This is inflammation
of the lining of the stomach and intestines, most commonly due to
infection. It causes vomiting and diarrhea that usually come on
suddenly. In most cases, the condition clears up on its own and is not a
cause for concern. However, if it’s severe, you could become
dehydrated, and this can affect blood flow to your baby through the
placenta. Infection with listeria bacteria can, rarely, cause late
is caused by infection contracted either through contact with an
infected person, or by consuming contaminated food or drink (food
poisoning). Food poisoning is often the result of poor food hygiene.
What to do
Drink plenty of water, and try to avoid cross infection with other members of the household (see Avoiding gastroenteritis).
If you’re unable to retain even small sips of water, or your vomiting
and diarrhea have lasted for 24 hours, you should seek medical advice
from your doctor. If you can’t reach your doctor, go the nearest
hospital emergency room for treatment. If you have a preexisting medical
condition such as diabetes, you should seek help immediately. You may
be treated with intravenous fluids if you are dehydrated, and fetal
monitoring may be done to check the health of your baby. Infection with
listeria is treated with antibiotics.
It is important that you try to avoid gastroenteritis by practicing good food hygiene .
If someone else
in your household has gastroenteritis, avoid infection by using separate
soap, towels, cutlery, and dishes. If you have more than one toilet,
get the infected person to use one separate from the rest of the
household. Wipe toilets, sinks, and faucets with a mild bleach solution
after each use. Infected individuals should also avoid preparing food
Indigestion and heartburn
Many women start to experience episodes of indigestion and heartburn during the second trimester.
results from slower movements of the digestive tract under the influence
of pregnancy hormones combined with reduced space in the stomach from
the growing baby. The muscular valve at the top of the stomach is also
softened by hormones and this can allow stomach acid to flow up into the
esophagus, causing heartburn.
What to do
Avoiding large meals,
especially late at night, helps prevent indigestion and heartburn. If
you suffer from heartburn at night, try sleeping in a propped up
position with your head higher than your feet. For relief from
heartburn, a liquid antacid preparation can be helpful; ask your doctor
for advice on which medications are safe. Some women find that slowly
drinking a glass of milk eases the discomfort.
During the second trimester, constipation often becomes a problem.
influence of the softening effect of pregnancy hormones, the digestive
tract becomes less active. As a result, fecal matter spends more time in
the large intestine, allowing reabsorption of fluids and leaving solids
hard and difficult to pass. Not drinking enough fluids increases the
likelihood of constipation.
What to do
Dietary fiber in the
form of vegetables and whole foods, with an increase in fluid intake
usually corrects the problem. Laxatives are not recommended during
pregnancy. They can stimulate contractions and lead to dehydration. Talk
to your doctor if these steps don’t resolve your constipation.
dilated blood vessels around the inside of, or protruding from, the
anus. Their constriction by the anal muscles and sensitivity to the
acidic environment leads to a feeling of discomfort in mild episodes and
pain in more severe cases. They are more likely to occur during the
softening of the tissues around the anus increases the risk of
developing hemorrhoids. Pressure of the baby’s head on the blood vessels
is also a factor, as is constipation.
What to do
constipation and avoiding pushing or straining to pass a stool are
important in the prevention of hemorrhoids. Ask your doctor which
over-the-counter creams for relieving discomfort are safe. If
hemorrhoids are protruding and causing great discomfort, it’s often
possible for a health professional to “reduce” them by pushing them
gently back into place.
Heart & circulation problems
Dizziness and faintness
Throughout pregnancy, occasional dizziness or feelings of faintness can be a problem.
In early pregnancy,
feeling faint may occur even when you are sitting down and is likely to
be due to low blood sugar. This can happen as a result of not eating
enough, a common problem at this stage of pregnancy when many women
suffer from morning sickness. In the second trimester, dizziness or
faintness that comes on when getting up from a sitting position or as a
result of standing for long periods is likely to be caused by low blood
pressure. Blood pressure is lowered in pregnancy because the pregnancy
hormone progesterone softens blood vessels to enable blood to flow more
freely to your baby. When you stand, the low blood pressure may mean
that not enough blood reaches your brain, leading to dizziness and
advances, you may find that you feel dizzy lying on your back. This
happens because in this position the heavy uterus puts pressure on the
main blood vessels running through the trunk and reduces the blood flow
to the brain.
