Pregnancy symptoms – your questions answered

Feeling sick and tired? Our midwife answers your questions about pregnancy symptoms

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Sleep can be difficult with a growing bump!

1) I’m exhausted

Q: I’m only 10-weeks pregnant and so far I’m not enjoying it, as I’m constantly exhausted. When will I bloom?

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A: The way you’re feeling is normal and the first few weeks are usually the hardest, especially if you haven’t told anyone you’re pregnant yet. Remember that your body is working incredibly hard and the development of your baby day by day is huge. On top of that, your body is adjusting to rapidly changing hormone levels so it’s hardly surprising you feel tired.

For most women energy returns in the second trimester, that’s between three and six months, which for you is just around the corner. In the meantime grabbing just a five-minute nap at lunchtime can help you feel refreshed. Try some deep breathing techniques in the fresh air to revitalise yourself. You can always take a nap when you get home – but set an alarm so you don’t go to sleep for hours. And don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, as you’ll need the nutrients to keep up your blood sugar level and avoid feeling drained.

2) Feeling sick

Q. I’m eight weeks pregnant and suffering with awful nausea. I commute to work and spend the whole time trying not to be sick. Please help!

A. Feeling sick can be just as miserable as being sick and is unfortunately one of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy. However, there are things that you can do to make your journey a bit easier. Why not ask your boss if you can alter your hours slightly to avoid the rush hour, as being with lots of people when feeling ropey sounds as if it’s making you anxious?  

Nausea is thought to be worse if you have a low blood sugar level, so make sure you have breakfast before leaving the house. Mints can help take away sickness, so keep a packet in your bag. Acupressure bands, often used for travel sickness, are good too. I’d also advise sticking a bag in your pocket that you could be sick in, in an absolute emergency. Just knowing it’s there might make you feel more secure and take away the worry you’re feeling.

3) I can’t take these sleepless nights!

Q. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and hardly sleeping at night I’m so uncomfortable. Could I be induced early?

A. It’s really hard when you get to the stage where you have difficulty in sleeping, but trust me, having your baby won’t solve the problem! I’m afraid being induced at 34 weeks is out of the question as your baby is still considered premature and his lungs haven’t finished developing. A much better solution is to look at your sleep patterns and bedtime routine. If you’re tired during the day try to take a nap. Avoid eating late at night, have a long soak in the bath and ask your partner to massage your back and shoulders before bed.

If you’re still working, consider changing your hours so you can get more rest or have a lie in.

4) Ease the quease

Q. I’m seven weeks pregnant and continually feel as though I’m going to be sick. What can I do?

A. There’s evidence nausea occurs when your blood sugar level is low, so try to keep it stable. Blood sugar levels are lowest in the morning so eat something before you get out of bed, even if it’s a dry biscuit and a drink. Have a light snack for supper so your body has something to use as energy during the night. And keep snacks, such as fruit or rice cakes, on hand at all times.

Acupressure bands (available from chemists or supermarkets) may also help. They are wristbands with a plastic bump that puts pressure on the part of the wrist thought to reduce nausea.

Tiredness can make nausea worse, so rest when you can. And remember, after around 12 weeks of pregnancy, feelings of nausea will often, but not always, lessen.

5) I’m concerned about bleeding

Q: I had some slight bleeding at 8 weeks. It’s stopped now but could it happen again?

A: Around 20 per cent of women have spotting early on. It can be due to the increased blood supply around the cervix, from the change in hormones, or even after having sex.

It’s understandable that you’re worried and it’s important to mention it to your midwife so that she can rule out conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, low-lying placenta or an infection, depending what stage of pregnancy you’re at. When bleeding occurs later in pregnancy, it can mean there’s a problem with the placenta, so contact your labour ward for advice. Although it can be alarming, do remember that the vast majority of women who experience bleeding go on to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy.

6) Is bleeding common?

Q. I’m 15 weeks pregnant and have already had two small bleeds. A scan showed that everything was OK. How common is this?

A. Bleeding from the cervix sometimes happens because it has an increased blood supply during pregnancy, particularly after sex, but more often a cause is never found. It’s not unusual, as around a quarter of women experience a small amount of bleeding at some point in their pregnancy.

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Understandably, you may feel frightened when you see blood, and it’s important to mention it to your midwife. In early pregnancy she needs to rule out conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, low-lying placenta or an infection. If bleeding occurs at a later stage, it could be a problem with the placenta. However, the majority of women who experience bleeding go on to have a healthy full-term pregnancy.

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