Aches and pains in early pregnancy and what these pregnancy signs mean

Discomforts in early pregnancy are common and can really put a damper on your first trimester. The good news is your body's working really hard in these 12 weeks and things will get easier. In the meantime, keep an eye out for our guides to alleviating pregnancy symptoms:


Morning sickness

Morning sickness affects around 70% of women. Serious morning sickness can be debilitating and is known as Hyperemesis Gravida. It's rare but needs medical treatment so if you suspect you have something more than your average morning sickness, see your doctor.

Sore breasts & nipples

Thanks to pregnancy hormones your breasts begin growing from very early in pregnancy. This can make them tender. At first your breasts may simply feel sore or heavy, or they may tingle but later you may find that the skin, and especially your nipples, become more sensitive than usual and normal underwear may irritate it. If so, you will find moving to natural fabrics, such as cotton, will help (as manmade fabrics are more likely to cause irritation). Because of this sensitivity, you may notice your nipples hurting in the cold and taking longer to warm up.

Period-like cramping

Mild stomach cramps in early pregnancy are very common. Usually milder than period cramps, it may feel as though there is a slight tugging or pulling in your abdomen. Cramping is caused by your uterus beginning to stretch and is usually nothing at all to worry about. If your stomach cramps are different to those described here, check what your symptoms mean. Read more on pregnancy bleeding, spotting and pregnancy stomach cramps.

Indigestion, wind and bloating

Wind for pregnant women is no joke. From the earliest days of pregnancy your digestive system is affected and you may notice you produce far more wind than usual, which can be uncomfortable and painful at times, particularly if the wind is trapped. Many pregnant women find that their sleep disturbed by uncomfortable wind. There are some small lifestyle changes that can make a difference, though. And keep an eye on what you eat.

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Constipation and piles

Another common affect of pregnancy on your digestive system is constipation. Constipation can also cause or aggravate haemorrhoids, or piles- abnormally swollen veins in your anus - another frequent pregnancy nuisance.

You can do a lot to deal with constipation using your diet. You can find out more about pregnancy constipation and more about coping with haemorrhoids through our pregnancy articles.


Hormonal changes may have the opposite effect on your bowels, as they, along with pressure put on the bowels from the womb, lead to diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can also be caused by an infection, so if it's making you feel very unwell, or it persists for a few days it's a good idea to see your doctor. Find out more about the particularly nasty stomach bug that pregnant women are particularly prone to.

Blocked nose and ears

Another effect of pregnancy hormones is swelling in your nasal and oral passages, which leads to them becoming blocked more easily. Steam inhalation is one of the best solutions, and you can help prevent the problem by keeping the air of your home moist, by drying laundry indoors, keeping bowls of water on the radiators and so on. If you're suffering badly and want to take medication speak to your GP, but you can get nasal sprays and decongestants that are safe to take during pregnancy.


Very common by the third trimester, backache can also affect your first three months of pregnancy, particularly if this isn't your first baby. In the first couple of weeks of pregnancy you may experience an aching back, similar to that which frequently accompanies menstruation. After this the weight of your growing uterus can put pressure on your lower back, causing backache. If this is your second baby you are more likely to get backache in your first trimester because your abdominal muscles - already weakened in your last pregnancy - are likely to be more flexible this time around. Your abdominals usually offer key support to many movements and when they can't work as hard it means extra work for your lower back.

If you usually calm backache with a relaxing bath then make sure that you don't run one that's too hot, your skin shouldn't tun red when you get in.


Many women aren't affected by pregnancy headaches at all, but some women do suffer from more frequent headaches and some may even experience migraines for the first time when pregnant. Headaches relating to pregnancy happen because during pregnancy the volume of blood pumped around your body increases significantly, and this extra blood can put pressure on the brain.

If you are suffering from migraines be sure to check with your doctor which medications are safe to take. If you have a simple headache you may be able to cope without medication and/ or sleep it off. If you feel you do need to take something, the occasional paracetamol is considered safe throughout pregnancy, however, if you can avoid taking medication then all the better, particularly in the first trimester.

General aches and pains

General aches and pains are quite common during early pregnancy, not least because early pregnancy is so physically draining and many women feel completely exhausted and may be having trouble sleeping.

Aching limbs

Whatever aches and pains you experience as early pregnancy signs, remember you're better off avoiding medication in these critical first twelve weeks if you can. There are alternative suggestions for dealing with common discomforts, but you are often best consulting your doctor about your particular circumstances.


Read more on early pregnancy on our pregnancy listings.

Read more about pregnancy symptoms: Vision changes in pregnancy.