Being pregnant is an amazing and sometimes super scary time. Especially for new moms-to-be, nearly everything can seem like an impending hazard to mom and baby. From what not to eat to what types of exercise to avoid, there are tons of guidelines for pregnant moms to minimize risk and ensure a healthy pregnancy and a safely delivered baby at the end of those long nine months. At the same time, there’s always a grey area between what’s acceptable and what’s not, and there is no shortage of opinions on every tiny symptom.
But throughout each mom’s pregnancy, things are changing so rapidly and often on their own schedule, so no two moms will have the exact same experience. From early pregnancy symptoms to third-trimester pains, every mom must figure things out on her own as she goes along. Fortunately, there are some things that indicate whether a pregnancy is going well or going downhill. Even the smallest things can turn out to be bigger than you think.
Although you should always call your doctor if you’re pregnant and have a symptom that’s freaking you out, here’s a list of ten things that will give moms reassurance, and ten that generally raise alarm for either mom or baby’s health.
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20 Queasy Moms Are Healthy Moms
Morning sickness is one of those symptoms every mom hates, but one that generally signals the start of a healthy pregnancy. Many moms experience early morning sickness before they even get a positive test result, especially if they weren’t trying to fall pregnant. You might think you’re coming down with the flu, but you’re actually knocked up.
If you have morning sickness that fades as the day goes on, or which you can relieve by drinking ginger ale, eating saltine crackers, or any of the other common tricks pregnant moms use, all signs point to a healthy mom, healthy baby, and perfectly normal pregnancy. Sure, it sucks to have to suck on lemon candies to keep from puking at any point in the morning, and it’s no fun trying to swallow prenatal vitamins when you’re feeling queasy, but it’s all good for baby!
19 Two Lines And Then Some
You probably found out you were pregnant by using a test strip or stick, and the two lines (or digital screen!) showed up light but visible. If you’re testing early, you may not even know whether the lines show a positive or just an evaporation line, but a surefire sign of a healthy and progressing pregnancy is a stronger and stronger test result.
Pregnancy tests detect human chorionic gonadotropin levels (hCG), and if you have a test that’s sensitive enough, it may detect levels of 5-50mIU/ml at around 3 weeks from your last period. Huggies even has a chart that shows how much your levels should rise at each week, but in general, your doctor or midwife will perform bloodwork that confirms a healthy hCG level. Still, at-home pee sticks will show a darker and darker line the farther along you progress.
18 Butterflies Fluttering Or Baby Kicking
Most pregnant mamas can start feeling their babies move between 18 and 25 weeks along. This varies, however, depending on how many previous pregnancies you’ve had, how the baby (or babies) is positioned in your uterus, and a few other factors! But most moms can tell when their babies are moving, and that’s always a good sign.
Many organizations and perhaps your OBGYN will recommend performing kick counts, where you casually track the number of times your baby kicks during a certain period of each day. This helps reassure moms that their babies are healthy and keeping tabs on their movement lets you know they’re in there and developing well. During a high-risk pregnancy, kick counts are a constant that mom can handle on her own to monitor baby, offering reassurance when you’re out of your doctor’s office.
17 Bouncing Baby Belly
You probably already know that your baby begins to practice breathing while inside the womb. After all, they know a transition to breathing air is coming up, so those lungs need a workout. Their attempts at breathing allow amniotic fluid into their lungs, spurring hiccups as their diaphragm contracts. The Bump explains that babies often begin to hiccup before mom can even feel it, but by the third trimester, you’ll know when baby has a case of the jiggles.
Hiccups require a functioning respiratory, nervous, and reflex system, so if the baby is hiccupping, that means all those areas are ramping up development for birth and beyond. And although you might not feel the hiccupping until later on your pregnancy, a sonogram can show your baby’s diaphragm contracting as early as the first trimester- week 10 specifically.
16 Growth Tracking Via Girth
At your very first prenatal appointment, your OB or midwife probably measured your belly from around your pubic bone to your belly button. This is your fundal height, the measurement that tells your healthcare team how much your uterus has expanded, and therefore, how much your baby has grown. While every mom’s body, and her baby, is different, seeing consistent growth from one appointment to the next is a positive indicator that your pregnancy is coming along nicely.
Most moms can tell when their belly starts to pop, and by week 40 and beyond, most of us start waddling and start huffing and puffing as we get up out of our chairs. This is all normal and even good, however uncomfortable it feels- every indicator of healthy baby growth is a plus.
15 On Track Ultrasounds
While some moms avoid ultrasounds due to safety concerns, most healthcare providers will request that you agree to at least one sonogram. This is often the anatomy scan, which measures all baby’s vital organs and parts to ensure that their growth is on track. At the same time, these scans often take place around the time that it’s quite easy to tell baby’s biological sex from the sonogram images.
