10 common pregnancy complaints

You may have heard about morning sickness and extreme tiredness, but what about these other common but less talked about pregnancy symptoms.

Bleeding gums

Have you noticed your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth? It could be pregnancy gingivitis. Hormones can make your teeth more vulnerable to plaque, leaving you with swollen, bleeding gums. You need to take extra care of your smile when you’re pregnant:

  • Book yourself a dentist appointment (it’s free through the NHS during pregnancy and for 12 months afterwards).
  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
  • Ask your dentist about getting a professional clean.
  • Avoid sugary and acidic drinks and foods (particularly in between meal times).
  • Quit smoking.
  • If you have morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water after being sick. Try and wait an hour before you brush your teeth (they’ll be softened by the acid in your tummy).

Cramp

If you’re one of the unlucky ones rudely awoken by a sudden sharp pain in your leg, try gently exercising your legs, ankles and feet during the day - and see if that prevents it:

  • Point your toes and flex your foot up and down vigorously 30 times. Repeat on the other side.
  • Rotate your foot to make a circle, eight times on each foot.

Faintness

Been feeling slightly dizzy or faint? There are a number of reasons that you can feel faint in pregnancy; these can be hormonal changes, low blood pressure, you may become overheated or have low iron levels. Some useful tips to help are:

  • Get up slowly after sitting or lying down.
  • As soon as you feel faint, find a seat quickly - if the faintness doesn’t pass, lie down on your side.
  • If you feel faint while lying on your back, turn on your side.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

If you experience feeling faint or dizzy then please contact your GP or midwife.

Feeling hot

Your body pumps more blood in pregnancy - that and hormones can make you feel unbearably hot:

  • Invest in a desk fan for work and your bedroom.
  • Carry a small, battery-operated fan around with you.
  • Wear loose, breathable fabrics.
  • Stay hydrated and always have a bottle of water handy.
  • Take a dip in a refreshing bath, or, better still, go for a swim.

Headaches

Yep you guessed it - those hormones are probably to blame again.

  • Try to rest when you can.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Find ways to relax, like pregnancy yoga.
  • If you need painkillers, make sure you take the recommended dose. Not all pain relief is safe to take in pregnancy. Have a chat with your midwife or GP about what medication to avoid.

If you have a severe headache that does not go away it is important you are checked out by your GP or midwife. 

Indigestion and heartburn 

Hormones and, later in pregnancy, your womb pressing on your stomach can sometimes leave you bloated, burpy, sick or with a nasty heart burning sensation.

  • Make a note of what sets it off. Try to avoid these foods (spicy foods, chocolate and fruit juice are often to blame), especially in the evenings.
  • Try eating smaller meals more frequently.
  • Sit up straight when you’re eating to take the pressure of your stomach.
  • Finish eating about three hours before bedtime.
  • Try drinking milk when you get heartburn (and keep a glass handy in the night).
  • Prop yourself up with pillows in bed.
  • Ask your midwife or GP about antacids and algates.

If your heartburn is severe and is not relieved by the advice above treatments then you should speak to your midwife or GP.

Swollen ankles, hands and feet

Your body holds more water in pregnancy, which can move towards the lowest parts of your body making your ankles, hands and feet swell. 

  • Take a load off: Avoid standing for long periods of time
  • Prop your feet up so they’re higher than your heart for about an hour each day
  • Do some stretches: Point your toes down and release upwards, 30 times. Then circle your ankles eight times - both feet.

If your swelling is severe or comes on suddenly, or particularly in your face as well as hands and feet, and comes with a headache or problems with your vision, you may have pre-eclampsia. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should call your midwife, hospital or doctor immediately.

Constipation

As soon as you fall pregnant, hormones can play havoc with your digestive system, leaving you constipated.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough fibre - eat lots of fruit and veg, pulses, wholemeal breads and cereals.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep active.
  • If you’re taking iron supplements (which can make you constipated), chat to your GP about your options.

Get more advice about constipation and suitable laxatives from NHS Choices.

