Common pregnancy ailments

Common issues can arise in pregnancy which can either be managed conservatively at home, or may require medical and obstetric support from SASH Maternity.

Common ailments include:

  • Morning Sickness
  • Pelvic Girdle Pain
  • Carpel Tunnel
  • Swelling
  • Constipation and Haemorrhoids
  • Cramps
  • Light Headedness
  • Feeling Hot
  • Incontinence
  • Passing Urine more often
  • Skin and Hair Changes
  • Varicose Veins
  • Indigestion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nose bleeds
  • Leaking nipples
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Sleeplessness
  • Mental Health
  • Braxton Hicks
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Obstetric Cholestasis
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Gestational Diabetes


  • Morning sickness

    Feeling sick (nauseous) or being sick can start around 4-6 weeks of pregnancy is commonly known as “morning sickness” – although this can happen at any time of day. Find out how to cope with feeling sick and morning sickness in pregnancy.

    You can contact your midwife or GP for support which may come in the form of anti-sickness medication.

    If you are unable to keep any food or drink down and are vomiting, please contact your our Early Pregnancy Unit if you are less than 16 weeks of pregnancy and if you are over 16 weeks, please contact our maternity triage on 01737 231 764.  This can be a serious condition in pregnancy called hyperemesis gravidarum and requires treatment.

  • Pelvic girdle pain

    Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by stiffness of your pelvic joints in your pelvic. PGP is not harmful to your baby, but it can be uncomfortable and make it harder to get around.

    Those with PGP may experience pain; over the pubic bone at the front in the centre, roughly level with your hips, across 1 or both sides of your lower back, in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum) or spreading to your thighs.

    PGP may worsen when walking, going up or down stairs, standing on onw leg, turning over in bed and moving the legs apart (when getting in and out of the car).

    If you experience PGP symptoms, please talk to your community midwife about this. There are several measures you can take at home and your midwife can refer you to a physiotherapist.

    Click here for further information on PGP and self-help measures.

  • Carpal tunnel

    Carpal tunnel can occur in pregnancy. It can cause tingling, numbness or weakness in the fingers, hand and wrist.  Symptoms can come and go and can worsen at night.

    It does not harm your baby but it can be uncomfortable. Carpel tunnel resolves following the birth of your baby.

    There are several measures you can take at home to minimise the discomfort but please discuss this with your midwife.

    Click here for further information on Carpel Tunnel and Self-help measures.

  • Swelling

    It is normal to have some swelling in pregnancy, particularly in the legs, ankles, feet and fingers.

    Swelling that comes on gradually isn’t usually harmful to you or your baby, but it can be uncomfortable.

    If you have a sudden increase of swelling, it can be a sign of Pre-eclampsia. If you experience a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet, a headache, issues with your vision, severe pain below your ribs or vomiting, then please contact maternity triage on 01737 231 764.

    Normal swelling in pregnancy is caused by your body holding onto more water than usual. Throughout the day, the extra water your body holds onto will gather in the lower part of the body. This is why that swelling is often worse at the end of the day or further into your pregnancy.

    To minimise and avoid swelling, you could try to; minimising standing for long periods, wear comfortable shoes and socks, rest with your feet raise, drinking plenty of water and exercising.

    Click here for further information on swelling in pregnancy

  • Constipation and haemorrhoids

    Hormonal changes in your body may result in constipation early on in your pregnancy. To prevent constipation, you can; eat foods high in fibre (wholemeal breads, fruits, vegetables and pulses), exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.

    For some, it is recommended to take iron supplements. If you find that these are causing constipation, you can discuss with your obstetric team about other methods of increasing your iron stores.

    Click here for more information on preventing constipation

    Haemorrhoids are swellings containing blood vessels in or around the bottom. Anyone can get haemorrhoids, however pregnancy can increase the likelihood of them as the pregnancy hormones causes the veins in your body to relax and can be caused by constipation. This may result in straining when needing to pass a stool.

