Common Pregnancy Symptoms

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Common Pregnancy Symptoms

Your body is working hard during your pregnancy. It goes through lots of changes to accommodate your growing baby. At times these changes can make you feel uncomfortable or a little overwhelmed. Usually, common pregnancy symptoms are nothing to worry about and, with slight changes to your lifestyle, you can improve any discomfort or irritation.

It’s always a good idea to mention any concerns to your midwife or consultant for further advice.

Constipation

Constipation is very common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes taking place in the body. It can also be triggered by pregnancy supplements you may be taking due to the iron content. Ask your GP about an alternative to ensure you are getting enough iron throughout your pregnancy.

To ease constipation, you could try: 

Fibre

Eat foods that are high in fibre, such as wholemeal breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, and pulses such as beans and lentils. If you eat wholemeal breads and cereals, have plenty of water with these to keep your poo soft and easier to pass.

Avoid Iron

Avoid prenatal supplements containing iron. If you have been advised to take iron supplements and you are struggling with constipation, speak to your GP about alternatives.

Exercise

Keep active as this can help to keep your bowels regular. Exercise is also great for your general health and mental wellbeing.

Dried Fruits

Include dried fruits as a snack. If you have gestational diabetes please discuss with your midwife.

Water

Drink at least 6 to 8 medium (200ml) glasses of water or fluid a day, or 1.6 litres. It is important to limit drinks that contain caffeine during pregnancy as too much can have an affect on your developing baby. A high caffeine intake has been linked to complications, such as miscarriage, low birth weight and stillbirth.

Footstool

Whilst sitting on the toilet try using a footstool under your feet and leaning forwards, elbows to knees. When trying to poo gently brace your tummy and breathe out softly, try not to hold your breath.

Cramp

Cramp is a sudden, sharp pain, often in the calf muscles or feet. Most people find that cramp occurs at night however the reason for this is unknown. Cramp is a symptom in about  30-50% of pregnancies and, like a lot of common pregnancy symptoms, it tends to appear in the third trimester.

It is not clear why cramp occurs during pregnancy, but it could be due to a number of different reasons such as too little or too much exercise, electrolyte imbalances or a lack of certain vitamins.

However, gentle exercises that focus on moving the legs and feet can improve circulation and prevent cramp. The good news is they should disappear after giving birth.

Try these foot exercises:

Exercises for cramp

Bend and stretch your foot vigorously up and down 30 times

Rotate your foot 8 times one way and 8 times the other way

Repeat with the other foot

Pull your toes hard up towards your ankle or rub the muscle hard

Feeling Faint 

It is not unusual to feel faint during pregnancy and, like most common pregnancy symptoms, it is often caused by hormonal changes. However, feeling faint can be due to many reasons, such as standing up quickly or lying flat on your back, not eating enough causing your blood sugar levels to fall, overheating or dehydration. Fainting happens when your brain is not getting enough blood and then, in turn, not enough oxygen. It depends on what made you dizzy in the first place, but as soon as you start to feel off-balance or light-headed, you should sit or lie down. That should help the dizziness go away and stop you falling over.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid feeling faint:

Take it slowly

Try to get up slowly after sitting or lying down, and take your time. If you start to feel light headed sit down again, until the feeling passes.

Not on your back

It’s better not to lie flat on your back in later pregnancyor during labour. You should avoid going to sleep onyour back after 28 weeks of pregnancy as it has beenlinked to a higher risk of stillbirth.

Take a seat

If you feel faint when standing still, find a seat quickly and the faintness should pass. If it doesn’t, lie down on your side.

Don't overheat

Try to dress using layers of clothing that you can remove easily if you start to feel hot .This will help you avoid getting overheated.

On your side

If you feel faint while lying on your back, turnon to your side instead.

Know when

Know the symptoms of when you might faint such as a sudden clammy sweat, ringing in your ears and fast, deep breathing

Feeling Hot

Hormonal changes and an increase in your blood supply may make you feel warmer and sweat more during pregnancy. Keeping hydrated is very important to replace the fluid you are losing. Not drinking enough fluids will make you dehydrated – a condition that is best avoided especially during pregnancy as it can result in complications.

Loose clothing

Wear loose clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton as these are more absorbent and breathable than synthetic fibres.

Hydrated

Keep hydrated – drinking at least 6- 8 medium  glasses of water a day will keep you hydrated and cool. Carry a water bottle with you so you can drink throughout the day.

Keep cool

Keep your room cool with an electric fan or air cooler. Good air flow makes you feel cooler and allows you to breathe more easily.

Avoid the heat

Avoid going outside at peak times when temperatures start to rise in the summer. The NHS advises keeping out of the sun between 11am to 3pm.

Wash

Wash frequently to help you feel fresh. A cool shower or bath can help bring your body temperature down.

