When your pregnancy test reads positive, a wonderful journey begins. But like any memorable adventure, begin pregnant also has it’s share of problems. This could be anything that makes you feel uncomfortable while you’re pregnant, including fatigue, morning sickness or even foods that make you feel nauseated. What causes these discomforts during pregnancy, though? This frequently asked question has been answered below for you.
1. NAUSEA ( morning sickness)
One of the first signs of pregnancy is morning sickness/nausea which starts around your 6th week of pregnancy and for most women it stops around the 12th week of pregnancy. It happens mostly in the 1st trimester of being pregnant. It is not exactly “morning sickness” and can occur at any time of the day.
Nausea happens due to the changing hormones in one’s body. Doctors are of the opinion that nausea is a good sign and it signals the good health of the baby.
Tips To Avoid Nausea
- Have small meals multiple times a day as opposed to few large meals a day.
- Hunger pangs could trigger nausea, so avoid staying empty stomach and try to start eating before you feel hungry, or immediately after you feel an urge for food.
- Avoid specific types of foods like spicy and/or fatty foods. Avoid caffeine as well.
- Avoid overeating. Eat until you are satisfied, then wait until the urge for food returns before you continue eating.
- Fluids can be drunk 1/2 an hour before or after meals, but not with food.
- Small amounts of fluid to be drunk throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
- A minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night is advised and ensure that you rest whenever you feel tired, as when your body is weakened due to exhaustion you are more likely to feel nauseous.
- Don’t lie down immediately after eating.
- Start your day with light biscuits/crackers first thing in the morning.
- Keep a stock of crackers and healthy snacks handy at work, in the car, in your handbag, near your bedside table so that you can easily grab these as and when you need them.
- Avoid any food that might increase your nausea.
- Avoid strong fumes and strong smells. Open the windows or turn on the fans if the smell bothers you. Have someone else cook for you. Turn on the exhaust fan in the kitchen while food is being cooked.
- Plenty of rest is advised.
- Avoid very warm places (feeling hot can worsen nausea).
- Get plenty of fresh air. Avoid stuffy places.
- Use a lot of ginger and lemon in drinks or food. For example, drink fresh “nimbu pani” or lemonade.
- Exercise / Go for walks.
2. ACHES & PAINS
Backaches, abdominal cramps, headaches and other aches and pains are fairly common problems faced by a lot of women during pregnancy. The main causes for these are,
- Increased weight during pregnancy which causes strain in the back.
- You may even feel stretching or pain in your lower belly, usually on one side or the other. This is because of the stretching of the ligaments and muscles around your uterus. This usually happens between 18 and 24 weeks. When you feel pain or stretching, move a little slowly or change positions.
- As the baby grows and the uterus expands, women might get pain in the pelvic area (nerves can get pinched, etc.)
- Because of hormonal changes your joints get looser–in a way preparing for childbirth. They are not as strong and this causes frequent aches and pains.
- Avoid standing in one position for too long. Keep moving around to continue circulation.
- Avoid high-heeled shoes as they may cause backache.
- Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Ensure you sit in a comfortable chair that supports your back well Avoid standing for too long.
- Don’t lift heavy objects Do exercises that your doctor advises.
- Get adequate rest and sleep. Make sure you take short naps to help your back If the pain is unbearable and coming in the way of your being healthy, check with your doctor for which medicines might be safe to take.
- Ask your doctor for some back support bandage.
- Do continue with exercise (as long the pain is mild) to strengthen your muscles. This will help in preventing/reducing backaches and other aches.
3. BREAST CHANGES
Breasts start changing from the first few weeks of pregnancy. It is because your breasts are starting to prepare for breastfeeding right from the start. They may become heavy and full, swell up and make you feel uncomfortable. Your breasts will start getting bigger in size as the months progress, in preparation for breastfeeding, and may feel full, heavy, or tender.
In the third trimester, some pregnant ladies may begin to leak colostrum from their breasts. Colostrum is the first milk that your breasts produce for the baby. It is a thick, yellowish fluid containing antibodies that will protect your new born from infection. If leaking becomes embarrassing, cotton pads can be put inside to help soak in the colostrum.
Tips to avoid discomfort while your body is undergoing these changes
- Wear a good supportive bra. A sports bra is almost always helpful in lessening discomfort in your breasts. You can wear the same bra later while nursing.
- Add pads in your bra to absorb the leakage of colostrum.
- Wash your nipples with warm water and not soap, since soap tends to make them itchy and dry.
- Applying lotion also brings more comfort.
Dizziness is another common problem faced by pregnant ladies. It is the feeling that you get of things around you spinning, like you’re about to lose your balance and fall.
