21 Common Pregnancy Problems and Their Solutions

A pregnant woman suffering from a headache

Everyone talks about the miracle of childbirth and pregnancy glows, but not many talk about the constipation, never ending aches and pains and insomnia that go along with it. A woman’s body goes through a lot during pregnancy, and while the female body is built to handle such a miraculous event, it is by no means a comfortable experience to go through. Even healthy women can experience problems during pregnancy. It is just something that happens. While most pregnancy problems are common and experienced by expectant mothers, it is always best to keep your doctor updated on changes that you may be experiencing.

Common Problems and Solutions during Pregnancy

A woman experiencing morning sickness

While there is almost nothing that can beat the joy of becoming a mother, there are things to look out for during pregnancy. Here are some of them:

1. Heartburn

Heartburn is caused by hormonal and physical changes that your body undergoes during pregnancy.

Solution

Avoid foods that upset your stomach and eat smaller but more frequent meals with plenty of water in between. It helps to sleep propped up instead of flat and to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to sleep.

When to Worry

Heartburns usually do not cause any major problems but cause a lot of discomfort during pregnancy.

2. Constipation

Most pregnant women become constipated due to the hormonal changes that make your digestion much slower, as your baby starts to grow; there will be less space for your digestive system to function at its best.

Solution

Add more fruits, whole grains, vegetables and any other foods that are rich in fiber to your diet. Drink lots of water and if you still feel a lot of discomfort despite this, talk to your doctor. Do not take any medication on your own as some of them may cause contractions.

When to Worry

While constipation is not something that can cause any huge complications to your pregnancy, in some rare cases it can lead to fecal impaction.

3. Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is one of the early pregnancy problems and is something that, ironically enough, can happen at any time of the day and for some unfortunate women, can carry on throughout the pregnancy. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting.

Solution

Drink lots of water and make sure to drink water half an hour before or after meals and get lots of rest. Avoid drinking anything during meals.

When to Worry

Though this is not something that is harmful to you or your baby, though you need to keep yourself well hydrated and inform your doctor if you are vomiting excessively.

4. Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are caused by the same hormone that makes your mucus membrane swell up and makes your sinuses worse.

Solution

The best thing to do about this is to go to a dentist and make sure that they know you are pregnant so that they can avoid anything that may be harmful to the baby. Improve your eating habits and cut the sweet stuff out of your diet as much as possible. Also ensure that you are having the required amount of calcium that you need at this time. It is not just important for you but for your baby too.
Take better care of your teeth by making sure to brush them at the required times. Ask your dentist to prescribe a gentle alcohol-free mouthwash for you so that you can practice swishing, something that will help reduce bacteria and plaque.

When to Worry

While it is normal to experience some soreness in your gums, it is not normal to have bright red gums that make your toothbrush look like it has been stained pink. This could be a sign of gingivitis, which is relatively harmless by itself, but it could lead to periodontitis, something that is treatable but increases the risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth and having an underweight baby.

5. Insomnia

With all bloating, leg cramps and constant need to pee, it’s no wonder that pregnant women have trouble sleeping. Around 8 out of 10 women experience insomnia during pregnancy.

Solution

Before bed, try getting yourself into a soothing routine such as taking a warm bath and enjoying a relaxing skin care routine before bed.
Sometimes listening to calming music and reading a good book can also help you fall asleep peacefully.
Make sure you keep your bedroom cosy and dark so that it gives you better vibes to sleep in.
If you are still awake after twenty minutes, rather than eying the clock, get up and go into another room. Try reading or doing something else until you feel drowsy enough to give it another shot. Worrying about not sleeping will only make things worse for you.
Exercising daily will be very helpful for you as it will help tire you out. Just make sure not to exercise immediately before bed as this can actually keep you awake rather than help you fall asleep.

When to Worry

Insomnia does not cause harm to you or your baby, but it is best to get some proper rest. Letting go of whatever is troubling you can help you fall asleep.

6. Headache and Migraine

Hormonal changes during pregnancy causes a lot of unnecessary problems for you, but in the case of migraines, it is not just hormonal changes but also a combination of many other factors that contribute to it. For example, if you are overly stressed and are not eating and sleeping properly, you are more likely to develop migraines.

Solution

The best way to deal with them is to avoid them as best you can by eating well, resting well and drinking a lot of water.
Many migraine medications have been linked to birth defects in babies and so it is best to avoid any medications altogether and focus more on prevention.

When to Worry

If your vision starts to become blurry and your headache has the company of a fever, you need to see the doctor.
Even if your headache persists for more than a few hours it is always best to check with you doctor as it could be a sign of something else.

7. Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is considered to be completely normal and is called Leukorrhea. It is one of the first visual signs of pregnancy. This discharge is white, thin and milky and it has a very mild smell.

Solution

If the discharge makes you uncomfortable, opt for using party-liners as this will at least allow you to feel cleaner, though you cannot do anything about the discharge itself. Do not use tampons as these can carry infections into the body, putting your baby at risk.