For some women, hormones can also cause the opposite to constipation – diarrhoea. If this is the case for you, drink plenty of fluids and see your GP if it does not go away after 48 hours. Check with a midwife, doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication to stop diarrhoea.

You should be seen as soon as possible if you also have a fever, stomach pain, very dark urine or blood in your stool.

Pelvic pain

Symptoms differ from one woman to the next and some suffer more than others but pelvic pain - also known as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) - can be debilitating. Make these simple adjustments to ease the discomfort:

  • Sit down to get dressed, rather than standing on one leg to put knickers and trousers on.
  • Keep your knees together when you get in and out of the car.
  • Avoid carrying heavy things in one hand - use a backpack instead.
  • Don’t do breast stroke when swimming.
  • Stop exercises that might make your symptoms worse.

Speak to your midwife about getting a referral to a physiotherapist sooner rather than later.

See more information on SPD/PGP.

Pregnancy anaemia

Your body needs extra iron for your baby, which means you can miss out. Lack of iron can leave you feeling tired and breathless. Other symptoms can include looking paler than normal and, in some cases, noticeable heart beats (heart palpitations).

The trick is to eat plenty of iron-rich foods, combined with vitamin C (such as a glass of orange juice) to help your body absorb it. Avoid caffeinated drinks at mealtime, as they can interfere with iron absorption. Try:

  • dark-green leafy veg like broccoli
  • eggs
  • dried fruit like apricots
  • iron-fortified cereals and bread
  • pulses and beans
  • nuts and seeds.

If your red blood cell count is low, your GP may prescribe an iron supplement.

Ask your midwife if you have any questions. Find out more about anaemia in pregnancy.

More about early pregnancy

  • Profile of pregnant woman drawn in chalk on black board.

    Dos and don'ts for a safer pregnancy

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! This page covers the evidence-based recommendations from midwives of things to do and not do in pregnancy

  • Check how healthy you are

    Find out how healthy you are with our simple calculator tools and see what changes you can make to help you have a healthier pregnancy.

  • A woman sat on her bed corss-legged with her eyes closed and her head in her hands. She looks worried.

    First trimester worries

    Smoking, drinking, folic acid and miscarriage. Get answers to some of the common worries in the first trimester of pregnancy

  • Young woman yawning

    First trimester trials

    Nausea, extreme tiredness, sore breasts, cramps... the first trimester is not always easy. Here’s some advice to get you through the first 12 weeks.

Pregnancy blog

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    Eira (pronounced eye-ra - poor child will spend her whole life telling people how to say her name) has made her arrival!

  • Pregnant woman near her due date.

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    After what has felt like a very long time coming, it's finally my due week!

  • Pregnant woman relaxing at home.

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    I had my last day at work this week - and boy, was I ready for that day to come around. I worked right up until 38 weeks - my choice, and one I'll only regret if baby decides to come early and I don't get a rest!

Sources

  1. NHS Choices ‘Common health problems in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/common-pregnancy-problems.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
  2. NHS Choices ‘Headaches in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/headaches-pregnant.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
  3. NHS Choices ‘Can I take paracetamol when I’m pregnant?’http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2397.aspx#close (accessed 23/03/2018)
  4. NHS Choices ‘Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/indigestion-heartburn-pregnant.aspx#close (accessed 23/03/2018)
  5. NHS Choices ‘Treating constipation’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Constipation/Pages/Treatment.aspx(accessed 23/03/2018)
  6. NHS Choices ‘Pelvic pain in pregnancy’ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/pelvic-pain-pregna... (accessed 23/03/2018)
  7. NHS Choices ‘Iron deficiency anaemia’http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
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Last reviewed on April 10th, 2018. Next review date April 10th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Rup (not verified) on 26 Mar 2019 - 07:07

    I missed my period 7 days in december but after that my period is regular bu my period flow is only 2 days..as my regular period flow is 4 days
    now my tummy looking big in size..looking 4 months pregnant but my all test are negative.

