Some important physical warning signs in pregnancy
Although it is impossible to list all of the physical signs of a potential problem with either the mother or baby during pregnancy the following are some of the more common. If in doubt always seek further medical advice from a doctor or midwife.
1. Frequency of urination in association with a burning sensation on passing urine can be a sign of urinary tract infection - this can usually be cleared with a short course of antibiotics.
2. Vaginal spotting or bleeding - this can be a sign of miscarriage although bleeding can sometimes occur in a normal pregnancy - an ultrasound scan can determine whether miscarriage has occurred.
3. Severe nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy caused by morning sickness lasting for days can lead to dehydration and weakness and this can require hospital admission for intravenous fluid replacement.
4. Reduced or absent foetal movements in the third trimester for 12 hours or more - although this can often cause false alarm as the baby rests it can be a sign of foetal problems so medical advice should be urgently sought - foetal heart monitoring is helpful at these times.
5. Early uterine contraction before the 37th week or leakage of clear fluid from the vagina before this period can be a sign of early rupture of the sack within which the baby lies and can signify warning signs of premature labour.
6. A persisting severe headache, abdominal pain, visual disturbance and excessive swelling of the hands and feet can be a sign of very high blood pressure and needs to be dealt with urgently.
7. If the mother experiences sudden breathless or if a tense hot swelling occurs within the calf or thigh muscles then these can be signs of a blood clot which needs to be dealt with urgently.
8. A persisting itchy rash on the hands, arms, or other parts of the body can be a sign of pregnancy related liver disease in the mother. This can also cause problems in the baby so further medical investigation and monitoring of maternal liver function may be necessary in this case.
Emotional changes in pregnancy
A mothers entire hormone and physical system is changing during pregnancy and this is associated with a variety of emotional changes which can again be broken down into the three trimesters of pregnancy:
Excitement and happiness is usual for both partners during the early weeks of pregnancy but this can be mixed with times of worry when the realisation of parenthood becomes apparent. Both mothers and fathers feel proud that they are able to create a baby but at the same time some anxieties about ability to be a good parent and worries about potential problems during pregnancy set in. The woman may be starting to experience tiredness and morning sickness, which can bring frustrations and tearful times.
Men also have emotional ups and downs over worry about the health and safety of their partner and developing baby, particularly when they see their partner feeling unwell during episodes of morning sickness. It is reassuring for both partners once they see this phase passing, after which a level of acceptance sets in and anxieties start to reduce. Closeness between partners is important during this period and will set the foundation for a strong relationship in the coming months.
During this stage the physical changes of pregnancy are becoming more apparent. Women see their body changing and they may experience a reduction in satisfaction of their body image. The inconvenience of clothes not fitting and the restriction on physical activities because of bodily changes can become frustrating which occasionally leads to outbursts of temper over minor problems and tearful episodes but these are usually short lived.
During the second trimester you may or may not like the physical changes you see in your partner but any negative emotion in this regard is reduced by the fact that you can now put your hand on your partner's abdomen and feel the baby moving. This is a time when you and your partner can feel close and look forward to the days ahead when you will become parents. Woman start to feel the 'nesting instinct' during this time and many parents start getting things together for their new baby such as baby clothes, prams, cots and preparing bedrooms etc.
By this stage you and your partner are usually looking forward to the new baby and excitement builds, as the arrival of their new baby seems ever nearer. The woman is also usually looking forward to the relief from the symptoms of tiredness and other problems such as backache, heartburn, hand and feet swelling. Irritability can occur during this time as she is not able to do as much as in the earlier months and frustration can start to show at times.
Men can also become irritable with their partners during this time because of the increased role they may have to take in running the home and a significant reduction in usual social activities because his partner is physically unable to do as much as before. It is important for both partners to understand these limitations and to work together as a team in preparing for their new baby. This is a good time to talk about birth plans and learn as much as possible about the early days of parenting.