or premature labor is labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Any
infant born before 37 weeks is at an increased risk for health problems, in most cases because
organs such as the lungs and brain finish their development in the final weeks before a full-term delivery (39 to 40 weeks).
- Pregnancy Loss/Miscarriage: Miscarriage is the term used to describe a pregnancy loss
from natural causes before 20 weeks. Signs can include vaginal spotting or bleeding, stop
developing the unborn baby or fluid passing from the vagina.
- Stillbirth: The loss of pregnancy after the 20th week of pregnancy is called a stillbirth.
Health conditions that can contribute to stillbirth include DNA abnormalities, placental
problems, poor unborn baby growth, long term health issues of the mother and infection.
Other warning signs
Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting:
- Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting: Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP),
commonly referred to as morning sickness, typically begins between the fourth and seventh
week after the last menstrual period. It is characterized by nausea and vomiting that occurs
more frequently during the morning hours and typically resolves in the second trimester.
NVP affects most pregnant women. Hyperemesis gravidarum (characterized by persistent
vomiting, volume depletion, liquid disturbances, and weight loss) is the most severe form of
- Folate deficiency: Pregnant woman are at a higher risk because of increased need for folate.
Complications include a hollow structure from which the brain and spinal cord form (in an
embryo) defects, spontaneous abortion, and placental abruption.
- Iron-deficiency anemia: Pregnant women need more iron than normal for the increased
amount of blood they produce during pregnancy. Iron-deficiency anemia (when the body
doesn't have enough iron) is somewhat common during pregnancy and is associated with
premature birth and low birth weight.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Defined as a fertilized ovum implanting and maturing outside of the
- Placenta previa: Defined as the placenta overlying the cervical os. Can be complete, partial
or marginal, and may resolve as pregnancy progresses. Symptomatic placenta previa
typically presents as second or third trimester painless vaginal bleeding.