Pregnancy and the year after you give birth (the postpartum period) can be complicated. Some symptoms you may experience are completely normal, and some you should never ignore and must get help for right away. If you are experiencing any of these Urgent Maternal Signs you should seek help immediately. These can happen to anyone and experiencing one doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong or that it’s your fault. Asking for and getting the help you need can save your life.

This list is not meant to cover everything that you might be feeling or experiencing. If you simply feel like something just isn’t right, it’s always best to share what is happening with your care provider and get the help you need.

HEADACHE THAT WON’T GO AWAY AND GETS WORSE OVER TIME

Get help right away if you have head pain that:

  • Lasts even after treatment with medication and fluid intake
  • Starts suddenly with severe pain – like a clap of thunder
  • Throbs and is on one side of your head above your ear
  • Comes with blurred vision or dizziness

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

A headache is especially worrisome if:

  • You don’t usually have headaches
  • It happens at or after 16 weeks of your pregnancy or in the first few weeks after giving birth
  • You have high blood pressure or swelling in other parts of your body

A lasting, severe headache may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Preeclampsia – a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
  • A migraine – women sometimes get their first migraine during pregnancy (migraines are severe headaches on one or both sides of your head that get worse with light, sound, or smells)
  • Rarely, a stroke or other brain problems (a stroke is a blood clot that stops blood and oxygen from going into your brain
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

CHEST PAIN OR FAST-BEATING HEART

Get help right away if:

  • You have chest pain, such as:
    • A feeling of tightness or pressure in the center of your chest
    • Pain that travels to your back, neck, or arm
  • You have a change in your heartbeat, such as:
    • A fast heartbeat or a pounding in your chest
    • An irregular heart rate or skipped heartbeats
  • You feel dizzy, faint, or disoriented
  • You have trouble catching your breath (talking and breathing are difficult)

These symptoms can happen at any time and anywhere or may be triggered by a specific event.

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

These symptoms are especially worrisome if:

  • Your symptoms start suddenly
  • You also have:
    • Swelling in your arm or leg
    • Trouble breathing
    • Dizziness or a headache

Chest pain or a fast beating heart may be warning signs of other problems, such as:

  • Heart attack—when part of your heart dies because it doesn’t get enough oxygen
  • A blood clot that has traveled to your lungs
  • A tearing of the large blood vessels that come out from your heart
  • Some other blockage of normal blood flow in your chest
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

TROUBLE BREATHING

Get help right away if:

  • You feel short of breath suddenly or over time, as if you can’t breathe fast enough or deeply enough to get enough air in your lungs
  • Your throat, chest, or both feel tight
  • You have trouble breathing when you’re laying down flat, such as needing to prop your head up with pillows to sleep

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

Trouble breathing is especially worrisome if:

  • You have high blood pressure or swelling in other parts of your body
  • It happens suddenly, sometimes after you’ve had swelling in one of your thighs, lower legs, or arms
  • It happens at or after 16-20 weeks of your pregnancy or in the first few weeks after you give birth (vaginally or by c-section)
  • You also have chest or back pain, headache, swelling, changes in your vision, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, or skipped heartbeats

Trouble breathing may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Preeclampsia – a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
  • Pulmonary embolism – when your blood carries a blood clot or other substance to your lungs, making it harder for you to breathe
  • Infection in the lungs
  • A heart problem that’s getting worse
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

CHANGES IN YOUR VISION

Get help right away if you:

  • Your vision is blurry, you can’t focus, or you’re seeing double
  • You see flashes of light or bright spots
  • You can’t see certain areas in your field of vision (blind spots) or you can’t see at all for a short time

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

Vision changes are especially worrisome if:

  • They happen at or after 16 weeks of your pregnancy or in the first few weeks after you give birth

Vision changes may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Preeclampsia – a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
  • Stroke – a blood clot that stops blood and oxygen from going into your brain
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

SEVERE BELLY PAIN THAT DOESN’T GO AWAY

Get help right away if:

  • You have a sharp, stabbing, or cramp-like belly pain that doesn’t go away
  • Your belly pain starts suddenly and is severe, or gets worse over time

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

Severe belly pain is especially worrisome if you also have:

  • Back pain
  • Heartburn so bad it hurts in your chest
  • Pain in the upper part of your belly
  • Vaginal bleeding

Severe belly pain may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • A placental abruption – when your placenta separates from the wall of your uterus before birth
  • Preeclampsia – a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
  • HELLP Syndrome – a condition of pregnancy that affects your blood and liver

OVERWHELMING TIREDNESS

Get help right away if:

  • You don’t have enough energy to go about your day
  • You feel tired and weak
  • No matter how much you sleep, you don’t feel refreshed
  • You feel so tired that you don’t get up to take care of your baby
  • You feel sad after having your baby

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away!

Overwhelming tiredness is especially worrisome if:

  • You’re so tired that you can’t do daily activities or take care of your baby
  • They last longer than 8 months after birth. Symptoms should improve within a couple of weeks.