During the first trimester, there is not enough blood to fill one’s expanding blood vessels and this causes lesser blood to reach one’s brain cells. This in turn causes dizziness. In the second and third trimesters, the expanding uterus can put pressure on the blood vessels and make you feel dizzy. Later, you may become dizzy while lying on your back because the uterus that is expanding might press on a vein carrying blood from the lower part of your body to the heart. Low blood sugar due to changing metabolism may also cause dizziness. In such a case, constant snacking helps.
Tips to tackle dizziness
- Sitting or standing should be done gradually. The blood gets shifted away from your brain as you change positions suddenly during pregnancy.
- When you’re feeling dizzy, lying down on your left side increases blood flow and makes the dizziness stop.Avoid lying on your back for a long time.
- Avoid sitting or standing in one position for a long time. Keep moving to increase circulation.
- Keep snacking frequently on healthy food.
- Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated.
- Keep your feet elevated.
- Avoid stuffy places. Keep your room well ventilated.
- Avoid strong fumes.
If you faint or have persistent dizziness, advise your doctor as soon as possible.
Bulging or swollen veins in the rectum are called haemorrhoids. They can cause itching, bleeding and even pain. About one third of women get haemorrhoids after childbirth because of the straining involved in labour.
- Causes of Haemorrhoids
In pregnancy, haemorrhoids are caused by the growing uterus that puts pressure on the pelvic veins and the inferior vena cava (a large vein on the right side of the body that receives blood from the lower limbs). This can in turn slow the return of blood from the lower half of your body, which increases the pressure on the veins below your uterus and causes them to become more dilated or swollen.
- Constipation is another common problem that can both cause and worsen haemorrhoids.
- Many women get haemorrhoids only after childbirth because of the straining involved in labour. The straining during labour can further aggravate hemorrhoids in women who had them during pregnancy as well.
Tips to prevent and relieve haemorrhoids
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, raw or cooked leafy green vegetables, and fruits.
- Take steps to avoid constipation. Eat a high-fiber diet (plenty of whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables), drink plenty of water (eight to ten glasses a day), and get regular exercise, even if you only have time for a short, brisk walk. If you’re constipated, ask your practitioner about using a fiber supplement or stool softener.
- Strain during bowel movements to be avoided.
- Your doctor must be consulted before taking any laxative.
- Ensure you advise your doctor in case of any rectal bleeding as well.
- Talk to your doctor about ice packs or topical medicines that you can apply to soothe haemorrhoids.
Spotting is light discharge of blood from your vagina. It’s similar to a period, but much lighter. The colour of the blood can be anything from red to brown. Be rest assured as in the early weeks of pregnancy, a little spotting is something that is very common. Around one in five expecting mothers with a continuing pregnancy have some sort of bleeding in the first trimester.
Sometimes, though, spotting can also be a sign of something more serious, such as a miscarriage. Hence, it’s always best to discuss the exact symptoms with your doctor.
Constipation is a common problem among pregnant women. High level of hormones in your body may leave you stuck with slow digestion and constipated. In the last two trimesters, the expanding uterus has a tough time coping with constipation.
Tips to avoid constipation
- Eat fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables and lots of lentils or dals daily.
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water everyday.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, colas, and some other sodas), since caffeine makes your body lose fluid needed for regular bowel movements.
- Get moving. Mild exercise like walking may also ease constipation.
8. HEARTBURN OR ACIDITY
Heartburn is when you get a burning sensation at the top of your stomach, and this is a problem prevalent in most pregnant women. Not staying true to the term, heartburn actually occurs over the stomach, where the food pipe is located and not in the heart.
Causes of heartburn
- Pregnancy slows down digestion. So food goes more slowly down the digestive tract. The valve that separates the food pipe and the stomach becomes slow in responding so if you eat a big meal, the acids from the food get digested slowly. This in turn leads to heartburn.
- Later in the pregnancy, an expanding uterus puts pressure on the food pipe and causes heartburn and bloating.
Tips to avoid heartburn
- Small meals frequently instead of a few big ones
- Eating slowly and not merely gulping everything down
- Avoid spicy and fried foods
- The best home remedy – sip some cold milk (this will soothe your digestive tract) Consult your doctor for some antacid medicine
9. STRETCH MARKS
Stretch marks are as common as a tan in summer, among pregnant women. The colour of stretch marks varies according to the tone of your skin. These start occurring in the second trimester because the body grows faster than your skin can keep up with.
Stretch marks occur usually on the abdomen but you can also get them on your thighs, buttocks and the breasts. After pregnancy, stretch marks still remain, although they fade. Stretch marks do not hurt but they itch when dry. Massaging with a good lotion helps in lessening the scratching and irritation.
What can be done about stretch marks:
- A healthy, well balanced meal is necessary in helping the skin stretch and then gain back its elasticity too, after pregnancy.
- Lots of water is important to boost the skin’s elasticity as well.
- Many Indian women are often advised that to be rid of post-pregnancy stretch marks, it is often good to massage one’s skin.
