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Red Flag Pregnancy Symptoms you Need to be Aware of!

Red Flag Pregnancy Symptoms you Need to be Aware of!
Pregnant woman looking at ultrasound thinking about whether these new symptoms are okay are red flags

If you’re currently pregnant, you’re probably well aware of some of the symptoms that come with this wild journey. From morning sickness and fatigue, through to heartburn, insomnia and all the aches and pains that come with growing a brand new tiny human. We all experience these symptoms differently and at different stages – but it’s important to be aware of what can be normal at each point of your pregnancy.

It’s equally important to be aware of red flag symptoms – signs you or your baby may need help!

Our bodies are often great at giving us clues when something may be wrong. If you notice any of the following, it’s important that you seek help immediately.

Red flag symptoms and signs you need help in pregnancy

Any vaginal bleeding

Spotting can sometimes be normal in the first few weeks of your pregnancy as it can be a result of implantation. Anything beyond spotting, or if you bleed at all beyond the first few weeks of your pregnancy, it’s important to seek help right away as it could be a sign of complications that require swift action.

Sudden or severe swelling

a little swelling can be normal. But if you notice you suddenly look a bit ‘puffy’ particularly in your hands or face, or if your swelling is accompanied by other symtpoms such as persistent headaches, vision issues, abdominal pain, this can be a sign of a condition called pre-eclampsia which would require medical attention and monitoring.

Sudden weight gain

Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and expected – you’re growing a whole new human being! But, of your weight seems to be increasing suddenly, then it’s important you are checked over by your provider as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Persistent Pain

It is common to get a little sore here and there, or to feel nauseous. You may also notice sharp, sudden pains low down on your sides which is usually round ligament pain and completely normal. But, if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or back pain, it’s important to reach out for help right away. It could be a sign of infection, or other issues and it’s vital you are checked over to rule out or treat any issues.

Persistent Headache

Occasional headaches can happen in pregnancy. But if yours is severe, and you can’t get relief even after having some paracetamol and a rest, then it’s important to get checked out ASAP as this may be a sign of pre eclampsia.


Pregnancy can wreak havoc on our skin. You may notice increased acne, dryness or even pigmentation. Dryness can cause some itching which may be normal, but persistent itching all over (or even just on your hands and/or feet) , then it’s important to check in with your provider as it can sometimes be a sin of cholestasis of pregnancy – a liver condition that can happen later in pregnancy and is important to be checked for.

Vision issues

Persistent blurry vision, ‘floaters’ in your vision, dizziness, dark spots and flashing may all be signs of pre-eclampsia and need to be checked right away.

Signs of illness

Fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle aches etc can all be signs of illness or infection. During pregnancy, we are more likely to get sick due to having a weakened immune system. If you notice any of these signs, or others that you may be unwell, please reach out to your healthcare provider for advice right away.

A change in fetal movements

Any change to your baby’s movements – reduced, increased, or just different – is important to get checked immediately. Call your provider, or head straight to your local hospital.

Leaking fluid

It could be a sudden gush, or a trickle/flow – but if you notice this, it could be a sign your waters have broken. If you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant or have other complicating factors to your pregnancy, this warrants an immediate call to your provider or hospital. If you’re 37 weeks+ and have no other complications, please do still check in with your provider as they’ll provide advice on next steps, and what to look for.

Contractions prior to 37 weeks

Any contractions prior to 37 weeks are a red flag for pre-term labour. Often women can experience braxton hicks and it can be hard to tell the difference, but if you are noticing persistent or rhythmic tightenings, or pain (could be abdominal or in your back), then please head straight into hospital to be monitored.

The above list includes some of the signs that you may need to be checked over during pregnancy – but it is not exhaustive. If you notice ANY symptoms that are persistent, uncomfortable or worrying to you, it’s always OK (and recommended) to reach out to your provider or local hospital. They may be able to give you reassurance that everything is OK, or if they suspect it could be a sign of anything worthy of concern, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction if anything need to be checked, tested or monitored.

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It’s important to note that any pregnancy symptom you are unsure of should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure safety and suitability for individual circumstances. This blog is general education only. For any personal based advice regarding you or your baby please seek advice from your own healthcare professional.

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  3. Hear her campaign: Urgent maternal warning Signs. (2022, November 17). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Pregnancy complications | Office on Women’s Health. (December 29, 2022).