What to do
To help prevent low blood sugar, have small snacks of foods high in complex carbohydrates .
Staying well hydrated, taking regular breaks from work, not standing in
one position for too long, and getting fresh air are also helpful in
preventing faintness. If you start to feel dizzy, sit down and put your
head between your legs, which will relieve the unpleasant feeling. Stay
seated until you feel completely recovered and then get up slowly. Any
time you feel dizzy or faint, call your doctor immediately, especially
if you also have stomach pain, vaginal bleeding, blurry vision,
headaches, or heart palpitations, or the dizziness is persistent. If you
have fainted and bumped your head or injured any part of your body then
you should go to the hospital for a checkup.
If you experience
dizziness when lying on your back, turning onto your side will quickly
help you feel better. Lying on your left side is preferable because this
helps to pump blood around the body.
A feeling that your
heart is racing, or beating irregularly is common in pregnancy,
particularly between 28 and 32 weeks, but can occur at any time.
The reasons for
palpitations remain unclear and hypotheses range from the effect that
progesterone has on the heart muscle, to the heart coping with the extra
blood flow needed to maintain both mother and fetus.
What to do
usually fleeting and nothing to worry about. However, if you have
frequent palpitations or they are accompanied by chest pain, dizziness,
or breathlessness, you should consult your doctor. If you have a history
of heart disease or a heart abnormality, seek advice immediately.
Nosebleeds occur frequently in pregnancy, and although they are a nuisance they are rarely a serious problem.
As with all other
blood vessels in the body, those in the nose are softened and expanded
during pregnancy. In addition, your body has an increased blood volume
in pregnancy, which puts pressure on these delicate structures. You are
more likely to have a nosebleed if you have a cold or sinus infection or
if your nasal membrane is dry, which can happen in cold weather or air
What to do
To manage a nosebleed, sit
down, keep your head in a normal position, and apply pressure to the
bottom of the nose with your thumb and forefinger. You will need to
maintain this pressure constantly for about 10 minutes before checking
to see if the bleeding has stopped. Do not be tempted to tip your head
back or lie down, since this will cause you to swallow the blood,
leading to nausea and possible vomiting. Ice or a cold compress applied
to the nose and facial area in conjunction with the nasal pressure can
help constrict the blood flow and halt the bleeding. Seek medical advice
if the nosebleed results from a head injury or if heavy bleeding
continues for more than 20 minutes. Mention frequent small nosebleeds at
your prenatal appointment to enable the elimination of more serious
Bleeding, tender gums
Bleeding from the gums and gum tenderness are both common complaints during pregnancy.
These problems occur as a
result of increased blood volume coupled with the softening effect of
pregnancy hormones on blood vessels. Allowing plaque to accumulate may
exacerbate these symptoms and also makes the start of gum disease more
What to do
Good dental hygiene is
vital; don’t be tempted to avoid brushing your teeth if they feel
tender, but switch to a softer brush. Brushing your teeth and gums and
flossing regularly are particularly important during pregnancy. Also,
visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Varicose veins and vulval varicosities
Varicose veins are
enlarged, distorted veins that may develop in the legs or around the
vulval area. Varicose veins in or around the anus are known as hemorrhoids.
Varicose veins may become troublesome during the later stages of
pregnancy, causing discomfort and sometimes itching; they may also be
unsightly. Varicosities in the vagina or vulva areas do not inhibit a
normal birth and are not at risk of rupture during the birth.
The increased blood
flow and softened vessels mean that many women experience varicose veins
and vulva varicosities during pregnancy. The growing uterus puts
pressure on veins in the pelvis which, in turn, leads to increased
pressure in the legs and vulva area.
What to do
Support hose designed
for pregnancy can be helpful, Avoid tight clothes that constrict the
waist, groin, or legs As with all conditions, varicose veins should be
reported to your doctor for assessment and advice. Varicose veins
usually improve within three months after the birth of the baby.