    whats wrong with me plz advoice me.,

  • By Chunny (not verified) on 23 Mar 2019 - 08:09

    I'm six months but I don't feel heavy one my Tommy I feel so light, but my baby kicks,

  • By Basetsana (not verified) on 21 Mar 2019 - 21:26

    Im 7 months pregnant and my baby didn't play today.I'm afraid

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Mar 2019 - 11:41

    Hi,
    If you have not felt your baby move, or feel that the baby's movements are less than normal then you need to go straight to the maternity unit to be reviewed today.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Tebogo (not verified) on 18 Mar 2019 - 18:04

    Hi am 12 weeks pregnant, am vomiting so bad that my stomach would be painful. The headache is painful and unbearable. Almost everything I eat I throw up. Please assist

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Mar 2019 - 11:40

    Hi Tebogo,
    Sorry to hear that you are being so unwell, it sounds like you need to see a doctor for support and review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Lenah (not verified) on 18 Mar 2019 - 05:52

    Hii

    Am 20 weeks pregnant and I still feel nauseous my doctor told me I should be fine after 3 months but it's still the same so I went back to him and he told to eat healthy and drink plenty of water and so I did but till today it hasn't stopped I tired every recipe in the book but still am so tired of feeling like this and it's interfering with my work I am no longer as productive as I was.

  • By Sonia (not verified) on 31 Mar 2019 - 12:37

    Hi There,
    When I was pregnant I only started getting nausea at 14 months. My OB said Ginger gels would help and they were a life saver. You can buy them at Shoppers there are two kinds get the yellow and green ones. Or you can buy a ginger root from the local grocery and peel and cut a bit off a boil...make ginger tea...it taste well not that great but it works. It did for me.

  • By Tina (not verified) on 14 Mar 2019 - 17:53

    Hi good evening. I am 8months pregnancy and I use to have white discharge sometimes. Is it safe

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Mar 2019 - 10:40

    Hi Tina
    It sounds like you've got thrush, which will need urgent treatment - so please visit your GP/Midwife as soon as you can. Please take care, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Breakthrough Ph... (not verified) on 22 Mar 2019 - 06:26

    Breakthrough Physical Therapy, Wellness and Sports Performance, Health strengthening nutrition in Sunnyvale, CA Call us now to book your appointment at 263 N. Mathilda Avenue Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    https://www.breakthroughpt.com/

  • By Eloho (not verified) on 8 Mar 2019 - 09:29

    I am 36weeks gone and am still having this hot pain in my top left side of my stomach.. am worried and i dont knw if it is safe for me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Mar 2019 - 11:38

    Hi Eloho,
    If you are having on going pain then I would advise for you to call your maternity unit to be reviewed today.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By harmony (not verified) on 6 Mar 2019 - 09:02

    i am two months pregnant and i hav been seeing some brownish discharge for three day now although is not coming much ,just a little in the morning and am having cramps pls is my baby safe

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Mar 2019 - 12:11

    Hi - Thank you for your message.
    If you have any vaginal bleeding, including brown discharge at any time during your pregnancy contact your midwife. You could also contact your GP you’re only a few weeks pregnant. Any sign of blood, which may be red (like if you cut your finger) or dark brown (like old blood) needs to be checked straight away.

  • By Michelle (not verified) on 1 Mar 2019 - 01:19

    Having stomach pains when I don't have anything supporting my stomach. the baby isn't moving like it shoul be. Should I be c concerned.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Mar 2019 - 11:59

    Hi Michelle,
    If you are having pains then I would suggest to call your midwife or maternity unit to speak to them about being reviewed.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's

  • By Johanna (not verified) on 26 Feb 2019 - 14:44

    Hello. Am about 14 weeks and I have pain when I sit down. It's a bad and hurtful pain, when I stand and sit back down I can't even sit straight because the pain increases. Do I have to worry?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Feb 2019 - 11:24

    Hi Johanna
    It sounds like you need to go to your GP - they may refer you for Physiotherapist. They should also check your urine whilst you are there to rule out UTI as this can manifest itself as lower back/ hip pain. Please take care and get seen asap. Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Feb 2019 - 14:13

    Hi, I am 17 weeks pregnant. Began having light spotting yesterday but woke up with a painful back, a bright red and light bleeding followed by muscle aches when I walk and a light abdominal pain.... need advice please. (Pregnancy has not yet been confirmed by a doctor.)

