Serious pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore

Pregnancy and symptoms go hand in hand, but some are more serious than others. A lot of somewhat odd symptoms are actually a normal part of growing a baby. Plus, everyone experiences pregnancy differently, and symptoms can vary from week to week. This can make it hard to know what’s a cause for concern.

Mild nausea through the first trimester, fatigue, swelling, and frequent urination are to be expected, and yet there are some serious pregnancy symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. If you experience any of the symptoms below, call your healthcare provider right away. Even if it turns out to be harmless, it’s always best to play it safe.

Vaginal bleeding: Bleeding during pregnancy can range from mild spotting (which could be benign) or heavier bleeding accompanied by pain and cramping. In some cases, bleeding is a sign of miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, or another serious condition. If you notice blood at any point throughout pregnancy (even light spotting), get in touch with your healthcare provider.

Persistent backache: Backaches are common toward the end of pregnancy as your belly gets bigger and pulls your center of gravity forward. However, severe pain or a constant dull backache could be a sign of preterm labor or another health concern.

Decreased fetal movement: If your baby is kicking less than usual, it could be a sign something’s amiss. Since developing babies sleep and wake throughout the day, it’s not always easy to tell if movement has decreased. That said, it’s a good idea to check with your provider ASAP. 

Dizziness or fainting: Mild dizziness is a relatively common pregnancy symptom, but if it happens a lot or results in fainting, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Dizziness could be a sign of low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low iron, or dehydration.

Intense headaches or vision problems: If you experience intense headaches, migraines, blurred vision, or sudden light sensitivity, let your provider know right away. These symptoms could be signs of preeclampsia, which can be life-threatening when left untreated.

Persistent or very high fever: Even when you’re being extra careful, you might catch a virus at some point during pregnancy. This could cause a mild fever and should go away within a few days. That said, if it doesn’t get better after several days or reaches above 102 °F, it could be something more serious. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider if you’re unsure.

Severe nausea or persistent vomiting: Some nausea is normal, but if it becomes severe or leads to persistent vomiting, it could be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). The condition can lead to dehydration or substantial weight loss during pregnancy and could require hospitalization.

Frequent contractions before 37 weeks: Frequent contractions (a tightening sensation in your belly) could mean you’re going into preterm labor. If you experience regular contractions or more than one per hour, call your healthcare provider right away.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team

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