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Symptoms of Pregnancy

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During pregnancy it’s normal to have some cramps and aches, however there are usually some things you can try to relieve your symptoms.

Minor Problems

Backache

Hormones released during pregnancy soften your ligaments which, along with your baby’s increasing weight, can lead to backache.

Things to try:

  • Practice good posture or try antenatal exercises. A healthcare provider should be able to help you determine what will work for you
  • Choose comfortable flat heeled shoes
  • Choose chairs that have a straight back, arms and a firm cushion
  • Ask your doctor or midwife for advice or see a physiotherapist if the pain persists.

Constipation

Hormonal changes in pregnancy may relax the bowel leading to slower bowel motions, this may cause constipation.

Things to try:

  • Drink plenty of water (about eight glasses a day)
  • Increase the amount of fibre in your diet
  • If you continue having problems speak to your healthcare provider.

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins around your anus which may be caused by unresolved constipation or the pressure from your growing uterus. They can feel itchy and tend to be uncomfortable.

Things to try:

  • Foods with plenty of fibre, like wholemeal bread, pasta, fruit, vegetables
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Ask your pharmacist, GP or midwife about suitable treatments.

Cramps

Painful radiating spasms in your calf muscles are common to mothers in their second & third trimesters, more often at night.

Things to try:

  • When you get a cramp straighten your leg with your toes pointing toward your nose
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Stretch when possible as this may assist in preventing cramps before they begin
  • Regularly rest your legs during the day as this can also have benefits.

Faintness/Dizziness

Dizziness is common in pregnancy. A few reasons why you might experience dizziness include low blood pressure, standing up too quickly and a low blood sugar level.

Things to try:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Eat frequently to keep your blood sugar levels from dropping
  • Don’t get up too quickly from your bed or seat
  • When dizzy, lie down on your left side with your legs elevated or sit with your head rested between your knees and take some deep breaths.

Heartburn

Heartburn and indigestion occurs when acid from your stomach comes up the oesophagus and can be very uncomfortable. It is more common during pregnancy because of pressure the growing uterus places on the other organs in your stomach and the relaxation of the muscle between your stomach and oesophagus.

Things to try:

  • Your pharmacist, doctor or midwife may recommend an antacid treatment suitable for use during pregnancy
  • Raise the head of your bed as this might help during the night
  • Drink a glass of milk or eat some yoghurt
  • Try to eat smaller meals
  • Avoid known foods that cause flare ups.

Swollen Ankles, Feet and Hands

Ankles, feet and hands often swell a little in pregnancy because the body holds more water than usual. This usually happens more towards the end of the day, in warm weather or when sitting or standing for long periods.

Thing to try:

  • Rest your feet whenever you can and try to keep them elevated
  • A walking or an exercise routine (approved by your practitioner) can be beneficial in keeping swelling down
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use salt in moderation
  • Ask someone to massage your ankles upward toward your knees to help move the fluid away from your feet.

Fatigue

Fatigue is common in pregnancy particularly in the first and third trimesters.

Things to try:

  • Eat well, for more see Pregnancy Nutrition – What to Eat
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep
  • Try to lessen your workload, even if it means accepting help from family & friends
  • Walking and swimming can also help reduce that feeling of fatigue.

Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

If you experience any of the below symptoms, or have any concerns, contact your doctor, midwife or hospital:

  • Waters breaking
  • Vaginal bleeding, even if it’s only a small amount
  • Abdominal pains, lasting more than a couple of hours
  • A persistent headache
  • Visual disturbances
  • Swelling of your face or hands and persistent swelling in your feet
  • A high temperature
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Ongoing vomiting
  • Pain when urinating
  • Regular contractions before the 37th week
  • A change in the number of times you feel your baby move within a 24 hour period.

More Serious Concerns:

Pre-Eclampsia

  • Pre-eclampsia is a condition which can occur after your 20th week
  • Affects around 5 to 10 percent of all pregnancies in Australia
  • It can be severe enough to threaten the lives of both mother & child.

Symptoms

Initially there are no obvious symptoms in the early stages and most women feel fine, which makes regular antenatal appointments very important.

Indications of pre-eclampsia are increased blood pressure and the presence of protein in urine.

If left untreated serious symptoms can arise, including:

  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Vision problems, such as seeing flashing lights
  • Pain in the abdomen below the ribs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fluid retention, swelling can occur in your feet, ankles, face and hands.

Please Note: If you notice these symptoms alert your healthcare professional.

Treatment

  • Usually includes bed rest and closely monitoring your blood pressure and the foetus
  • If you are admitted to hospital your medical team will usually run several tests and discuss with you the results as well as what actions will be best for you and your baby’s health.

Vaginal Bleeding

Spotting or bleeding can be caused by many things, with some causes being more serious than others.

  • Heavy bleeding during early pregnancy may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage
  • In the third trimester bleeding may be caused by the position of the placenta in your uterus or the placenta separating from the uterus before the birth of your baby
  • After 37 weeks, a small bloodstained discharge may indicate you are going into labour as your cervix thins.

Please Note: If you have bleeding, contact your GP immediately.

Miscarriage

Miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks and usually occurs when a pregnancy is not developing how it should.

Pain and bleeding can indicate a miscarriage. Unfortunately there is no treatment that stop a miscarriage, but it is very important you see your healthcare professional.

Most women who experience a miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy next time.

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