5 Danger Signs In Pregnancy

Danger signs in pregnancy refer to abrupt and unpredictable complications that may occur anytime during the antenatal period. While most women will have uneventful pregnancies, sometimes complications arise. These complications, if left unattended to, place the life of the mother and that of her unborn child at risk. Since these complications may occur at any time and to any woman, it becomes important to know the danger signs in pregnancy. This information is critical for pregnant women, their partners and their families.

Danger signs in pregnancy

Below are danger signs in pregnancy that you need to be aware of.

1.     Vaginal Bleeding

Once a woman gets pregnant, her menstrual cycle ceases for the entire period of the pregnancy. Whilst vaginal bleeding means different things during pregnancy, it is never a good sign and it warrants immediate medical attention.

Ectopic pregnancy

When there is heavy vaginal bleeding that is accompanied by intense abdominal pains especially in the first trimester, this could be an indicator of an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops when implantation of the fertilized egg occurs elsewhere apart from the uterine wall. Many women who have an ectopic pregnancy will also experience light-headedness. An ectopic pregnancy is not viable, making it a life-threatening complication. Click this link for additional reading on ectopic pregnancies.


A miscarriage refers to the death of the foetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. It is also known as a spontaneous abortion. One of the warning signs of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. It is important to mention that miscarriages may occur with or without the cramping. Other symptoms of miscarriages include contractions and a sudden inexplicable reduction in the symptoms of pregnancy.

Read More: What are miscarriages and why do they happen?

Placental Abruption

Placental abruption is a rare but serious pregnancy complication that arises after the early separation of the placenta from the uterus. The placenta is an organ that provides the growing baby with nutrients and oxygen. When it detaches (whether partially or completely), it means that the baby is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. In addition to this, placental abruption also causes heavy bleeding for the mother. This necessitates an emergency C-Section to save the life of the baby, and prevent haemorrhage for the mother. Sudden impact, as is the case during a hard fall or the impact after a car accident, may sometimes lead to the detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall before birth.

It is important to remember that any bleeding during pregnancy requires immediate medical attention, Get in touch with your doctor and head to hospital immediately.

2.     A decline in baby’s movements in-utero

Most mothers will begin to feel their baby’s movements around the 20th week of pregnancy (sometimes earlier if it is not the first pregnancy). These movements are popularly known as baby kicks. They often feel differently for moms – from kicks to rolls and flutters. While there is no defined number of movements that pregnant women should be feeling, it is important to learn how your baby moves. In the second trimester, babies tend to move a lot more. Towards the end of the third trimester, the movements remain roughly the same up to the point of birth. One of the most common myths is that babies move less as the pregnancy draws to an end. This is not true, and you should continue to feel the baby move until labour begins.

Why are the baby’s movements important?

When you feel your baby moving, it is a positive sign that they are well. If however, there is a decline in these movements, it could be a danger sign that the baby is unwell or in distress. If you think that your baby’s movements have reduced or slowed down, contact your doctor immediately. Do not wait until the next day to get medical attention. It is always better to get checked and find out baby is well, than to delay and place baby’s life in danger. At the hospital, the doctor will check baby’s heartbeat, and may recommend an ultrasound scan to check on the baby. Read more on this link.

Viral video of baby 'dancing' in the womb

BABY 'DANCES' WITH MAMA WHILE STILL IN WOMB: This baby has some serious moves already!😍 Did your baby dance in the womb, mama? 💃🏽Credit: Abel Mendiola Sotelo via ViralHog

Posted by Motherly on Friday, January 17, 2020

Here’s a cute little video of baby dancing to music beats in the womb. 

3.     Severe headache that is usually accompanied by blurred vision and swelling

A severe headache that just won’t go away even with rest and OTC medication, coupled with blurred vision and swelling could be an indication of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that is characterized by increased blood pressure in pregnant women (for whom there has been no history of high blood pressure) as well as protein in the urine. This increased pressure causes visual disturbances. It also leads to excessive fluid accumulation, usually noticeable on the face, hands and around the eyes.

If preeclampsia is not caught early, it leads to eclampsia. Eclampsia is a severe medical condition that causes seizures, agitation, unconsciousness, and sometimes, death. Since the symptoms of preeclampsia mimic those of pregnancy, it is important to get medical attention right away if you experience the aforementioned symptoms.

Read More: Here is what you need to know about preeclampsia

4.     Water breaking before the onset of natural labour

One of the signs of labour is when the water breaks. This happens naturally because the baby’s head applies pressure on the amniotic sac, leading to its breakage. When the sac ruptures, it releases the fluid through the vagina, and this is referred to as the waters breaking. While this is a normal process, the timing matters a great deal. Make sure to see a doctor if your waters break before you are due (less than 37 weeks pregnant). This is important because early water breaking could be a sign of preterm labour.

Additionally, the breaking of water makes the uterus more susceptible to infections. Infections carry a great risk for both the mother and the unborn child, as they could easily lead to medical emergencies.

5.     Convulsions/ Fits

Convulsions during pregnancy are not a normal occurrence. There are many reasons why convulsions occur in pregnant women. These include malaria, pregnancy-induced hypertension as well as in pre-eclampsia as mentioned above. These convulsions cause the victim to shake involuntarily, may cause foaming at the mouth and may lead to brief periods of blacking out. Convulsions also leave the pregnant woman feeling confused. These symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to as long as 15 minutes.

Convulsions present a danger sign in pregnancy as they affect the health of the unborn baby. During a seizure, the baby may suffer oxygen deprivation and this has been linked to increased risk of a stillbirth or a miscarriage. A pregnant woman who suffers convulsions must be rushed to a health facility. Before getting to the hospital, there are a few things that those around the victim can do. These include:

  • Protecting the pregnant woman from physical injury, especially if she has convulsed on a hard surface.
  • Get rid of any items that may cause further injury, such as sharp objects
  • Loosen any tight clothing, particularly around the head and neck.
  • Ensure that the woman gets plenty of fresh air.
  • Make sure she gets professional check at a health facility as soon as possible.

Women and their families benefit when they are able to identify danger signs in pregnancy. This also allows families to make a birth plan that factors in these challenges, especially if they are at risk or have a predisposing condition.

For healthcare providers, it is important to communicate these danger signs accurately, without creating fear. By providing a realistic explanation that helps identify these signs, health care providers can better support pregnant women and their families. Lastly, remember that many women do not experience these complications, but just about any woman could experience these danger signs in pregnancy.


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Featured Image by Dexter Chatuluka on Unsplash