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

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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

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Brittany (not verified) on 11 Nov 2019 - 06:58

      I'm at 17 weeks and I'm still retching in the morning and at night. It's usually stomach acid but I'm still can't make it stop.

    • By Fir Abdullahi (not verified) on 5 Nov 2019 - 09:19

      Hi, last week when I was 10 weeks +3 my nausea and exhaustion disappeared. I feel like this is to early and with my previous pregnancies my nausea only disappeared after I finally managed to vomit. This time I haven't vomited it just disappeared on its own.

    • By beauty (not verified) on 18 Oct 2019 - 11:15

      l am 4month pregnant nd l need to remove help me

    • By Blessing (not verified) on 27 Sep 2019 - 12:55

      Hello. I remove the implant on my left hand 3month after implantating it and I got pregnant immediately and after 7weeks of getting pregnant am seeing blood after I pee and am 17 weeks gone now and am still seeing the brownish blood o... What should I do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Sep 2019 - 12:26

      Hi Blessing.
      If you are 17 weeks pregnant and bleeding, you need to be seen by a Dr or Midwife urgently today if you have so far not been seen. Take care, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Sep 2019 - 13:21

      IN EARLY PREGNANCY IS IT ADVISABLE FOR ME TO MAKE SEX WITH MY HUSBAND? AND WHAT POSITION WILL USE?

    • By Monica Williams (not verified) on 15 Aug 2019 - 14:38

      I had my period last saturday but had intercourse Monday night and then Tuesday I had light pink bleeding with white clear stretchy cervical mucus and today my ovaries on both sides hurt when I sit and feeling dizzy whether i am standing or sitting down but not sure what it could be

    • By Leticia (not verified) on 14 Aug 2019 - 10:32

      I am 23 weeks now and have a very bad yeast infection thats turning green now...I experienced a lot of pain around my tummy on Monday night and since then have not felt my baby moving

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Aug 2019 - 15:33

      Hi Leticia, you need to go into your nearest maternity unit right away to get treatment for your infection and have some monitoring done of your baby. Please do this urgently if you have not yet done so.
      All the best
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Baby (not verified) on 13 Aug 2019 - 23:38

      I ovulated in August 3rd , had sex on August 4th ... since den I’ve been feeling something in my stomach, feeling vomiting atimes, high temperature and my breast are heavy and my lower stomach hurts a lot.... I can’t bend down to pick something

    • By Osneyda (not verified) on 8 Aug 2019 - 15:09

      I am 32 weeks pregnant I am feeling lower pains my back hurts and mybarms are hurting real bad no I don't sleep on my sides my hands be feeling real weird what can I do

    • By Alicia (not verified) on 2 Sep 2019 - 18:44

      Am having pains in my nipples

    • By Fatima (not verified) on 28 Jul 2019 - 11:48

      Hello everyone, I'm 11 weeks pregnant and yesterday I started bleeding, it's pinkish blood and I have backpains.
      Dr did an ultrasound, the baby is there but heartbeat is faint.
      Anyone who has experienced the same case? Should I be worried?

    • By Chantal sealey (not verified) on 31 Jul 2019 - 19:37

      Yes if the baby heart is fainting and you getting back pain that can be a sign contraction and you passing pinkish blood that is leading to miscarrige see a doctor for more advice on that.

    • By Cranny (not verified) on 15 Jul 2019 - 19:07

      I am 17 weeks pregnant n m experiencing pains in my left side under my stomach what can I do

    • By Faith (not verified) on 11 Sep 2019 - 10:27

      Am having apain in my left side under my stomach what can I do

    • By tamara (not verified) on 28 Jun 2019 - 19:59

      i had my last periods on 30 may ad since that day ihad not experienced another and on 5june i had anal sex .am i pregnant .and the doctor told me that i having ovarian cyst .can it affect.

    • By Olawunmi (not verified) on 27 Jun 2019 - 03:29

      I am 4months pregnant. I woke up feeling pains in my stomach n I decided to use the toilet. Till doing that I felt like vomiting as well, n I vomited while pooing. All of a sudden I felt something very sharp in my throat ,which makes it very hard to even swallow my spit. It really paining me. Every spit I swallow goes with pains. What do I do?

    • By A (not verified) on 27 Jun 2019 - 03:28

      I am 4months pregnant. I woke up feeling pains in my stomach n I decided to use the toilet. Till doing that I felt like vomiting as well, n I vomited while pooing. All of a sudden I felt something very sharp in my throat ,which makes it very hard to even swallow my spit. It really paining me. Every spit I swallow goes with pains. What do I do?

    • By magret (not verified) on 26 Jun 2019 - 06:53

      I have d and c abortion five years ago and now am doing my period hardly two days instead of three days later it became a day and now am having breast pain something kicking in my tommy every day pls wat is it and I need a baby badly

    • By Z4 (not verified) on 28 Jun 2019 - 04:04

      My dear you could be pregnant go to the hospital and run some tests

    • By abida (not verified) on 24 Jun 2019 - 18:23

      Good day, my menses comes only two days and stopped sometimes one day and stopped. and it came in a brownish colour.what could it be?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Jun 2019 - 16:36

      Is it hard being pregnant.

    • By Benedicta (not verified) on 22 Jun 2019 - 21:02

      Kindly assist advice.

    • By Flo (not verified) on 26 Aug 2019 - 23:23

      Possibly High prolactin - seek medical advice.

