The Joys of Pregnancy... Common discomforts of Pregnancy


Whilst you are glowing on the outside you may not be feeling so great on the inside,

fortunately some simple changes can often relieve your symptoms.

Always contact you treating Obstetrician or treating doctor if you have any concerns about these or any other health problems during your pregnancy.

It is quite normal to have a few discomforts though out pregnancy. Sometimes they can become quite severe and you may need some intervention.

Common concerns include:

  • morning sickness

  • constipation

  • food cravings and aversions

  • heartburn

  • frequent need to pass urine

  • back pain and tiredness

  • vaginal thrush

  • skin changes and itching

  • haemorrhoids (piles)

  • leg cramps

  • swollen ankles, feet and fingers

  • backache

  • fainting

  • Sore larger breasts

Morning sickness

'Morning sickness' despite its name can occur at any time of the day.

The cause remains unknown although it has been linked to changes in the levels of various hormones during pregnancy.

It usually starts at about the sixth week of pregnancy and settles by about the fourteenth week.

Some women will not be affected by morning sickness, but in others it can be so bad they have to be hospitalised for IV fluids. Generally the baby is unaffected by morning sickness unless your symptoms are severe and prolonged. It is of course very important to contact our rooms if you have lost a lot of weight quickly, you are dehydrated or you are worried about your health and how you are feeling.

Things you can do:

Drink plenty of fluids

It is important to drink plenty of fluids as dehydration makes nausea and vomiting worse.

  • Drink small amounts often.

  • Sometimes other fluids are managed better than water.

  • Flat lemonade

  • Lucozade / sports drinks such as Gatorade

  • Diluted fruit juice,

  • Cordial

  • Weak tea

  • Clear soup

  • Suck on ice or icy poles if other fluids cannot be managed.

  • Some people find ginger helps relieve nausea. Try dry ginger ale or ginger tea. To make ginger tea, soak three or four slices of ginger in boiling water for five minutes. Sip slowly. Ginger tablets are also available from your local pharmacy.

Reduce the severity of your symptoms:

  • Eat small amounts of food more often, rather than large meals.

  • Avoid having an empty stomach. Snack in between mealtimes, e.g. biscuits, fruit, toast.

  • Early morning nausea may be helped by eating a dry or plain sweet biscuit before getting out of bed or by snacking during the night if you wake up.

  • Salty foods may help. Try potato crisps or salty biscuits.

  • Try sucking on barley sugar or boiled sweets.

  • Avoid fatty, rich or spicy foods like takeaways, curries, hot chips, chocolate.

  • Make the most of your best time of the day – eat well when you feel best or whenever you feel hungry during the day.

  • If the smell of hot food makes you feel ill – try eating cold food instead. If possible, avoid cooking and ask for help from friends and relatives.

  • Choose simple dishes that are quick and easy to prepare. If you spend too much time preparing food you may not feel like eating.

  • Get plenty of rest.

Foods you can try:

  • Dry or plain sweet biscuits

  • Toast with honey or jam

  • Sandwiches with low fat fillings such as tomato, salad, vegemite

  • Low fat soups

  • Fresh or stewed fruit

  • Ice cream, custard or yoghurt

  • Grilled, lean meat

  • Steamed chicken

  • Baked or grilled fish

  • Boiled or scrambled eggs

  • Boiled rice

  • Mashed potato

Severe morning sickness

A small percentage of women suffer from excessive and prolonged vomiting, called 'hyperemesis'.

If left untreated, hyperemesis can lead to dehydration. It is important to call our rooms or you current Obstetrician if symptoms are severe.

How is hyperemesis treated?

- Prescription Medication

There is a range of medications of varying strengths which help to relieve severe symptoms. Make sure you take your medication regularly, as prescribed, or it will not be effective.

- Hospitalisation & IV fluids

If you are unable to drink enough fluid, you may need to attend your hospital for regular intravenous fluids. This may be recommended two to three times per week.

Drink as much as you can to keep hydrated and eat whatever you can tolerate.

As symptoms settle, gradually get back to healthy eating. This is important to replace the nutrients you have been missing out on.

We also recommend a pregnancy multivitamin supplement.

Weight loss form morning sickness

It is not uncommon to lose weight whilst you are unwell.

A small amount of weight loss is unlikely to harm your baby.

For prolonged vomiting with continued weight loss, it is important to seek advice from your doctor.

Weight can be regained quickly once you begin to eat normally again.

Gradually increase your intake until you are able to eat a well-balanced diet.

As your appetite improves, you will be able to manage greater amounts and a wider variety of foods.

Aim to eventually choose foods according to the healthy food guide and drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of fluid each day

Constipation

Pregnancy hormones can slow down the muscles in the bowel and in some women this can cause constipation.

Things to try:

  • Include plenty of fibre in your diet.

  • Fibre is contained in fresh fruit and vegetables, wholemeal breads and breakfast cereals, dried fruit, nuts and legumes.

  • Take a fibre supplement such as psyllium.

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids.

  • Exercise regularly.

Important information:

  • Don’t take laxatives without advice from your doctor or midwife.

  • Iron tablets can cause constipation

Food cravings

Some women Experience food cravings during pregnancy and te reason for this is not really understood.

The cravings are often for foods that we seem to need, such as milk (we need more calcium during pregnancy), or tomatoes and oranges (vitamin C requirements double during pregnancy).

Some women may also crave things that aren’t actually food, such as chalk or clay.

Taste changes and food aversions

Women sometimes find that foods taste different or they 'go off' certain foods such as tea, coffee or meat.

This usually settles down as the pregnancy progresses.

If you have found it difficult to eat particular foods that are important for your diet, you may like to try them again later in the pregnancy.

Heartburn

Heartburn is quite common during pregnancy and can be triggered by hormonal changes as well as the growing baby pressing on your stomach.

Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest, accompanied by a bitter taste of fluid in the mouth.