When to get help

Your body works very hard and goes through many changes when you’re pregnant. Sometimes these changes can cause irritation or discomfort and others may be alarming.

While there is usually nothing to be worried about, please discuss any concerns you may have with your GP or midwife.

Please see the information below about possible changes during pregnancy.

Vaginal bleeding

There are many reasons you may experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

Threatened or complete miscarriage

Threatened or complete miscarriage can often occur when bleeding happens before 20 weeks. Try not to lift anything heavy or have sexual intercourse for a week after any bleeding


It’s normal for some women to experience blood spotting after intercourse. This is due to the cervix being touched. Try not to have intercourse for a few days after being checked and avoid deep penetration.


Bleeding can occasionally come from the placenta because it’s lying close to the opening of your uterus. This needs immediate investigation with an ultrasound.

Leak or gush of fluid

There are many reasons you may experience a leak or gush of fluid.


You may wet yourself in your sleep or when you sneeze or laugh. This can indicate you need to increase your Pelvic Floor Exercises (PFE) or see a physiotherapist. Please ask a midwife about your PFE and if you are doing them correctly.

Heavy vaginal bleeding

During pregnancy your vaginal secretions may get much heavier than usual and you may need to wear a pad.

Waters have broken

Fluid around the baby tends to have a sweet smell. If you are unsure, please put on a pad and call your midwife.

Swelling of hands, ankles and feet

During pregnancy you retain more fluid. This generally occurs more at the end of a busy day or during warmer weather. A dramatic increase in swelling may indicate blood pressure problems. Please call your GP or midwife immediately.

Severe headaches or blurred vision

Severe headaches or blurred vision can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia (blood pressure problems). Please contact your midwife immediately and do not drive.

Contractions before 37 weeks

After 20 weeks of pregnancy it’s common to experience occasional hardening of the abdomen. These are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions and are generally not painful.

Period-like pain, lower back pain and painful contractions that come and go regularly may indicate premature labour. The earlier you are admitted to labour, the better your chance of stopping a premature labour.

Decrease in baby movements

Your baby has active phases and quiet phases during the day and night. If you feel like your baby is not well or is not moving as you would expect it to, eat and drink something then sit quietly and concentrate on your baby. Please call your midwife if you are still concerned.

Severe pelvic or abdominal pain

Please call your midwife if you experience a fall, minor car accident or sudden pain in your abdomen. You may need to be assessed.

If you are less than 20 weeks pregnant and have any concerns, please contact your GP or go to the Emergency Department.

Page last updated on: 17 Sep 2018