10. OTHER CHANGES
There are many skin changes that occur during pregnancy due to changing hormones. Here are some of them.
- Darker nipples starting from the beginning of pregnancy. This is to help your baby locate your nipples. The body starts preparing early on for the little practicalities of pregnancy.
- A dark line (called the linea nigra) comes up from the navel to the center of the pubic bone.
- Melasma or brown spots is caused by pigmentation on the skin. These occur more among dark skinned women.
- Acne is another problem that is faced by women during the course of their pregnancy. Don’t fret, the pimples will subside shortly after delivery. Avoid abrasive scrubs or exfoliants; these could be harsh for the pregnant skin which is too sensitive.
- Most of these skin changes are temporary and will only stay until pregnancy. So if you are worried about permanent damage, you can absolutely be relaxed now.
11. SLEEPING PROBLEMS
Catching up on sleep is one of the main concerns when pregnant, since discomforts lead to disturbed sleep. Especially in the first trimester, more sleep is longed for since you feel more tired. Make sure you get adequate sleep. After all, you are supporting another human being within you. Frequent trips to the bathroom are also expected. The second trimester happens to be your “Honeymoon phase”. Women are very energetic in this phase and have mostly no trouble sleeping. So be sure to make the most of this stage.
It’s not easy to sleep in the third trimester. Here are some problems.
- The largeness of the abdomen may make it difficult to sleep at night. Many women find that sleeping with a pillow between their legs helps a lot.
- Leg cramps are a frequent complaint. Calcium supplements takes care of that.
- The baby’s movements may keep you awake at night but this is a good thing if the baby is moving. Nothing can be done about this.
- Heartburn can keep many women up at night.
- If not actual nausea, then the fear of getting nauseous could also make you stay up all night in tension. Remember, this is the time when you need to be your calmest and not worry.
- And on top of all this, you will need to go to the bathroom very often. Your growing baby will put pressure on your urinary bladder and make you feel like going to the bathroom frequently. There is not much you can do about this also.
You need to take care of not only yourself, but the life that is going to be born within you as well. You need to sleep well and ensure that you are well rested before childbirth. What you need to learn is to make the most of the sleep you can get despite disturbances. Your sleep cycle would change massively and you would need to sleep and wake up and do whatever it is you need to (go to the bathroom, wake up to your crying baby after childbirth, etc.) and then go right back to sleep. It comes naturally after some time. But there are some steps that you can take to get your sleep.
Tips that can help you sleep better
- Avoid eating a large meal before your sleep. You might get indigestion or heartburn.
- Women find it uncomfortable to sleep with a large abdomen. Many women find that sleeping on your side, with your legs crossed and a pillow between the legs very comfortable. Many doctors say that the ideal side to sleep on is the left side. This increases the blood supply to the baby.
- Stay calm at all times and do not think too much. Be positive and relaxed.
- Do not have any coffee or caffeine rich foods (chocolates etc.) before bed. These will keep you awake. This is all the more reason for you to limit your caffeine intake.
- Yoga, pranayam (yogic breathing exercises) and meditation can help a lot. Do not start any new yoga exercises. But if you have been doing yoga earlier, you could continue after checking with your doctor. Meditation is safe, a great way to relax and helps you to sleep better.
- During the day, get fresh air and get some exercise. Walking outside is a great exercise during pregnancy.
- Stay organized during the daytime (Keeping up to date with tests and doctor appointments, preparing for the baby) will reduce your anxiety. This way you can reduce your chances of sleepless nights full of anxiety.
- Staying active and keeping your mind occupied will also help you sleep well.
- Take short naps during the day. But do not overdo it because then you might not sleep well during the night.
12. LEG CRAMPS
You could have painful spasms called cramps in your legs or feet, mainly in your second and third trimesters. Cramps occur mainly at night. Leg cramps may be caused by fluid accumulation, the additional weight gain of pregnancy and changes in your circulation. The growing uterus may also put pressure on your nerves and blood vessels causing cramps.
It is also believed that leg cramps could be caused by a calcium deficiency. This is because of a change in the way your body processes calcium during pregnancy. There is no conclusive medical research on this, but meanwhile it is best to ensure that you are taking adequate calcium – it can only help in your pregnancy. Do consult your doctor about this.
Tips to prevent / ease leg cramps
- Drink lots of water and fluids to keep circulation going (remember tea and coffee do not count).
- Get regular mild exercise, like walking.
- Gently stretch your leg muscles. If you have a sudden leg cramp, straighten your legs and flex your ankle and toes gently up towards your face. Doing this a few times before sleeping, can help prevent these at night.
- Ask your doctor for other simple stretching exercises to ease cramps.
- Keep your legs warm at night.
- When you get leg cramps, massage your legs and use some heat – for example apply a hot water bottle or a wet warm towel.
- Many find taking a warm bath before going to bed very helpful.
