Common complaints in any pregnancy

During you pregnancy your body will change a lot. Mainly due to hormonal changes and growth of the pregnant belly, various complaints may arise. These complaints are often small and harmless, but they may be very tough and annoying!

Below is an overview of the more common complaints you may experience during pregnancy. RIVM have provided some information as well.

During pregnancy it is normal to occasionally feel anxious. The fear of responsibility, fear of what could go wrong in pregnancy, fear of childbirth, or any fear for that matter.
Most of the time, these concerns are due to your hormones. If you struggle with these feelings of anxiety, it is important to talk to someone about them. This will often be your partner, but sometimes it may also be good to discuss these matters with your midwife

During pregnancy you are more susceptible to developing a bladder infection. Complaints may be less clear than when you are not pregnant. Frequent urination, pain during or after urination, a lot of hard stomach or blood in the urine are symptoms that may indicate a bladder infection. If you suspect an infection, keep a urine sample and take it to your GP for testing. If you indeed have a bladder infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics.

Advice: drink plenty and always try to completely empty your bladder as you go to the toilet.

During pregnancy, your saliva contains more acids, which means that your tooth enamel is more likely to be affected as it is more susceptible to degradation. It is therefore important to take extra care of your teeth during pregnancy. In addition, the hormone progesterone ensures an increased blood flow in the tissue, which means that you are more likely to suffer from bleeding gums.
If you experience a lot of problems with your teeth or gums, you can ask your dentist or dental hygienist for more advice. Tell them that you are pregnant, so this can be taken into account. If a treatment is carried out at the dentist, local anesthesia is harmless.

Many women experience some blood loss at the beginning of their pregnancy. This is often due to the cervix’ better blood circulation. Just like your gums and nose, your cervix can bleed more quickly during pregnancy. Usually, such blood loss occurs during hard coughing, sneezing, hard stools or making love. The blood you lose will not be very much and will soon stop. Sometimes you can also lose some blood if you suffer from hemorrhoids. This, however, will not come out of your vagina, so always look carefully where the blood comes from.

Often any blood loss is harmless, but sometimes it can also indicate a starting miscarriage. The blood loss will then slowly increase and you will get abdominal cramps. In case of doubt, call the midwife on duty, she will advise you and discuss what to do next. It is not always possible to make an ultrasound immediately. If you lose vaginal blood in the second half of your pregnancy, please always contact us.

You may also want to refer to the Miscarriage topic.

Calf cramps are more common during pregnancy. The cause of these cramps is not entirely clear. Calcium metabolism, removal of waste products from the muscles or your posture may play a role.

Advice: stretch your legs and pull your toes towards your nose as soon as the cramp starts. You can try whether taking extra calcium improves. Ask the pharmacy for calcium nitrate.

As you may retain extra fluids during pregnancy, nerves in your arm can be affected by fluid pressure building up in the “tunnel” of your wrist. This gives a painful, tingly and numb feeling in your arm and fingers. Sometimes women also experience loss of strength in their hands or fingers. We also call this phenomenon the carpal tunnel syndrome. During pregnancy, it is a harmless phenomenon and usually does not disappear until after childbirth.

Advies:

  • Try to keep your arms elevated regularly to dissipate moisture.
  • Splint your wrist at night to avoid pinching. Wrist protector are available at sports shops or take some tape and use it to wrap your hand with a spoon and some bandage.

Cold sores (herpes labialis) are caused by the herpes virus. It causes blisters, usually around or near the mouth. Cold sores are contagious through direct, usually oral, contact. After infection, you always carry the virus with you (dormant) and it can become active again under certain circumstances. This is possible, for example, when the immune system is weakened, poor weather, bright sunlight, freezing cold, stress or fever. During pregnancy, a cold sore is not dangerous or harmful to the unborn baby.

After birth, it is necessary to prevent infection of your baby. Contamination can be dangerous for a newborn. Note that people close to you can also pose a danger to your newborn child!

Advice: avoid direct oral contact with your child. Avoid kissing or hugging while there are still blisters. If necessary, wear a face mask. Pay close attention to your hygiene and wash your hands regularly. Cold sore cream can be used short-term during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as per the prescription. When applied locally, the risk of side effects is very small.

