Most women are healthy during pregnancy and do not have serious
health concerns. You may have minor physical symptoms throughout your pregnancy
that are considered normal pregnancy changes. It is important for you to be
aware of symptoms that may mean you have a more serious problem. Talk with your
doctor about any concerns you have during your pregnancy so that your health
problems can be checked quickly.
Many minor problems of pregnancy
can be managed at home. Home treatment measures are usually all that is needed
to relieve mild
morning sickness or discomfort from
constipation. There are also home treatment measures
for sleep problems, hip pain,
hemorrhoids, or fatigue. If you develop a problem and
your doctor has given you specific instructions to follow during your
pregnancy, be sure to follow those instructions.
If you have a
family history of diabetes, you may develop a type of diabetes that only occurs
during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Gestational
diabetes is treated by watching what you eat, exercising, checking blood sugar
levels, and possibly taking oral medicines or insulin shots to keep blood sugar
levels within a target range. Women who have gestational diabetes are likely to have
babies that weigh more than normal. If the mother's blood sugar is not
controlled, this could cause serious problems for the baby before and during
You may also have other common problems, like a cold or
the flu, while you are pregnant that are not caused by your pregnancy. You can
use home treatment measures for these illnesses as well, but make sure to talk
to your doctor if your symptoms become more serious, such as coughing up blood
or not being able to drink enough fluids (dehydrated).
While most problems that occur during pregnancy are minor, you may
develop more serious symptoms that you need to talk to your doctor about. Your
symptoms may be related to:
Depression. If you are tearful, sad,
anxious, or have big mood swings, talk to your doctor. If you are depressed
during your pregnancy, you may have a hard time bonding with your baby after
delivery. Depression can be treated so that you and your baby will be able to bond.
During the days and weeks after delivery (postpartum period),
you can expect that your body will
change as it returns to its nonpregnant condition. As
with pregnancy changes, postpartum changes are different for every woman. Some
problems, such as high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, or diabetes, may continue
after delivery. You may need to follow up with your doctor about these problems
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Pregnancy affects almost every part
of a woman's daily life. If you develop problems and your doctor has given you
specific instructions to follow during your pregnancy, be sure to follow those
During your pregnancy, you may have questions about
many of the following common concerns:
For many women, the hardest part of
early pregnancy is
morning sickness. You may be able to use home
treatment to help your nausea or vomiting.
If nausea is worse when you first wake up, eat
a small snack (such as crackers) before you get out of bed. Rest a few minutes
after eating the snack, then get out of bed slowly.
Do not skip meals or go for long periods without eating. An empty stomach can
make nausea worse. Eat several small meals every day instead of three large
Drink enough fluids every day. Do not become
dehydrated. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or
Powerade, may help if you have ongoing vomiting. Ginger tea may help your
nausea as well.
Eat more protein, such as dairy
Do not eat foods high in fat.
Do not take
iron supplements, which can make nausea worse.
Try to stay away
from smells that trigger morning sickness. Citrus juice, milk, coffee, and
caffeinated tea may make nausea worse.
Get lots of rest. Morning
sickness may be worse when you are tired.
Most women have some fatigue
during pregnancy, especially during the first and third
trimesters. During the first trimester, your body
makes higher levels of the hormone
progesterone, which may make you feel more tired. You
may feel more energy during most of your second trimester. Later in pregnancy,
your growing baby and loss of sleep because you cannot find a comfortable
position can lower your energy level.
To help with fatigue during
Eat regularly. Do not skip meals or go for long
periods without eating. Choose healthy foods.
Get outside, take walks, or keep your blood moving with your favorite workout.
If you do not have your usual energy, do not overdo it.
Try to take
rest breaks often during the day.
Do only as much as you need to,
and do not take on extra activities or responsibilities.
Sleep problems are
common during pregnancy. These tips may help you get a good night's sleep.
Keep a regular sleep schedule.
Keep your naps as short as possible.
Use your bed only
Limit your caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola drinks,
Limit what you drink
after 6 p.m. so you do not have to get up to the bathroom during the
Use extra pillows to raise your head or to help you find a
Using medicine to help relieve discomfort or fever
You may also have other common problems, like a cold, mild
headache, backache, mild fever, or the flu, while you are pregnant that are not
caused by your pregnancy. These minor symptoms generally do not cause problems
or hurt your baby. In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain.
Acetaminophen dosage: The usual dose is 650 mg. Take every 4 hours, as needed, up to 4 times in a 24-hour period. Do not take more than 3,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
Be sure to follow these nonprescription medicine precautions.
Use, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended
Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle
Check with your doctor before you take any other types of medicines.
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Most pregnant women have symptoms of
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially
heartburn, at some time during pregnancy. These symptoms are common but do not
usually cause problems or hurt your baby. Most of the time symptoms of
heartburn get better once the baby is born.
You can make changes
to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of GERD. Here are some things
Change your eating habits.
It's best to eat several small meals
instead of two or three large meals.
After you eat, wait 2 to 3
hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good
Chocolate and mint can make GERD worse. They relax the valve
between the esophagus and the stomach.
Spicy foods, foods that
have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make GERD
symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a
certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get
Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
have GERD symptoms at night, raise the head of your bed
6 in. (15 cm) to
8 in. (20 cm) by putting the
frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress.
(Adding extra pillows does not work.)
nonprescription antacids for heartburn symptoms. Do
not use antacids that have sodium bicarbonate (such as baking soda) during
pregnancy because they can cause fluid buildup. It is okay to use antacids that
have calcium carbonate (such as Tums).
Eat a high-fiber diet with lots of fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially
Talk to your doctor about trying a stool softener.
strain (push hard) during a bowel movement.
Get more exercise every
Back, pelvic, and hip discomfort
Many women have
pelvic, or hip discomfort during pregnancy. As the
size and weight of your belly increases, strain is placed on your back. Pelvic
and hip discomfort is a normal sign that your pelvic area is getting ready for
childbirth. To help with your discomfort, follow these tips:
Try not to stand for long periods of
Stand with a straight back. Do not stand with your belly
forward and your shoulders back.
Rest one foot on a small box,
brick, or stool when standing.
Try heat, such as a hot water bottle
or a heating pad set on low, to painful areas when resting. Do not fall asleep
with a heating pad in place. Place a cloth between your skin and the heating
Sit with a back support or pillow against your lower back. If
you must sit for a long time, get up and move around every
Wear a prenatal belt or girdle around your hips but under
your belly to support your hips.
Sleep on a firm mattress (plywood
under a mattress helps). Lie on your side, with a pillow between your
Do not lift anything heavy. Lift with your legs by rising
from a squat, keeping your waist and back straight.
Do not stretch
to reach something on a high shelf or across a table.
acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. Talk to
your doctor if your discomfort does not get better with acetaminophen. Do not
use more than the recommended dosage.
Fetal movement counting
After 18 to 20 weeks, you will notice that your baby moves and kicks more at certain times of the day. For example, when you are active, you may feel less kicking than when you are resting quietly. At your prenatal visits, your doctor may ask you whether the baby is active.
Kick counts. In the last trimester of your pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to keep track of the baby's movement every day. This is often called a "kick count." A common way to do a kick count is to see how much time it takes to feel 10 movements. Ten movements (such as kicks, flutters, or rolls) in 1 hour or less are considered normal. But do not panic if you do not feel 10 movements. Less activity may simply mean the baby is sleeping.
If an hour goes by and you have not recorded 10 movements, have something to eat or drink and count for another hour. If you do not record 10 movements in the 2-hour period, call your doctor right away.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.