aches and pains in pregnancy
Health

Aches and pains in pregnancy you can’t ignore

Pregnancy brings on a lot of changes in your body, it’s hard to know what’s normal, and some pregnancies bring unexpected symptoms that can be very worrying. Here are some aches and pains you should NOT ignore.

Extreme vomiting

Most cases of morning sickness are unpleasant – but not harmful. But if you’re vomiting so much that you can’t keep liquids down or if you’re not urinating, you need to let your GP know right away. This can lead to severe dehydration, which isn’t good for you or your baby. It can also be a sign that you’re suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – a type of extreme morning sickness that can last for weeks or occassionally throughout your entire pregnancy.

Also call if you haven’t been able to keep food down for two days straight, if you think you have food poisoning, or if the vomiting is accompanied by a high fever. In these cases, you may need to go to the hospital for IV fluids.

Intense abdominal pain

If you’re less than 12 weeks pregnant with sharp cramps on one side of your stomach, and you’ve yet to have an ultrasound, your GP or midwife will want to rule out an ectopic pregnancy (see the box on the next page). Later on in your pregnancy, call if the pain is intense or recurrent, since it could be anything from contractions to appendicitis.

Contractions or lots of watery discharge

Many women will see an increase in vaginal discharge. However, if you have any ‘itching’ vaginal discomfort, or when your discharge becomes foul smelling, talk to your GP. If you feel it is more than a discharge (that your waters have gone) then go immediately to the hospital.

Contractions are another potential sign of preterm labour. If you feel them before 37 weeks contact your hospital/GP. They could just be harmless Braxton Hicks contractions, but let your healthcare team know just in case.

Vaginal bleeding

Any time you have vaginal bleeding, you should contact your doctor. In your second or third trimester, it could mean that you have a tear in your placenta or another problem that should be diagnosed by ultrasound. Most bleeding during pregnancy doesn’t necessarily lead to long-term problems.

If you’re in your first 12 weeks, keep in mind that many women spot during the first trimester and bleeding doesn’t mean you’re having a miscarriage. If you have a blood type that is Rhesus Negative- (RH- ) and if you have any vaginal bleeding after 12 weeks gestation, you must contact the hospital for assessment as you may need an Anti-D injection. When you get your first blood tests done at the booking clinic, check with the midwife and learn your blood grouping and rhesus factor for future reference.

Severe headache or swelling all over

During pregnancy, as at any other time, headaches can be related to a wide range of internal and external causes. If you’re not someone who usually gets headaches, but you begin to experience them during pregnancy, or if your headaches become more frequent or severe, mention it to your GP. Most importantly, don’t take prescription or over-the-counter painkillers for your headache until your GP has cleared them for use while expecting.

aches and pains in pregnancy

Unfortunately, some effective pain relievers will be off-limits for now, so keep non-medicinal solutions in mind as well. Cold showers, rest, relaxation and massage can be very effective for treating tension headaches.

Blurred vision and seeing flashing spots

Call your GP or midwife if, in the second half of your pregnancy, you have: 

  • Double vision 
  • Blurring 
  • Dimming 
  • Flashing spots 
  • Lights that last for more than two hours

Vision disturbances may be a sign of raised blood pressure or pre-eclampsia. For any blurred vision or flashing spots, see your GP immediately.

High fever

If you have a fever and your temperature is above 37.5°C, but with no flu or cold symptoms, call your GP within the day. If your temperature is more than 39°C, call your GP or midwife immediately. You probably have an infection. Your GP may prescribe antibiotics. If your temperature rises higher than 39°C for a long time it may be harmful to your baby.

Lack of fetal movement

Whenever you feel like your baby is not moving as much as usual – especially when you’re far enough along that you’ve been feeling regular movement for some time, it’s best to call your GP or midwife. There is a good chance that there’s nothing wrong, but if something did happen to be wrong, time would be of the essence – and it is better to take the chance that you may be going to see your GP over nothing. In some cases, decreased movement may be an early warning sign of a condition that could lead to stillbirth, so it is absolutely best to get it checked out.

I just don’t feel right

If you’re not sure about a symptom, don’t feel like yourself, or simply feel uneasy, trust your judgement and call your GP or midwife. If there’s a problem, you’ll get help right away. If nothing’s wrong, you’ll go home reassured. Your GP or midwife expects to get calls like these, and should be happy to give you advice. Your body is changing so rapidly that it’s sometimes difficult to know if what you’re experiencing is normal, or if it’s something to worry about.

More like this:

Worrying symptoms in pregnancy
Pregnancy weight gain
Body changes in pregnancy

ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….