Discomforts, Causes and Actions

Pregnancy symptoms are different for everyone and can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. These symptoms can range from bothersome to downright uncomfortable. See the chart below to learn more about these symptoms, causes and what actions you can take.

Discomfort Cause Action
Bad Dreams
  • Subconscious fears
  • A way of working through concerns
  • High hormone levels
  • Talk with someone supportive
  • They are not predictive
Bleeding Gums
  • Increased blood volume
  • Congested mucous membranes
  • Use a soft toothbrush/ brush gently
  • Eat more foods with Vitamin C
  • Floss daily
Bowel Changes (Constipation)
  • Decreased movement of intestines due to pregnancy hormones
  • Not enough fiber/fluids in diet
  • Pressure from growing uterus
  • Eat raw fruits, vegetables, prunes and whole grain or bran cereals
  • Drink lots of water (8-10 glasses daily)
  • Drink a cup of hot water 3x a day
  • Exercise (walk)
  • See information sheet
  • Effects of pregnancy hormones on bl. Vessels(they constrict more slowly)
  • Sudden changes of position (standing up)
  • Enlarged uterus restricts return of blood from lower extremities to brain
  • Get up slowly when you have been lying down*Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily
  • Eat regular meals
  • Do not stay in the sun too long
  • If cannot resolve with common remedies, report symptoms to provider
  • Changes in hormones
  • Exercise each day
  • Lie down at least once a day
  • Eat 5-6 meals a day
Frequent Urination
  • Pressure on bladder from growing uterus
  • Limit fluids in the evening*Avoid caffeine – it’s a diuretic
  • Call health care provider if it is associated with burning, fever, or significant back pain
  • Changes in hormones cause pressure in blood vessels to change
  • Stress, fatigue, hunger
  • Drink more water
  • Get more rest
  • Eat a snack
  • Exercise
  • Take Tylenol
  • If frequent, severe headaches occur in late pregnancy, this may be a sign of a more serious problem; you should inform your provider
  • Stomach acid gets into the esophagus
  • Don’t lie down after eating for 2 hrs.
  • Avoid spicy and greasy foods
  • Take antacids (see approved meds list)
Leg Cramps
  • Insufficient calcium intake
  • Poor circulation on kneecap
  • Changes in CaMagPhosphorus ratio
  • Elevate legs often
  • Point toes upward and press down
  • Wear supportive hose
  • Take short rests with legs raised
Low Back Pain
  • Weight of larger belly pulling on lower back
  • Poor body position when bending/lifting
  • Loosening of pelvic joints from pregnancy hormones
  • Rest often
  • Maintain good posture
  • Move around
  • When reclining or sitting, keep your knees higher than your hips
  • Wear low-heeled shoes
  • Wear maternity belt (go to www.prenatalcradle.com)
Low Belly/abd.(Pelvic) Pain
  • Stretching of round ligaments
  • Relax in warm water
  • Bend over or sit down
  • Changes in hormones
  • Psychological adjustment to pregnancy
  • Talk with someone supportive
  • Use relaxation breathing
  • Don’t use as excuse to lash out at loved ones
  • Report symptoms of significant depression/inability to cope
  • Changes in hormones
  • Have a snack in the morning (dry crackers, toast, cereal)
  • Eat 5-6 meals a day
  • Avoid greasy/spicy foods
  • Drink lots of water between meals, but not during meals
  • *See “Tips for Morning Sickness” sheet
Shortness of Breath
  • Pressure of growing uterus against the diaphragm
  • Extra protection from the brain’s lowered carbon dioxide threshold
  • Rest often
  • Maintain good posture
  • Sighing and needing to take deep breaths is normal
Sore Breasts
  • Effects of pregnancy hormones causing significant growth
  • Wear a good, well-fitting pregnancy bra
Stretch Marks
  • Rapid growth of uterus
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Pregnancy hormones cause dark coloration
  • Wear “scars of motherhood” proudly
  • Expensive creams have no effect and will not prevent or make them go away
  • After pregnancy, the color will lighten but the stretch marks will never permanently go away
Swelling of hands/legs
  • Slowing of blood due to pressure from growing uterus
  • Retention of water in extra-vascular spaces due to increased blood volume and blood vessel changes
  • Lie on left or right side for 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a day
  • Exercise often
  • Drink more water
  • Eat 3 servings of protein a day
  • Eat “normal” salt diet (not high or low)
  • Eat whole grain breads (no white bread)
  • Report sudden increase in swelling if associated w/ severe headaches after 28 weeks gestation
Uterine Cramping
  • Muscle contraction due to uterine growth
  • Not drinking enough water, especially in warm weather or at work
  • Drink more water
  • Expect mild, irregular contractions as the third trimester advances, especially in late evening, night time hours
Vaginal Discharge
  • Stimulation of vaginal tissue growth caused by pregnancy hormones
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid pantyhose and tight pants
  • Use non-perfumed soap
  • Do not use feminine hygiene products, sprays, or powders
  • Bathe the outer vaginal area daily
  • Call health care provider if accompanied by itching, burning, or irritation, or if you think your bag of waters is broken
  • Wear unperfumed light day pads and change frequently
  • Do not douche
Varicose Veins
  • Widening of veins because of pregnancy hormones, increased blood and the “tourniquet” effect of uterus on the lower extremities
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Avoid stockings or girdles with elastic bands
  • Wear supportive hose (thigh high or volume, pantyhose)
  • Take short rests with legs raised