Not every woman breezes through her trimesters unscathed. Here’s what most can expect through the course of a pregnancy.
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Morning sickness: Up to 75 per cent of pregnant women have nausea, but just 2 per cent suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare complication in which extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting occur. Otherwise, morning sickness usually indicates a healthy pregnancy. Studies show that the longer pregnant women had nausea and vomiting, the lower their risk of miscarriage was – especially in older women. It is also linked with a lower risk of breast cancer and improved neurodevelopment in the child.
The fix: For mild to moderate morning sickness, try eating smaller meals more frequently (skipping meals can actually worsen nausea), snacking on bland foods and eating ginger. Also try to rehydrate your body by sipping a can or two of isotonic drinks, suggests Sarah Sinaram, dietetics manager at Mount Alvernia Hospital.
It’s serious if… You can’t keep any food or fluids down. Sip a teaspoon of water, wait 15 minutes and see if the vomiting stops. If you’re past the first trimester and still suffering from nausea or vomiting, you should definitely talk to your doctor.
Dizziness: Rising hormone levels cause blood vessels to relax and widen. This increases blood flow to your baby, but slows the circulation back to you and leads to dizziness.
The fix: Rise slowly after lying or sitting down, eat regularly and stay hydrated. In the second trimester, avoid lying on your back, tight clothing and prolonged standing. When giddy, lie on your left side to restore blood pressure.
It’s serious if… Dizziness persists or is accompanied by blurred vision, headaches or palpitations (a sign of severe anaemia). If followed by vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, see a doctor at once as this may mean an ectopic pregnancy, which could lead to internal bleeding that can be fatal.
Leg cramps: The causes for leg cramps remain unclear although they do tend to worsen at night as your pregnancy progresses.
The fix: Stretch calf muscles several times during the day and before bedtime. Rotate the ankles and wiggle your toes when you sit, eat dinner or watch TV.
It’s serious if… Muscle pain is constant or if there is visible swelling and redness in the leg.
Fatigue: This commonly occurs during the first trimester and often resurfaces in the third.
The fix: Follow a wellness diet high in anti-inflammatory organic fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods such as white bread. Also, exercise daily. If you’re too tired for a full workout, at least brisk-walk for 30 minutes. Get at least eight hours of sleep at night and nap when you can – 15 to 20 minutes can be rejuvenating.
It’s serious if… You experience persistent fatigue. See your doctor to ensure it’s not anaemia or hypothyroidism.
Swelling of the legs: Increased water retention and your growing womb adds pressure to your legs, causing them to swell. This is worst at the end of the day.
The fix: Raise your feet whenever possible, and wear comfortable shoes.
It’s serious if… There is a sudden increase in leg swelling and puffiness of your face – these could be signs of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Alert your doctor so that she can monitor your blood pressure.
Frequent urination: The need to pee more often would have started in the first trimester, but the frequency intensifies as your pregnancy progresses and the growing womb exerts more pressure on the bladder.
The fix: There is none – but this does stop after pregnancy.
It’s serious if… There is pain or a burning sensation when you pee. Both are signs of a urinary tract infection which you should seek treatment for.