    Symptoms of haemorrhoids include; itching, aching, soreness or swelling around your anus, pain when passing a stool and a mucus discharge afterwards, a lump hanging outside the anus, which may need to be pushed back in after passing a stool, and bleeding after passing a stool – the blood is usually bright red.

    To ease hemorrhoids, the advice is similar to easing constipation: eat foods high in fibre (wholemeal breads, fruits, vegetables and pulses), exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.

    There are medicines that can help soothe the inflammation around your anus. These treat the symptoms, but not the cause, of piles.

    Ask your doctor, midwife or pharmacist if they can suggest a suitable ointment to help ease the pain. Don’t use a cream or medicine without checking with them first.

    Click here for more information on haemorrhoids

  • Cramps

    Cramps a commonly occur in your calf muscles and feet resulting in sudden, sharp pain. It is not certain as to what causes cramps and why the incident increases in pregnancy, however a good diet and gentle exercises, particularly in the ankle and leg, can improve your circulation and avoid cramp.

    Whilst experiencing cramp, it may help rubbing the muscle vigorously or pulling your toes up hard towards your ankle.

    Click here for more information on cramps

  • Light headedness

    Due to hormonal changes, you may feel light headed or faint more often. Fainting occurs when your brain is not getting enough blood and therefore oxygen.

    To avoid feeling faint, you could: slowly standing up after sitting/lying down, not standing still for long periods, avoiding lying on your back and lay on your side (this is recommended when going to sleep).

    Please discuss light headedness with your midwife, they may offer to retest your iron level as if this is low (iron deficiency). This may mean less oxygen is being transported around your body causing you to feel faint. Iron deficiency can also cause tiredness.

    Click here for more information on light headedness

    Click here for more information on iron deficiency

  • Feeling hot

    You’re more likely to feel warmer during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and an increased blood supply to the skin.

    It may help to; wear loose clothing made of natural fibres, keep your living area cool and washing frequently to help you feel fresh.

  • Incontinence

    Incontinence is a common issue during and after pregnancy. You may experience a small leak of urine when you cough, laugh sneeze, move suddenly or stand up from a sitting position.

    This can be due to the pelvic floor muscles relax during pregnancy to prepare for the birth of your baby. Pelvic floor exercise can help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which come under greater strain during pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floors can be weakened even if you have a Caesarean Birth due to the strain during pregnancy.

  • Passing urine more often

    The need to urinate often can start in early pregnancy and can continue until your baby is born. Towards the end of pregnancy, the need to urinate may be due to the baby pressing on your bladder. To reduce the need to urinate often, you could drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine free drinks during the day and later in pregnancy, it may be helpful to rock backwards and forwards when on the toilet.

    If you are experiencing urinary infection symptoms (UTI) such as increased need to go to the toilet but unable to pass urine, pain when urinating or passing blood in your urine then you need to contact your midwife or GP within 24 hours of noticing these symptoms.

    Read more about symptoms and treatment of urinary infections.

    Don’t take any medicines without asking your midwife, doctor or pharmacist whether they’re safe in pregnancy.

  • Skin and hair changes

    In pregnancy, the hormonal changes can cause several physical differences. For example, your nipples and areola can darken as well as your skin colour, birthmarks, moles and freckles.

    These will gradually fade following the birth, although the nipples may still be darkened.

    Whilst pregnant, please be careful when in the sun to protect your skin from sunburn.  Read more about keeping skin safe in the sun.

    Hair growth can also increase in pregnancy, and your hair may be greasier. After the baby is born, it may seem as if you’re losing a lot of hair, but you’re just losing the extra hair you grew in pregnancy.

  • Varicose veins

    Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen. They can be uncomfortable but aren’t harmful. They most commonly affect leg veins.

