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Pregnancy Health Problems

Everyone hopes for the pregnancy ‘glow’ or ‘bloom’. A lot of women look and feel great through their whole pregnancy. For many more there will be some pregnancy symptoms that make them feel unwell at times.

These pregnancy health problems usually come and go. You would be really unlucky to not get some times in the 9 months when you feel good and can enjoy being pregnant.

The health problems that come with pregnancy can make life feel more difficult. There are steps you can take that will ease them. Remember most of these problems will disappear as soon as your baby arrives if not before.

Some of the common symptoms, and some ideas to help, are below. If you have other things that are troubling you, or you are struggling with any of the symptoms below, then you can talk to your health team for support and advice.


  • Morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the morning – feeling sick or being sick can happen at any time in the day. For many people it is worse in the morning.

    Morning sickness can happen from quite early in pregnancy it tends to be worse in the first trimester when pregnancy hormones are rising fastest.

    There are lots of suggestions on how to help with morning sickness.

    Most people manage to get through their morning sickness and find what works for them. For example;

    • Sipping water.
    • Eating something before getting out of bed in the morning.
    • Avoiding strong smells.
    • Resting when you can, as well as keeping active and getting out in the fresh air.

    If you don’t get morning sickness you should not worry – it really varies from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy.

    If your morning sickness is extreme meaning that you are not able to keep any drinks or food down in a 24 hour period you should see your GP. If you are passing very dark, or no urine it is a sign you are dehydrated and you need to be seen by a health professional.

    Read more NHS information on coping with morning sickness *here*

  • One of the side effects of the hormones release in pregnancy can be the slowing down of movement in the gut. For some women this can cause constipation – when it becomes difficult to have a poo. This can become uncomfortable causing tummy aches and ‘hard to pass’ poo.

    You can help your bowels to open more easily by;

    • Drinking plenty of fluids
    • Eating food with plenty of fibre in it – like brown bread, and fruit and vegetables - this helps keep poo soft and easier to pass.
    • Exercising - this shortens the time it takes for waste to move through your bowel and helps get rid of constipation.

    If constipation is causing you a lot of discomfort and you are struggling to poo a lot of the time then talk to your GP or Midwife; sometimes medicine is needed to help.

  • Heartburn is a common problem in pregnancy – a burning feeling in your chest and throat. It is caused by;

    • Pregnancy hormones -the muscles that usually help keep stomach acids in the right spot soften and they ‘leak’ into the oesophagus (windpipe)
    • In the last six months of pregnancy the size of the growing baby in your womb puts the stomach under pressure
    You can help ease the heartburn by;
    • Eating little and often rather than big meals
    • Sipping water
    • Propping yourself up with pillows at night

    Different people find different things make the symptoms worse – writing down what you are eating, and when, might help you work out what makes it worse and what helps.

    If you are finding heartburn a big problem then you can talk to your pharmacist (tell them you are pregnant) and your midwife to see what medication might help.

  • Backache is common in pregnancy. The ‘ligaments’ (the tissue that connects bones to bones) are made softer by pregnancy hormones. This can make strains and pulls more likely. This along with the weight of carrying a baby in your womb can cause backaches in pregnancy.

    You can help by;

    • Keeping active – exercise can help keep your back strong – swimming, and yoga are good exercises for building strength.
    • If you have to lift something - lift with care! You are more likely to hurt your back in pregnancy. There are some lifting tips from the NHS *here*.
    • Try and sit up straight and ‘walk tall’ to keep your back healthy look at the pictures below that show good posture in pregnancy. (images required)

    When your back is aching;

    • Try to keep moving – gentle exercise can ease pain.
    • Warm baths and back rubs can help.
    • Try an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on painful area.

    If your back pain is there a lot of the time and is making life hard then talk to your midwife.
    You may be referred to a physiotherapist for an assessment to see how best to help you.


  • Hormone changes make for sore breasts too. Your breast tissue is stretching, growing and preparing for the important job of milk production for your baby. This explains the increase in size and the tenderness – some people have painful breasts throughout pregnancy but for many people it gets better later in pregnancy.

    You can help ease the pain by;

    • Wearing a comfortable, supportive bra that fits well and loose tops.
    • Taking warm showers.
    • Trying an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on the painful area.

  • All women have vaginal discharge – how much varies and there is usually more before a period.
    In pregnancy you will notice you have more discharge than usual – increasing as the weeks go by. It is one of the ways the body protects the baby from infections getting in to the womb.

    Normal vaginal discharge is;

    • Clear or ‘milky’
    • Thin
    • Does not smell.

    You may need to wear a light sanitary towel.

    There is no need to worry about this discharge. However if you notice that it is;

    • Smelly
    • Has changed colour to yellow or green
    • Making you ‘sore’
    • Hurting to wee

    This could be a sign of an infection and you should see your GP. Vaginal infections in pregnancy can cause early labour so you should not ignore this.

    At the end of your pregnancy as your due date gets close you may notice a ‘jelly like’ discharge sometimes streaked with blood – this is called a ‘show’. Although not everyone has a show, it can be a sign that labour will begin soon.

    If you have any vaginal blood loss in pregnancy you should call your GP, Midwife or 111 straight away. If it is a large amount you should get emergency help by calling 999.


Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help. You could join our online forum to speak to other Norfolk Parents below.

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