Know the Facts
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 700 women die each year in the United States from problems related to pregnancy or delivery. Out of those 700 deaths, two out of three deaths could have been prevented. Pregnancy-related death, defined by the CDC, as the death of a female during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physical effects of pregnancy. It is also estimated that as many as 50,000 females experience severe, unexpected health problems related to pregnancy that could have long-term health complications.
Know the Signs
Problems due to pregnancy can happen up to one year after delivery. Check out below the warning signs and symptoms developed by the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms while pregnant or one year after being pregnant, contact your healthcare provider right away or go to the emergency room. For more information on the warning signs and symptoms click here.
- Headaches that won’t go away or get worse over time
- Dizziness or fainting
- Changes in your vision
- Fever of 100.4 or higher
- Extreme swelling of your hands or face
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain or fast-beating heart
- Severe nausea and throwing up
- Severe belly pain that doesn’t go away
- Baby’s movement stopping or slowing during pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding or fluid leaking during pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge after pregnancy
- Severe swelling, redness or pain of your leg or arm
- Overwhelming tiredness
Start the Conversation
If you have any concerns or questions, talk to your healthcare provider. When talking to your healthcare provider, it is important to say you are pregnant or were recently pregnant. Let your them know of any other health conditions or complication that you have experienced with your pregnancy or delivery. If you feel uncomfortable to go alone, bring a friend or a family member for support and help ask any questions you need answered. To start the conversation with your healthcare provider, bring the sample conversations below that the CDC developed with you.
- Thank you for seeing me. I am/I was recently pregnant. The date of my last period/deliver was ___ and I’m having serious concerns about my health that I’d like to talk to you about.
- I have been having ___ (insert symptom) that feel like ___ (describe in detail) and have been lasting ___ (number of hours/days).
Other additional question to ask include:
- What could these symptoms mean?
- Is there a test I can have to rule out a serious problem?
- At what point should I consider going to the emergency room or calling 911?
Lastly, don’t forget to:
- Tell the doctor or nurse what medication you are currently taking or have recently taken
- Take notes and ask follow-up questions
- Clarify anything you didn’t understand
Remember you know your body better than anyone and can often tell when something doesn’t seem right. Trust yourself.
Take control today, and find a healthcare provider near you.