Danger Signs in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a good thing and it even gets better when the pregnant woman safely puts to birth.
Maternal mortality is the death of a woman during pregnancy, labour or childbirth or shortly after childbirth. It is still a huge problem faced in Africa. Usually, a painful experience for the families left behind.
To prevent maternal mortality during pregnancy, we should be able to detect the danger signs and refer the pregnant woman to the appropriate center for further management.
Common danger signs in pregnancy include:
This simply means a reduced amount of red blood cells below the normal range for that age and sex. A pregnant woman having anaemia complains of dizziness, fainting feelings, palpitations, light headedness or frequent episodes of blackouts. She needs medical attention ASAP.
High fever
A body temperature greater than 37.2 Degrees Celsius is called fever. The commonest cause of fever in pregnancy is Malaria. She needs medical attention when there is a fever.
Severe headaches
This may be due to high blood pressure from a condition called pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, or other causes like malaria, typhoid fever etc. There may be associated blurring of vision. She needs immediate attention.
Swollen legs and feet
This is called leg and pedal edema in medical parlance. It may be normal (physiological) or abnormal which is a pointer to conditions like pre-eclampsia, cardiac (heart) or renal (kidney) pathologies. She needs to be reviewed by skilled personnel.
Severe abdominal pains
This may follow trauma to the abdomen, peptic ulcer disease, or antepartum hemorrhages from placenta preavia or abruptio placentae, etc. She needs expert care.
Bleeding during pregnancy may be a pointer to threatened abortion or miscarriage. If it occurs before 20 weeks gestation (before the 5th month of pregnancy) or other causes like placenta previa, abruptio placentae, trauma to the abdomen, etc. This calls for immediate medical attention.
The commonest cause of convulsion during pregnancy is eclampsia. It is characterized by elevated Blood pressure, leg and feet swelling, and proteins in urine – from urinalysis test done. This is a serious emergency condition in pregnancy, labour or shortly after delivery. Women who are known to have epilepsy (seizures disorder) may also have convulsions during pregnancy.
There are other causes of convulsion and all such cases must be referred to healthcare facilities that can cater adequately for them.



Written by Dr. Luke Oghweniale et al, October 2015. (Contributor)

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