During pregnancy, constipation, difficult and hard stools are more common. The main cause is the delayed bowel function under the influence of the hormones, reduced physical activity and pressure from internal organs. It is pleasant and important to keep your bowel movements good during pregnancy. When you suffer from constipation, the risk of hemorrhoids is also greater!

Advices:

  • Eat high-fiber foods, e.g. whole grain products, fruits, green vegetables, legumes, dates and figs.
  • Make sure you drink plenty. At least 1.5 to 2.5 liters per day.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. Your breakfast starts your bowel function.
  • Keep moving to stimulate your bowels.
  • Take the time to quietly go to the bathroom.
  • Do not use laxatives unless prescribed or advised by a midwife or GP.

Dizziness occurs regularly during pregnancy and may have various causes.

Low blood pressure

Blood pressure may drop during your pregnancy. All organs, including the pregnant uterus, are supplied with plenty of blood during pregnancy. When you sometimes get up too quickly or assume the same posture for a long time, your body may “forget” that your brain still needs to be supplied with oxygen. The blood flow in your upper body is less and because your brain receives less oxygen, you can become dizzy and have a tendency to faint..

Low on iron

You may develop iron deficiency anemia more quickly during pregnancy. This is mainly because you produce extra blood. Complaints of anemia include feeling tired, looking pale, headache and dizziness. We test your iron content (Hb) during the first appointment and often we do that again at around 30 weeks, unless there are indications to do that more frequently. When an Hb is really too low, we prescribe iron tablets.

Advice: make sure there is enough iron in your diet. Iron is found in green vegetables, whole grains, meat, apple syrup and dried fruits (apricots, raisins). Preferably do not take iron-rich products together with coffee, tea or dairy products. This hinders the absorption of iron. Instead, consume something containing vitamin C (fruit or juice) during a meal, which aids the absorption of iron.

Low blood sugar

During pregnancy it is important to eat something regularly. Being pregnant costs extra energy and when you eat too little you may start to feel dizzy and droopy.

Vena cava superior syndrome

SSome pregnant women get dizzy when they lie on their backs. This is because the large, pregnant uterus is obstructing the large vessel carrying circulating blood back to your heart. We call this the vena cava superior syndrome. You may also feel nauseous or have a tendency to faint.

Advice: try to lie flat on your back as little as possible. When you turn on your side you will quickly notice that the complaints will dissipate.

Most pregnant women suffer from fatigue to a greater or lesser extent. Being pregnant takes extra energy. Try to listen to your body and give in to the fatigue. Go to bed on time and try to rest or sleep extra during the day if necessary.
Sometimes fatigue is caused by anemia or vitamin D deficiency, but usually there is no real identifiable cause. We test your iron content (Hb) a number of times during pregnancy and determine your vitamin D status if necessary. If need be, this can always be done more often or earlier.

During pregnancy your body can retain more water. As a result, your hands or ankles may swell. Water retention is a result of the hormonal changes in your body. It is usually a harmless complaint and there is little that can be done about it.

Advices:

  • Be careful with your salt intake.
  • Keep moving. When sitting for a long period, the water “drops” to your ankles.
  • Regularly sit with your legs up. It also helps to elevate your bed’s footboard area.
  • Talk to us if you suddenly start to retain a lot of moisture in a short time or if you also have other complaints.

Many pregnant women sometimes suffer from gastric (or stomach) acid complaints during pregnancy. Hormones widen the barrier between stomach and esophagus. The growing uterus also creates more pressure in the abdominal cavity. All this makes it a lot easier for the stomach acid to find its way to the esophagus. That gives a burning and unpleasant feeling.

Advice:

  • Watch your eating habits. Avoid irritating and fatty foods. Do not drink soda and limit coffee consumption. Eat smaller portions and do not eat late at night before going to bed.
  • Watch your weight and get plenty of exercise. Sufficient exercise is good for stomach and bowel movements.
  • Take a spoonful of custard or a sip of milk. Milk products bind stomach acid. Sometimes eating a piece of bread or a peppermint helps.
  • Use an extra pillow under your head when lying down. This makes the acid less likely to flow back.
  • If the above do not help, then use a medicine against stomach acid. Discuss this with your midwife, GP or pharmacy. Liquid drinks often help better than Rennie tablets.