Plenty of families pass on finding out baby’s sex, but most will agree to the anatomy scan to double check that baby has ten fingers, ten toes, and every piece in the right place. An ultrasound can also help relieve mom and dad’s fears about the pregnancy, since it can confirm that everything is going well. Plus, seeing your baby’s silhouette is often an emotional experience that makes the pregnancy really “real” for new parents.
14 Stimuli Stumping Baby
If your partner or older child often pays attention to your growing belly, you might start to notice that the baby inside is responding to outside stimuli. Especially in the third trimester, babies will react to what’s happening outside the womb, in terms of both sound and touch. This is why many parents choose to play music for mom and baby, or just for baby via headphones on the belly.
Pushing on your pregnant belly and feeling baby push back is a reassuring feeling for moms who are beginning to get the sense that their tot is running out of room or getting lazy. The farther along you get, the less room baby has for his or her acrobatics, so getting a jab from an elbow or a foot is often a welcome reassurance that they’re as active as ever.
13 Trips To The Bathroom For Two
It’s a running joke with pregnant moms that we practically live on the toilet, but for moms who have experienced losses or who are stressed about their pregnancy turning out okay, having a full bladder is almost a blessing. Recognizing that your body is continuing to make room and accommodate your baby is one way that moms can feel reassured that their pregnancies are progressing normally.
Especially for moms who have had past losses, their bodies signaling for bladder emptying more often is another signal that the body knows what it’s doing and that it’s up for the challenge of carrying a baby. Of course, there’s no true science behind how your body manages its bathroom needs, but realizing that you’re peeing more because of the baby inside is a tolerable side effect.
12 Eating For Two Or More
Early in pregnancy, it’s sometimes hard for moms to recognize subtle symptoms. It’s part of the reason why so many moms miss their pregnancies entirely and we wind up with stories about surprise babies- not every mom gets morning sickness, breast tenderness, or other initial signs. So when your appetite increases, along with your burgeoning belly, it’s built-in reassurance that yours and baby’s needs are being met.
Eating more- as long as it’s mostly healthy stuff- is good for baby, since it keeps your energy levels up and provides nutrition to your body so that it can pass the goods onto the little one. Plus, with morning sickness and other discomforts related to pregnancy, actually feeling hungry is a positive sign, too. The challenge may only lie in collecting enough energy to prepare food!
11 Packing On The Baby Pounds
For moms who are starting out their pregnancies at average or below-average weight, gaining baby weight is often a welcome sign that things are progressing normally. Moms with slim builds may find reassurance in the form of their tummies finally popping out and the numbers on the scale going up. Even for moms who may start out their pregnancies slightly overweight, gaining a healthy amount of pounds for your growing little one is a cornerstone of pregnancy.
Seeing weight gain from month to month or week to week is a pretty fair indicator that your baby is continuing to grow and your body is continuing to support them, so it’s a helpful note for especially nervous new moms to consider. Still, aiming for mostly healthy calories when packing on those pounds is advisable!
Ten Things That Raise Alarm
10 Telltale Signs Of Trauma
Moms who have experienced early losses or pregnancy complications know that even the tiniest amount of blood can indicate a serious pregnancy problem. A small bit of blood in urine can indicate anything from a urinary tract or kidney infection to the beginning of a miscarriage, but you can’t know for sure unless you schedule a prompt visit to your medical professional.
On the flip side, sometimes a small amount of blood is normal- particularly if it happens around the time of implantation or shortly after you’ve had an internal exam. That said, if you suddenly experience any amount of blood with or without other symptoms, it’s a good idea to get checked out sooner rather than later. It’s better to raise a false alarm with your doctor or midwife than to sit at home and wait things out since it could just get worse.
9 Seeing Fluids Flowing
Unwelcome bathroom accidents are common for pregnant moms, especially the farther along they get in gestation. But there’s a difference between accidentally wetting yourself and experiencing fluid leakage. Depending on how far along you are, leaking fluid could be cause for serious alarm. However, if you’re already at term (or close to it), you could be seeing your broken water seeping out.
If you’re earlier on in pregnancy, your water breaking can be either a sign or cause of early labor, which is dangerous to you and your baby. Similarly, a large amount of discharge can also indicate a problem, whether it’s related to an infection of some sort or if it’s your mucous plug exiting early. Regardless, it’s important to get your healthcare professional on the case to make sure it’s nothing serious.
8 Lazy Baby Lacking Movement
Even first-time moms can get to know their babies while they’re still inside the womb, so you’ll probably figure out your baby’s general schedule of active versus sleepy times. So if you notice that your baby is not moving as much as normal, it could be cause for alarm. If you’ve felt baby move a lot but they’ve suddenly dropped off, it could signal a serious problem for both of you.
On the other hand, as baby gets bigger, there’s less room in the womb for movement, so it is normal to see a reduction in acrobatics in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. However, your baby should still be having active times, they just may not be performing elaborate somersaults anymore. If you don’t notice much movement, try a kick count, then call up your doc for advice.
