Some developments may occur during pregnancy that require immediate attention. Remember, your doctor is the best person to diagnose problems and prescribe treatment to protect you and your baby.
Often, one of the first signs of labour may be a pink mucous called ‘bloody show’ you may see when wiping with toilet tissue. Or you may even notice a slight spotting of blood after sexual intercourse. However, any bright red vaginal bleeding that requires a sanitary napkin may indicate a problem that will require attention-consult your doctor immediately.
A serious cause of heavy vaginal bleeding may be an abnormal position of the afterbirth (placenta) in the uterus, called placenta previa. This condition is potentially dangerous for mother and baby and, occasionally, requires surgical delivery (a Caesarean birth) of the baby through the mother’s abdomen.
Premature rupture of the membranes
The ‘bag of water’ (amniotic sac) surrounding the baby usually remains unbroken until labour begins. It either breaks by itself or is broken by the doctor during labour. This causes no pain, but results in fluid flowing from the vagina. If you notice a sudden gush of ‘water’ from your vagina, call your doctor and go to the hospital immediately.
An infection can result if you are not properly treated. Sometimes, before labour begins, the sac develops a slow leaking of ‘water’ from the vagina particularly while you are standing up. This leaking is commonly confused with the loss of urine from pressure on the bladder or with normal vaginal secretions. The fluid can be tested to determine where it is coming from. If you are in doubt, consult your doctor.
This condition is associated with high blood pressure, protein in the urine and unusual puffiness or swelling. Its cause is not known, but it is most often seen in first pregnancies of patients who are undernourished or who have gained too much weight. Pre-eclampsia usually develops late in pregnancy and is often ‘cured’ by delivery.
Changes in your weight, blood pressure and urinary tests during your regular check-ups can help your doctor diagnose pre-eclampsia and start treatment before real problems develop. Spots before your eyes, severe and persistent headaches, blurred vision, and abrupt and excessive weight gain are often symptoms of this disease. Notify your doctor if any of them occur. If pre-eclampsia is not treated, it may be harmful to both you and your baby.
Although pre-term labour is unusual, it does occur more frequently with twins, if you’ve already had a premature delivery, or if you have had prior cone biopsies of the cervix. If you have strong, regular contractions or other labour symptoms before your due date, consult your doctor immediately.
In some cases, medications may stop pre-term labour. Babies born early may require special care. If your baby is born early, know that parents of a hospitalized premature baby are encouraged to participate in their baby’s care if the baby’s condition permits. Also, it’s often possible to breastfeed or to pump breasts to provide milk for bottle or tube feeding if the mother chooses.