- Eat calcium rich foods like milk, curds etc.
- Ask your doctor if you need calcium or other supplements.
13. NASAL PROBLEMS
Stuffiness and nose bleeding are seen commonly in pregnant women. The reason for their occurrence can be attributed to the increased amount of blood in your body and pregnancy hormones irritating the lining of your nose. The best way to stop nosebleeds is by pinching your nose, that is, squeezing your nose between your thumb and finger for a few minutes. If you are bleeding from the nose for a long time or have frequent nosebleeds, have a word with your doctor. Drinking extra water and keeping your room humid during dry weather may help relieve nasal stuffiness. You can keep your room humid by getting a cool mist humidifier or keeping a wide utensil full of water in your room.
14. FALLING SHORT OF BREATH
As the baby grows, your expanding uterus will put pressure on your lungs and you will feel uneasy and short of breath. This is absolutely normal. It is in the third trimester when the baby really grows that you will experience the maximum shortness of breath.
Tips to ease breathing
- Go about everything slowly and avoid rushing.
- Stay calm. Do not panic.
- Take deep breaths frequently.
- Get lots of fresh air.
- Do mild exercise like walking.
- Maintain good posture (walk erect instead of bending. This will expand your lungs and maximize oxygen flow in your lungs).
- Sleep on your side, do not sleep on your back. This would help you to breathe better. Many women keep a pillow between their legs to sleep on their sides.
There are various factors that contribute to the swelling on the feet and the ankles, during pregnancy. Your growing uterus puts pressure on your veins, which stops return of blood to your heart. This can lead to swelling in the legs, ankles and feet. Hormonal changes could also play an essential role.
Tips for reducing swelling
- Drink 8 to 10 (eight-ounce) glasses of fluids (water is best) daily.Avoid caffeine.
- Try to avoid very salty food (pickles etc. as well)
- Include physical activity in your daily routine.
- Try to sleep on your left side with your legs elevated on the pillow.
- Rest when you can with your feet elevated.
16. VARICOSE VEINS
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. They most commonly develop in the legs and ankles. They are bulging and are dark blue in color.
The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy. The veins then enlarge and the pressure on the large veins behind the uterus can cause the blood to slow in its return to the heart. For these reasons, varicose veins in the legs and anus (hemorrhoids) are more common in pregnancy.
The following tips can help reduce chances of varicose veins,
- Avoid tight socks.
- Sit with your legs and feet elevated whenever possible.
17. FEELING WARMER THAN USUAL
During pregnancy, your BBT (basal body temperature) is higher than before because of hormonal changes (the increase in progesterone) and this causes you to feel warm. This is normal. Here are some tips to feel better,
- Wear cool and airy clothes.
- Drink lots of water.
- Avoid warm and stuffy places.
- In winters, maintain a balance in temperature to avoid catching a cold.
A good practice would be to chart your body temperatures which could also reveal weakened hormones or other health concerns, affecting your fertility and the length of your cycles.
18. THIN WHITE VAGINAL DISCHARGE DURING PREGNANCY
Hormonal fluctuations (increase and decrease) during pregnancy can cause a vaginal discharge which is white in color. This is usually mild in smell and very normal. It starts around the second trimester and lasts till the end of pregnancy. Some tips in dealing with this are,
- Wear a thin sanitary napkin (do not use tampons during pregnancy).
- Keep yourself (especially the privates) clean and wash often.
- Avoid synthetic underwear. Stick to cotton underwear.
In case the discharge becomes yellowish or greenish or foul smelling and you start getting red and itchy, get in touch with your doctor, as it could be a urinary infection.
19. WHEN TO CONSULT WITH THE DOCTOR?
Your body undergoes in numerous changes during pregnancy, ranging from usual discomforts (such as nausea) to other, more serious discomforts. If you see any of the following symptoms, it is probably dangerous for you and your baby and it’s advised to consult your doctor for the same.
So, call your doctor as soon as you can if you,
- Are bleeding from the vagina.
- Leaking fluid (could be amniotic fluid) from the vagina.
- Suspect your baby is moving less than normally after 28 weeks of pregnancy (if you count less than 10 movements in 2 hours or less).
- Have discomfort, pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
- Have a fever or chills. get severe or long-lasting headaches.
- Have sudden or severe swelling in the face, hands, or fingers.
- Are vomiting excessively or have persistent nausea.
- Feel discomfort, pain or burning with urination.
- Have problems seeing or blurred vision.
- Feel dizzy or have fainted before.
- Sense a change in your baby’s movement.
- Find yellowish, greening or foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
Always remember, prevention is better than cure. So, when in doubt, don’t forget to call your doctor.
Have a look at the rest of our site to get more tips and information on motherhood. You’ll also find amazing recipes for your pregnancy diet and a video of Shilpa Shetty talking about her pregnancy.