Cooling spray

If you’re out and about take a cooling spray or mist with you to help keep your face and body cool and refresh your skin.

Pelvic Floor Symptoms

Bladder, bowel, pelvic floor, and vaginal bulge symptoms can be common during and after pregnancy. With some changes to lifestyle and specialist exercises, these symptoms can be improved. Having a conversation with your midwife and learning about pelvic floor function will ensure you have all the tools you need to help yourself both during pregnancy and during your recovery after birth.

Pelvic and Back Pain

Around one in five people experience pelvic joint pain during pregnancy This is known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD). PGP can be painful and can cause discomfort whilst performing daily activities. However, with correct guidance and simple measures in place the condition can be managed, and symptoms can be improved. Pelvic and back pain is uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous for your baby and most people will go on to birth vaginally with no concerns.

Morning Sickness 

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, often known as morning sickness, are very common in early pregnancy.

Morning sickness can affect you at any time of the day or night or you may feel sick all day.

It is unpleasant and can significantly affect your day-to-day life, but it usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of your pregnancy and does not put your baby at any increased risk.

It is rare, but some people develop a severe form of pregnancy sickness called ‘hyperemesis gravidarum’. This can be serious. Due to being consistently sick there’s a chance you may not get enough fluids in your body or not get enough nutrients from your diet. You may need specialist treatment and extra care, sometimes in hospital.

Skin and Hair Changes

Hormonal changes taking place during your pregnancy can cause your skin to darken in various places over your body, including your nipples. Any birthmarks or freckles may also darken in colour. During the latter part of pregnancy, a dark line running down the middle of your growing belly can appear. All changes will eventually fade after your baby is born. 

Did you know that during pregnancy you grow more hair? It may also feel different in texture and become greasier more quickly than usual. After your baby has been born, you may lose a lot of hair; this is nothing to worry about and you are just losing the extra hair you grew throughout your pregnancy. 

Due to changes occurring throughout the body during pregnancy, some people find that their skin is less tolerant to sun exposure, and they burn more easily than before. It’s important to protect the skin with a high-factor sunscreen and to seek shade whenever possible.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins, most commonly affecting the legs. They can be uncomfortable but there are not harmful. Some women and birthing people develop varicose veins around the vaginal opening. Again, this is nothing to worry about and will improve once giving birth. There are lots of ways to manage the symptom but if you are concerned or need further guidance, talk to your midwife.

Avoid standing

Try not to stand for long periods of time. Take breaks and sit with your legs up to relieve pressure.

Special tights

Try compression tights, which you can buy at most pharmacies. They won’t prevent varicose veins but can ease the symptoms.

Sitting posture

Try not to sit with your legs crossed. This position restricts blood flow in your legs.

Legs high

Try sleeping with your legs higher than the rest of your body. Use pillows under your ankles or put books under the foot of your bed.

Healthy weight

Try to maintain a healthy weight to avoidan increase of pressure on the legs.

Legs

Sit with your legs up as often as you can to ease the discomfort.

Inform your midwife if you have any existing varicose veins or develop any during your pregnancy.

Other Common Conditions

Warning symptoms make sure you’re aware of the symptoms which can be signs of more serious complications.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is a blood clot in a vein, usually in the leg. DVT can be dangerous. Get medical help as soon as possible if you think you have DVT.

Symptoms of DVT (deep vein thrombosis)nline.

Symptoms of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in the leg are:

  • throbbing pain in 1 leg (rarely both legs), usually in the calf or thigh, when walking or standing up
  • swelling in 1 leg (rarely both legs)
  • warm skin around the painful area
  • red or darkened skin around the painful area – this may be harder to see on brown or black skin
  • swollen veins that are hard or sore when you touch them

These symptoms can also happen in your arm or tummy if that’s where the blood clot is. If you think you have DVT (deep vein thrombosis) you can call NHS 111 or get help from 111 online.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

You have symptoms of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), such as pain and swelling, and:

  • breathlessnesses
  • chest pain

DVT can be very serious because blood clots can travel to your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening and needs treatment straight away.

Pre-Eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from 20 weeks) or soon after their baby is delivered.

Early signs of pre-eclampsia include having high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria).

It’s unlikely that you’ll notice these signs, but usually they will be picked up during your routine antenatal appointments.

If you notice any symptoms of pre-eclampsia, seek medical advice immediately by calling your midwife, GP surgery or NHS 111.

Although many cases are mild, the condition can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if it’s not monitored and treated.

Remember, if you experience any concerning or persistent symptoms during pregnancy, it’s important to speak with your midwife or GP for proper evaluation and guidance. 

Call your maternity unit, GP or NHS 111 if your have:

  • a severe headache
  • problems with vision, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
  • pain just below your ribs
  • vomiting
  • a sudden increase in swelling of your face, hands, feet or ankles

Any of these could be signs of pre-eclampsia and need to be checked immediately.

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