    If you have varicose veins, you should; avoid standing for long periods of time, try not to sit with your legs crossed, try not to put on too much weight, as this increases the pressure, sit with your legs up as often as you can to ease the discomfort, try compression tights, which you can buy at most pharmacies – they won’t prevent varicose veins but can ease the symptoms, try sleeping with your legs higher than the rest of your body – use pillows under your ankles or put books under the foot of your bed, do foot and other antenatal exercises, such as walking and swimming, which will help your circulation.

    Read more about preventing varicose veins.

  • Indigestion

    Indigestion is more common in pregnancy due to the hormonal changes and your baby growing and pressing up onto the stomach, normally occurring around 27 weeks of pregnancy.

    Indigestion can cause a burning sensation, feeling full or bloated, burping, feeling/being sick and bring up food.

    There are many self-help suggestions to reduce indigestion such as eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking, sitting upright and avoiding alcohol.

    You can contact your GP if your symptoms are worsening causing weight loss, stomach pains or difficulties in eating. Your GP can prescribe anti-acid medication which will help alleviate your symptoms.

    Click here for more information about indigestion

  • Bleeding gums

    Due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, some pregnant people get swollen and sore gums which can bleed.

    Your dentist will be able to support you with this – please remember that in early pregnancy, you are issued with a FW8 maternity exemption form which enables you to access free dental care during pregnancy and up to one year afterwards.

    Click here for more information about bleeding gums in pregnancy.

  • Nose bleeds

    Due to the pregnancy hormones, nose bleeds can occur more frequently.

    If you have a nose bleed you can stop it by:

    • Sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just above your nostrils, for 10 to 15 minutes without releasing the pressure.
    • Lean forward and breathe through your mouth. This will drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat.
    • Sit or stand upright, rather than lying down, as this reduces the blood pressure in the veins of your nose and will discourage further bleeding.
    • Place a covered ice pack, or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel, on the bridge of your nose.

    If the bleeding doesn’t stop, seek medical advice – call your midwife or GP urgently.

    Click here for more information on nose bleeds in pregnancy

  • Leaking nipples

    Due to the pregnancy hormones, some pregnant people experience colostrum (the first type of breast milk) leaking weeks or months before the birth. This is normal and not to be worried about. You should not worry either if you do not experience leaking either. This will not impact on your ability to breastfeed after your baby has been born.

    Click here for information on leaking nipples in pregnancy

    After 36 weeks, it is recommended that to antenatal colostrum harvest if you want to breastfeed, providing that you have not experience threatened preterm labour, cervical stitch, preterm rupture of membranes or vaginal bleeding. Click here for more information on infant feeding.

  • Vaginal discharge

    Vaginal discharge is very common in pregnancy. It helps to prevent infections travelling up from the vagina to the uterus.

    Towards the end of pregnancy, you may experience an increased amount of discharge which may appear sticky, jelly-like and pink mucous. This is called a “show” and happens then the mucous that is previously been present in the cervix comes away. This can be a sign that your body is preparing for the birth of your baby.

    If you experience watery, clear, sweet smelling discharge, this may be your waters breaking. When your waters break, it can either be a slow trickle or a sudden gush. Please contact maternity triage on 01737 231 764. Click here for more information on waters breaking.

    If you experience thrush symptoms; itchiness and discomfort around the vagina and increased discharge that appears white, please contact your GP or midwife before commencing treatment. Click here to read about thrush in pregnancy

    Bleeding from the vagina in pregnancy should be immediately discussed with a midwife. Please contact maternity triage on 01737 231 764.

  • Sleeplessness

    Feeling tired or exhausted can be very common in pregnancy.  It is important to make time to relax and look after your physical and mental wellbeing by eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and accepting offers of help from your partner, friends and family.  Find out more about tiredness in pregnancy.

  • Mental health

    Your Mental Health: coping with concerns and feelings and mental health in pregnancy. If you are concerned about your Mental Health, please either talk to your GP and talk to your Midwife. Please see our mental health and wellbeing page.

  • Braxton Hicks

    Braxton hicks are uterine tightening’s that are usually painless. These happen towards the end of pregnancy.

