Chapter 8: Prenatal checkups
Constant pain and bleeding late in pregnancy (detached placenta)
Pain in the belly during the last few months
of pregnancy may mean the placenta has
come off the wall of the womb. This is called a
detached placenta, or abruption of the placenta
(see page 184). The mother may be bleeding
heavily inside. A womb full of blood may feel
hard. This is very dangerous — the mother and
baby may die. Get medical help immediately!
Watch for signs of shock (see page 239).
Note: A pregnant woman can have a pain in her belly from an
illness that is not related to her pregnancy. The illness could be
caused by appendicitis (an infection of part of the intestines, with
fever, pain on the right side of the belly, and lack of appetite),
parasites (with nausea or diarrhea), or ulcers (sometimes with
vomiting and black, tarry stool). Get medical advice if you think
the mother may have one of these illnesses.
Ask if she has shortness of breath
Healthy signs Some shortness of breath, especially late in pregnancy, is normal.
Wa r nin g sig ns A lot of shortness of breath, especially with other signs of illness,
is a warning sign.
Many women get a little short of breath when
they are 8 or 9 months pregnant. As the baby gets
It is so hard
bigger, it squeezes the lungs so there is less room
to breathe. Breathing may get easier when the
baby drops lower in the belly shortly before labor begins.
Shortness of breath can also be caused by:
• anemia (see page 116)
• heart problems
• tuberculosis (a contagious lung disease)
• lung infection
• a blood clot in the lung (see page 273)
If the mother has trouble breathing all of the time, or severe trouble even one
time, or if you think she may have any of the illnesses above, get medical advice.
A Book for Midwives (2010)