7 Snoozing The Day Away
Similar to recognizing your baby’s typical pattern of movement, you should also be able to tell when your baby is sleeping versus when they’re awake. A sudden change in schedule could have mom worrying about what’s going on in there with baby, and that paired with a reduction in baby’s movements could mean there’s a problem.
Still, there’s no reason to panic if your baby suddenly swaps from sleeping all night to bouncing off your bladder in the wee hours of the morning. Babies have no real sense of night and day until months after they enter our world, so enjoy what quiet time you can get while they’re inside, regardless of the time of day. Or, you could try drinking a cold or sweet drink to get baby awake and moving, but sugar intake shouldn’t be your only means of rousing the baby.
6 Unexplained Pain Pestering Mom
Some types of pain, like early contractions or back pain, can be indicators of the onset of labor. This is bad news if you’re not at term yet, and worse news if you’re in your first or second trimester. But other types of pain can accompany your pregnancy, and they’re not all normal. Some moms might feel the baby moving close to their cervix, and while it’s hugely uncomfortable and might freak mom out, it’s not always a cause for alarm.
Other types of ouches moms might experience that indicate a problem are pain while urinating or sharp pain in the kidney area, which can indicate a urinary tract or kidney infection. There’s also the potential for moms to have a pinched nerve due to the extra weight they’re maneuvering around as the belly grows.
5 Lingering Labor Symptoms
Many moms experience false alarms toward the end of pregnancy when they think they’ve gone into labor but haven’t quite got there yet. It’s more common with first-time moms, who don’t always recognize what true labor feels like. So when they experience “false” contractions or Braxton-Hicks, they might start worrying that it means labor is imminent.
The thing is, plenty of moms have Braxton-Hicks contractions fairly early on in pregnancy. It’s a contraction-like feeling that involves the tightening of your belly muscles, and while it’s uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be painful. Braxton-Hicks contractions also shouldn’t become more intense over time- rather, they should go away on their own. Sometimes, though, moms deal with lingering false contractions for months with no other problems. Others wind up receiving treatment for early labor, but it varies with each mom.
4 Slow Or No Growing Tummy
Moms who start out their pregnancies with a little extra weight around the middle might prefer to avoid weight gain despite their pregnancy. But it’s not normally healthy to not have any weight gain at all, and it’s worse still to be losing weight while pregnant. This will depend on your doctor, of course, but most moms are advised to gain between 15 and 35 pounds regardless of their pre-pregnancy size.
If your belly isn’t growing and you’re not gaining weight, chances are, your baby’s not seeing much nutrition either. While even moms who aren’t consuming enough calories to keep themselves health can still incubate a healthy baby, it’s not a good idea to simply accept a lack of weight gain as normal when you’re pregnant, because there truly may be cause for concern.
3 Swelling Sensations Starting
Tons of moms experience water retention and swelling all over their bodies when pregnant. It can become worse if you’re on your feet a lot, or if you wear tight-fitting socks or shoes. But swelling during pregnancy is a serious symptom related to a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia, which can result in your baby being delivered extremely early. Remember the Duggars and their youngest daughter, Josie? Pregnancy took its toll on Michelle Duggar, and Josie was a tiny thing when she was born via emergency C-section due to pre-eclampsia.
If you have minor swelling, you may still want to bring it up with your medical team at your next appointment, but severe swelling should be looked at and monitored so that your doctor or midwife can catch any symptoms of pre-eclampsia and formulate a game plan to keep you and baby healthy.
2 Odd Ultrasounds Spot Problems
Many parents get excited about the anatomy scan that can usually tell them whether their child will be a biological male or female, but these anatomy sonograms serve a primarily health-related purpose. Beyond checking fingers and toes, technicians measure your baby’s head, arms, legs, and spine, and by looking closely at the screen, they can often note visible signs of potential health problems.
Ultrasounds can sometimes identify babies with minor cleft issues or show club feet. A less visible but still notable example would be the identification of potential signs of Down syndrome, signaled by measurements taken from the fetus’s neck area. But other conditions can present themselves in strange manifestations on-screen, so having a professional look at any oddities can help parents identify possible medical challenges with their baby.
1 Hyperemesis Haunts Moms
Celeb moms like the Duchess Kate have pointed the media spotlight at HG, or hyperemesis gravidarum, helping moms recognize symptoms and feel confident in seeking treatment for this serious condition. The severe nausea and vomiting that accompany HG go far past the comparatively mild morning sickness symptoms that most moms experience. Neither is enjoyable, but HG can cause significant issues for mom and her baby.
Moms with HG often become dehydrated, lose weight, and have difficulty maintaining high enough nutrition levels to sustain their pregnancies. Duchess Kate was hospitalized in all her pregnancies, and tons of other moms have shared their stories on social media to de-stigmatize their experiences. These moms often undergo in-hospital treatment to ensure their pregnancies proceed healthily and that their babies don’t suffer because of mom’s unfortunate diagnosis.
Sources: Huggies.com, TheBump.com