Due to the increased blood flow to the organs during pregnancy, the hair follicles are also better supplied with blood. This allows your hair to grow better and hairs form in places where you never had hair before. After pregnancy you usually lose these hairs again.

A hard stomach is a contraction of your uterus. It usually feels uncomfortable, but it is not painful. Hard stomachs can sometimes develop early in pregnancy. You often suffer from it more and earlier during a second or third pregnancy. A hard stomach can develop spontaneously, but is usually caused by suddenly bending over, standing up, lifting, stress or by your baby’s movements. When you have been (very) busy, there may be an increase in hard stomachs too.

Advice: always contact us if the hard stomachs are painful or if there is a certain regularity. If you have no other complaints, such as loss of blood or fluid, or pain when urinating, a hard stomach will in theory not be harmful. In case of doubt or other complaints, it is wise to consult with us.

Especially in the beginning of your pregnancy, you may suffer from headaches more often. This is usually caused by the hormonal changes, fatigue and excitement that come with the first trimester of pregnancy. In the second half of pregnancy, headaches may be caused by an increased blood pressure. If you have other complaints besides a headache, please contact us.

Advice: if your blood pressure has been found to be normal and you have no other complaints, you can use paracetamol during pregnancy. Paracetamol in small amounts is not harmful to your baby.

Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose veins around the anus. Having hemorrhoids during your pregnancy is normal. They may appear because the pregnant uterus exerts pressure on the pelvic floor and because of the hormonal changes; these cause the blood vessels to relax.

Advice: ensure soft stools by following a fiber and moisture-rich diet. Sometimes treatment for hemorrhoids is necessary. Discuss this with your midwife or GP.

Itching in pregnancy is common and usually harmless, but very annoying! Sometimes the itching can also accompany a rash or blemishes. Itching can be caused by your skin reacting more sensitively during pregnancy, by the development of stretch marks (striae) or by heat and / or sweating.
Always consult your midwife if the itching is intolerable, it makes you unable to sleep or if you also have other complaints. Sometimes bile congestion occurs during pregnancy (pregnancy cholestasis). If you suspect bile congestion, this is a reason to refer you to a gynecologist. Apart from itching, bile congestion does not cause any other complaints or danger to the mother. It may, however, be dangerous for your unborn baby.

Advice: try not to scratch. Scratching often only provides relief temporarily and when a wound forms, other complains arise! Use menthol powder or gel to counteract or relieve the itching. Menthol powder or gel can be obtained from a chemist or pharmacy. Also take a critical look at products (ointment, body lotion, washing powder, etc.) that you use at home. Sometimes you can also “suddenly” react more sensitively to these during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the mammary gland tissue grows because extra mammary glands and blood vessels are created. Breasts can grow as much as 1-2 cup sizes and therefore feel more painful during pregnancy. The growth of your breasts says nothing about the possible quality or success of your breastfeeding. It is normal that some milk may come out of the nipples during pregnancy. In many cases, nutrition only really starts after childbirth.

Advice: wear a sturdy and comfortable bra and, if necessary, use nursing pads to collect the milk.

Nausea is sometimes one of the first signs of pregnancy. Nausea is a normal response to the hormonal changes in your body. Many women suffer from nausea and/or vomiting mainly in the morning. Usually nausea goes away after 3-4 months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are also pregnant women who remain sensitive to nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy.
Sometimes nausea turns into excessive vomiting. Sometimes, this is so extreme that hospitalization is required. The pregnant woman is then given an IV to prevent dehydration. In addition, drugs are sometimes also prescribed to reduce nausea.
Later in pregnancy, nausea can have other causes as well. Always contact us if you suddenly become very nauseous again and you also have other complaints.

Advice: contact us if you cannot tolerate any solid food or moisture at all, if you lose a lot of weight, have dehydration symptoms or if you feel very ill.

