when not to worry
ItÂs easy to worry about every new sensation in your body. But remember that the vast majority of babies are born perfectly healthy.
Six weeks into her pregnancy, Kim Schuler thought all was lost. After learning she was pregnant with her second child, Schuler, now 41 and a mother of three in Allentown, Pa., started bleeding and cramping. “My husband and I were sure we were losing the baby,” she says, “but soon the doctor found a heartbeat.” A trouble-free seven months later, Schuler gave birth to a healthy girl, Meredith.
Though Schuler’s case was unusually alarming, few women pass through pregnancy without an anxious moment along the way. Fortunately, most go on to have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. While women with special health conditions or a history of premature labor, or those who are carrying multiples need to pay heed when anything unusual occurs, most women can relax and let nature take its course.
We’re here to help you do just that. Following are the most common concerns among pregnant women, with information about why you probably don’t need to worry—and when you should. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines; call your doctor if you have questions or concerns specific to your pregnancy.
nausea Though morning sickness (which can last all day) feels bad, it’s not bad for the baby, says Richard Frieder, M.D., an OB-GYN at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. To help alleviate nausea, try eating several small meals a day, rather than three larger ones; also try nibbling on some soda crackers before getting out of bed. Some women say that foods and drinks containing ginger or lemon help to settle a queasy stomach, as do seasickness bands. And if all else fails, keep in mind that morning sickness usually abates by about the 12th week. When to call the doctor: Nausea is a concern when severe vomiting causes dehydration. Infrequent urination, as well as urine that’s dark and strong-smelling, are key signs. If you notice either of these, call your doctor; she may want to put you on an IV to ensure adequate hydration. Also call your doctor if you can’t keep food down or are losing more than 1 pound a week.
bleeding For many women, bleeding is perhaps the scariest symptom they might experience because they associate it with miscarriage. But bleeding during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, is more common than many realize: About 25 percent of women experience some type of bleeding in the first 13 or so weeks; of those, more than half go on to have perfectly healthy babies.
Though bleeding—especially when accompanied by cramping—can be one sign of miscarriage (see “The Facts About Miscarriage” below), it often has other causes. The most common is in association with implantation of the egg in the lining of the uterus, says Daniel Landers, M.D., vice chairman and director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Benign cervical polyps, which are fairly common whether you’re pregnant or not, may also be to blame. Another potential cause is cervical bleeding, which can occur after intercourse in women with tender cervices. Finally, bleeding can occur when the mucous plug is lost in early labor. When to call the doctor: Regardless of the possible cause, any bleeding—no matter when it happens—should be reported to your doctor right away.