Symptoms of discomfort due to
pregnancy vary from person to person. Below are some common discomforts. But each
parent-to-be may have different symptoms or none at all:
Nausea and vomiting. About half of
all pregnant people 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 people 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
you to lose fluids and weight, it may be a sign of a condition called hyperemesis
gravidarum. Hyperemesis can lead to dehydration and may need a hospital stay for
intravenous fluids and nutrition. Call your healthcare provider or midwife if you
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 person
often feels tired. In the first trimester, their blood volume and other fluids
increase as their 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. Preventing 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.
pregnant person 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
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. Because of changes 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
mask of pregnancy, or
chloasma. It often disappears soon
after delivery. Using sunscreen when outside can reduce the amount of darkening that
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 person
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
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
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 person's weight
increases, their balance changes. Their center of gravity is pulled
forward, straining the back. Pelvic joints that begin to loosen in preparation for
childbirth also contribute to this back strain. Correct posture and correct lifting
methods throughout the pregnancy can help reduce the strain on the back.
Dizziness. Dizziness during pregnancy is a common
symptom. It may be caused by:
To prevent injury from falling
during episodes of dizziness, a pregnant person should stand up slowly and hold on
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,
correct 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.