    • By Lucy (not verified) on 18 Jun 2019 - 16:33

      I am 20 weeks pregnant and when lying on my back and then turning onto my side, I felt a tingling in my stomach as if stardust was falling down. I then had a short spell of lower back pain. Is this normal?

    • By 3moths (not verified) on 13 Jun 2019 - 15:41

      I am three month pregnent I surfed for morning sickness from April until now June is that normal

    • By Dinma (not verified) on 11 Jun 2019 - 06:09

      I started having this breathing belly button after my marriage ,but my mense kept coming and it’s not regular as before ! It also comes as a brown old blood, then comes as a red blood ! I feel movement like something is in me but the test confirms negative! I scared I don’t know what to do

    • By Tatiana (not verified) on 10 Jun 2019 - 17:41

      Good day, have always got messes every 15th of the month, saw the last one on the 15th of may, today being 10th of may I got a brownish slight bleeding early hours of the morning. Its not time for my messes. What could it be? Thanks

    • By Amanda (not verified) on 7 Jun 2019 - 14:28

      I'm trying to be pregnant,now I have lower abdominal pain and clear discharge.i had sex after 2 days I see white discharge. What it could be?but I keep trying .

    • By Okafor chinenye (not verified) on 14 Jun 2019 - 13:22

      I saw my menses on the 2/06/2019 and I met my husband on the 7th of de same month, but b4 den I saw a white slippery discharge, DAT draws....... Wat could it mean pls, could DAT be my ovulation or what, pls I need ur answers pls and since den I have been having waist pain and back pain

    • By mercy bara (not verified) on 19 Jun 2019 - 14:46

      You were ovulating

    • By Elena (not verified) on 26 Jun 2019 - 13:19

      If the discharge is like egg White it may mean you have ovulation coming very soon. So, you are in the best timing of getting pregnant

    • By Privilege (not verified) on 6 Jun 2019 - 21:29

      Hie
      In the past two years I have miscarriages like 5. And usually I see blood then it come out ....now 7 weeks I feel pain on my back but no blood is coming out.wat could be the problem

    • By rose (not verified) on 5 Jun 2019 - 07:25

      hi my period has been 3 weeks late my breast are sore am nauseated yesterday i spotted later got a terrible tummy ache below my belly button kept feeling like their was something at the top of my uterus it was painful only their blood started coming out what could be wrong please and could i be pregnant but having my period

    • By Theresa (not verified) on 4 Jun 2019 - 10:14

      Am 3months pregnant, took abortion pills like a week ago but no bleeding came out not even a touch of blood, but am still feeling pains and cramping till now

    • By Jane (not verified) on 22 Jun 2019 - 11:58

      How can I terminate it without going to the hospital

    • By vincent abiodun (not verified) on 23 May 2019 - 15:34

      Please am feeling dizzy,weak and having pain on my right breast which am getting confuse about.

    • By Kaur (not verified) on 16 May 2019 - 19:25

      I'm 6 week pregnant I went to market when I came home after few minutes I feel really chill is it normal??

    • By Joy (not verified) on 13 May 2019 - 01:32

      Am 2 month pregnant, i took an abortion pill 2 days ago i even inserted inside my system, 2 hours came i started bleeding, but have not seen the baby coming out, am still feeling something in me, still bleeding now, please tell me what the problem is.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Jun 2019 - 03:13

      Go to the doctor and next time use birth control

    • By Early pregnancy... (not verified) on 10 May 2019 - 06:34

      PMS associated symptoms are so identical to those of early pregnancy that many women get confused between the two.

    • By pregnancy symptoms (not verified) on 8 May 2019 - 06:50

      There may be a myriad of symptoms indicating pregnancy. However, it is best to consult a doctor and confirm the good news before you get on with the real celebrations.

    • By Oladoke (not verified) on 8 May 2019 - 05:48

      Hi.. I saw my period last month, on d 2nd of April, but I menstrated for 2 nd half days.. After some days,my whole body itches me at night for about 3days then it stops. So i later saw my period again on d 26th of April, (tho I don't know if it's a period or not) but is kinda lite brownish, then kinda lite pinkish somehow,it came for some couple of days.. 3days I guess, then it stops so I don't understand what is really going on...

    • By Zenande (not verified) on 6 May 2019 - 22:15

      Had sex 2 days ago now my stomach is cramping im worried also have a sore tongue

    • By Anuoluwapo (not verified) on 4 May 2019 - 10:35

      I'm 7 month pregnant and purge since two days ago and not stop. What can I use to stop it?

    • By Anuoluwa (not verified) on 4 May 2019 - 10:33

      I'm 7 month pregnant and purge since two days ago and not stop. What can I use?

    • By Becka (not verified) on 2 May 2019 - 17:21

      Hi. I am 31 weeks pregnant and I am noticing very sharp pain across the top of my belly when I have gas or when I have to poo. Is this normal?

    • By Zodwa (not verified) on 2 May 2019 - 12:19

      hi im 24weeks pregnant and my baby is kicking just fine but im worried been having this pain on my right about 4days now it goes up my rib under my breast it really is painful don't know what to do. some are saying the baby may be sleeping on the side or its because my baby its getting big.please help

    • By Francis Joy (not verified) on 30 Apr 2019 - 14:18

      It is possible to have sex and get pregnant without he releasing sperm in Melbourne

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