Pregnancy also called gestation is a period in which a fetus (unborn baby) develops inside the mother’s womb or uterus. The womb or the uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in the woman's lower abdomen.  

This period lasts for about 40 weeks or 9 months (measured from the last menstrual period) and is divided into three trimesters:

  • The first trimester includes the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

  • The second trimester is from the 13th to 26th week.

  • The third trimester is from the 27th week to the end of the pregnancy (around the 40th week).

Most pregnancies progress without any health issues occurring during pregnancy. However, some of you may experience some problems during your pregnancy that might either affect you, your baby, or both. 

Fortunately, most of the problems are treatable. The best thing you can do for you and your baby is to get the problem detected early and take prenatal care (care during pregnancy). With early detection and proper care, you increase the chances of keeping you and your baby healthy.

Some of the common problems include:

1. Morning Sickness

Morning sickness or nausea is a feeling or an urge to vomit. There is no denying that nausea or morning sickness can haunt you throughout the day, so be prepared to visit the restroom during the 1st trimester. 

It is your hormones that are creating havoc. Also, pregnancy increases sensitivity in the area of the brain which triggers nausea. Some women may also experience nausea throughout pregnancy.

How to tackle it? 

  • Stay in bed for a few minutes after you wake up.

  • Do not have fluids like fruit juices as soon as you wake up in the morning. Instead, you can start your day with a biscuit or a toast.

  • Keep yourself hydrated. Keep drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day.

  • Avoid overeating. Do not stick to a 3 meal routine (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and do not increase the portion size on your plate. Instead, have six small meals throughout the day. This will keep you full and also will prevent you from gaining weight.

  • Avoid your triggers. During pregnancy, every woman has hyperosmia, which is an increased sense of smell. The biggest offenders are foods with a pungent smell like onion, garlic, or other fragrances. If you recognize them, then stay away from such odours. 

  • Have ginger-flavored candy or ginger tea. It is said that ginger reduces the symptoms of nausea, especially in pregnancy.

  • Inhale fresh air. It can increase the feeling of well-being, thereby, helping nausea. 

  • Do not stop eating because of your nausea as it will worsen your nausea and make you lose weight, which is harmful to you and your fetus.

2. Constipation 

Constipation is a condition where you find it difficult to pass stools or have an infrequent bowel movement (the last step of digestion in which the body eliminates the waste out of the body). This condition persists for several weeks or longer. 

Bowel movement slows down during pregnancy. This happens due to increased levels of progesterone (a hormone that plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and early stages of pregnancy) in the body. High progesterone levels cause inhibition of bowel movement, thereby leading to constipation. 

Also, iron supplements taken during pregnancy can lead to constipation with fatigue (tiredness), nausea, backaches, etc. Constipation is more prevalent during the second trimester.

How to tackle it? 

  • Increase your fiber intake. Ask your doctor for modification in the diet and don't reach out for laxatives on your own. Laxatives are substances that improve bowel movement.

  • Don't miss your 8 glasses of water and keep sipping other fluids also.

  • Eat healthy foods. Pick your plate with fruits and vegetables and avoid junk foods like chips, burgers, pizzas, etc.

  • Exercise every day. Doing light exercises like walking or yoga, etc. during your pregnancy can help to aid digestion and relieve your constipation symptoms. Ask your doctor on what form of which exercises you should do in pregnancy. Do not make your own regime before consulting your doctor.

  • Avoid refined flour and its products as they are heavy on your stomach and can cause constipation.

3. Heartburn and Indigestion

Indigestion, also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach, is a condition of impaired digestion. It is a disorder that is characterized by discomfort in your upper abdomen. 

Heartburn occurs when your stomach acid backs up (regurgitates) into your esophagus (food pipe) due to some diseases or weak lower esophageal sphincters (sphincters are specialized circular muscles that open and close some body parts).

During pregnancy, as your belly bulges out, your stomach is pushed upward and this aggravates heartburn. Also, increased gaps during meals can increase the acid levels in your stomach and cause heartburn, and indigestion. This slows down your bowel movements leading to constipation and pain in your abdomen. 

Usually, heartburn and indigestion occur in the second or third trimester.

How to tackle it? 

  • Eat small and frequent meals rather than 3 large meals.

  • Avoid spicy or fried foods as they can aggravate acidity.

  • Do not lie down for at least half an hour after your meal.

  • Use pillows to elevate your upper body while sleeping to prevent the reflux of acid from your stomach to your food pipe.

  • Avoid tea/coffee/aerated drinks which can trigger your heartburn. An occasional ice cream or cold milk can work as an antacid (a substance that neutralizes stomach acidity).

4.  Preeclampsia

It is a condition in which the blood pressure raises in pregnancy to more than 140/90 mmHg. It usually happens in the second or third trimester. 

You may experience headaches, vision changes, and pain under the ribs. There are several factors that cause preeclampsia which include overweight, age over 35 years, first-time pregnancy, smoking, alcohol, etc. 

How to tackle it?

  • In most cases, once you deliver a baby, preeclampsia resolves on its own. 

  • Drink enough water, at least 8 glasses per day.

  • Consult your doctor for any diet changes, if required.

  • If your blood pressure is high and other symptoms like swelling in your hands, feet, and face, it is better to be under the supervision of your doctor in a hospital because, if an emergency arises, early intervention will be available and possible in a hospital setting.

Problems during pregnancy often differ from one another. It is best advised to consult an obstetrician for your prenatal care to avoid such problems.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.