Common pregnancy complaints
Your body goes through lots of changes when you're pregnant, but many symptoms, aches and pains are totally normal and nothing to worry about. We've listed some of the most common ones here so you can find out what you may expect and how to help make life easier for you and your bump. Remember to always speak to your GP or midwife about any problems you experience during pregnancy
Vomiting and nausea in pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, is common. Morning sickness, as it is known, should pass by weeks 16 to 20 and it won't harm the baby. Tiredness can make nausea worse, so make sure you get enough rest. Eat little and often if you've got morning sickness, and try nibbling on something plain like a biscuit. If sickness persists or if it's severe then seek medical advice.
Coughs and colds
Being pregnant can affect your immune system so you may be more susceptible to common coughs and colds; try to avoid contact with those who are suffering with either. A balanced diet with five daily portions of fruit and vegetables will help you to stay healthy, as will drinking plenty of water and taking rest. Many cough and cold relief products are not suitable for use during pregnancy, so always ask your pharmacist for advice. Expectant mothers are advised to have the free NHS flu jab.
You can feel extremely tired as hormonal changes kick in during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Stick to a healthy balanced diet and get as much rest as possible. Later on, you may find it harder to find a comfortable position to sleep in as your bump gets bigger. If you can, sleep during the day to catch up on missed shut-eye and get an early night whenever possible.
Dizziness and feeling faint
Hormonal changes can sometimes make you feel faint during pregnancy. If you're standing up, sit down or lie down until the feeling passes and then get up slowly and carefully. If you're lying down, turn onto your side to relieve the pressure on your womb. Keep healthy snacks and a bottle of water with you.
Aches and pains
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, low blood sugar levels and lack of water can all cause headaches while you're expecting. Try having a rest, getting some fresh air, drinking water and cutting out caffeine to help get rid of them. Paracetamol is generally suitable for pregnant women, but ask your Boots pharmacist for advice on dosage. If you find your headaches are persisting, then tell your GP or midwife as they can be a sign of high blood pressure and should be checked out.
Pregnancy hormones can soften your gums and make them more susceptible to plaque build-up, causing them to swell and bleed. Although this may be painful, it's very common and you can help by switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily to help prevent plaque building up. Don't forget to take advantage of free NHS dental care during pregnancy.
Backache's very common when you're pregnant. Try to maintain good posture, don't lift heavy objects, wear flat shoes and avoid stooping. Sleeping on a firm mattress can also help. If you're experiencing pelvic pain, avoid standing for too long or rocking from side to side when you walk. If you're really suffering, consult your GP or midwife.
Leg cramps are a common symptom of pregnancy, usually during the last trimester. When you feel cramping starting, flex your foot and keep your leg straight. Massaging the area may help to reduce the pain. You may also develop varicose veins, but these usually begin to disappear after baby is born. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is not common in pregnancy, but pregnant women are more likely to develop this than non-pregnant women. Talk to your GP or midwife immediately if you notice tenderness, warm skin, swelling, pain or a redness in one or both legs.
Changes in your body
On average, women gain 8-14kg during pregnancy, usually after week 20, as the baby grows and your body stores fat ready to make breast milk. Much of the extra weight is due to your baby growing, but your body will also be storing fat to make breast milk. Putting on too much or too little weight can lead to health problems for you or your unborn baby. Your midwife will monitor your weight during pregnancy. Eating a healthy balanced diet and staying active is important as it helps prepare your body for labour and birth.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, water retention (oedema) can cause puffy feet and ankles. Raise your feet higher than your heart for an hour a day, swap shoes for slippers and, if you're sitting at a desk for long periods of time, rotate your feet to help ease the swelling. If sudden swelling affects your face and hands it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia so see your GP straight away.
Bladder and bowel problems
The pressure on your bladder from baby growing bigger, combined with your pelvic muscles relaxing, can give you the urge to go to the toilet more frequently. Regular pelvic floor exercises will help keep your muscles strong and you could wear discreet panty liners if you need to. If you've been prescribed iron supplements, speak to your doctor if you're suffering with constipation. Help support your digestive system with fibre-rich foods and drink plenty of fluids – prunes and prune juice may help.
Hot flushes when you're pregnant are very common, due to hormonal changes in your body. Wear layers so you can regulate your temperature more easily. Carry drinking water with you to help cool you down. Your increased blood supply can affect your skin, causing it to become itchy. Take cool baths, use an emollient and wear loose clothing made from natural fibres.