Your top 10 pregnancy worries solved

Midwife Anne Richley shows you how to beat those pregnancy complaints – and when to seek help.

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Nausea, tiredness and headaches – being pregnant can be daunting. Midwife Anne Richley looks at how to deal with pregnancy’s 10 most common complaints and worries, and when you should talk to your midwife.

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1. “I’m feeling so sick”

“I was delighted nausea disappeared at around 12 weeks of pregnancy but now it’s returned – six weeks before my due date. My midwife explained it’s because my stomach – along with everything else – is getting squashed.”

Claire, 24, 34 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Approximately 70% of women suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, particularly in the first 12 weeks. But don’t worry, because normal pregnancy sickness won’t harm your baby; she’ll still get what she needs from you even when you’re feeling awful.

How can I ease it?

  • Eating little and often.
  • Getting plenty of liquids. Even if you can’t face eating, try a fruit smoothie or an ice-lolly.
  • Acupressure bands that are available at chemists or supermarkets – often used for travel sickness.

When should I see my midwife?

Despite adjusting your diet, you continue to vomit several times a day, have upper abdominal pain, are losing weight, feel generally unwell or are not passing much urine. This could mean you’re becoming dehydrated or have an underlying condition.

2. “I’m tired all the time”

“I’ve never known tiredness like this. By 2pm I can’t keep my eyes open any more. It’s as though I’ve been drugged.”

Gabby, 21, 10 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

In the first few weeks of pregnancy, your body works incredibly hard, so it’s no wonder you’re exhausted. You’ll have times during your pregnancy when your body tells you to rest, and that’s exactly what you should try to do.

How can I ease it?

  • Power napping. Even 10 minutes helps.
  • Eating little and often.

When should I see my midwife?

You also feel breathless or light-headed as you may be anaemic and need iron supplements.

3. “I’ve had a bleed”

“I had a very small bleed around 8 weeks and then around 12 weeks. It was very light, a bit like the end of a period”

Liz, 32, mum to Macey, 3, and 32 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

A small amount of bleeding in the early weeks occurs in around a quarter of pregnancies. Often the cause is unknown, and women stay healthy to full term. There’s an increased blood supply to the cervix in pregnancy and you may experience a little spotting after sex.

If you’re ever concerned, contact your midwife, who can reassure you or arrange further investigations if needed.

How can I ease it?

  • Avoiding sex if you’ve had a significant bleed during your pregnancy.

When should I see my midwife?

You have any bleeding as she can reassure you or arrange further investigations if needed.

4. “I’m all puffed up”

“I wear sandals as my feet are swollen by lunchtime. Now I can’t wear my wedding ring as my hands are swelling, too.”

Tina, 30, 37 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Accumulation of fluid (oedema) is normal in pregnancy. Women mainly get it in their hands, ankles and feet but it can also occur in your face and abdomen, particularly at the end of the day or during bouts of hot weather.

How can I ease it?

  • Raising your legs when you’re sitting and making circular movements with your feet from the ankles.

When should I see my midwife?

You have a sudden increase in fluid, particularly if you’ve had high blood pressure, as it can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia.

5. “My skin is itchy”

“My bump gets incredibly itchy, especially at night.”

Laura, 32, mum to Nancy, 6, Bertie, 2, and 28 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

This is a very common problem, so don’t worry. Lots of women find that their skin is itchy during pregnancy – particularly on their abdomen as it becomes stretched.

How can I ease it?

  • Moisturising daily with mild body lotion.
  • Applying soothing calamine lotion to relieve the itching.

When should I see my midwife?

The itching spreads from your abdomen or becomes severe. There’s a pregnancy condition called obstetric cholestasis, caused by a problem with the liver. It causes unbearable itching, often including the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.

Mum’s story

“I had really itchy palms and soles”

“In the last two months of pregnancy, the soles of my feet and palms were very itchy. When I mentioned this to my midwife, she sent me straight to the local hospital. I was put on a foetal monitor to check the baby and blood tests checked how my liver was working. Thankfully, everything was clear but I had more tests later in my pregnancy to check again.”

