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7 Pregnancy Warning Signs

Some symptoms during pregnancy are par for the course, but others are cause for alarm. How do you know the difference?
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4. Contractions Early in the Third Trimester

Contractions could be a sign of preterm labor. “But a lot of first-time moms may confuse true labor and false labor,” Ruddock says. False labor contractions are called Braxton-Hicks contractions. They’re unpredictable, non-rhythmic, and do not increase in intensity. “They will subside in an hour or with hydration,” Ruddock says. “But regular contractions are about 10 minutes apart or less and increase in intensity.”

If you're in your third trimester and think you're having contractions, call your doctor right away. If it is too early for the baby to be born, your doctor may be able to stop labor.

5. Your Water Breaks

You walk into the kitchen for a drink and feel a flood of water rush down your legs. “Your water could have broken,” Ruddock says, “but during pregnancy the enlarged uterus can cause pressure on your bladder too. So it could be urine leakage.” Ruddock says that sometimes water breaking is a dramatic gush of fluid, but other times it is more subtle.

“If you are not sure if it is urine versus a true rupture of the membrane, go to the bathroom and empty your bladder," she says. "If the fluid continues, then you have broken your water.” Call your doctor or go to the hospital.

6. A Persistent Severe Headache, Abdominal Pain, Visual Disturbances, and Swelling During Your Third Trimester

These symptoms could be a sign of preeclampsia. That’s a serious condition that develops during pregnancy and is potentially fatal. The disorder is marked by high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine that typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.

“Call your doctor right away and get your blood pressure tested,” Bernstein says. “Good prenatal care can help catch preeclampsia early.”

7. Flu Symptoms

Our experts say it’s important for pregnant women to get the flu vaccine since pregnant women are more likely to get sick and have serious complications from the flu than other women during flu season.

But if you do get the flu, "don’t rush into a hospital or doctor’s office where you can spread it to other pregnant women," Bernstein says. "Call your doctor first."

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Reviewed on December 06, 2012
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