Medical Emergencies Do Occur in Pregnancy

Medical emergencies do occur in pregnancy, and when they do time is of the essence.  Outside of well-established labor, it is important for pregnant women to be aware of the symptoms that necessitate a trip to the emergency room.  


Preeclampsia is a serious condition that needs to be addressed immediately, as it can be fatal to both mom and baby.  Symptoms can be mild or severe. Elevated blood pressure and protein levels in the urine, typically after 20 weeks of pregnancy, are big indicators that you may have preeclampsia. But these are often silent symptoms that go undetected (ones you don’t feel). It is, therefore, important to be aware of the other symptoms of preeclampsia, including:

  • Severe, persistent headache
  • Upper right quadrant pain, usually on the right side under the ribs
  • Changes in vision
  • Excessive swelling, especially around face, eyes, or hands
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety, shortness of breath

Once you seek medical attention, emergency staff will check your blood pressure and protein levels to confirm the condition and begin treatment.

Contractions Early in the 3rd Trimester

Firstly, it is important to know the difference between real and false labor. False labor, or Braxton Hicks contractions, do not increase in intensity, usually aren’t painful, aren’t consistent, and subside with change of activity and/or rest and hydration.

But if it is true contractions, you will want to seek emergent care so they can try to stop labor. Labor is considered preterm if it is 3 weeks before your due date. Contact your doctor if you have the following symptoms:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or less
  • Menstrual or gas like cramps that may be accompanied by diarrhea
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Fluid leaking
  • Flu like symptoms

Premature Water Break

Women will typically go into labor 24 hours after their water breaks, and if not, mother and baby are at risk for infection. If your water breaks before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to stop labor and/or infection.

Flu symptoms

Women are more likely to get the flu during pregnancy, and it can cause serious complications. Women are advised to have flu shots while pregnant. Call your doctor if you’re experiencing flu like symptoms.

Heavy Bleeding

Heavy bleeding can be an indication of many things, including ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or placental abruption. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is serious and should always be addressed by a healthcare professional.

Severe Nausea or Vomiting

One of the many symptoms of pregnancy is nausea and vomiting, but too much can lead to dehydration and malnourishment, which is very dangerous for mom and baby. If nausea and/or vomiting is making it hard to eat, causing you to lose weight, or becoming dehydrated, please seek medical attention.


According to the Mayo Clinic, seizures during pregnancy can cause slowing of fetal heart rate, premature labor and birth, placental abruption, and decrease in oxygen to the fetus. Additionally, a fall during a seizure can cause harm to an unborn baby. Please seek medical attention immediately after a seizure.