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Common Pregnancy Symptoms & Remedies

pregnant woman sitting on a bed holding her aching back

As you progress through your pregnancy, your body will go through tremendous changes. Unfortunately, these changes can result in a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Below are some of the most common pregnancy symptoms and some suggested remedies. You may already be familiar with a few of these, but as your baby continues to grow, your symptoms will change as well. If any of your symptoms become worse, don’t respond to remedies, or cause you worry, talk to your doctor.

Nausea and Vomiting

About 80 percent of pregnant women experience nausea. About half also experience vomiting. This is commonly referred to as morning sickness, even though it can happen at any time of the day or night. Symptoms usually go away at around 16–20 weeks. To ease nausea and vomiting, try these remedies.

  • Eat frequent small meals rather than fewer large meals. Avoid letting yourself get hungry, which can make nausea worse.
  • Eat bland foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat, such as crackers, bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta.
  • Drink plenty of water. Take small sips to help prevent vomiting and stay hydrated.
  • Avoid foods or smells that make you feel sick.

Fatigue

It’s common to feel tired or exhausted during pregnancy. This is especially true during the first trimester when your hormones are changing and during the third trimester when you’re carrying extra weight. The only thing you can do is get as much rest as possible. Closer to the end of your pregnancy, it might be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Experiment with different sleep positions and pillows. Many women feel comfortable sleeping on their side with a pillow under their belly and/or between their knees. Sleeping propped up in a near seated position against some pillows is another option.

Frequent Urination

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause your bladder to fill up more quickly. This means you’ll need to pee more often. This symptom will continue and may even get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do about this. Just be sure you always have a bathroom close by.

Breast Tenderness

Your changing hormones may cause your breasts to become larger and feel tender, painful, tingly, or heavy. They may also change in appearance. To help alleviate breast tenderness, try these remedies.

  • Wear a supportive, comfortable bra.
  • Sleep in your bra.
  • Put breast pads in your bra to protect sensitive nipples.
  • Take a warm bath or shower.

Mood Swings

The hormonal changes in your body can also cause mood swings, heightened emotions (good and bad), depression, and/or anxiety. Do your best to take care of yourself and manage your stress levels. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise, and try to do fun things. We understand this is a stressful time for you. If you find that your emotions are getting out of control or are too difficult for you to deal with, talk to your doctor or a professional counselor, or you can always give us a call. We’re happy to listen and talk about anything you’re going through.

Cravings and Food Aversions

Don’t be surprised if you experience cravings for specific or unusual foods. You may also find the smell or taste of a particular food totally repulsive, even if you used to enjoy it. It may even make you nauseous. You can’t control these symptoms, so it’s best to respond appropriately. Avoid any foods that bother you or make you feel sick, and as long as the foods you’re craving are not harmful, it’s okay to give in within reason.

Heartburn

Many women experience heartburn (also called acid reflux or acid indigestion) during pregnancy. Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest caused by stomach acids seeping up into your esophagus. Heartburn is more common during the second half of pregnancy. It usually comes and goes until your baby is born. Here are some ways to help manage your heartburn.

  • Avoid food and beverages that trigger heartburn. The usual culprits are carbonated drinks, caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods, processed meats, and foods that are spicy, minty, acidic, fried, or fatty.
  • Avoid eating big meals and drinking large quantities of fluid at once.
  • Eat at least two or three hours before bedtime to allow proper digestion.
  • Try chewing gum after eating to increase salivation and neutralize stomach acid.
  • Sleep propped up against pillows in a near seated position to keep stomach acid down and ease digestion.
  • Certain over-the-counter antacids can ease your heartburn. Check with your doctor to ensure they’re safe.

Headaches

Many women get headaches or migraines during pregnancy. If you’re suffering from a headache, try these remedies to cope with the pain.

  • Place a warm or cold compress on your head or neck.
  • Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room.
  • Take a warm or cold shower.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or massage.
  • If your headaches are severe, your doctor might recommend a pain medication that is safe to take during pregnancy.

Back Pain

Back pain is more common towards the end of your pregnancy when your baby grows bigger and puts more pressure on your lower back. Try these remedies to help alleviate your pain.

  • Place a warm or cold compress on your back.
  • Gentle exercise, stretching, and/or massage can help relieve stiffness and pain.
  • Practice good posture and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Take pressure off your back while you’re sleeping by laying on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Avoid lifting anything heavy; always ask for help if you need it.

Constipation

During pregnancy, higher hormone levels can make you constipated. This symptom can be alleviated by drinking lots of water, exercising, and eating plenty of high-fiber foods. If your problem is severe, your doctor might recommend a mild stool softener that is safe for you to take.

Slight Bleeding

While it may be alarming, bleeding during pregnancy is common. About 20 percent of women experience some form of light spotting or bleeding during the first trimester. If your bleeding is incessant, heavy, or accompanied by cramping, contact your doctor right away as it might be a sign of a more serious complication.

Contractions

Many women experience random uterine contractions after about 24 weeks. During a contraction, your uterus will contract and your belly might feel tight. These are commonly referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions, and they are usually relatively painless. They are different from the true contractions you feel in labor. True labor contractions are painful, occur at regular intervals, and increase in frequency and intensity as labor progresses. If you’re unsure whether or not your contractions are true labor, contact your doctor right away.