Pregnancy Complications: Symptoms to Know

Pregnancy is an extraordinary time and full of surprises. You’re growing a human! Your body is changing every day, and it’s common to feel weird or even pretty anxious about this. Many pregnant women, particularly first-time moms, struggle to judge what’s physically normal during pregnancy and what’s not. Is what you’re feeling just typical discomfort or something else? When should you reach out to your obstetrician or midwife?

While most aches and pains are par for the course, it’s important to know the early signs of pregnancy complications. Specific symptoms can indicate serious conditions that should be treated by your healthcare provider to protect both you and your baby.

Rooted in the long-term impacts of racism, we as Black women are more likely to experience pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, blood vessel problems, and mental health conditions than white women. Providers may also not notice early warning signs due to bias or symptoms presenting earlier than expected. Being familiar with these symptoms and staying in tune with your body during pregnancy and postpartum can help you catch complications as early as possible.

Here are some symptoms to know:

Preeclampsia: a condition of high blood pressure in pregnancy

  • vision changes
  • rapid weight gain (over five lbs. per week)
  • constant headaches that are not relieved with medication over two days
  • extreme swelling in the face and hands

Cardiomyopathy: a condition of heart failure during late pregnancy or postpartum

  • severe shortness of breath
  • extreme fatigue
  • extreme swelling in the lower legs

Depression, Anxiety & Mood Disorders

  • feeling sad, hopeless, or worthless most of the time over two weeks
  • changes in eating or sleep patterns
  • difficulty concentrating
  • panic attacks
  • hallucinations
  • suicidal thoughts

If you experience any of these symptoms during or after your pregnancy, call your obstetrician or midwife right away and make sure you are evaluated for treatment.

It’s a lot to think about. And we’re pretty sure you already have a few things on your mind! That’s why Mae helps keep things simple by tracking your symptoms for you. The on-demand symptom tracker helps you routinely check in with your changing body and flags any causes for concern. Mae can also let you know when to call your healthcare provider and what information they will need to take action.

Unfortunately, not all pregnancy complications have noticeable symptoms. That’s why you should always prioritize your prenatal care. Routine physical check-ups can be the only way to detect signs of a problem.

Remember that you know your own body best. Most pregnancy complications can be managed safely with care and support, but early detection matters.  You can and should be your own advocate to get the care you need. Knowledge is power, and you’ve got this.