Posts Tagged ‘abdominal pain’

Common pregnancy concerns: when should you call your provider?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

During pregnancy, it’s common to worry about every ache, pain, and unfamiliar feeling. But do you always need to contact your health care provider? Here is information to help you decide.

Bleeding

Up to half of all pregnant women have some bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. Although it may be common, it’s still important to let your health care provider know. Make sure you:

  • Keep track of how heavy you are bleeding, if the bleeding gets heavier or lighter, and how many pads you are using.
  • Check the color of the blood. It can be brown, dark or bright red.
  • Don’t use a tampon, douche or have sex when you’re bleeding.

Call your provider or go to the emergency room right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding,
  • Bleeding with pain or cramping,
  • Dizziness and bleeding,
  • Pain in your belly or pelvis.

Abdominal Pain

As your baby grows, the muscles around the uterus pull and stretch. This can cause pain low in your belly. You may feel it most when you cough or sneeze. It usually goes away if you stay still for a bit or if you change to a different position.

But if your pain is severe, doesn’t go away, gets worse, or is accompanied by bleeding, you should call your provider right away.

Headaches

Headaches are common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. They’re often caused by pregnancy hormones, stress or body tension caused by carrying extra weight throughout pregnancy.

However, headaches may be sign of preeclampsia or other complications. You should call your provider if your headache:

  • Is severe or doesn’t go away,
  • Comes with fever, vision changes, slurred speech, sleepiness, numbness or not being able to stay alert,
  • Comes after falling or hitting your head,
  • Comes with a stuffy nose, pain and pressure under your eyes or a toothache. These may be signs of a sinus infection.

Vomiting

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that happens in the first few months of pregnancy. Even though it’s called morning sickness, it can happen any time of day.

At least 7 in 10 pregnant women (70%) have morning sickness in the first trimester. It usually starts at about 6 weeks and is at its worst at about 9 weeks. Most women feel better in their second trimester, but some have morning sickness throughout pregnancy. If you are experiencing any nausea or vomiting, let your provider know.

For most women, morning sickness is mild and goes away over time. But call your provider if:

  • Your morning sickness continues into the 4th month of pregnancy.
  • You lose more than 2 pounds.
  • Your vomit is brown in color or has blood in it. If so, call your provider right away.
  • You vomit more than 3 times a day and can’t keep food or fluids down.
  • Your heart beats faster than usual.
  • You’re tired or confused.
  • You’re making much less urine than usual or no urine at all.

Don’t take any medicine, supplement or herbal product to treat your symptoms without talking to your provider first. And if you are ever unsure whether or not you should call your provider, it’s better to call. Most likely your provider will be able to answer your question and put your mind at ease.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

2013d030_3168An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo grows in the wrong place. Ectopic means “out of place.” Approximately 1 in 50 pregnancies in the US is ectopic.

Usually, a woman’s ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of her period. This is called ovulation. When a couple has sexual intercourse and does not use birth control around the time of ovulation, a man’s sperm swim to meet the woman’s egg. When a sperm penetrates the egg, it’s called fertilization or conception. The fertilized egg then travels to the woman’s uterus, where it burrows into the lining of the uterus and begins to grow.

If the fertilized egg implants somewhere else other than the uterine lining, it is an ectopic pregnancy. In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube. However, it can also attach to an ovary, the cervix, or somewhere in the abdominal cavity.

Unfortunately, any place outside of the uterus doesn’t have the right environment for a baby to develop. There is not enough room and if the fertilized egg continues to grow, it can cause excessive bleeding. This bleeding can be life threatening for the pregnant woman.

Risk factors

Any woman can have an ectopic pregnancy, but there are a few risk factors that increase your chances. These include:

  • A prior ectopic pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • STDs
  • Damage to a fallopian tube
  • Pelvic infections or inflammation
  • Pregnancy when using an intrauterine device (IUD) or after having a tubal ligation
  • Fertility treatments

Signs and symptoms

You will not know right away that you have an ectopic pregnancy. You may have the typical signs of pregnancy, like a missed period and nausea. Or you may have no signs of pregnancy. If you take a home pregnancy test, you will get a positive result.

But as the embryo gets bigger, you may have signs that are unusual and not typical of early pregnancy. These include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area. The pain may be mainly on one side. It can start out mild and then become sharp and stabbing.
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Low blood pressure

Treatment

There are two types of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy: medicine (methotrexate) or surgery. Your provider will decide which one is best. After treatment, your provider regularly checks your hCG levels until they return to zero. This can take a few weeks. If your levels stay high, it may mean that you still have ectopic tissue in your body. If this happens, you may need additional treatment.

If you have had an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to take time to grieve for your loss. You can have a healthy pregnancy following an ectopic pregnancy but ask your provider when it is OK for you to try to conceive again.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Endometriosis Awareness Month

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

My daughter has endometriosis and it has caused her a bunch of problems over the years.  She went through horribly uncomfortable periods, painful ovulation, bouts of diarrhea contrasted with constipation… For years she was not a happy camper.

Endometriosis, aside from making one feel lousy, can interfere with fertility and make having a child difficult.  Read more about endometriosis in our previous post.

My daughter ultimately had surgery to “clean up” as much unwanted tissue in her abdomen as possible.  Happily, she now has two daughters and far fewer discomforts every month.  If you have symptoms and think you may have endometriosis, talk to your doc about it.  Don’t suffer in silence.   Although you can’t get rid of it all together, there are ways of treating it.

Ectopic pregnancy

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

crampsIn an ectopic or “out of place” pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, and begins to grow. When this happens, the birth of a baby is not possible and the woman’s health is threatened.  It can be pretty scary, so familiarize yourself with symptoms.

With an ectopic pregnancy, about 1 week after a missed menstrual period a woman may experience slight, irregular vaginal bleeding that may be brownish in color. Some women mistake this bleeding for a normal menstrual period. The bleeding may be followed by pain in the lower abdomen, often felt mainly on one side.  If you experience this, call your doc right away or go to the emergency room.  Without treatment, these symptoms may be followed in several days or weeks by severe pelvic pain, shoulder pain (due to blood from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy pressing on the diaphragm), faintness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.

An ectopic pregnancy can be difficult to diagnose, so several tests need to be performed. If the provider finds an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo (which cannot survive) must be removed so that it does not cause the fallopian tube to rupture, resulting in life-threatening internal bleeding. Most ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, usually before the tube has ruptured.

There are two treatments for ectopic pregnancy: medication (using a drug called methotrexate which stops growth of the pregnancy and saves the fallopian tube. The woman’s body gradually absorbs the pregnancy); and surgery (the provider usually makes a tiny incision in the fallopian tube and removes the embryo, trying to preserve the tube, although sometimes it must be removed). After either of these treatments, the provider monitors the woman for several weeks with blood tests for hCG until levels of the hormone return to zero.

The most significant risk factor for ectopic pregnancy is sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia. For most women, the cause of an ectopic pregnancy is unknown.

Many women who have had an ectopic pregnancy can have healthy pregnancies in the future. Studies suggest that about 50 to 80 percent of women who have had an ectopic pregnancy are able to have a normal pregnancy. Women who have had an ectopic pregnancy have about a 10 percent chance of it happening again, so they need to be monitored carefully when they next attempt to conceive.