Pregnancy health panics sorted

Practical and reassuring advice for minor pregnancy ailments

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Tummy pains

Watch your diet as tummy pain can signal constipation. If you are constipated increase your fibre intake – a high fibre cereal with prunes should help – and drinks lots of water. A warm bath might also ease the pain. If you’re bleeding, or have other symptoms, such as a high temperature, see your midwife or GP straight away.

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Feeling sick every day

Nausea is one of the most miserable side effects of pregnancy. But even if you’re not managing to keep much down, try not to worry as your baby will take the nutrients she needs from you. Also, make sure you’re not becoming dehydrated by drinking lots of water.

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Can cleaning out cat litter be risky?

Cat poo can harbour a parasite called toxoplasmosis and there’s a risk it could cause abnormalities in your baby, so it’s probably best to give this chore to your partner. Try not to worry though; it’s rare and cat owners are often immune anyway.

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I’m so itchy!

As your skin stretches on your bump it can itch. Soothing creams or calamine lotion should help. However, itching can be a sign of a rare but serious liver disease, obstetric cholestasis (OC). A simple blood test can tell whether you’ve got OC, so report any serious itching to your midwife or GP.

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My friend’s child has chickenpox

Chickenpox can harm an unborn baby, causing eye problems and brain damage, especially in the early or last weeks of pregnancy. However, most people are immune, either because they’ve had it as a child, or they’ve picked it up as an adult without realising, and the risk in tiny (1%).

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My bump is the wrong size for my dates

Your midwife measures your bump to check your baby’s growth. But depending on your shape or size, your baby’s position, and how many babies you’ve had, this can be inaccurate. If your midwife is worried she’ll arrange a scan. If your baby is big, or there’s extra water around her, you’ll probably have further tests as this can be a sign of gestational (pregnancy) diabetes.

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I’ve got a strange discharge

Heavier vaginal discharge is normal, but don’t worry, unless it’s smelly, itchy, sore or an unusual colour, such as brown or greenish. This could be a sign of thrush or a bacterial infection. These are easy to treat, so always see your GP or midwife.

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My baby is breech

Breech means your baby is bottom-down, rather than head-down (the ideal position for labour). But try not to worry as there’s plenty of time for your baby to turn and most do, although 4% are still breech at the start of labour. If your baby is still breech at 38 weeks your midwife or doctor may try to turn him manually. If this fails, you’ll probably be offered a Caesarean, although a vaginal delivery is still possible.

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I’ve got elephant ankles

Swollen ankles occur as the fluid in your body increases during pregnancy and you’re most likely to retain water in this area. Normally it’s nothing to worry about, and putting your feet up and drinking lots of water will help. If your hands and face swell too, get medical help. It could be pre-eclampsia, a serious condition for you and your baby.

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I’ve had some bleeding – will I lose my baby?

Bleeding is probably the biggest worry for mums-to-be. But try not to panic – it’s surprisingly common and doesn’t always mean miscarriage. In the early stages, bleeding can be caused by the embryo implanting in your womb, or may be a result of hormonal activity around the same time as your period would have been due. Wear a sanitary pad so you can show your midwife how much blood you’re losing. A little blood can go a long way, it can sometimes look worse than it is. Bleeding may also be a sign of infection. Always report any bleeding to your doctor or midwife.

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I got drunk before I knew I was pregnant

A single night is unlikely to cause problems, but heavy drinking in the early stages has been linked to foetal alcohol syndrome, which affects your baby’s physical and mental growth. Current advice from the Dept of Health is to avoid alcohol completely. If you do drink, stick to one or two units, once or twice a week.

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I haven’t felt my baby move for a while

Try changing your position, or drinking a glass of ice-cold water to encourage your baby to get active. Don’t panic – movement patterns can change a lot, although you’d expect to feel at least 10 movements in 24 hours from the time you regularly start to feel him kick. If you’re worried, call your midwife, so she can check your baby’s heartbeat.

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