Urgent Maternal Warning Signs During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Shannon M. Clark, MD
Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD
September 21, 2021
Urgent Maternal Warning Signs During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Why is the postpartum period so important?

For many pregnant persons in the U.S., they have a baby or babies in the hospital and then go home after a day or two. Once a person has been discharged from the hospital, though, it does not mean that health is back to normal, and the potential risks are over. On the contrary! For up to a year after a person gives birth, their health should be closely monitored. In particular, potentially life-threatening warning signs during and after pregnancy should be discussed with a medical professional to educate the pregnant and postpartum patient on what to look for.

Maternal mortality is an issue in the U.S.

According to the CDC, “Over 700 women die each year in this country from problems related to pregnancy or delivery complications. Every death is a tragedy, especially when we know that two thirds of pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. As many as 50,000 women experience severe, unexpected health problems related to pregnancy that may have long-term health consequences.”

As a result, the CDC has created a campaign around this topic called the “Hear Her Campaign”- a vitally important campaign because if we know the warning signs to watch for, we know what should be discussed with a medical provider and when to seek immediate care. The pregnant and postpartum body goes through many changes, and sometimes certain signs and symptoms might be overlooked simply because we do not realize they are abnormal or life-threatening. This is especially true in those first few weeks at home with a new baby.

Today we are going to discuss these potentially life-threatening maternal warning signs. In my discussion with Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, Dr. Chinedu Nwabuobi @perinatalcaremd, we reviewed the CDC Hear Her Campaign, urgent maternal warning signs, and maternal mortality and racial/ethnic disparities.

Urgent Maternal Warning Signs

Discussion Points:

2:28- A headache that won’t go away or gets worse over time

5:48- Changes in vision (baseline vision such as all of a sudden having blurry vision, floaters)

8:25- Preeclampsia vision changes

10:34- Fever of 100.4 in pregnancy or postpartum

13:13- Sepsis in pregnancy

14:24- EXTREME swelling of the hands and feet

17:34- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

23:52- Trouble breathing or having to sit up to sleep

26:14- Chest pain or fast beating heart

28:47- Reflux causing chest pain

30:25- Severe nausea and vomiting

33:11- Thyroid storm

33:46- Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t go away

37:20- If baby isn’t moving like it should

37:34- Vaginal leakage or bleeding during pregnancy (should always call a doctor)

37:50- Increased vaginal bleeding after giving birth

38:18- Maternal mortality (what providers can do to reduce maternal mortality)

44:23- How patients can advocate for themselves

45:15- Acknowledging equitable healthcare and acknowledging provider bias (for providers)

Listen to the podcast!

Urgent Maternal Warning Signs

This discussion is important for everyone!

Pregnant persons, partners and family members of pregnant persons, and medical providers should all we aware of the urgent maternal warning signs. Together, if we know what to look for, know when to talk to our doctors and when to tell others about what we are experiencing, then we can work to reduce maternal mortality.

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Follow Shannon on TikTok @tiktokbabydoc, Facebook @babiesafter35, and Instagram @babiesafter35.

Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

Dr. Aimee, also known as the “Egg Whisperer,”  is one of America’s most famous Fertility Doctors. Her success rate at baby-making is what gives future parents hope when all hope is lost. She’s had a hand in creating thousands of happy healthy babies.  Dr. Aimee is a Harvard-educated board certified OBGYN, specializing in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility; but it’s her  “Egg Freezing Parties” that put her in the limelight and made her a media darling.  She has been featured in magazines like People and Marie Claire, and has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning, Fox Network, along with a number of local and international newscasts.  In her off-time, Dr. Aimee is a Mom to four rambunctious young kids aged 8 and under. Her goal is to teach everyone how to become fertility aware and #GetAheadOfInfertilityShe is a native of the Bay Area. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Medicine. After completing her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at University of Michigan. She also completed a Masters in Public Health in Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan.Dr. Aimee has presented her research at the national meetings of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Endocrine Society and American College of Ob/Gyn. Her research has been published in several journals including Fertility and Sterility, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Menopause. Dr. Aimee co-authored book chapters on ultrasonography and male infertility with national leaders in the field of reproductive endocrinology.Dr. Aimee is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and continues to contribute to research in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility.You can email her directly at: email@draimee.org

Follow Aimee on Twitter @infertilitycare , Facebook @doctoraimee or Instagram @eggwhisperer.

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