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Feb 2019 - 15:58

    Hi, if you are 17 weeks pregnant with abdominal pain, you need to go into your nearest maternity unit for urgent if you have not already done so since you posted this message. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Grace (not verified) on 15 Feb 2019 - 14:03

    Good afternoon, I went for scan and it show am 6weeks pregnant with a sign of infection... what can I do cos I have left pain at times

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Feb 2019 - 15:50

    Dear Grace,
    If they have found evidence of an infection then you should have been given some antibiotics to cure this infection. If you continue to have pain with the antibiotics then you will need to be reviewed again.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Hannah (not verified) on 14 Feb 2019 - 10:10

    good morning , pls am feeling stomach pain on my left hand side when I hold it. and am feeling pains in my breast. am seeing my period now pls wot is happenely. ave done pregnancy test last week it was negative. pls I need advice and help.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Feb 2019 - 13:20

    Hi Hannah,
    If you are having negative pregnancy tests but having on going pain then do see your doctor for a review as this could be something that is medical.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Kay (not verified) on 14 Feb 2019 - 08:08

    Hi, yesterday I had a sudden sharp pain on the lower right side of my navel when I changed position while seated on the sofa. I tried to go back to my oroginal position but it was painful to move. I tried moving different directions but a pulling/stretching pain happens in my navel area. A bit later the pain is in the right side of my belly button.

    Today, I still feel it in the same spot (right of navel) but it is much less intense. Excerting effort and moving certain way makes me feel the pain, other than that i cant feel it (like when resting).

    Is this normal? Thank you so much.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Feb 2019 - 12:27

    Tiredness, hotness of stomach and purging what will i do

  • By Akande (not verified) on 4 Feb 2019 - 07:56

    I have rib cage pain, in my right back side pain and it very painful. I have been to hospital given injection and drug but its still painting me, what should I do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Feb 2019 - 11:25

    Hi,
    If the pain is ongoing then do go back to the hospital for another review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nidhi (not verified) on 31 Jan 2019 - 17:45

    I feel baby movrment at 8 week and i feel pain in left side but some time

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Feb 2019 - 09:37

    Dear Nidhi,
    If you are having on going pain on your left hand side then I would suggest to contact your GP or early pregnancy unit for a review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Blessing (not verified) on 29 Jan 2019 - 09:13

    I am confused ,l had my period from 6,7,8 Dec 2018, then 8 Jan 2019 a little came out ,l tested positive .help me to count hw far l a m

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 10:57

    Hi Blessing. Using your last menstrual period date of 6th Dec, the most pregnant you could be is between 7-8 weeks pregnant. To know for sure, you will need to be scanned, usually done at around 12 weeks gestation. So please make contact with your GP, to refer you for your midwife care to arrange a scan. All the best - Tommy's Midwife

  • By Ada (not verified) on 22 Jan 2019 - 06:19

    Hi am 7wks pregnant, I had a little spotting tow days ago then it stopped almost immediately. Then the next day at night I felt something coming out, I checked and it was blood, very red but no cloth. It was plenty but stopped almost immediately also. I didn't feel any cramp but am so scared I have lost my baby. I haven't seen it again. My doctor gave me an injection but am really scared

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 10:52

    Hi Ada
    Any bleeding, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs Dr review as soon as possible. So please get seen as soon as you can. They should scan you to see if the pregnancy is still ongoing and healthy. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Jackie (not verified) on 15 Jan 2019 - 11:13

    Having pain at my hips especially at night. Is it normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jan 2019 - 15:36

