Pregnancy is a joyful and exciting time for expecting mothers as you are preparing to bring new life into the world. However, whether you are a first-time mom or have multiple children, pregnancy can be frightening and overwhelming. As your body is changing in many ways, how do you know if a symptom is a sign of a medical emergency or a normal part of the journey?
It is important to note that during pregnancy, you are encouraged to take no chances. Any symptom you feel needs to be checked out, visit a medical professional immediately.
Symptoms That Call for an ER Visit
Some symptoms are common across all early pregnancy medical emergencies that require immediate, professional medical attention. If you are experiencing any of the following, visit your nearest ER immediately:
- Chest Pain
- Excessive Vomiting
- Heavy Vaginal Bleeding
- Loss of Conscious
- Severe Abdominal Cramping or Pain
- Sudden Body Swelling
- High-Blood Pressure
- Flu-Like Symptoms
Common Medical Emergencies in Early Pregnancy and How to Prevent Them
A miscarriage is the loss of a baby during the first 20 weeks (about 4 and a half months) of pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for a miscarriage, and once it starts, it cannot be stopped. Mothers will need to be looked at by an expert to check for infection and ensure all the remaining tissue has been removed.
The main symptoms of a miscarriage are severe pain and excessive bleeding early in pregnancy. Bleeding does not always result in a miscarriage; however, this can only be determined by a health professional.
Sadly enough, about one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. There is no way to prevent a miscarriage as this is the body’s natural reaction of the uterus expelling a non-viable pregnancy or a pregnancy that stops developing due to something going wrong. Although miscarriages can be completely random or unpreventable, there are some ways to lower the risk:
- No smoking
- No drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs
- Maintaining a healthy diet and weight
An ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy of undetermined location occurs when the fertilized egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes or another part in the body other than the uterus. This type of pregnancy is extremely dangerous. If the fallopian tube ruptures, the patient will need immediate emergency surgery.
An ectopic pregnancy may seem like a regular pregnancy at first–morning sickness, growing belly, and a normal baby heartbeat. However, as soon as pain in the lower abdomen and back set in and then cramping and vaginal bleeding, there is a problem. If the fallopian tube ruptures, the pain will be even more severe.
Like most obstetric emergencies, an ectopic pregnancy is not preventable. There are risk factors that commonly end in ectopic pregnancies that are caused by scarring on fallopian tubes. Promptly treating pelvic infections and any sexually transmitted infections helps reduce the risk. Also, early screenings during pregnancy are vital to ensure no complications.
A placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates–partially or totally–from the uterus. In early pregnancy, a mother can be monitored for changes and put on bed rest until the body heals itself. In more advanced emergencies, a mother may be confined to bed rest at the hospital until labor is safe to induce.
A placental abruption causes extreme bleeding, pain, and frequent contractions. In some cases, the blood may not be as heavy because it gets trapped or begins to clot.
Again, most obstetric emergencies, like placental abruption, are not preventable, but the risk can be reduced. All substances–alcohol, cigarettes, medicine, drugs–must be avoided. Also, reducing the chance for trauma helps, like wearing a seatbelt in case of an accident or watching for possible slips and falls.
Cervical Incompetence is defined as the increase of pressure causing the cervix to weaken and open before nine months. This usually occurs around the 20th week of pregnancy, and since the fetus is too premature to be outside the uterus, the survival rate is low.
In addition to the cervix dilating prematurely, a woman may experience vaginal bleeding and discharge. There is usually no pain.
Cervical Incompetence is preventable, especially if you have had children before with the same situation. The doctor will prescribe a medication to lower the risk of cervical incompetence starting at 14 weeks (about 3 months) to lower the risk of losing the baby.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is the medical condition where pregnant women experience severe vomiting or nausea-vomiting three times or more a day. There are medications that can be prescribed by the doctor to stop the overbearing, daily vomiting.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum differs from morning sickness, as morning sickness is occasional vomiting, and hyperemesis gravidarum is vomiting several times a day. Also, morning sickness subsides after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, while hyperemesis gravidarum may last until delivery. The main symptoms are vomiting more than three times a day, dehydration, dizziness, and dramatic weight loss.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent hyperemesis gravidarum because it is based on the rising hormone level within the body, but you can seek treatment.
If you are an expecting mother experiencing symptoms of one of the emergencies in early pregnancy, our facility offers the comfortable and compassionate care you need. We ensure your health and safety while pregnant for issues that may occur less than 20 weeks into your pregnancy. Alexandria Emergency Hospital emergency obstetric services provide expecting mothers five months or less 24/7 services to ease their severe symptoms and provide accurate and rapid diagnosis to any medical emergency. Come on in today!
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Alexandria Emergency Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.