Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

Symptoms of discomfort due to
pregnancy vary from woman to woman. Below are some common discomforts. But each
mother-to-be may have different symptoms or none at all:

  • Nausea and vomiting. About half of all pregnant women
    have nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester. This is also called
    morning sickness. That’s because symptoms are most severe in the morning. Some women
    may have nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Morning sickness may be due
    to
    the changes in hormone levels during pregnancy.

    Morning sickness seems to
    be made worse by stress, traveling, and certain foods, like spicy or fatty foods.
    Eating small meals several times a day may help lessen the symptoms. A diet high in
    protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole-wheat bread, pasta, bananas, and green,
    leafy vegetables) may also help reduce the severity of the nausea.

    If vomiting is severe, causing a
    woman to lose fluids and weight, it may be a sign of a condition called hyperemesis
    gravidarum. Hyperemesis can lead to dehydration and may require a hospital stay for
    intravenous fluids and nutrition. Call your healthcare provider or midwife if you
    are
    having constant or severe nausea and vomiting.

  • Fatigue. As the body works overtime to provide a
    nourishing environment for the fetus, it is no wonder a pregnant woman often feels
    tired. In the first trimester, her blood volume and other fluids increase as her body
    adjusts to the pregnancy. Sometimes anemia is the underlying cause of the fatigue.
    Anemia is a drop in the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. It is often due
    to low iron levels. A simple blood test done at a prenatal visit will check for
    anemia.

  • Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are common in late pregnancy.
    That’s because of the increased pressure on the rectum and perineum, the increased
    blood volume, and the increased likelihood of becoming constipated as the pregnancy
    progresses. Avoiding constipation and straining may help to prevent hemorrhoids.
    Always check with your healthcare provider or midwife before using any medicine to
    treat this condition.

  • Varicose veins. Varicose veins—swollen, purple veins—are
    common in the legs and around the vaginal opening during late pregnancy. In most
    cases, varicose veins are caused by the increased pressure on the legs and the pelvic
    veins. It is also caused by the increased blood volume.

  • Heartburn and indigestion. Heartburn and indigestion is
    caused by pressure on the intestines and stomach (which, in turn, pushes stomach
    contents back up into the esophagus). It can be prevented or reduced by eating
    smaller meals throughout the day and by not lying down shortly after eating.

  • Bleeding gums. Gums may become more spongy as blood flow
    increases during pregnancy. This causes them to bleed easily. A pregnant woman should
    continue to take care of her teeth and gums and go to the dentist for regular
    checkups. This symptom usually disappears after pregnancy.

  • Pica. Pica is a rare craving to eat substances other than
    food, like dirt, clay, or coal. The craving may be a sign of a nutritional
    deficiency.

  • Swelling or fluid retention. Mild swelling is common
    during pregnancy. But severe swelling that lasts may be a sign of preeclampsia
    (abnormal condition marked by high blood pressure). Lying on the left side, elevating
    the legs, and wearing support hose and comfortable shoes may help to relieve the
    swelling. Be sure to notify your healthcare provider or midwife about sudden
    swelling, especially in the hands or face, or rapid weight gain.

  • Skin changes. Due to fluctuations in hormone levels,
    including hormones that stimulate pigmentation of the skin, brown, blotchy patches
    may happen on the face, forehead, or cheeks. This is often called the
    mask of pregnancy, or
    chloasma.

    It often disappears soon after delivery. Using sunscreen when outside can reduce
    the amount of darkening that happens. 

    Pigmentation may also increase
    in the skin surrounding the nipples, called the areola. A dark line also often
    appears down the middle of the stomach. Freckles may darken, and moles may grow.

  • Stretch marks. Pinkish stretch marks may appear on the
    stomach, breasts, thighs, or buttocks. Stretch marks are generally caused by a rapid
    increase in weight. The marks usually fade after pregnancy.

  • Yeast infections. Due to hormone changes and increased
    vaginal discharge, also called leukorrhea, a pregnant woman is more prone to yeast
    infections. Yeast infections cause a thick, whitish discharge from the vagina and
    itching. Yeast infections are highly treatable. Always talk with your healthcare
    provider or midwife before taking any medicine for this condition. 

  • Congested or bloody nose. During pregnancy, the lining of
    the respiratory tract receives more blood, often making it more congested. This
    congestion can also cause stuffiness in the nose or nosebleeds. Small blood vessels
    in the nose are also easily damaged due to the increased blood volume, causing
    nosebleeds.

  • Constipation. Increased pressure from the pregnancy on
    the rectum and intestines can interfere with digestion and bowel movements. Hormone
    changes may also slow down the food being processed by the body. Increasing fluids,
    exercising regularly, and increasing the fiber in your diet are some of the ways to
    prevent constipation. Always check with your healthcare provider or midwife before
    taking any medicine for this condition. 

  • Backache. As a woman’s weight increases, her balance
    changes. Her center of gravity is pulled forward, straining her back. Pelvic joints
    that begin to loosen in preparation for childbirth also contribute to this back
    strain. Proper posture and proper lifting techniques throughout the pregnancy can
    help reduce the strain on the back.

  • Dizziness. Dizziness during pregnancy is a common
    symptom. It may be caused by:

    • Low blood pressure due to
      the uterus compressing major arteries

    • Low blood sugar

    • Low iron

    • Quickly moving from a
      sitting position to a standing position

    • Dehydration

    To prevent injury from falling
    during episodes of dizziness, a pregnant woman should stand up slowly and hold on
    to
    the walls and other stable structures for support and balance.

  • Headaches. Hormonal changes may be the cause of headaches
    during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Rest, proper nutrition, and
    adequate fluid intake may help ease headache symptoms. Always talk with your
    healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine for this condition. If you
    have a severe headache or a headache that does not go away, call your healthcare
    provider. It may be a sign of preeclampsia.