    Hi Jackie, pelvic pain is experiences by many pregnant women , as outlined in the article above -
    Symptoms differ from one woman to the next and some suffer more than others but pelvic pain - also known as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) - can be debilitating. Make these simple adjustments to ease the discomfort:
    -Sit down to get dressed, rather than standing on one leg to put knickers and trousers on.
    -Keep your knees together when you get in and out of the car.
    -Avoid carrying heavy things in one hand - use a backpack instead.
    -Don’t do breast stroke when swimming.
    -Stop exercises that might make your symptoms worse.
    -Speak to your midwife about getting a referral to a physiotherapist sooner rather than later.
    All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Faith Harris (not verified) on 13 Jan 2019 - 15:50

    m feel pains in my abdomen and at 15 weeks am not showing why?am a first Time mom

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2019 - 10:23

    Hi Faith,
    Mild aches and pains are common in pregnancy and sharp twinges and pulling or pinching sensations when you move are most likely to be ligament pain (in the pelvic or groin area and either side of belly button). Hormonal changes in pregnancy cause the ligaments which support your organs and growing uterus to soften and stretch - this allows your womb to grow and other organs to move - but can cause aches and sharp twinges. Usually change of position, rest and a warm bath or applying a heat pad will help to ease this discomfort - paracetamol is also safe to take in pregnancy to ease pain (no more than 8 tablets in 24 hours). The discomfort should only be mild and occasional.
    Check out the Spinning Babies website for more ideas regarding movement to keep you comfortable in pregnancy.
    The fact that you aren't showing much yet is very normal in a first pregnancy but your bump will become more obvious in the following weeks!
    Keep in touch and drop us an email at [email protected] if you have any questions.
    Warm wishes,
    Anna-Tommy's Midwife

  • By meddy (not verified) on 10 Jan 2019 - 13:44

    hi. I missed my period for 8

    days but have blood test and ultrasound negative but feeling slight headache, tiredness,leg pain movement in my stomach, abdominal pain when touch and back pain. please what is wrong with me?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2019 - 14:12

    Hi - Thank you for your message.
    As your period is delayed without an obvious reason, you should visit your GP/Dr to checked over.

  • By Zoe (not verified) on 10 Jan 2019 - 01:39

    Hi I think I'm around 6weeks pregnant iv not done a test yet as I had two days of light bleeding Christmas day iv been feeling tired nauseous tender boobz some cramps and feel hu. Geryall the time also need g to wee more often.. Do u think its possible that I'm pregnant??

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2019 - 14:17

    Hi Zoe - thank you for your message.
    If you think you are pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy. Home pregnancy tests are very reliable, although it is important to follow the instructions on the packet carefully. The symbol showing that you are or are not pregnant can be different, so check before you start what mark or symbol will appear if the test is positive.
    If the pregnancy test says you are pregnant it is almost certain that you are and you should contact your GP/Dr who can advise you on the next steps.

  • By Blessing (not verified) on 2 Jan 2019 - 07:21

    I am weakly positive and my bell makes noise is it normal


  • By Lisa (not verified) on 29 Dec 2018 - 15:35

    Hi i am 6 weeks pregnant and I feel very very dizzy! Even when I'm laying down is this normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2019 - 16:25

    Hi Lisa,
    Yes dizzyness can be common pregnancy symptom. It is important to make sure that you are keeping hydrated and eating healthy and regularly to keep your blood sugars regulated. If this is on going then do have your iron levels checked just in case they are low and making you feel dizzy.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By annonimus (not verified) on 29 Dec 2018 - 10:23

    I have 7- 8 weeks , sometimes I feel like there is nothing in my belly. is dis normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2019 - 16:23

    Hi,
    Yes it would not be expected to be able to feel the baby at this stage as it is very early. Most women start to feel movements from about 8 weeks of pregnancy.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Sindy (not verified) on 27 Dec 2018 - 04:36

    Hi I'm having stomach pain so I'm worried as I had miss carriage on my first pregnancy

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2019 - 16:22

    Hi Sindy,
    If you are having ongoing stomach pain then it is important to see your GP for a review just to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

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