Pregnancy is a time when your body goes through many changes. As every week passes, your baby is growing and you will experience all kinds of unusual or unfamiliar symptoms.

A lot of these changes will be normal. But there are some things we want you to be aware of and encourage you to seek advice from an appropriate health care professional.

Pregnant women will continue to experience the usual general medical issues that occur to everyone at different times in their life. The common cold, hayfever, diarrhoea and vomiting, headaches and back pain (to name a few) are still best dealt with by a visit to your GP.

GPs are trained to manage most common illnesses when they occur coincidentally in pregnancy, but are also able to refer you on to someone more appropriate if the need arises. There is no harm seeing your usual GP regularly during the course of your pregnancy to discuss any symptoms you are experiencing, including any changes in your mental health.

During the pregnancy you will be having regular antenatal visits with your obstetrician and these will become more frequent towards the end. These appointments are the perfect opportunity to discuss those minor symptoms or niggling concerns that occur. Make a list! If a question or concern pops into your head at 3am, write it down. Your obstetrician will be very happy to address this list and talk you through any worries you have regarding the changes in
your body.

When something isn’t feeling right
There are, however, some symptoms that are more concerning and need to be acted on promptly rather than waiting for your next scheduled appointment.
During office hours, it is generally best to call your obstetrician’s rooms first. If you are unable to reach your doctor, or it is out of hours, never hesitate to contact Murdoch Hospital.

If you are less than 20 weeks pregnant, it is recommended you ring or attend the Murdoch ED on campus. If you are further along in your pregnancy, ring the maternity ward, St Mary Ward, directly on 9438 9700. There is an experienced midwife available to answer this phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The midwife will be able to give advice and/or arrange for you to attend the hospital for assessment. They will also contact your obstetrician.

The following symptoms (this is not an exhaustive list) warrant an immediate call to your obstetrician or the hospital:
• vaginal bleeding – especially if bright red and heavy
• severe lower abdominal pain which doesn’t subside
• leaking of amniotic fluid/broken waters
• signs of labour before 37 weeks
• persistent fever above 38 degrees
• severe nausea and repeated vomiting
• unrelenting headaches
• visual disturbances such as blurred vision, double vision, etc that persist
• sudden and severe swelling of the hands, ankles and face, especially if accompanied by headache or visual disturbances
• painful or burning urination or other symptoms to suggest a urinary tract infection
• significant and persistent itchy skin
• any trauma such as a car accident, assault or heavy fall
• decreased baby movements
• thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

Dr Chris Gunnell
Head of Department

Check out the virtual tour of Murdoch’s maternity unit at

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