Discomfort and Pains

Pregnancy often brings with it a range of different experiences. Some of these are wonderful and others aren t so great. Every woman and every pregnancy are unique and comparisons are rarely useful.

Given the changes your body goes through, it's not surprising that some aches, pains and other discomforts will surface. Carrying extra weight will inevitably place some strain on your body and organs.

Although some discomfort is a normal part of pregnancy, understanding what causes this and how to relieve it could be very useful. It's important to know what may help to alleviate your discomfort in order to preserve your wellbeing, comfort and happiness. And importantly, to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible.

Some aches and discomfort will be short-lived and others will be present until your baby is born. Some discomforts or irritations emerge in the earlier months of pregnancy, while others will come up as the baby's due date gets closer.

Every woman's pregnancy is unique, so you may not experience every pain, discomfort, symptom or therapy described in this section.

Back pain

Back pain affects almost every pregnant woman. Pregnancy increases the risk of lower back pain because the centre of gravity shifts and changes the way a pregnant woman walks and holds themselves upright. Learn how you can help to relieve the degree of back pain and strain during pregnancy and hopefully, be more comfortable.

Bloating

Before you even start to show, you may be aware of your tummy becoming more bloated. Because of the levels of progesterone and other pregnancy hormones your body is producing, you might experience more wind and bloating in early pregnancy than normal. Find out how to minimise these uncomfortable symptoms.

Constipation

Almost all pregnant women experience constipation in pregnancy at some point. Understanding why constipation occurs and how to relieve it could make a huge difference to your comfort levels. Read on to discover how some simple lifestyle changes can help to get things moving.

Cramps

Muscle cramping varies widely between pregnant women and also from month to month in pregnancy. While mild muscle cramps are usually harmless, severe leg cramping can be a sign of a serious complication. Learn what to look out for if you get cramps during pregnancy. Leg cramps are common during sleep though are generally relieved by standing up, massaging and stretching the affected leg.

Remember though, if you are having any uterine cramps you need to be checked by a healthcare professional.

Haemorrhoids

They aren t a glamorous part of pregnancy and haemorrhoids can cause some alarm when they are first felt or experienced. Find out why pregnancy haemorrhoids occur and learn how to prevent and relieve their symptoms safely during pregnancy. The key with managing haemorrhoids is to avoid constipation and straining when doing a poo.

Headaches

Headaches in pregnancy can occur for a number of reasons. Your pregnancy hormones, lack of sleep or even caffeine or alcohol withdrawal symptoms could be contributing. Investigate why you might be getting headaches and how to best alleviate them.

A sudden severe headache can be a sign of serious pregnancy complications. Be checked immediately by a doctor if you have a sudden headache or visual changes.

Heartburn

Heartburn during pregnancy is very common. Despite it being a harmless symptom, it can cause real discomfort. Discover why heartburn is more common in pregnant women and how to relieve it safely. Check with a doctor and/or a pharmacist before taking any antacid medication. Some medications are unsafe to take during pregnancy.

Implantation bleeding

Before your pregnancy is even confirmed or at the time you d normally expect to have a period, you might notice slight vaginal bleeding or spotting. This may be because your embryo has disturbed the bloody lining of your uterus. This is called an implantation bleed and is very common. It can be a confusing experience, so before you start worrying, learn about why it can happen.

Pelvic girdle pain

As your uterus expands your pelvis has to make room for the growing baby. This can cause mild to extreme discomfort and even pain for some pregnant women. Find out what is causing your pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and the best ways to help relieve it.

Feet and leg swelling

Many women experience swelling of their feet and/or legs when they are pregnant. This is more common in hot weather, after standing for long periods or at the end of the day. Women who are overweight may also be more at risk. Try to elevate your legs when possible and avoid standing still for extended times. Consider wearing support stockings and avoid wearing tight pants or clothing which restricts the blood flow to your legs. Wear shoes which you can comfortably slip onto your feet and which are not restrictive. Speak with your maternity care provider if you notice sudden swelling or you're finding it difficult to breathe.

Edited and reviewed by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse July 2021.

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