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How to cope with some of the ailments that you may experience while pregnant.

As your pregnancy advances, it is quite natural to experience physical and emotional discomforts and find yourself thinking about issues you’ve never thought about before. Regardless of what is on your mind, know that your midwife/GP/obstetrician and antenatal teacher are all there to help and support you before, during and after your baby is born. Don’t hesitate to talk to them.


Morning sickness

Is usually experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy due to high levels of pregnancy hormones, but may also occur throughout your pregnancy. Morning sickness can also be caused by pressure from the foetus; reflux and changes in the metabolism, as well as changes in hormones.

How to cope

  • Have a snack such as a dry biscuit (ginger biscuits have proven effective) and a hot drink before getting out of bed; then get up slowly
  • Have regular small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level constant and have a snack before going to bed
  • Have regular sips of water to prevent dehydration from vomiting
  • Rest as much as possible as being tired can make you feel worse.

Mood swings

Mood swings often occur during pregnancy. Stress and exhaustion can contribute to fluctuating feelings. Anxiety about childbirth and parenting, as well as hormonal changes can also make you feel very emotional.

How to cope

  • Set aside time to rest regularly
  • Share your feelings with your partner, or confide in a close family member, friend, or counsellor.

Fatigue

It is normal to feel tired during pregnancy especially during the first trimester – remember that your body is growing a new life. Tiredness could also be due to anaemia.

How to cope

  • A well-balanced diet with lots of green and other vegetables, fruit, nuts, and milk is important
  • Eat less refined foods (for example, sugars, carbohydrates)
  • Regular exercise and regular rest are essential
  • Consult with your doctor about safe vitamin and mineral supplements such as iron, magnesium and calcium.

Constipation

The same hormones responsible for loosening your joints and causing backache can affect your intestinal movements. Because of slower intestinal movements, more nutrients are absorbed, but you can also become constipated. Constipation can also be caused by iron supplements, the higher levels of progesterone during pregnancy, or pressure on your bowels from your growing baby.

How to cope

  • Your diet should include lots of wholegrain fibres from fruit and vegetables
  • Do not eat refined foods, for example, sugars, carbohydrates
  • Eat other wholegrain foods such as wholewheat bread, brown rice and cereals
  • Drink lots of water
  • Do regular exercise
  • Speak to your doctor/midwife to change your iron and/or calcium supplements, as well as the antacids you’re taking
  • Consult your midwife/GP before using any laxatives.

Leg cramps

If you are experiencing leg cramps or spasms – a common problem during second and third trimesters, especially at night – it may be due to slower circulation, a decrease in magnesium and calcium levels, or an increase in phosphorous levels.

How to cope

  • Stretch the affected muscle and massage/rub it until the muscle begins to relax
  • Increase circulation by exercising your legs every night just before getting into bed
  • Flex your foot (toes turned up) when you feel a cramp coming on
  • Elevate the foot of your bed about 20cm
  • Keep bedclothes loose
  • Consult your midwife/GP about magnesium and calcium supplements.

This fact sheet has been developed in consultation with healthcare professionals.