Appendicitis during Pregnancy: Symptoms and Risks

Appendicitis during Pregnancy: Symptoms and Risks
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Diego Pereira.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Appendicitis during pregnancy can occur at any time – in the first, second or third trimester. While it doesn’t imply a serious risk, it’s something that you should take care of immediately.

Medical professionals now state that the occurrence of appendicitis has nothing to do with pregnancy itself. However, when it does occur during pregnancy, then extra care and precaution are required.

When a woman has appendicitis during pregnancy, it’s not just her life that’s involved, but also – and more importantly – the life of her developing baby.

Appendicitis is the most common non-obstetrical surgical emergency that can occur during pregnancy. It can be dangerous both for the mother and the fetus if it isn’t detected early on.”

How to detect appendicitis during pregnancy

Just as with a number of other health problems, an obstetric or abdominal ultrasound can confirm appendicitis during pregnancy . There are several tests and procedures that can help rule out any other abdominal pathology or any issue directly related to the fetus.

However, there is no need to wait for a specialist to examine you in order to diagnose appendicitis.

Appendicitis during Pregnancy: Symptoms and Risks

Pregnant women that are suffering from an inflamed appendix experience the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain on the right side. The pain will first appear as a slight discomfort in the center of the belly. It will then become more painful and move to the right side. The mother may at first assume that the baby is lying on that side. However, the pain doesn’t lessen no matter how much the baby moves. In fact, the pain only becomes more intense with time.
  • Nausea and vomiting. During gestation, it’s normal for child-bearing mothers to feel nauseous or to vomit frequently. However, when it comes to appendicitis, abdominal pain also comes into the mix.
  • Fever (not very high).
  • Constipation.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
While appendicitis appears with a very clear set of symptoms, a pregnant woman can easily mistake the symptoms for common pregnancy discomfort
In fact, it’s this uncertainty that causes many women to resist seeking medical attention when they should. They wait for the pain to go away on its own. However, delaying diagnosis and surgery only increases the risk for mother and baby.

What are the risks for mother and baby when appendicitis occurs during pregnancy?

When dealing with a case of appendicitis, expectant mothers can run the risk of miscarriage or premature labor. Furthermore, if surgical intervention doesn’t take place on time, the appendix can burst and result in peritonitis.

This can cause intestinal contents to leak out and contaminate the abdominal cavity. When this occurs, the situation becomes very serious and the mother must be admitted to intensive care to keep her life from danger.

However, tragedy is completely avoidable if the mother seeks medical attention early on. That’s why it’s so important to see a specialist as soon as possible any time you have even the smallest concern.

“If you suspect you’re suffering from appendicitis, you should see a doctor urgently.”

What should I do if I suffer from appendicitis during pregnancy?

Specialists recommend that pregnant women avoid self-medicating with pain killers if symptoms of appendicitis appear. The pain you experience will help your doctor arrive at a proper diagnosis.

You should stay away from water, juice, tea and any other beverages. In fact, you should avoid eating as well. Being on an empty stomach will facilitate the necessary surgical intervention if you’re indeed dealing with an inflamed appendix.

Appendicitis always requires surgery. It’s the only way to save your life and the life of your unborn child. However, you should try to remain calm at all times and reduce stress as much as possible as you seek urgent medical attention.

It’s best to enter the operating room without fear, confident that everything will be just fine. Becoming alarmed won’t solve the problem. In fact, it will only make it more of an ordeal, raising your blood pressure and creating other dangerous circumstances.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.