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Common pregnancy complaints

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. Your uterus grows and ligaments get stretched. Your body produces more blood, your breasts grow. Cartilage in your back and pelvis loosens while your posture changes and your intestines make space for the growing uterus. The major changes in hormone levels also influence your emotions. All of these changes could lead to complaints. Common pregnancy complaints are different for every woman and every pregnancy. It is important to listen to your body, and to relax and slow down for all these changes. We are happy to offer you some tips. Are you worried about your health? Don’t keep it to yourself, but discuss it with us.


During pregnancy the hormone progesterone causes the walls of veins to relax which increases the chance of developing haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are swollen pouches of blood vessels near the anus. They can itch and are very painful with hard stools. Blood loss can occur during bowel movements and pushing can make symptoms worse. Try to prevent constipation and hard stools with a fibre-rich diet, adequate fluid intake and enough physical activity. Curanol works best to shrink haemorrhoids. This natural product is available as a salve and also in combination with tablets. You can find it at the drug store or order online at Your family doctor can prescribe an analgesic salve.

Round ligament pain

The growing uterus is held in place by ligaments in your abdomen. Exertion may cause round ligament pain. Sudden movements can also be painful, such as during exercise, sneezing or turning in bed. This can cause a stabbing pain down the side of your belly towards your groin. Round ligament pain can be very painful but is not harmful and subsides with rest.

Bleeding gums

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy is important. Hormonal changes in pregnancy put your at greater risk for gum disease which can cause sore and bleeding gums. Take good care of your teeth and see your dentist or dental hygienist if you have symptoms.


Some women experience heartburn. Progesterone changes how your stomach functions making it easier for stomach acid to move upward to your oesophagus. Later in pregnancy the growing uterus leaves less space for your stomach. Certain foods make symptoms worse, such as coffee, orange juice, fatty or spicy foods and carbonation. Limiting food intake in the evening right before bed often helps as does raising the head of the bed. A spoonful of custard dessert (vanilla vla) or roasted almonds can offer relief. Rennies can be used safely. If it doesn’t help and you want to try a different antacid, discuss this with the pharmacy and let us know at your next appointment.

Braxton-hicks contractions

During pregnancy you sometimes feel your uterus contracting. These are Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are harmless and don’t cause dilation. If you experience Braxton-Hicks contractions after some sort of exertion, it could mean that you need to take it easy. A warm bath or hot water bottle against your belly might help. Are you regularly experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions or are they becoming stronger/more painful? Contact the on-call midwife.

Heart palpitations

During your pregnancy you may experience heart palpitations, sometimes for no apparent reason or during a stressful moment. Because of all the extra blood circulating, your heart needs to beat 15 beats per minute faster than normal which you may experience as palpitations. If you have this problem more often, or it makes you uneasy, schedule an appointment with your family doctor. Keep in mind that heart palpitations are normal during pregnancy.


The hormonal changes occurring in the first three to four months of pregnancy can cause headaches. Fatigue also plays a role. While headaches are an annoyance, they are not harmful. Symptoms generally subside after the first trimester. Make sure to get enough rest and get enough to drink. You can also take paracetamol (without caffeine or codeine), maximum 6 tablets per 24 hours. In the second half of pregnancy headache can be a sign of high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Rest doesn’t help or are you concerned? Contact the on-call midwife.


Itchiness can occur during pregnancy, often on the belly but it can also be all over your body. Dryness and stretched skin can account for this and are harmless. Decreased liver function due to hormonal changes can also cause itchiness. Sometimes itchiness is excessive and is accompanied by a rash. Do you have a rash or itchiness on your hands and feet? Contact the on-call midwife. If necessary we will refer you to the gynaecologist in the hospital for further testing.


You can suffer from nausea and vomiting particularly in the first three to four months of pregnancy. Regularly eating small amounts so that your stomach isn’t empty generally helps. You know best what foods works for you. Drinking ginger tea can sometimes help, or Okugest a homeopathic solution from VSM. Nausea is not harmful, as long as you don’t feel you are dehydrated or that you are losing a lot a weight. In extreme situations, your family doctor may prescribe medication.


You may feel very tired particularly in the first three months of pregnancy. Many women need more sleep because of hormonal changes. Anaemia is rarely the cause of fatigue. Try to adjust your daily activities to your current capabilities. In general fatigue disappears in the second trimester.


During pregnancy digestion in your intestines slows down due to hormonal changes and the pressure put on the intestines by your growing uterus. Bowel movements occur less often and stools are often harder. Drinking enough and continuing physical activity are very important. Fibre-rich foods are helpful, like chopped vegetables, fruit and whole-grain products. You could try adding bran fibre. A homeopathic solution is Manna-Fig juice, from the brand Salus. If these don’t help you can ask the pharmacy or family doctor for a laxative.

Mental health complaints

Pregnancy is often associated with various, sometimes fluctuating or conflicting emotions. You can quickly become upset. One moment you’re really happy the next you’re really sad and down. This can be because of all the changes in your life but also because of the hormones. Fluctuating emotions are normal. During pregnancy you can feel more stress more easily than at other times in your life. You could then experience less control, you cry more easily, or you are less patient with yourself or others. It is important to find a way to relax, relieve stress and ask for help when you need it. Try to take it easy. If the negative emotions take over, it’s important to discuss this with the midwife.

Skin pigmentation

During pregnancy sunlight may cause dark spots to appear on your face, known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’. You can prevent this by protecting yourself from the sun. Use high factor sunscreen, stay in the shade and wear a hat. Normally these spots will disappear on their own after pregnancy.

Back or pelvic pain

During pregnancy your weight and posture change and your pelvis becomes more mobile. These changes may lead to mobility problems or pelvic pain. Good posture can relieve symptoms. Make sure to bend the knees when bending down or lifting. Support your lower back when sitting. When getting out of bed, roll onto your side first and push yourself up sideways. Specific exercises can strengthen your back muscles. Swimming is also good for your back. If, however you experience daily pain that hampers your normal life, you should see a mensendieck therapist or physical therapist. A referral is not needed.

Varicose veins

Some women develop varicose veins in their legs during pregnancy. Varicose veins in the vulva can also sometimes occur. Regular physical activity is recommended and try not to stand or sit for long periods. Elevate your legs on a stool or pillow if sitting or lying. Also, wearing fitted, elastic compression stockings relieves symptoms. Varicose veins shrink quickly following birth but may not completely disappear

Water retention

Your body retains more water during pregnancy, sometimes leading to swelling in the hands, feet and ankles. Heat and limited physical activity can make the problem worse. Make sure you are active enough and elevate your legs slightly when sitting or lying. Massaging your legs or a cold shower can bring relief. Continue to drink enough. If you suddenly retain a lot of water (particularly in your face) and you experience other symptoms, such as nausea, headache, or otherwise feel ill, contact the on-call midwife.

Frequent urination

During pregnancy most women will need to pee more often than normal. As the uterus continues to grow there is more pressure on the bladder, more quickly leading to the feeling of needing to pee. Do you quite often feel the urge to pee? It could be because of a urinary tract infection (UTI). While you also often feel burning while peeing with a UTI, it isn’t necessary. You will need to take a urine sample to your family doctor for testing. You will need to take antibiotics for a UTI during pregnancy, because pregnant women could experience lots of contractions or become very ill even from a simple UTI. The family doctor know exactly which medication to prescribe during pregnancy.

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