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    Serious Problems in Pregnancy

    Abdominal Pain

    Abdominal or tummy pain can be associated with the growing womb; however, severe or lasting pain in early pregnancy can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb), which requires urgent medical attention. Later in pregnancy, abdominal pain may be a sign of labour. It can also be a sign of a urinary tract (kidney) infection or high blood pressure. If you have abdominal pain, which is severe or lasts for a few hours always contact your midwife or doctor.


    Vaginal bleeding can occur at any stage of the pregnancy and it is not normal. As many as one in four women will have some degree of vaginal bleeding during the first three months, ranging from brown straining to bright red spotting or passing blood clots. In the majority of cases, the bleeding will settle down and the pregnancy will continue to full term with a healthy outcome. But, if you experience any vaginal bleeding and/or abdominal pain, you should contact your midwife or doctor.

    In early pregnancy, bleeding can be a sign of a threatened miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. You should attend the assessment and emergency unit or the early pregnancy unit. An ultrasound scan will be performed to find the cause of the bleeding.

    In later pregnancy, bleeding can be a sign that the placenta (afterbirth) is attached to the lower part of your womb or part of the placenta has become detached from the wall of your womb. There may also be light bleeding due to changes in the cervix. If at any time during your pregnancy you have vaginal bleeding, you should contact your midwife or doctor.

    Blood Clot

    Pain and swelling in the calf of a leg can be a sign of deep venous thrombosis (blood clot), which is a very serious condition and requires urgent medical attention. Women who intend going on a long flight during pregnancy should wear compression socks/tights, as they are more prone to a blood clot. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids and to exercise the legs while travelling. A blood clot may also cause chest pain and breathlessness, therefore it is important to seek medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms.


    High blood pressure can occur at any stage during pregnancy. If protein in the urine is also present, it is known as pre-eclampsia. It is most likely to occur in the last three months of pregnancy. You are checked for symptoms of high blood pressure at each antenatal visit. Many women with a mild form of pre-eclampsia may feel quite well. Sometimes a woman may complain of headache, blurred vision and/or abdominal pain. If pre-eclampsia is diagnosed, you may be monitored in the day assessment unit as an outpatient or admitted to hospital. The early birth of your baby may be necessary.

    Pregnancy Loss

    While most pregnancies end successfully with the birth of a healthy baby, unfortunately sometimes things go wrong and you may lose your baby. There are specially trained staff in the hospital to help and support you and your family through this difficult time. These include the bereavement midwife, specialist midwives, medical social worker and chaplain. If you wish to speak with any member of the support team, please phone the hospital 01 817 1700.  For further information on the bereavement support service provided in the hospital, please follow this link.

    Reduced Fetal Movements

    You should feel your baby moving at least 10 times in a 12-hour period, every day during the last three months of your pregnancy. If you notice the movements becoming less frequent or you are not aware of any movements for a number of hours, you should contact the hospital immediately. You will be asked to attend the assessment and emergency unit where the midwife will monitor your baby’s heartbeat – this is called a cardiotocograph (CTG). You may be asked to keep a record of your baby’s movements after your hospital visit.

    Severe Itching

    Itchy skin can be common during pregnancy. However, for some women it can be a sign of pregnancy cholestasis, which can be a serious condition that affects the liver. If you develop a troublesome body rash, always contact your midwife or doctor for advice.

    Trauma to the Abdomen

    If you fall or receive any injury to your tummy, you should come to the hospital to check that everything is ok with you and your baby. To reduce the risk of injury to your baby if you are involved in a road traffic accident, make sure you wear your seat belt correctly. (See Car Safety) Depending on your blood group, you may require an injection called Anti-D to protect against antibodies developing in your blood.

    in Problems & Concerns

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