10 common pregnancy complaints

You were fully briefed on the morning sickness and extreme tiredness in pregnancy but what about these other sometimes surprising symptoms. We offer advice on how to avoid common pregnancy problems.

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).


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.


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

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.


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

  • Try to rest when you can
  • Find ways to relax, like pregnancy yoga
  • If you need painkillers, make sure you take the recommended dose. Paracetamol is usually safe to take in pregnancy - but not all pain relief is. Have a chat with your midwife or GP about pain relief.

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.


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.

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.

See more information on SPD and 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, lethargic and short of breath. 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.

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  • Pregnant woman with GP receiving advice on how to quit smoking.

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    Quitting smoking is a challenge but there is lots of help and support out there for you.

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    There really is only one thing to report this week and that is how damn hot I've been feeling! We are experiencing some sort of heatwave at the moment which is making most people pretty sweaty, but wow am I feeling it!

  • A cup of coffee.


    Drinks served hot

    I've never been a big caffeine drinker, or at least that's what I thought. So when I became pregnant it wasn't something I really thought about needing to check out in terms of how much I consume.

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    Dealing with being pregnant at work has been really hard.

  • A plate of toasted crumpets.


    Pass me a crumpet!

    Morning sickness. Why is it called morning sickness when you feel sick ALL DAY LONG baffles me immensely. It seems cruel for a term to be so misleading.


  1. NHS Choices ‘Common health problems in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/common-pregnancy-problems.aspx (accessed 23 July 2015)
  2. NHS Choices ‘Headaches in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/headaches-pregnant.aspx (accessed 23 July 2015)
  3. NHS Choices ‘Can I take paracetamol when I’m pregnant?’http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2397.aspx#close (accessed 23 July 2015)
  4. NHS Choices ‘Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/indigestion-heartburn-pregnant.aspx#close (accessed 23 July 2015)
  5. NHS Choices ‘Treating constipation’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Constipation/Pages/Treatment.aspx(accessed 23 July 2015)
  6. NHS Choices ‘Pelvic pain in pregnancy’ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/pelvic-pain-pregna... (accessed 23 July 2015)
  7. NHS Choices ‘Iron deficiency anaemia’http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 23 July 2015)
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Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

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  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Mar 2017 - 11:04

    hi ..m 16 weeks pregnant im having lower back cramps like period since the time of conception...twice or thrice weekly for few hours...is it normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2017 - 09:37

    Hi Oriana
    Having lower back aches in pregnancy is likely to be caused by a urinary tract infection. It is vitally important that you visit your GP as soon as possible in order to get urgent oral antibiotics to treat the infection. Try to drink plenty of water to help flush out the infection too in addition to taking the antibiotics once you have them. Please take care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 5 Mar 2017 - 18:02

    Hi, I'm around 9weeks an I get the sharp pains now and then an morning sickness but ginger biscuits help! What I'm not too worried but abit weiry about is its hard to dis rive exactly but past couple days I get a weird aching feeling in my stomach then it's like I feel I'm going to start bleeding, luckily I havnt. Is this normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Mar 2017 - 09:36

    Hi Alexandria.
    Having abdominal cramps at any gestation of pregnancy requires review as soon as possible by a medical professional. You can get an urgent appointment with your GP, who will refer you to your local early pregnancy assessment unit. The early pregnancy assessment unit may scan you and take some bloods as part of their investigations. Please take care of yourself and get checked out as soon as possible.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Feb 2017 - 21:18

    Hi, I just hit my 9 week mark today with baby #2. I must admit I feel normal. (Besides me being hungry and having cravings) I get worried because I feel I feel TOO NORMAL. I'm not sure if there's a such thing, but I feel I need some reassurance.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Feb 2017 - 10:24

    Please be reassured that symptoms in early pregnancy can vary hugely, and some women never get any symptoms at all. You are having increased hunger and cravings which are symptoms, but please try not to worry. If you would like to chat further please do email us midwife@tommys.org or call 0800 0147 800, we are here Mon-Fri, 9-5pm

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 1 Feb 2017 - 08:49

    Hy m new here and m 10weeks preg last nyt i noticed that m bleeding it last abt 30minute thn i had a bath i ws fine this morning m bleeding as wel and i have cramps bt it nt too bad shuld i b concern

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Feb 2017 - 12:12

    Hi, Please contact your GP or midwife if you are bleeding. It may be harmless spotting, but at 10 weeks this should be checked out.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jan 2017 - 00:50

    Hi im 5 months pregnant
    I had a sore throat since ive been pregnant.
    Feels so irriatating and have always spit out. It even wakes me up at night to have a spit out. Doctor said to only have paracetamol which is not working. Do you know why this is?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jan 2017 - 09:45

    Hi Rabia. Your Doctor has recommended paracetamol as this is a pregnancy safe analgesia for your sore throat. Ibuprofen, as well as many other types of analgesia, are not safe to take in pregnancy.
    If you are not sure which is safe and unsafe in pregnancy, then it would be sensible to go to a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for sore throat relief products which are safe for use in pregnancy.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Dec 2016 - 01:33

    I'm 16 weeks pregrant and I've been getting sharp pains in my pelvic area since I was around 10 weeks. But they are not very often. Should the baby be okay?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Dec 2016 - 10:18

    Hi, Glad to see that you have found our pregnancy information pages. Sharp pains in the pelvic area could be linked to SPD, constipation or other causes. I would suggest that you see your GP or midwife for assessment. The baby is most likely unaffected by this.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Nov 2016 - 22:44

    I am 6 weeks pregnant I heard the heartbeat but I am having very sharp pains in my abdomen and Idk if this is normal but it's very uncomfortable and nobody knows what's wrong

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2016 - 09:49

    I would suggest that if you are having sharp abdominal pains, that you go to your GP to be referred to an early pregnancy assessment unit asap. If the pain is very severe, then A&E would be more suitable and you would be seen more rapidly. It might be sensible for you to have a scan to confirm that the pregnancy is not ectopic (growing in your Fallopian tube)as this can cause a lot of pain and bleeding. An ectopic is also very dangerous for the pregnant woman - so please go and get yourself checked out asap if you haven't already done so. Take care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Nov 2016 - 19:17

    Hi ladies. I'm 9 weeks pregnant. I know this sounds ridiculous lol but all the symptoms I have are sore boobs and swollen fingers oh yes and heartburn! Is this normal??

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Nov 2016 - 16:03

    Yes this is fine. Not everyone gets symptoms in pregnancy. Glad you are looking at our website and hope that you are getting all the information that you need.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Aug 2016 - 12:02

    Hi I'm sorry that you are suffering from morning sickness. For some women even brushing their teeth will make them wretch. Please look at Tommy's information on pregnancy nausea and vomiting.
    If you are finding the symptoms overwhelming please make an appointment to see your GP. There is lots of support available.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Aug 2016 - 21:07

    Is it normal when I brash ma teeth in the morning I started vomiting then maybe I'll brash ma teeth midday is it normal?

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