Overwhelming tiredness may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Anemia—a low number of red blood cells
  • Diabetes—a lifelong illness that involves blood sugar and insulin
  • Depression—feeling so sad during the weeks and months after having a baby that you can’t do daily activities and have less interest in your baby
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

DIZZINESS OR FAINTING 

Get help right away if:

  • You have dizziness and lightheadedness that’s ongoing, or comes and goes over many days
  • You faint or pass out
  • You experience a gap of time that you can’t account for

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Feeling dizzy or faint is especially worrisome if:

  • It happens at or after 16 weeks of your pregnancy or in the first few weeks after you give birth
  • You also have:
    • Headache
    • Blurred vision
    • Slurred speech
    • Fast heartbeat, chest pain, or shortness of breath
    • Vaginal bleeding

Feeling dizzy or faint may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Preeclampsia—a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
  • A stroke—a blood clot that stops blood and oxygen from going into your brain
  • A heart or lung problem
  • Too much bleeding, which can occur even if you don’t see blood
  • Problems with your blood sugar levels
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

SEVERE STOMACH SICKNESS OR SUDDEN THROWING UP – NOT LIKE MORNING SICKNESS

Get help right away if:

  • You feel severely sick to your stomach (nauseous) beyond the normal queasy feeling and throwing up that many moms have in early pregnancy
  • You are unable to drink for more than 8 hours or eat for more than 24 hours
  • You throw up and can’t keep water or other fluids in your stomach
  • You have:
    • A dry mouth
    • Headaches
    • Confusion
    • Fever
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Feeling severely sick to your stomach or throwing up is especially worrisome if:

  • You continue to feel sick to your stomach and throw up throughout your pregnancy

Feeling severely sick to your stomach and throwing up may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • A viral infection
  • Problems with your liver or pancreas
  • Food poisoning, which may lead to dehydration
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

VAGINAL BLEEDING, FLUID LEAKING, OR SPOTTING DURING PREGNANCY

During pregnancy, get help right away if:

  • You have any bleeding from your vagina that is more than spotting – especially if it’s heavy enough that you need to wear a pad
  • Leaking or gushing of fluid that happens if the fluid-filled sac surrounding the baby breaks – at any time during your pregnancy
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is especially worrisome if you also have:

  • Cramping or pain in your back or belly
  • A feeling of wooziness or light-headedness

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • An infection
  • A placental abruption – when your placenta separates from the wall of your uterus before birth
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

VAGINAL BLEEDING, FLUID LEAKING, OR SPOTTING AFTER PREGNANCY

After you give birth, get help right away if:

  • You have heavy bleeding – soaking through one or more pads in an hour
  • You have any amount of bleeding that does not stop after 2-3 weeks
  • You pass clots bigger than an egg or you pass tissue
  • You have a vaginal discharge that smells bad

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Vaginal bleeding, fluid leaking, or spotting after pregnancy may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Hemorrhage – too much bleeding
  • Retained placenta – when all of part of your placenta remains in your uterus after birth
  • An infection
  • An unhealed vaginal repair site
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

SWELLING, PAIN, REDNESS OF YOUR LEG OR ARM ANYTIME DURING PREGNANCY OR UP TO 6 WEEKS AFTER BIRTH

Get help right away if:

  • You have pain, tenderness, or swelling in your leg – usually your calf or in one leg:
    • It may or may not hurts when you touch it
    • It may hurt when you flex your foot to stand or walk
    • The painful area can also be red, swollen, and warm to the touch
  • You have pain, tenderness or swelling in your arm, usually on just one side of your body

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

These symptoms are especially worrisome if:

  • The swollen side of your body looks redder in color than the other
  • You can feel a difference in temperature between the two sides of your body

 Swelling, pain, or redness may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • A clot in your vein (deep vein thrombosis), which may travel to other parts of your body and cause other problems:
    • In your lungs, a pulmonary embolism that makes it harder for you to breathe (shortness of breath)
    • In your brain, a stroke – the stopping of blood and oxygen to your brain
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

SWELLING OF YOUR HANDS OR FACE

Get help right away if:

  • Swelling in your hands makes it hard to bend your fingers or wear rings
  • Swelling in your face makes it hard to open your eyes all the way—they feel and look puffy
  • Your lips and mouth feel swollen or you have a loss of feeling

This swelling is not like the usual slight swelling that most moms have during pregnancy, especially during the last few months of pregnancy. 

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Swelling of your hands or face is especially worrisome if:

  • It happens quickly and includes your hands and wrists

Swelling of your hands or face may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Preeclampsia—a type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

BABY’S MOVEMENTS SLOW OR STOP DURING PREGNANCY

Get help right away if:

  • You feel that your baby has stopped moving or your baby is moving less than before.

There is no specific number of movements that is considered normal, a change in your baby’s movement is what is important. 

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Your provider may teach you about kick counts — a way to measure your baby’s movement over time – to help you identify when to get help.

A slowing of stoppage in movements may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • An infection in your uterus
  • Oligohydramnios – too little amniotic fluid

THOUGHTS OF HURTING YOURSELF OR YOUR BABY

Get help right away if:

  • You think about hurting yourself because you:
    • Feel very sad, hopeless, or not good enough
    • Don’t feel that you have control over your life
    • Feel extremely worried all the time
  • You think about hurting your baby because you: 
    • Have the urge to hurt your baby so they will stop crying

If you have any of these symptoms, get help right away! Call your pregnancy care provider today. If you can’t reach them, go to the hospital.

Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby may be a warning sign of other problems, such as:

  • Depression – a serious mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Recurrent panic or anxiety
Empty section. Edit page to add content here.

 
Use of this website constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use.

Pin It on Pinterest

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account