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To eliminate any threat to your baby, it is important to be able to differentiate the signs of a healthy foetus from an unhealthy one. If left unattended, it might lead to a miscarriage. Miscarriage is one of the common consequences of an unhealthy baby, resulting in loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. We cover some of the warning signs in this article.
What are the Symptoms of a Healthy Baby During Pregnancy?
Every parent wants to have a healthy baby and goes to great lengths for the same. But, lack of information may, sometimes,lead to an unexpected outcome. Therefore, understanding the signs of a healthy foetus becomes crucial. Below are the signs of a healthy baby during the early stages of pregnancy:
A baby starts moving after 5 months of conception. Medically, the first foetal movement is termed as quickening. A 6-month foetus responds to sound through movement. Around the seventh month, the foetus reacts to stimuli such light, sound or pain. By the eighth month, a baby starts changing her position and kicks more frequently. Studies have shown that by the ninth month, movement becomes less due to less space. All these are signs that your unborn baby is healthy.
2. Normal Growth
There are several ways to measure the growth and development of a foetus. Your doctor will perform an ultrasound to keep track of your baby’s health and development. Generally, a foetus grows by 2 inches every month. So, by the seventh month, your baby should be 14 inches long. In the third trimester, a healthy foetus grows heavier by 700 grams every week. Generally, by the ninth month, a foetus weighs about 3 kilograms and is 18-20 inches long. All these are signs of a healthy foetus in the womb.
A baby’s heart starts to beat at around the fifth week of pregnancy. However, its detection is a lot easier towards the end of the first trimester through electronic foetal monitoring. To confirm your baby’s heart health, your doctor may conduct a non-stress test. This test monitors the heart rate of a foetus and provides insight about potential threats, if any. Alternatively, some doctors may even count the heartbeat by just touching your stomach. A healthy heartbeat ranges between 110 to 160 beats per minute.
4. Position At the Time of Pre-Labour
During the ninth month, the movement of a baby comes to an end or becomes minimal. A healthy baby adopts a head-first position and starts moving towards the birth canal.
5. Weight Gain and Belly of Expecting Mom
Weight gain during pregnancy is a surefire sign of a healthy pregnancy. Expecting moms gain around 12–15 weeks when they’re pregnant. You can ask your doctor to check your weight regularly and give you an update on whether your pregnancy is progressing normally or not. Your belly should also grow in size as the months go by.
Also Read: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
Signs of an Unhealthy Foetus
During the fifth month, a foetus becomes more reactive towards sound, light, and pain. This is a period when they are also exposed to various threats that may affect growth and development, directly or indirectly.
If problems are visible externally, corrective measures can be taken to deal with them. But how do you recognize an unhealthy foetus inside your womb? The answer is simple, you just need to watch out for these warning signs.
1. Abnormal Fundal Height
Fundal height helps the doctor evaluate whether a woman’s uterus is growing or not. To measure fundal height, you will be asked to lie down and using a tape measure, the length from the top of the uterus to the pubic bone is measured. Usually, after the 16-week mark, fundal height matches the progress of the pregnancy.
If the height of your uterus is not what it should be, it indicates a problem with your pregnancy. The reason may be too much or too less of amniotic fluid or a breech baby. In the worst-case scenario. It could also mean that the foetus is not developing in a proper manner.
2. Lack of or No Heartbeat
Although a baby’s heart starts beating after the fifth week, it’s only around the tenth week that detection becomes easy. A foetal heartbeat can be detected through electronic foetal monitoring or in some cases, by just touching your stomach and counting the number of beats per minute (bpm).
At times, detecting the heartbeat may not be possible due to a change in the baby’s position or placental issues. In such a case, your doctor might ask you to try again during your next visit. However, if she still can’t detect the foetal heartbeat, then an ultrasound test might be recommended to dig out the reason behind the undetectable heartbeat. In some cases, lack of heartbeat signals a hindrance in foetal development or in worst cases, a lifeless foetus.
3. Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
Intrauterine growth restriction interferes with the growth of the foetus. If you test positive for IUGR, it implies that your foetus measures 10% smaller than its gestational age. If you’re suffering from IUGR, complications such as difficulty in breathing, high blood sugar, and high body temperature can arise and continue even after delivery. Therefore, there is need to closely observe this condition. This could happen in case of multiples as well, where one of the babies suffers from IUGR, but the other one remains unaffected.
This problem happens due to abnormal functioning of the placenta, which in normal conditions ensures the baby gets all the necessary nutrients. Other reasons include kidney issues, anaemia and diabetes.
4. Low hCG Level
hCG is a type of hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. hCG levels tends to fluctuate throughout pregnancy depending on the trimester. Generally, hCG levels are extremely high during 9 week – 16 week of pregnancy. The normal levels vary from individual to individual, so a low hCG level is not a reason for you to panic. However, miscarriage, a blighted ovum, or ectopic pregnancy may induce a low level of hCG and raise a red flag for your pregnancy.
5. Excess Cramping During Pregnancy
Pregnancy comes with its share of pain and aches. However, extreme pain which feels like menstrual cramps is another warning sign. In early pregnancy, it may be caused due to poor blood flow but if it persists, you might need to consult your doctor.
6. Bleeding During Pregnancy
Women tend to experience spotting during pregnancy, which is quite normal. However, bleeding is still a matter of concern without a doubt and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. It might be sign of miscarriage, hormonal bleeding or implantation bleeding.
7. Extreme Back Pain
Experiencing back pain is common during pregnancy as the growing baby puts a lot of strain on the spine and lower back. This feeling worsens when you’re expecting multiples. Well, look out for back pain which becomes severe as opposed to a dull ache in the back. Also, if it starts from the front of your body and make its way to the back, it’s not a good sign. You should visit your doctor immediately.
8. Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy
Vaginal discharge is a common condition experienced by women when they’re pregnant, and it increases as the pregnancy progresses. Usually, the vaginal discharge of a pregnant woman is clear, transparent, whitish odourless. However, if you notice yellowish or greenish discharge with a strong smell, then it’s time to consult your doctor without any further delay. Unusual discharge might be caused by cervical inflammation, indicating a sign of miscarriage.
9. Sudden Discontinuation of Morning Sickness
Morning sickness and pregnancy are correlated. Usually, morning sickness resolves itself by the end of the first trimester or even earlier, without affecting foetus. However, for some pregnant women, sudden discontinuation of morning sickness might be because of low hCG levels, pointing to a miscarriage. It’s advised to seek an expert’s opinion and make sure there’s no threat to your baby.
10. Fever During Pregnancy
Fever during pregnancy should not be ignored. A fever might pose the threat of a bacterial or viral infection to the foetus.
11. Contraction Of Breast Size
During pregnancy, the body of a woman goes through a multitude of hormonal changes. Breasts go through a transformation and become more sensitive. They also feel heavier and fuller as the pregnancy progresses. However, a sudden decrease in the size of breasts may signal a miscarriage.
12. No Foetal Movement
Foetal movement can be felt around the 18-week mark as the foetus starts reacting to sound, light and pain. Experts say that a pregnant woman should experience around 10 kicks every two hours during this period. If the foetus is in distress, the count declines. It’s a clear sign to consult your doctor for proper treatment. Any delay in seeking medical help might cause an unfortunate event.
13. Sudden Spike in Blood Sugar Levels
It’s normal for blood sugar and blood pressure levels to rise during pregnancy. In fact, you should keep these levels throughout the three trimesters. However, a sudden and high spike in blood sugar levels can lead to preeclampsia and may induce preterm labour.
14. Changes in Placental Position
A change in the placental position is also one of the signs of an unhealthy pregnancy. When the placenta detaches prematurely from the uterus, the pregnancy gets terminated. So, always get your placental position checked.
Pay attention to what the signs say. Consult your doctor even if you have a minor doubt or feel something is off. Your concern might be futile but it’s always good to be safe than sorry.