74 Pregnancy and Childbir th
Bleeding from the vagina
1. Bleeding early in pregnancy. Light bleeding from the vagina
for a few days during the first 3 months of pregnancy can be
normal. But if you have pain with the light bleeding, it could
mean a pregnancy is developing outside the womb, which is
very dangerous (see page 73). If the bleeding gets heavier and
stronger than a normal monthly bleeding, you are probably
losing the pregnancy (having a miscarriage).
2. Bleeding later in pregnancy. Bleeding after the first
3 months can mean there is something wrong with the
afterbirth (placenta). Both you and the baby are in danger.
What to do:
• Go to the nearest hospital.
• On the way, lie down with your feet up.
• Do not put anything in your vagina.
High fever, especially along with shivering, body aches and severe
headache, can be caused by malaria. Treatment for malaria depends
on where you live. In the first 3 months of pregnancy, the best
treatment is usually 600 mg of quinine by mouth 3 times a day and
300 mg of clindamycin by mouth 4 times a day. Take both for 7 days.
See Where There Is No Doctor for more information.
High blood pressure, a sign of pre-eclampsia
Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher can be a sign of a serious
problem called pre-eclampsia (toxemia). Pre-eclampsia can lead to
seizures, and both you and the baby can die.
Signs of pre-eclampsia
• blood pressure 140/90 or
higher (see page 532 for
how to take blood pressure)
• protein in the urine
• severe headache
• swollen face or
swelling all over in
• severe pain high in
• blurred vision
foods rich in protein
What to do:
• Find someone who can check your blood pressure or check for
protein in the urine. Go to a health center or hospital if necessary.
• Rest as often as possible, lying down on your left side.
• Try to eat more foods with a lot of protein every day.
• Plan to have the birth in a health center or hospital.
IMPORTANT If a woman has high blood pressure and any of the
other signs of pre-eclampsia, she needs medical help fast. If she is already
having seizures, see page 87.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012