During pregnancy, the blood flow to your tissues, especially your mucous membranes, increases. More small capillaries are formed. These capillaries break more quickly and bleed more easily. In pregnancy this manifests itself in spontaneous nosebleeds and easily bleeding gums.

Your body produces more blood during pregnancy. In addition, your blood vessels become weaker under the influence of the pregnancy hormone progesterone. Hence, many expectant mothers suffer from nosebleeds.
A nosebleed can develop spontaneously. It’s harmless, but can be very inconvenient and discomforting. A nosebleed may also last longer due to your pregnancy.

During your pregnancy, your heart needs to pump about 40% of additional blood volume. This additional blood is needed to provide your baby with nutrients via the placenta and for yourself as a “reserve” during delivery. In order to pump this blood, your heart has to work harder and your heart rate goes up. The workload on your heart is the highest at around 30-34 weeks. During palpitations, your heart sometimes skips a beat or makes an extra beat. Palpitations are normal during pregnancy. As a healthy expectant mother, your body can handle these changes and heart palpitations are therefore harmless.

Advice: Don’t panic. Sit quietly for a moment and focus on your breathing. You will see that the palpitations often slowly subside.

Pelvis and pelvis floor

Your pelvis is one of the most important parts of your body. It connects your spine to your legs. The pelvis also bears the weight of your torso and determines how you move. The pelvic floor is located at the bottom of your pelvis. It consists of connective tissue and muscles. Together they carry the organs in the pelvis: your bladder, your uterus with your vagina and your intestines. They open and close the pelvis at the bottom.

Pregnant and giving birth

When you are pregnant and giving birth, the muscles in your pelvis and pelvic floor stretch considerably. After giving birth, it is therefore important that you strengthen and/or relax your pelvic floor, back and abdominal muscles and let them work together again.

Pelvic pain

If you are pregnant or have just given birth, your body reacts differently than usual. Your pelvis is less stable. It can hurt. In the Netherlands, about 152.000 women suffer from this every year.

You may also feel pain in your thighs, in the area around your vagina, and on the bottom of your back. You can’t stand, walk and sit for long when everything hurts so much. Often you also tense other muscles extra. This can lead to even more complaints. Such as the loss of pee without you wanting it or pain in your tailbone. It is important to listen carefully to your body. All complaints often disappear after your child is born, but you can also suffer from them for longer.

Just gave birth? Understand what your pelvis can handle

Your body needs time to recover after giving birth, even if you feel good. Your pelvis and your pelvic floor are stretched considerably. You can see that as a kind of bruise. Your connective tissue also needs to become stronger. Connective tissue sits in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones.

After giving birth you should not do too much, but also not too little. It is therefore important that you know what your pelvic floor can handle when you have just given birth, until nine months later. That prevents you from getting complaints.

Check your pelvis and pelvic floor

Did you give birth more than six weeks ago? Then fill in this questionnaire (in Dutch). You can use this to check whether you have complaints in and around your pelvis, or whether you have a chance to get it later. If you have complaints in and around your pelvis, you can do a lot about it. Also to prevent them. We look at the answers you enter and then give you advice that suits you.

During pregnancy, the ligaments become weaker and the joints more flexible. Your posture also changes due to the growing belly. This makes you more susceptible to pelvic and back pain during pregnancy. Discuss your complaints with us so that we can help you. If necessary, we can refer you to a physiotherapist or pelvic specialist.

Advices:

  • Try to find a balance between taking rest and being active
  • Pay close attention to your posture
  • Try to reduce any physical load on your pelvis (e.g. do not lift heavy objects)
  • Wear comfortable and flat shoes
  • Wearing a belly band may help

Round ligament pain is a sharp pain or jabbing feeling often felt in the lower belly or groin area, sometimes radiating to your buttocks or thighs. This is often experienced as quite discomfortable. This pain is caused by the growth of your uterus. The round ligaments (that surround your uterus in your pelvis) will stretch and thicken to accommodate and support your growing uterus. This pain is very common and is considered a normal part of pregnancy, although it may be very annoying.

