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.
Eat little and often if you've got morning sickness and try nibbling on something plain like a biscuit. Many women find ginger helps relieve nausea. The HSE advises you drink plenty of fluids, rest and sleep as much as possible, and wear comfy clothes. If your sickness doesn't calm down then speak to your midwife or doctor. If indigestion strikes, try indigestion relief suitable for pregnancy and prop yourself up slightly with a pillow when in bed.
Coughs and colds
Being pregnant can affect your immune system so you may be more susceptible to common coughs and colds; avoid contact with those who are suffering with either. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables will help you stay healthy, as will drinking plenty of water and taking rest. You can take paracetamol during pregnancy but ask your Boots pharmacist for advice on dosage and always read the label.
You can feel extremely tired as hormonal changes kick in during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Stick to a healthy and balanced diet and get as much rest as possible. Later on, you may find it harder to sleep as your bump gets bigger. It may be annoying but it's not harmful to you or baby. If you can, sleep during the day and get an early night as often as you can.
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.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, low blood sugar levels and lack of water can all cause headaches during pregnancy. Try having a rest, getting some fresh air, drinking water and cutting out caffeine to help get rid of them. You can take paracetamol but ask your Boots pharmacist for advice on dosage and always read the label. If the headaches are persisting, 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, 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 prevent plaque building up.
Backache's very common when you're pregnant. The weight of your baby changes your centre of gravity, making the hollow in your back increase. Maintain good posture and sleep with a pillow between your legs to ease the symptoms. If you're experiencing pelvic pain then avoid standing for too long or rocking from side to side when you walk. If you're really suffering, consult your GP or midwife.
When you feel cramping starting, flex your foot and keep your leg straight. Massaging the area may help to reduce the pain. If it persists it could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis so consult your GP. Varicose veins are just veins that have become swollen during pregnancy and usually go away once baby arrives. Don't stand for long periods of time or sit with your legs crossed. You can also try wearing support tights.
You'll gain weight during pregnancy, but if you stick to a healthy diet and stay active it shouldn't be a problem. Staying active is also important as it helps prepare your body for labour and birth. On average, women gain 8-14kg during a pregnancy, usually most of it after week 20, as the baby grows and your body stores fat ready to make breast milk.
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.