Common Pregnancy Symptoms

melbourne mfm common symptoms

Nausea & vomiting

Between 50-90% of women with normal pregnancies have some degree of nausea or vomiting. These symptoms are most common during the first trimester, but can persist throughout the pregnancy in some cases.

For some women, simple measures such as eating smaller bland meals, that are high in protein or carbohydrates, more frequently and avoiding smells and foods that trigger symptoms may be of benefit. Over the counter treatments such as ginger, vitamin B6 (50-100 mg), acupressure wristbands and antihistamines can also be helpful. Prescription medications such as Maxolon, Stemetil or Zofran can combat more significant symptoms, particularly those that are persistent and do not allow for adequate oral intake.

Light headedness & dizziness

This is a very common complaint during pregnancy that is often caused by lower than normal blood pressure as the body adapts to pregnancy. Symptoms can be managed by drinking fluid and sitting or lying down if symptoms persist. It is advisable to carry a drink bottle and nutritional snack when outside of the house.

Getting up slowly from a seated or lying position and avoiding lying on your back in the second and third trimester can also help. Wearing breathable fabrics in layers that can be removed and avoiding overheated indoor spaces may also prevent symptoms.  If symptoms persist, it is important to speak to your specialist.

Heartburn & indigestion

These symptoms are common and often get progressively worse as the pregnancy continues. Avoiding eating large, rich meals within three hours of bedtime may improve symptoms. Over the counter medications such as Mylanta and Gaviscon may be useful in treating the condition. If these are not effective, prescription medications are available to further manage the condition.

If symptoms are associated with trouble swallowing, vomiting or changes in bowel movements it is important to speak to your specialist urgently.

Constipation & haemorrhoids

Around half of all pregnant women will have constipation throughout their pregnancy due to the effect of progesterone in slowing bowel mobility. Increasing dietary fibre, water and exercise may help with mild symptoms. Medications that increase bulk and soften the stool can be safely prescribed when lifestyle measures are of limited success.

Around 40% of women will have haemorrhoids for the first time in pregnancy. These can be managed by controlling constipation and with topical agents.

Vaginal spotting & bleeding

This is not uncommon in pregnancy, but your specialist should always be contacted. The cause of spotting or bleeding may vary depending on the trimester of pregnancy and should always be investigated further.

Abdominal cramping & pains

Achy or crampy mild pain that is felt on both sides of the lower abdomen may be as a result of the growing uterus in pregnancy. Similarly, Braxton-Hicks contractions in the third trimester may also cause comparable symptoms. These can usually be managed by resting, avoiding sudden movements or simple pain relief such as paracetamol.

Pain that does not improve with these measures, or is severe and associated with symptoms such as bleeding, light headedness or vomiting requires urgent attention from your specialist.

Leg cramps and restless leg syndrome

These occur due to involuntary muscle contractions that occur suddenly and most commonly affect that lower legs. In pregnancy these may be due to low levels of magnesium, and magnesium supplements may improve symptoms.

Restless leg syndrome is also much more common during pregnancy and breast feeding and may impact upon sleep. Exercise, ensuring adequate sleep and iron supplements may be used in treating these symptoms.

Tingling and numbness of the hands

This commonly occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy and can be due to carpal tunnel syndrome. These can be managed with physiotherapy exercises and splints to support the wrist in pregnancy. Symptoms often resolve postpartum.

Swelling of the feet and ankles

Swollen feet and ankles are common in the third trimester of pregnancy and are best treated with rest and elevation. In some cases, these symptoms may be associated with pre-eclampsia and should always be mentioned to your specialist.