Advice: Resting comfortably should alleviate your symptoms, or a warm bath may help.

Complaints of shortness of breath are common during pregnancy. This is caused by hormonal and mechanical changes in your body. As your uterus grows, your lungs are pushed into a different position, causing you to breathe faster and shallower. This is normal. Sometimes this may cause you to hyperventilate. This means that you are going to inhale too much. This may make you panic, get tingling in your arms, ringing in your ears and even fainting. Shortness of breath and hyperventilation are not dangerous for your child.

Advice: try to stay calm and focus on your breathing. Preferably breathe into your hands or into a plastic bag. Continue this until breathing returns to normal.

Pregnant women often have to deal with sleeping problems. They may wake up several times during the night and may not feel properly rested the next morning. Sometimes pregnant women need to get out of bed several times a night to urinate. At the end of the pregnancy, the large pregnant belly and pelvic and back complaints sometimes make it more difficult to find a comfortable position.

Advices:

  • Try to relax just before going to sleep. Have a cup of warm milk with honey or take a relaxing warm shower or bath.
  • Sleeping pills are not recommended during pregnancy. Only use sleep medication after consulting with the midwife, GP or gynecologist.
  • Try to increase your comfort feeling in bed, e.g. use nice pillows or a hot water bottle.
  • Get out of bed for a while and try again later. If the night was very short, try to get some extra rest or sleep during the day.

Stretch marks, or striae, are a form of scarring on the skin with an off-color hue. This may show where the subcutaneous connective tissue has been torn. Stretch marks occur when the skin stretches sharply and suddenly. During pregnancy they are red-purple in color. Later they whiten, but they do not disappear. You often see stretch marks on the stomach, breasts and hips during pregnancy.
Not everyone gets stretch marks during pregnancy. The origin is partly hereditary. Young women, overweight women and women who gain weight during pregnancy are more likely to get them.
Lubricating with oil and creams is unlikely to have any effect.

Advice: make sure you don’t gain too much weight. Lubrication with oil and creams falls under the category “it does not hurt to try”.

It is more common for women to lose control of their bladder during pregnancy or after giving birth. You may occasionally lose small droplets of urine or a larger amount when suddenly laughing or sneezing (stress incontinence). The hormones make your pelvic floor and urinary tract relax and the pregnant uterus puts extra pressure on the bladder. That sometimes makes it very difficult to control your bladder.

Advice: complaints of unwanted urine loss often disappear automatically after delivery. Nevertheless, it is important to train your pelvic floor muscles during and after pregnancy. You have to regain control over the tightening and relaxation of your pelvic floor.

It is normal to urinate more often during pregnancy. As the uterus grows, there is more pressure on your bladder. This gives you the feeling that you have to urinate more quickly, while sometimes only a little comes. Having a lot of urge to urinate can also be an indication of a bladder infection.

It is normal for your discharge to change during pregnancy. Due to the increased blood flow in the vagina, the mucous membranes of the vaginal wall can start to produce more secretions. The discharge can become more watery and is usually thin and white in color.

Advice: if the discharge smells, has a strange color or you have vaginal itching, it is wise to discuss this with your GP or midwife. You may have a vaginal yeast infection.

During pregnancy you are more susceptible to developing vaginal infections. Complaints such as vaginal itching and pain or a thick, white and grainy discharge may indicate an infection. Pregnancy usually involves a candida (fungal) infection.

Advice: discuss your complaints with a midwife or GP. A yeast infection can be treated without any problems during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy increases the development of varicose veins and existing varicose veins may worsen.
Varicose veins arise in pregnancy due to an increase in blood volume, the pressure of the pregnant uterus on your blood vessels and due to the relaxing effect of the hormones on your blood vessels. You cannot prevent the development of varicose veins. Varicose veins mainly develop on the legs, but sometimes also on the labia. Varicose veins give a heavy and tired feeling in the legs and look like disfiguring spiral vessels.

Advice: ask our advice or consult your GP if you experience a lot of discomfort from your varicose veins. Compression stockings or varicose vein therapy can relieve varicose veins in pregnancy.

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