6 pregnancy complication symptoms not to ignore

Take these signs of possible pregnancy issues seriously to save you and your baby.

Pregnancy is an exciting time as you await your little one. Your body will go through many changes, and you’ll have a lot of questions. As you near your due date, you should know what symptoms could be signs of serious pregnancy complications.

According to Kris Ellen Barnsfather, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care, there are six symptoms of pregnancy issues you should never ignore. If you experience any of these, call your obstetrician or head to Norton Hospital or Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, where OB hospitalists are available 24 hours a day to help in an emergency.

Ongoing headache, stomach pain, changes in vision and swelling (happening together)

You could have preeclampsia — a serious condition sometimes referred to as toxemia. It’s characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. Untreated, it can lead to serious issues for you, including stroke, seizures, and liver and kidney damage. These also can affect your baby. Preeclampsia usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy and can increase the chance of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes later in life.

These symptoms also could be a sign of HELLP, which stands for Hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count. This is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate attention.


If you’re nearing your due date and have stomach pain and bleeding, it could mean a placental abruption. This is when the placenta has separated from the uterine lining. It can affect the amount of oxygen the baby is getting and result in issues for you.

Bleeding in the first and second trimesters also could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Any bleeding beyond spotting during pregnancy needs medical attention.

Severe vomiting

If you’re vomiting and unable to eat or drink, you may become dehydrated, which could harm your baby. Signs of severe dehydration that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Dark yellow urine or little to no urine
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Confusion
  • Early contractions

If you have vomiting longer than 12 hours, consult your doctor. It could also be the flu, which is very serious during pregnancy.

Baby is moving less

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If your normally energetic youngster suddenly seems to be moving less, start counting kicks. While each baby moves more or less, that can give you some idea. Ten or more kicks over a two-hour time period is a good place to start. If fewer, call your doctor. You also can try eating and drinking followed by lying on your side to get baby moving.

Sometimes babies just start moving less, but it’s better to be safe.

Contractions early in the third trimester

Your due date is still two months away, and you start having contractions. Often, these are Braxton Hicks contractions, which are a sign of false labor. They do not increase in strength and do not come at regular intervals. If, however, you start having regularly spaced contractions that increase in intensity, you could be going into labor.

Your water breaks

The movies always portray water breaking as a gush, but it also can be a trickle. First, go to the bathroom and urinate. Sometimes the leakage can be urine trickling out because your uterus is putting pressure on your bladder. If the leakage continues, your water may have broken and your baby may be on the way. Get to the hospital immediately.

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