Nicolette, 35, mum to Bon, 3, and Catalina, 3 months

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Get in touch with your midwife if you have any concerns about your health in pregnancy – she’s there to help you.

6. “My head really hurts”

“Pregnancy books don’t warn you about the awful headaches! My sister also had them in her pregnancy, so I knew they weren’t anything to worry about.”

Olivia, 24, 15 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Headaches are very common in early pregnancy, most often caused by pregnancy hormones and dilation of veins in the brain. Sometimes they’re due to stress, fatigue, or dehydration.

How can I ease it?

  • Drinking plenty of water and grabbing a rest when you can.
  • After 12 weeks of pregnancy, try four drops of lavender oil on a cold flannel, pressed against your temples.
  • Paracetamol as a last resort.
  • Making an appointment to see your optician. Changes also occur in your eyes in pregnancy, so check whether this is the cause of your headaches.

When should I see my midwife?

Two paracetamol don’t cure the pain, as headaches can be associated with high blood pressure.

7. “I wee all the time”

“I’m dying to go to the loo every couple of hours. I’m sure the people at work must have guessed I’m pregnant as I keep disappearing out of the office.”

Tamsin, 19, 8 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Nearly everyone experiences this one. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, your bladder is squashed against your uterus increasing your urge to go to the loo. In the last few weeks, that pressure returns as your baby’s head presses down.

How can I ease it?

  • Doing your pelvic floor exercises so the muscles in that area don’t get weakened.

When should I see my midwife?

The frequency is accompanied by any discomfort, as you might have a urinary tract infection.

8. “My back aches”

“My lower back really aches by the end of the day. I thought that only happened when your baby was about due. Unfortunately I still have 12 weeks to go!”

Monika, 38, 28 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Mild to moderate pain in the lower back is common as pregnancy hormones have the effect of stretching ligaments and muscles and loosening joints. As your baby grows, you’ll find you don’t stand as straight, increasing the strain.

How can I ease it?

  • Making a conscious effort to stand up straight and improve your posture.
  • Yoga, aqua-natal classes, a good massage and visiting a chiropractor or osteopath can also help.

When should I see my midwife?

Back pain becomes more severe and radiates around your front before 37 weeks of pregnancy, as it could be premature labour.

Backache, associated with feeling generally unwell, could be a sign of kidney infection and you’ll need treatment.

9. “My bump aches”

“I get all sorts of aches and twinges in and around my bump. They don’t last long, but feel quite uncomfortable.”

Nicola, 40, 20 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Aches and pains are completely normal. There’s so much growing, stretching and kicking going on, it’s no wonder it can feel uncomfortable.

How can I ease it?

  • Gentle exercise such as walking, yoga or swimming. This can help build up your stamina and generally make you more supple.
  • A warm bath. It will help to ease general aches and pains.

When should I see my midwife?

The pain in your abdomen is continual, severe or in the upper abdomen, or if you have painful tightenings prior to 37 weeks.

10. “I feel faint”

“I’ve never been so embarrassed as when I fainted in the supermarket. When I got home I phoned my midwife who told me that it wasn’t unusual during pregnancy, but advised me to eat breakfast next time before doing the weekly shop.”

Paula, 27, mum to Louis, 5, and 9 weeks pregnant

What’s going on?

Low blood pressure in early pregnancy is normal and can cause fainting episodes, or dizziness.

How can I ease it?

  • Taking your time to stand up.
  • Not to skip meals.
  • Resting when you can.

When should I see my midwife?

You ever faint, particularly after the first four months. It could mean you’re anaemic.

Mum’s story

“I passed out and woke up on the floor”

“I was 28 weeks gone and just going into the kitchen to get a drink when I passed out. I remember feeling hot, then coming round face-down on the kitchen floor. I was taken to hospital and kept in for a couple of days while they did all sorts of tests, including a chest X-ray. The consultant isn’t sure what caused it. It may be a form of pregnancy asthma, and I now have an inhaler, which helps. I still have the odd dizzy spell after bending down, but I’m checked every week now so I know the baby is fine.”

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Mel, 31, mum to Chloe, 21 months, and 32 weeks pregnant

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