Pregnancy is generally a happy time when you look forward to a new little life appearing. Sometimes, however, your body can be giving you little ‘niggles’. Here’s our guide to listening to your body and knowing when you need to take action.
Pre-eclampsia is the most common of the serious implications of pregnancy and is primarily caused by a defect in the placenta, which joins you and your baby and supplies your baby with nutrients and oxygen. If you’re experiencing high blood pressure, protein in your urine and, in some cases, severe swelling in your body, then you will probably be checked out for pre-eclampsia. Don’t worry though, all of these signs should be detected in routine ante-natal checks.
Bleeding during pregnancy always creates worry, but, unlike vaginal bleeding, rectal bleeding (ie, from your backside) is not a sign of a threat to your pregnancy. During pregnancy rectal bleeding is often caused by haemorrhoids or anal fissures (cracks in the anus). Haemorrhoids are broken or swollen blood vessels in the rectum, which tend to occur in the later stages of pregnancy because the enlarging womb is pressing on the pelvic blood vessels. Fortunately, haemorrhoids can be easily treated with a cream from the chemist.
Bleeding gums, or pregnancy gingivitis as it is properly called, affects about half of all pregnant women. It’s usually due to higher progesterone levels, which cause gums to react more to the bacteria in the plaque. Prevention really is the best cure for this condition, so make sure that you brush your teeth regularly and use mouthwash to limit the growth of bacteria.
For many women, vaginal discharges are just a part of life – often starting before puberty and ending after menopause. Normal discharge is clear, white or creamy with a musky sort of smell. During pregnancy vaginal discharges can increase – mainly to help prevent any infections travelling up from the vagina to the womb. While clear or whitish discharges are fine, other types of discharge can often require investigation and perhaps some form of treatment. Smelly, discoloured or bloodstained discharges need to be assessed for infection, and this usually involves the use of swabs in order to find out the type of infection suspected, so speak to your GP. White or greyish discharge with a beer or baking bread-type smell can be a sign of candidiasis, which occurs when the yeast organism, which are always present, are affected by conditions such as pregnancy. Your GP will be able to prescribe you an antifungal drug to treat this type of discharge. A fishy-smelling discharge is a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which is thought to increase the risk of premature labour threefold and so it is especially important that you visit your GP if you’re experiencing a discharge like this. Finally, a greenish-yellow, foul-smelling discharge can be a sign of trichomoniasis, which is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. Treatment is usually in the form of prescribed antibiotics.