When to Worry

If the discharge is yellow or green and smells quite strongly, you will want to check with your doctor. This is especially risky if it is accompanied by redness or itching as it may be a sign of a vaginal infection.
Spotting discharge may not always be a problem, but it is best to mention it to your doctor.

8. Urinary Incontinence

If you have been peeing a little without meaning to, join the pregnancy club. The type of urinary incontinence experienced by pregnant women is usually Stress Incontinence, something that is caused due to increased pressure on the bladder. This especially causes a lot of pregnancy discomfort at 35 weeks.

Solution

Timed voiding, where you keep a track of your leakage and time your bathroom visits accordingly, and bladder training, where you stretch out the time by waiting at least 15 minutes before relieving yourself, are two ways in which you can get treatment for this condition. Neither of these causes any side effects and is simply meant to help you get more control over your bladder.
Kegel Exercises are another way to help in controlling urinary incontinence as they help to strengthen and tighten the muscles in the pelvic floor.

When to Worry

If you are still experiencing incontinence six weeks after delivery, you should see the doctor as this may become a problem if not dealt with as soon as possible. It may also be an indication that you have another medical problem.

9. Stretch Marks

These are caused by changes in the elastic supportive tissue that lies right under the skin. At first they are reddish brown, purple or dark brown but later they fade away to faint pale marks.

Solution

There are no real ways to stop them from occurring. The best chance you have is if you do not gain more than the recommended weight during each stage of pregnancy.
Focus your attention on fading the scars as soon as they start to appear. Applying a prescribed ointment during the stage when they are still red or purple will help a lot more than if you wait until after birth to begin trying to fade the marks.

When to Worry

There is usually no reason to worry with stretch marks.

10. Leg Cramps

Nobody is really sure why leg cramps are caused. Some speculate that they are caused because of the extra weight you have to carry, while there are other theories that they are caused due to the compression of the blood vessels in the legs. These troublesome cramps most often happen at night and make sleeping quite difficult.

Solution

Stretching your legs is a great way to reduce the cramping. While it is possible to do it in bed, you will feel better quicker if you stand up.
Cold compresses or even standing on a cold surface can help ease the cramping in your legs.

When to Worry

If the pain does not go away and if the area starts to become red and swollen, see your doctor. This may be due to a clot in the artery and it will require medical attention.

11. High Blood Pressure

Otherwise known as hypertension, this is a serious problem for some women. While it is not very serious in most cases, there are times when it causes more serious health problems for mother and child.

Solution

Make sure that you are on a healthy diet and that you are getting plenty of exercise. It will be beneficial to indulge in some stress busting activities, be it reading a book or taking a walk, as stress can have an impact on your blood pressure.
Speak to your doctor about how much weight is healthy to gain at the different stages of pregnancy. Keeping a check on your weight is important as obesity is a major cause for hypertension.
If you need to take medication, have a talk with your doctor about the safe medications to use as many blood pressure medications can be passed through the blood and to your baby.

When to Worry

If you have a problem with your blood pressure then you should see your doctor as it can lead to eclampsia if it is not brought under control.

12. Skin Changes

All the hormonal changes that pregnancy causes lead to acne and skin darkening. Some women develop dark circles around the eyes during their pregnancy.

Solution

Instead of using over the counter medications, which are harmful to your baby, just speak to your doctor about it. Usually all that is required is for you to change your skincare routine a little and use mild products.

When to Worry

Though they can be frustrating, they are no cause for concern as they do not pose a danger to your baby.

13. Haemorrhoids

Swollen blood vessels in the rectum are called haemorrhoids and can be as small as a pea or as big as a grape. They are very uncomfortable to have and can sometimes be very painful, sometimes even bleeding as you have a bowel movement.

Solution

If you feel the urge to relieve your bowels, do not wait; go immediately. Avoid sitting for longer than you need to so as to not put any extra pressure on your rectum.
Do Kegel exercises regularly and do not sit or stand for long periods of time at a stretch.
If you already have haemorrhoids, try a cotton pad soaked in witch hazel solution.

When to Worry

If all your home preventative methods and treatments do not work and you experience severe pain or bleeding, get yourself checked as you will require medical assistance.

14. Backpain/Backache

With all the extra weight and the shift in your center of gravity, your muscles have to work harder and your joints experience more pressure during pregnancy. These things cause backaches. Backaches can also be caused when there is pressure on your nerves.

Solution

Unless your doctor has told you it is out of the question, exercise the pain away. Though you may feel more inclined towards lying down, that may actually cause more problems in the long run.
Fix your posture so that your shoulders are back and your butt is in. If you need to sit for long periods of time, sit straight and don’t slouch. In fact, try not to sit for too long; take a few breaks in the middle to do some stretching or go for a short walk.
If you need to bend, do it from your knees and do not bend at the waist as this will put pressure on your back.

When to Be Worried

If your backache lasts for more than two weeks or if you have extremely severe backaches that seems to get worse, do not wait and contact your doctor immediately.
Those who have not had any previous backaches and who develop it during the late stages of the second trimester or the third trimester need to be very careful as it could be a sign of preterm labour.

