Early pregnancy concerns
Women's bodies go through a lot of changes during pregnancy, but whilst some episodes of discomfort and irritation can be self-managed, others should be checked out by your GP or midwife. Please see our symptom checker below for guidance.
Early pregnancy symptom checker
- Abdominal pain, cramps, stomach-ache?
It is completely understandable to worry about stomach pain in pregnancy and be anxious about miscarriage. Stomach pains or cramps are common in pregnancy and are usually nothing to worry about.
Mild stomach pain in early pregnancy (during the first 12 weeks) is usually caused by your womb expanding, the ligaments stretching as your bump grows, hormones constipation or trapped wind. It may sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’ or mild period pain. It’s is probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind.
If you are having persistent stomach pain (pain that won’t go away), cramping, symptoms of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy or if the pain comes on suddenly, it should be checked by a doctor, your GP, or midwife immediately.
- Bleeding in early pregnancy
It is common to have light bleeding or ‘spotting’ without pain before 12 weeks. Often, this is not serious, but you should contact your GP, doctor, midwife or Early Pregnancy Unit immediately to be assessed as bleeding can sometimes be a sign of something more serious. Try to remember that many women who have bleeding in early pregnancy (before 12 weeks) go on to have a successful pregnancy. Just make sure that your symptoms are checked at the time the bleeding occurs.
Bleeding in pregnancy after 12 weeks is not common. If this occurs, contact A&E or your hospital maternity unit immediately so you can be reviewed.
- Stinging when you pass urine
If you have a painful or burning sensation when you pass urine (urinate, wee), you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- discomfort in the lowest part of your stomach (pelvis)
- back pain
- loin pain (your sides between the lower ribs and pelvis, and the lower part of the back)
- needing to wee a lot or an uncontrollable need to wee
- cloudy, foul-smelling (fishy) or bloody wee
- a raised temperature (over 37.5°C)
- feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting.
If you get a UTI in pregnancy, it is not an emergency, but it should be treated as soon as possible with antibiotics that are safe to use in pregnancy. Cystitis is a very common UTI and should be treated like any other UTI with antibiotics when you are pregnant. Treatment will prevent the infection spreading to the kidneys or causing further complications such as premature labour if you develop a UTI in later pregnancy
Your GP will ask for a sample of your wee so that it can be tested to make sure that you are put on the correct antibiotics.
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
Stomach bugs are common in pregnancy. It is very unlikely that your baby will be harmed from a bug lasting less than 48 hours. If you think you have a stomach bug it is important to keep calm and rest as much as possible. Drink plenty of water and eat small light meals if you feel hungry. As long as you are fit and healthy, have no long-term medical conditions (e.g diabetes) and are drinking plenty of water, there is no need to worry if you don’t eat for 24 hours.
Seek advice from your GP if you are unable to keep fluids down or if you are still suffering with diarrhoea and vomiting after 48 hours.
DO NOT take any medication to stop diarrhoea in pregnancy, such as Imodium, without speaking to your GP, midwife or pharmacist first.
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, often known as morning sickness, is very common in early pregnancy.
It can affect you at any time of the day or night, and some women feel sick all day long.
- Morning sickness and Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)
Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) is very unpleasant, and for some women it can significantly affect their day-to-day life. But it doesn't put your baby at any increased risk, and usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of your pregnancy.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of morning sickness. HG can be serious, and there's a chance you may not get enough fluids in your body (dehydration) or not get enough nutrients from your diet (malnourishment). You may need specialist treatment, sometimes in hospital.
- Headaches in early pregnancy
Mild headaches can be caused by hormones and are common in pregnancy. If you have a mild headache, it’s safe to take paracetamol. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet for how much you can take. Try to take the lowest dose of paracetamol that works and for the shortest amount of time. Your midwife, GP or pharmacist can give you more advice if the pain is ongoing and doesn’t go away with paracetamol.
To prevent and manage headaches in early pregnancy you should try and drink at least eight glasses of fluid a day to avoid dehydration, make sure you get enough sleep and eat a healthy balanced diet. Rest and relaxation are also important.
Call your midwife, GP or hospital maternity unit for advice if you have a very bad headache or a headache that won’t go away.
- Vaginal discharge in pregnancy
Experiencing increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy is common. Healthy vaginal discharge is usually thin, clear or milky white and shouldn’t smell bad. You should speak to your midwife or GP if you are unsure about any increase or change in your vaginal discharge or if …
- it smells bad
- it is green, brown or yellow
- you feel itchy or sore around your vagina
- you have pain when you wee.
The above symptoms may indicate you have an infection that requires treatment.