Health during pregnancy - minor ailments

Pregnancy is an amazingly exciting time - but not without some rather unpleasant side effects! Many minor ailments experienced during pregnancy are just that - minor, and are rarely cause for concern, but there's no reason to suffer in silence. Try these tips to ease the discomfort of common pregnancy symptoms...

Health in pregnancy
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This usually occurs early in pregnancy as your body experiences so many sudden hormonal changes. Many laxatives, however, are too strong and it is far better to make a few simple changes to your diet.

Eat plenty of fibre via wholegrain bread or cereal, fruit, vegetables and pulses, drink plenty of water and take gentle exercise regularly to keep the muscles toned (the NHS advises yoga or swimming). Iron pills can cause constipation so if you are taking them, ask your doctor if there is a different type that may ease the symptoms.

If you are still struggling, ask your midwife or GP to advise you on a safe, gentle laxative.

Heartburn is common amongst pregnant women and is caused by the valve that keeps stomach acid at bay relaxing a little. Prevention is better than cure in this case - try to sleep propped up if you regularly suffer this burning pain as it is often brought on by lying down. Also avoid eating and drinking in the few hours before you go to bed, or try drinking a glass of milk.

The milder pain of indigestion often occurs late in pregnancy as the womb begins to press on the stomach - eat smaller meals often, sit up straight while eating and avoid those foods that seem to trigger the symptoms (often fatty or spicy foods).

If you decide to take indigestion tablets or medicine, be sure to check the packaging and check with your GP or midwife if you are in any doubt.

Once again those hormonal changes are to blame if you are suffering with nosebleeds. They are common during pregnancy and, though usually short, can be heavy. Pressing the sides of your nose, just below the bone, for 10 minutes should help to stop the bleeding.

A nosebleed is rarely anything to worry about but if you suffer more than one very heavy nosebleeds or have small ones frequently, it is worth seeing your GP just to check that you are not anaemic or suffering from another illness.

Sorry ladies but piles, or haemorrhoids, are reasonably common. These lumps in the back passage are a result of veins that may relax and swell during pregnancy. Regular exercise to improve circulation and an ice pack held gently against the affected area may help to ease the pain. You can also buy over-the-counter cream. Piles usually disappear once the baby has arrived.

Morning sickness
According to the NHS nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP), otherwise known as morning sickness, affects around 50 per cent of all pregnant women, while three out of 10 women experience nausea without vomiting.

For most, this begins to ease after the first three months but some continue to suffer. Changes to your diet will often reduce the symptoms - eat and drink little and often and try eating high-carb, low-fat foods that are less likely to upset your stomach.

If the smell of a hot meal has you rushing for the toilet, simply eat cold ones. Some expectant mums find that eating plain biscuits before they get up helps. Ginger is also known to help nausea.

However, if your symptoms are severe and do not improve with simple dietary changes, your GP may be able to prescribe an anti-sickness medicine.

Leaking nipples
Often beginning in mid to late pregnancy, leaking from the nipples (not milk but a yellow liquid called colostrum) can occur as your breasts prepare to feed the baby. Sometimes the nipples will form a crust but by wash them twice a day and keep them dry, and they shouldn't cause a problem. Breast pads or tissues can be used if there is a lot of leakage but if there is any sign of blood, seek advice from your doctor or midwife.

Though the majority of minor ailments aren't anything to worry about, if you become concerned for whatever reason speak to your GP or midwife.