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Complications requiring medical attention 

Most pregnant women go through their 9 months being merely annoyed by symptoms. Complications are rare but they demand swift response. Pay attention to changes in your body. Seek early and regular care.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your provider right away:

Leaking amniotic fluid

A slight discharge of white or yellow-tinged mucus is normal and no cause for concern. Call your provider if:

  • Fluid seeps from your vagina at about the same rate as blood flow during your period
  • Fluid is clear or tinged slightly yellow or green
  • Your amniotic sac (bag of waters) may have ruptured. A test will show if this is amniotic fluid.

Preeclampsia (toxemia)

Preeclampsia can occur after week 20 but is more likely closer to your due date. This disease affects many systems in the body. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Protein in urine
  • Headache
  • Vision changes (flashing lights, halos around things)
  • Severe abdominal pain or nausea

Pre-term labor

Read pre-term labor instructions

Most women, especially those carrying their first child, are aware of nearly any change that may be a contraction. Contractions now and then are normal when you are pregnant. You could be in pre-term labor if:

  • It is more than 4 weeks before your due date.
  • Contractions settle into a pattern.
  • You have contractions 12 or more times in 2 hours.

Be aware of pre-term labor signs:

Uterine contractions

  • May not be painful
  • As the uterus tightens, it feels like the baby is "balling up"
  • They occur every 10 minutes or less
  • 12 or more in 2 hours

Cramps like your period

  • In your lower abdomen (belly)
  • May come and go or stay constant
  • It feels like you are having a period

Low, dull backache

  • Felt below the waistline
  • May come and go or stay constant
  • Feels like throbbing

Pelvic pressure

  • Feel heavy in lower abdomen, pelvis, back or thighs
  • May come and go
  • Feels like the baby is pushing down

Abdominal cramping

  • Nagging pains like "gas," indigestion or the flu
  • With or without diarrhea

Vaginal discharge

  • May increase in amount
  • May become watery or like egg white
  • May be blood-tinged

You may sense that something is "not right."

Checking for uterine contractions

  1. Empty your bladder and drink a glass of water.
  2. Lie down, slightly to one side, with good support under your back. Place your fingertips lightly on your uterus.
  3. When your uterus feels tight and hard for more than 30 seconds, then soft, that is a contraction.
  4. Use a clock or watch. Note the time between the start of one contraction and the start of the next. This tells you how far apart your contractions are.

If you are more than 4 weeks from your due date and notice one or more of these signs, call your doctor or nurse midwife.

Vaginal bleeding

Call right away if dark or bright red blood comes from your vagina, whether or not you have cramps. This is not the same as light pink spotting you may see after sex or a vaginal exam.

Other symptoms you should report

These should be described to your provider without delay:

  • Sudden, excess weight gain and/or excess swelling or puffing of your face or hands
  • A severe headache that does not go away
  • Vision problems (dimness, blurring, flashes of light or spots before the eyes)
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling lightheaded and fainting often
  • Sharp or constant pain in the abdomen
  • Severe vomiting
  • Chills and/or fever of 101°F or higher
  • A once-active baby is moving much less
  • Shortness of breath with chest pain, cough, fever or heart flutters

Special tests are needed to find out what is causing these.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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