Out-of-kilter hormones and unexpected symptoms can all make you feel rotten. Our simple remedies will help you feel better and know when to seek help.
IN THE BEGINNING
From the moment of your conception your body starts to change in preparation for nurturing your unborn baby, giving birth and breastfeeding. During the first 12 weeks those changes are monumental. Unfortunately, there may be side effects.
Ease morning sickness
This can be one of the first signs that you're pregnant. The exact cause isn't known but theories range from pregnancy hormones to changes in blood pressure. It normally eases around 12 to 14 weeks.
- Eat little and often to keep blood sugar stable.
- Starchy foods such as toast, cereal or plain biscuits can help settle your stomach, especially first thing in the morning.
- Avoid fatty or spicy foods.
- Drink plenty to avoid dehydration - sipping iced water can help ease nausea, as can ginger tea, while peppermint or camomile teat can help soothe your stomach.
- Try a spoonful of cider vinegar in a cup of warm water first things in the morning.
- Certain smells can make nausea worse, but zingy citrus smells may help. Try sniffing a cut lemon or add a few drops of lemon, orange or grapefruit essential oil to a piece of cotton wool and inhale.
See you doctor if you're sick more than three times a day for three days, especially if you can't keep anything, including water, down. You may need treatment to prevent dehydration or anti-sickness drugs. Severe sickness - known as hyperemesis - may require a hospital stay; for more information visit http://www.hyperemesis.org.uk/.
Hormonal changes in the first three months of pregnancy can make you feel shattered. Most women find their energy returns after about 12 weeks - so hang in there.
- Don't fight it. Get as much rest as you can, including early nights and daytime nape where possible.
- Eat little and often to help keep your energy up and blood sugar stable.
- Running your wrists under a cold tap has a wake-up effect if you need it.
See your doctor if you're constantly exhausted despite getting rest, or you feel breathless - you might be anaemic. Iron supplements may be prescribed if necessary.
Prevent constipation and piles
Constipation affects around one in five pregnant women, and it can lead to piles.
- Drink plenty of water or juice. Prune juice is effective.
- Eat as much fibre as you. Try fruit and veg, wholemeal bread or brown rice, or dried fruit such as apricots and prunes.
- When you have to go, go. Holding on will make it worse.
- To ease discomfort from piles, wrap a small bag of frozen peas in a flannel and lie down, resting it on the area.
Many laxatives aren't suitable for pregnancy so talk to your GP or a pharmacist first, but a natural fibre product like Fybogel is fine. Also, check before using an over-the-counter pile treatment.
During weeks 12-24 you begin to feel better, get a surge of energy and start to glow...allegedly.
Help for heartburn
The pressure of your growing baby can cause stomach acids to flow upwards into the oesophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach, causing you to feel a burning sensation.
- Try eating four or five small meals rather than two or three large ones and avoid rich, fatty and spicy foods.
- Drinking milk or eating yoghurt may help, as can peppermint tea or fizzy water.
- Sit upright when eating and after meals, and avoid bending from your waist. Bend form your knees instead.
Check with your GP or pharmacist before taking an indigestion remedy. Some aren't suitable for pregnancy.
From weeks 24-40 most problems will be as a result of your body getting bigger and your tummy expanding - but take heard from the fact that you'll soon be holding your lovely baby in your arms.
Extra weight around your tummy puts a strain on your back. Your joints and ligaments will have softened in preparation for birth making you more vulnerable to injury, so take care if lifting.
- Watch your posture. Don't' let your tummy tip too far forward; instead tilt your pelvis forwards.
- Sit upright with a cushion placed behind your back.
- When lifting, squat down, bending your knees, or ask someone else to help.
- Kneeling on all fours takes pressure off your spine.
Get a good night's sleep
Frequent trips to the loo and your baby's movements can disrupt sleep.
- Avoid eating too late at night; allow a couple of hours for food to digest.
- Don't restrict fluid intake, but avoid stimulants such as tea and coffee. Try a warm milky drink or camomile tea.
- Find your favourite ways to wind down before bed. Try a warm bath with camomile or lavender essential oils; listening to music; a relaxation technique.
- Get comfy by supporting your bump with a pillow or trying a pregnancy support pillow (available from Blooming Marvellous, from £14.99. For info call 0870 751 8944).
Reduce swelling and puffiness
Also known as ‘oedema', you may notice this in ankles, feet and fingers. It's harmless but can be uncomfortable.
- Wear support tights and rest with legs raised where possible.
- Reduce salt intake; salt encourages water retention.
- Massaging feet and ankles helps disperse fluid build-up.
- Avoid standing for long periods.
Sudden, severe swelling can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, so report it to you midwife or GP.
5 things to remember
- Take folic acid (400mcg, ideally prior to conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy).
- Stop smoking - for help, call Quitline on 0800 002200.
- Look after you teeth. Floss and brush twice a day and take advantage of free dental care until your baby is a year old.
- Attend all antenatal checks.
- Manage stress by having a ‘do nothing' rest every day.
For more information, visit www.netdoctor.co.uk/.