Pregnancy is a special time in your life. And, as excited as you may be about your impending or ongoing pregnancy, there are quite a few hiccups along the way. But, most problems you face during pregnancy are, in fact, quite common.
Of course, you should always consult your doctor whenever you experience any discomfort during pregnancy. In the meanwhile, we’ve compiled a list of common pregnancy problems that you may have to experience when you are pregnant:
Constipation in pregnancy
The hormonal changes in your body may cause you to become constipated very early on in your pregnancy.
Cramp in pregnancy
Cramp is a sudden, sharp pain, usually in your calf muscles or feet. It’s most common at night. Nobody really knows why it happens, but there are some ideas about causes of cramp and why it can occur in pregnancy.
Regular gentle exercise in pregnancy, particularly ankle and leg movements, will improve your circulation and may help prevent cramp.
Try these foot exercises:
- 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
How to ease cramp
It usually helps if you pull your toes hard up towards your ankle or rub the muscle hard.
Feeling faint in pregnancy
Pregnant women can often feel faint. This is due to hormonal changes. Fainting happens if your brain is not getting enough blood and, therefore, not enough oxygen.
You are most likely to feel faint if you stand up too quickly from a chair or out of a bath, but it can also happen when you are lying on your back. Read more about the causes of fainting.
Avoiding feeling faint
Here are some tips to help avoid feeling faint:
- try to get up slowly after sitting or lying down
- 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
- if you feel faint while lying on your back, turn onto your side
It’s better not to lie flat on your back in later pregnancy or during labour. You should avoid going to sleep on your back after 28 weeks as it has been linked to a higher risk of stillbirth.
Feeling hot in pregnancy
You’re likely to feel warmer than usual during pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin. You’re also likely to sweat more.
It can help if you:
- wear loose clothing made of natural fibres, as these are more absorbent and breathable than synthetic fibres
- keep your room cool – you could use an electric fan
- wash frequently to help you feel fresh
Incontinence in pregnancy
Incontinence is a common problem during and after pregnancy. Pregnant women are sometimes unable to prevent a sudden spurt of pee or a small leak when they cough, laugh, sneeze, move suddenly or just get up from a sitting position.
This may be temporary, because the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles around the bladder) relax slightly to prepare for the baby’s delivery
When to get help
In many cases, incontinence is curable. If you have a problem, talk to your midwife, doctor or health visitor.
Peeing a lot in pregnancy
Needing to pee a lot often starts in early pregnancy and sometimes continues until the baby is born. In later pregnancy, it’s caused by the baby’s head pressing on your bladder.
How to reduce the need to pee
If you find you need to get up in the night to pee, try cutting out drinks in the late evening. However, make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free drinks during the day.
Later in pregnancy, some women find it helps to rock backwards and forwards while they’re on the toilet. This lessens the pressure of the womb on the bladder so you can empty it properly.
Skin and hair changes in pregnancy
Hormonal changes taking place in pregnancy will make your nipples and the area around them go darker. Your skin colour may also darken a little, either in patches or all over.
Birthmarks, moles and freckles may also darken. Some women develop a dark line down the middle of their stomach. These changes will gradually fade after the baby is born, although your nipples may remain a little darker.
If you sunbathe while pregnant, you may find you burn more easily. Protect your skin with a high-factor sunscreen and don’t stay in the sun for a long time. Read more about keeping skin safe in the sun.
Hair growth can also increase in pregnancy, and your hair may be greasier. After the baby is born, it may seem as if you’re losing a lot of hair, but you’re just losing the extra hair you grew in pregnancy.
Varicose veins in pregnancy
Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen. They can be uncomfortable but aren’t harmful. They most commonly affect leg veins.
You can also get varicose veins in the vaginal opening (vulva), although these usually get better after the birth
Other common problems
Other common health problems in pregnancy include:
- bleeding gums
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
- indigestion and heartburn
- leaking nipples
- morning sickness and nausea
- pelvic pain
- piles (haemorrhoids)
- stretch marks
- swollen ankles, feet and fingers
- teeth and gums
- vaginal discharge
- vaginal bleeding