Uncomfortable? You’re not alone. Common Pregnancy Discomforts (And What To Do About Them)

Pregnancy is such an exciting time! You get to appreciate your body’s superpower to grown another human. You get to glow like crazy. But you also get to deal with a variety of aches, pains, and icky, uncomfortable issues. Thank you, surging hormones and growing belly. Yes, some people apparently breeze through pregnancy with only a few mild complaints. (But we don’t know any of them.) For many, the symptoms are a challenge that can make nine months feel pretty long. 

Usually, pregnancy discomforts are irritating, but not dangerous for you or your baby. However, it’s important to know the warning signs of serious complications and when you need to call your OB-GYN or midwife. Your doula can help you stay in tune with your body, recommend remedies to ease your discomfort, and refer you to other professionals or providers. Remember, doulas have seen it all before, and nothing is TMI! 

Here are some of the most common physical symptoms during pregnancy, and what, if anything, you can do about them. 

Nausea & Vomiting

Ah morning sickness. Or, as many people experience it: all day sickness. Those rising hormones have suddenly turned your stomach into a rollercoaster. Morning sickness can range from a mild queasy feeling to severe vomiting, and while it usually ends by about 14 weeks, it can also last throughout pregnancy. For a small number of people, vomiting can be constant and extreme, a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which can cause dehydration and requires medication. 

What can you do? 

  • Eat frequent small snacks so your stomach is never empty 
  • All things ginger – ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger candies etc.
  • Eat bland foods such as crackers, bread, bananas, rice, and apples
  • Eat plenty of protein
  • Avoid smells or tastes that make you feel queasy 
  • Wear motion sickness bands on your wrists

Frequent Urination

Do you find yourself needing to pee ALL THE TIME? Welcome to the pregnancy combo of more fluid in your body, your kidneys working more efficiently, and your growing uterus pressing on your bladder. Good times! 

What can you do?

  • Drink plenty of water during the day, but limit liquids at night to avoid waking up 
  • Lean forward when you pee to help empty your bladder 
  • Avoid caffeine 
  • Wear loose clothing that doesn’t constrict your waist
  • Catch any leaks with a sanitary pad

Fatigue

Feeling like you could sleep for a week? Your body is working overtime to grow your little one, so it’s very normal to feel extra tired. You may also be having some sleep issues due to frequent bathroom trips or other discomfort at night. 

What can you do?

  • Take short naps during the day, if possible 
  • Ask family and friends for help with meals, housework, or caring for older children, so you can rest
  • Limit social activities if you’re too tired (everyone will understand)
  • Get some light or moderate exercise every day 
  • Try to eat healthy meals and snacks – good nutrition = more energy

Constipation, Gas & Bloating

Wondering why you haven’t gone #2 in days? Another joy of pregnancy is that food moves more slowly through your digestive system. Also, your uterus begins to push on your intestines as it grows. All this can lead to constipation, gas, and bloating.

What can you do?

  • Eat high-fiber foods, take fiber supplements, or drink fruit juices
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Exercise 
  • Ask your OB-GYN or midwife about a safe stool softener
  • Try not to strain or push too hard, which can cause hemorrhoids 

Back Pain, Sciatica, and Round Ligament Pain

Back pain is super common during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. Your little one is putting on weight, which affects your center of gravity and balance and your muscles strain to compensate. Hormones are also causing your muscles, ligaments, and joints to loosen and stretch. And you might have just discovered your sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back down the back of your leg. Pressure from your belly can cause sharp pain in that area called sciatica and also belly pain in the round ligaments that support the uterus. 

What can you do?

  • Think about your posture
  • Try not to stand or sit for too long without moving around
  • Change positions slowly
  • Don’t lift anything heavy, including older children
  • Bend your knees, not your back, when you lift something from the floor
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Exercise 
  • Ask your doctor or midwife about safe pain relief
  • See a physical therapist or massage therapist who specializes in pregnancy (Actually, do this even if you don’t have back pain. You deserve it!)

Heartburn

Did you think at least eating was safe? As well as straining your muscles, your growing belly can also put pressure on your stomach, forcing food or stomach acid back up into your esophagus. This causes a burning feeling in your throat or chest after you eat. 

What can you do?

  • Eat frequent small meals rather than large ones
  • Avoid greasy or spicy food
  • Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, coffee, and citrus fruits
  • Don’t lie down right after a meal
  • Raise your head on pillows when you sleep 
  • Talk to your health care provider about a safe antacid

Remember 

Most pregnancy discomforts are nothing to worry about, but you should know the warning signs of serious problems. Call your OB-GYN or midwife if:

  • You can’t keep food down
  • You have abdominal pain, contractions or cramping
  • You have vaginal bleeding or feel fluid leaking
  • You have severe back pain and are in your second or third trimester
  • You have a headache that won’t go away or you feel dizzy
  • You have swelling in your hands, feet, or face 
  • You have a fever
  • You have pain when you pee

If you want more support managing those aches and pains and everything else that comes with pregnancy, create a profile at MeetMae.com and connect with resources and experts who can be there for you every step of the way.