Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, but it’s also important to know the problems that can arise. Here, the team from Bupa shares 10 of the most common. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’ll help you know what’s “normal”, and how to relieve symptoms.
Thankfully, the dreaded “morning sickness” usually improves as pregnancy advances. There are thing that can help, too: make sure you get enough rest; eat and drink little and often; avoid overly sweet or sour drinks; and eat foods high in carbohydrates and low in fat (toast, plain biscuits). If you’re worried, speak to your midwife or GP.
#2 Leg cramps
Leg cramps are common in the second and third trimesters, and they can hinder a good night’s sleep. While the causes aren’t clear, it can help to stay physically active and hydrated. Some research suggests taking a magnesium or calcium supplement, or you could try stretching your calf muscles before bed, too.
Around half of all women get backache during pregnancy. There are things you can do to help: take care of your posture; rest often; wear low-heeled shoes; make sure your mattress is supporting you properly. Massage therapy and exercising in water can also help. Speak to a doctor before taking any medicines.
Feeling constipated is another common complaint during pregnancy. Eating a diet that’s high in fibre, drinking enough fluids and doing regular, light exercise can help prevent and ease the issue. Stay hydrated by drinking eight to 10 cups of water each day, and increase your fibre intake.
Piles (haemorrhoids) are swollen veins in and around your anus caused by an increase in pressure. They often appear during pregnancy and can be itchy and bleed. Being constipated can also cause piles, so read the section above for tips on how to help. If symptoms continue, speak to your doctor – they may suggest a cream to ease symptoms.
#6 Pelvic girdle pain
This affects around one in five pregnant women; it’s caused by the pelvic ligaments softening, and it can get worse as your baby gains weight. The pain usually goes within six months of giving birth. Try to rest more often, and tuck a pillow between your legs when you do. Avoid pulling, stretching or twisting on one side. If you have pain, tell your midwife or GP.
#7 Urinary incontinence
Kidneys produce more urine when your pregnant, and your growing baby puts more pressure on your bladder. Also, the pelvic floor muscles may be more relaxed. So, sudden uncontrolled leakage is common, especially when coughing or sneezing. This is nothing to worry about, and can be combatted by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles before, during and after pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, hormones cause the oesophagus muscles to relax; this can sometimes lead to heartburn. It usually goes after you give birth. Avoid foods and drinks that trigger the heartburn – these may include spicy things, chocolate or coffee. Eat smaller meals, and avoid lying down immediately after eating. Your GP may offer medicines such as antacids.
#9 Varicose veins
Varicose veins are common during pregnancy and may either begin at this time or get worse. Wearing compression stockings can help, though they won’t prevent varicose veins from happening. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time; and try resting with your feet raised.
#10 Bleeding gums
When you’re pregnant, gingivitis can get worse, making your gums more likely to bleed. The best thing you can do is continue to take good care of your teeth. Brush carefully, at least twice a day, and clean in between your teeth daily to help remove plaque.
See more in our Mums & Babies section!
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