    If you experience painful, regular tightening’s then these may be contractions.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis

    Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, commonly in the leg. If you have any symptoms of a DVT, call our Maternity Triage immediately on 01737 231 764.

    We may have provided you with injections and stockings to reduce the risk of a blood clot forming depending on your risk factors on having a DVT.

    Symptoms of a DVT include:

    • pain, swelling and tenderness in one leg, usually at the back of your lower leg (calf) – the pain may be worse when you bend your foot up towards your knee
    • a heavy ache or warm skin in the affected area
    • red skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee
    • shortness of breath

    Click here for more information on DVT

  • Pre-eclampsia

    Pre-eclampsia is a serious obstetric condition which occurs from 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can occur between 2-8% of all pregnancies. If you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, you will be regularly seen by our obstetric team to monitor your wellbeing and your baby’s.

    Pre-eclampsia is characterised by a set of symptoms:

    • raised blood pressure (check at your community midwifery appointments)
    • protein in your urine (checked at your community midwifery appointments)
    • severe headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
    • problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
    • severe pain just below the ribs
    • heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids
    • rapidly increasing swelling of the face, hands or feet
    • Feeling very unwell

    If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, contact Maternity Triage: 01737 231 764.

    For further information on preeclampsia, see:

  • Obstetric Cholestasis

    Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) is a common condition affecting 1 in 180 pregnancies and requires obstetric care in your pregnancy. Symptoms of OC typically start from around 30 weeks of pregnancy, but it’s possible to develop the condition as early as 8 weeks.

    OC is characterised by:

    The main symptom is itching, usually without a rash. For many with OC, the itching is often:

    • more noticeable on the hands and feet, but can be all over the body
    • worse at night

    Other symptoms can include:

    • dark urine
    • pale poo
    • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), but this is less common

    If you experience these symptoms, please contact maternity triage on 01737 231 764.

    For more information of OC, see:

  • Vaginal bleeding

    If you experience bleeding in pregnancy, it can be very worrying. Bleeding during pregnancy is relatively common and does not always indicate an issue but ­should always be checked by your maternity team as it can be a dangerous sign.

    If you experience bleeding in pregnancy, do not delay calling maternity triage on: 01737 231 764.

    Click here for more information on bleed in pregnancy.

  • Gestational diabetes

    Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth.

    It can happen at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second or third trimester.

    It happens when your body cannot produce enough insulin – a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels – to meet your extra needs in pregnancy.

    Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during pregnancy and after birth. But the risks can be reduced if the condition is detected early and well managed.

    See our Diabetes pages for more information.

Significant issues

  • Group B strep

    Group B strep is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria.  It’s very common – up to 2 in 5 people have it living in their body, usually in the rectum or vagina.  It’s normally harmless and most people will not realise they have it.  If you have Group B Strep when your baby is born there is a small risk that this will pass to them and make them unwell.  This occurs in approximately 1 in 1750 pregnancies.  Read more about Group B Strep here.

    To reduce the risk of Group B Strep affecting your baby, we routinely screen all laboratory tested maternity urine samples for Group B Strep to identify this if you are showing any other signs of a urine infection for example.  We do not routinely screen all women for Group B Strep because it is such a transient bacteria and can be there one week and not the next – we would therefore receive a lot of false positive and negative results.

    If you have had Group B Strep in a previous pregnancy, have a positive test result for Group B Strep in your current pregnancy, have a preterm birth or your waters are broken for more than 24 hours we will make a clear plan with you around your birth experience to reduce the risk of infection to baby at this time.  This may include treatment with antibiotics during your birth. We will also ensure that we support you in observing for signs and symptoms of Group B Strep in a newborn baby.

    Please take the time to listen to this audio resource to help you understand Group B Strep in pregnancy and/or read the below leaflet:

    Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in Pregnancy and Newborn Babies

    Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in pregnancy and newborn babies (leaflet)