Home Safe Motherhood Voices of the Experts Warning Signs in Pregnancy: When to Call Your Doctor

Warning Signs in Pregnancy: When to Call Your Doctor


During pregnancy, many women have lots of questions and queries. Some of them we ask our moms, our aunts, our friends, our colleagues, while some of us go to Facebook to seek answers. But, when should you stop ‘consulting’ non-medics and immediately make a visit to the hospital?

Dr. Stephen Mutiso, a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist at KNH is our guest writer today and he lets us in on the warning signs –when a pregnant woman should seek a medic’s opinion as soon as possible.

*Antenatal care entails monthly visits to the clinic till 28 weeks gestation, then visits every two weeks till 36 weeks, and thereafter weekly visits till delivery –for those progressing well. However, sometimes there is variation from this schedule, and this depends on the needs of the expectant mother.

Sometimes, certain situations make it necessary for a pregnant woman to get in touch with her medic on an urgent basis before the next visit. This is especially when certain complications develop or danger signs are noted.

The danger signs in pregnancy include:


Bleeding is a very serious complication. It causes most of the maternal and foetal deaths in Kenya. Any bleeding in pregnancy –irrespective of the amount is abnormal. When bleeding is present during pregnancy it may indicate that the placenta position is on the lower aspect of the womb (placenta praevia). Bleeding may also occur when there is premature separation of the placenta. This premature separation cuts off delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to the baby, and this could lead to the baby’s death. Other causes of bleeding in pregnancy include: rupture of the uterus and bleeding from the baby (though this is rare). Heavy bleeding after delivery may arise from different causes such as relaxation of the uterus (atony), injuries in the birth canal, incomplete expulsion of placenta and sometimes bleeding disorders.

Headache, Swelling, Blurred Vision, Difficult Breathing

Severeheadache, swelling of hands and face, blurred vision, fits and difficulty in breathing indicate high blood pressure and need urgent attention. This complication is referred to as severe preeclampsia, and when fits are present it is called eclampsia. This disease is also deadly and delivery is the way out regardless of whether the baby is mature or not. Seekng immediate care from your gynaecologist is important.

Increased Body Temperature

Hotness of the body with or without vomiting may indicate presence of serious infection or malaria. Prompt treatment does save life.

Breaking of Waters

When waters break it is important to call your doctor immediately, because there is a possibility that the baby’s cord can come out and get compressed by the baby’s head, thereby stopping blood supply to the baby. This can cause death of the baby. It is also very easy for infection in the uterus to set in once the waters break. This infection is life threatening. Urgent care is therefore crucial.

Decreased Foetal Movements

Pregnant mothers should be keen on foetal movements (kicks) throughout their pregnancy. Any decrease in baby’s movement may indicate that all may not be well with the baby, and so it is important for the woman to report this observation to her gynaecologist as soon as possible.

Abdominal Pains

Intense abdominal pains require urgent evaluation by your doctor. Causes of severe abdominal pain include ectopic pregnancy; rupture of uterus, premature separation, infection of the kidney. At times, abdominal pain may be due to surgical diseases such as appendicitis, intestinal obstruction etc.

Uterine Contractions Before 37 Weeks

Contractions which occur before 37 weeks indicate premature labour. Babies born at this time could develop breathing difficulties which sometimes could prove fatal. Its advisable for expectant women to seek assistance when they start getting regular uterine contractions especially if there are more frequently than 10 minutes apart.

Important Points to Note:

– Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are common. Approximately two out of every five pregnant women experience some complication during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period.

– 15 percent of pregnant women develop life-threatening complications. Most complications cannot be predicted and can happen at any point during the antenatal period, during delivery or post-delivery.

– All pregnant women should be prepared to respond appropriately when complications arise by contacting their care givers immediately.

– Knowledge of danger signs of pregnancy is important to avert fatal outcomes.

– Many times, getting medical help early  makes the difference between survival and death.

Dr. Mutiso also shares some helpful information in the video below. It talks about weight and why some women may not be getting pregnant. Watch and share with a friend.

Dr. Stephen Mutiso is based at the KNH Doctor’s Plaza, Suite 26/27. He provides a  wide range of  gynaecological services including: antenatal care, delivery (normal and caesarean),  infertility  treatment, fibroids, fistula surgery, screening for reproductive tract cancers and various  gynaecological operations.

Tel: 0722 678 002 or 0788 306 674

Website: drmutiso.com Email: mutisoh@yahoo.com



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. I am doctor Mutiso’s patient.I must say I love the professionalism.I feel like am dealing with a real professional who knows what he’s doing.kudos doc.


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