15. Itchy and Leaking Nipples

Your growing breasts are what cause the itching sensation, whereas the leaky breasts are caused by prolactin, a hormone that readies your body for nursing. Anything from showering to changing your clothes can cause those unwanted leaks.

Solution

To prevent your nipples from itching, use a thick cream on your nipples. It also helps to use vitamin C or Shea Butter after your shower and avoid any fabrics that irritate you.
You may not be able to stop the leaking, but you can prevent anyone from noticing if you use nursing pads in your bra.

When to Worry

Itching nipples are usually not a cause for concern unless you notice a rash.
If you notice any blood or if the discharge from your nipples smells foul, you should talk to your doctor about it. The worst case scenario is that it is a sign of breast cancer, but it is more often due to a bacterial infection.

16. Swelling

Also called Edema, this is caused due to the excess fluids that get stuck in your tissues. As you retain more water during pregnancy, swelling is pretty common. The growing uterus puts pressure on the vena cava and this causes the blood flow back to the legs to be slow, thereby causing the swelling.

Solution

Lie down on your side so that the pressure on the veins is relived somewhat. Put your feet up as often as you can and do not cross your ankles or legs when you sit down. It helps to exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.

When to Worry

If you notice swelling in your face, puffiness of the eyes, and more than moderate swelling in your legs and ankles as well as your hands, you need to check with your doctor as these could be signs of preeclampsia.

17. Lack of Energy and Fatigue

Fatigue experienced by those in their first trimester is caused due to hormonal changes, whereas the fatigue in the third is caused because of the extra weight you have to carry as well as all the sleepless nights caused by other pregnancy problems.

Solution

If you feel fatigued, make sure that you get some rest. If it is possible to nap during the day, do it, but if not, find some way of getting to bed earlier than you usually do.
Though your commitments may be important, the life of your baby is even more so. You may have to rearrange your schedule if you are unable to rest well with the one you currently have.
Eating a balanced meal will do wonders for your energy level, so be very vigilant about what you eat.
Exercising earlier in the day will not only help you feel energised but will also help you sleep better at night, something that will have a positive effect on your energy levels.

When to Worry

Fatigue is not something to worry about with regards to your baby. It is you and only you who will suffer from it, which is understandable considering what your body is going through.

18. Breathing Problems

The hormonal changes, especially progesterone, directly affect your lungs. In the later stages of pregnancy, your breathing may become even more laboured as the growing uterus puts pressure on the diaphragm causing discomfort during pregnancy.

Solution

Do not push yourself too hard during active activities. Try your best to take it easy.
When you are in bed, use pillows to prop yourself up instead of lying flat and while sitting, make sure to keep your back straight and shoulders back so that your lungs can expand better.

When to Worry

If you experience very sudden and severe shortness of breath, feel faint and experience worsening asthma or a racing heartbeat, call someone for help and get to the hospital.          If you notice a blue tinge in your fingers, toes or lips, you may be experiencing a severe lack of oxygen and will need help immediately.

19. Itching

Mild itching is completely normal during pregnancy. All the stretching and hormonal changes will cause this in at least twenty per cent of pregnant women.

Solution

If you have an itch that is driving you crazy, use a cold compress to get some relief.
Try an oatmeal bath every once in a while and take lukewarm instead of hot baths.
After your shower, use a fragrance free body lotion to soothe your skin. If you want a more cooling effect, store the lotion in the fridge.

When to Worry

If the palms and soles of your feet are very itchy or if you develop an rash, call your doctor. These could be signs of something more serious.

20. Indigestion

Though some lucky few are spared this during the first trimester, it will inevitably show up during the second or third trimesters. It is caused due to hormonal changes and the weight of the baby growing and putting more weight on the intestines. It is one of the biggest contributors to pregnancy discomfort.

Solution

Eat a few hours before you have to go to bed and have smaller meals at one go. Do not rush through your meal, but eat it slowly. Never drink water while during your meal. Sleep propped up instead of lying flat.
If the symptoms persist, talk to your doctor so that you can get a prescription for medication that will be safe for you to take.

When to Worry

Though it may be a very uncomfortable, and even painful experience for you, it is not harmful to your baby.

21. Weird and Strange Dreams

Strange dreams are common and considered normal. They tend to happen because of the anxieties you may be experiencing due to your upcoming motherhood.

Solution

There are some ways of dealing with these dreams if they freak you out. Try talking to your partner or close friend about it. You can even start a dream journal where you write down your dreams.

When to Worry

Strange dreams are really nothing to worry about, but if they seem to be stressing you out, tell your doctor so that he can check for any stress related problems that may result.

As we have seen, pregnancy is one of the most sensitive and delicate times for a woman and she is prone to a lot of health issues that come up due to all the hormonal changes taking place in her body; not to mention how it stretches to accommodate a tiny growing person. A lot of the pregnancy problems start from the second trimester as your baby is now starting to grow physically and requires a lot of room. This means that some of your internal organs need to shift slightly to accommodate the baby. Most of the pregnancy problems go away after delivery so eat well, exercise and get enough rest.

Also Read: Common Breast and Nipple changes during pregnancy