Common Complaints during Pregnancy

A quick and easy reference to complaints that are common when you are pregnant.


About 20 per cent of pregnant women suffer from anaemia. It occurs when levels of haemoglobin fall below normal. Symptoms may include dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath on exertion, headaches and fatigue. You are at greater risk of anaemia if you have a poor diet, excessive morning sickness, had several babies close together or have a multiple pregnancy.


Not exclusively a symptom of pregnancy, anxiety can have detrimental affects on wellbeing. Stress has been proven to affect digestion and hormone production and inhibit the progression of labour.

Back Pain

Pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin soften your ligaments that support your back. As your womb grows, increased weight alters your posture and places pressure on your spine. If your spine is out of alignment, this can cause back ache and inhibit the flow of blood and nerve supply to your organs and tissues.

Breast Engorgement

Breasts can become hard and sore during pregnancy and lactation as the amount of milk being produced is more than is being used. Blocked milk ducts can be painful, make you feel feverish and cause tender lumps in the breast.


Most pregnant women experience breathlessness at some stage during their pregnancy. It can be alarming but will not affect your baby as oxygen is supplied via the placenta.

Colds & Flu

Although your immune system is generally strong during pregnancy, the changes in hormones can cause your mucus membranes to swell making it more difficult to get rid of coughs and colds. Plus you are restricted to what medical drugs you are able to safely use.


Fluctuating hormones can affect your skin in various ways. You may suffer breakouts, broken capillaries, darkening pigmentation known as cloasma, or alternatively have a glowing complexion.

Constipation & Haemorrhoids

High progesterone levels during pregnancy relax the muscles in the intestinal tract slowing activity and causing constipation. Straining can cause haemorrhoids. Although this is a very common symptom of pregnancy, there are things you can do to help.


Cramps, particularly in the lower legs, are common during pregnancy. They could occur in response to you carrying extra weight, changes in circulation or due to mineral deficiencies. It is thought a deficit of calcium can cause cramps though naturopaths also consider magnesium deficiency as another possible cause.


Added pressure and engorgement of blood vessels in the pelvic area exposes a vulnerability to bladder infection. Symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy, dark or strong-smelling urine. If left untreated, cystitis can be painful and in worst cases can affect the kidneys.


More often than not pregnancy increases the incidence of constipation. However it may seem that hormones have thrown your digestive system into chaos and you may experience diarrhoea.

Fainting And Dizziness

Fainting is common during pregnancy as the blood may pool in the lower body leaving the brain temporarily deprived of oxygen. Hormonal changes may also cause feelings of flushing and dizziness.


Tiredness is a symptom common during the first and last trimester and even more so in the first four months of parenthood.


Can often be a sign of sluggish digestion or a reaction to certain foods. Remember that your changing hormones will also effect your digestive tract and may govern which foods you wish to eat. Keep a food diary to identify any patterns.

Fluid Retention

Called oedema, water retention causes puffiness in the feet and ankles, hands, face and vulva. Sometimes it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia if occurring with other symptoms such as high blood pressure, small urine output and high levels of uric acid in the blood. Here’s what you can do to alleviate the symptoms and help prevent oedema occurring Fluid Retention

Genital Herpes

Once infected, genital herpes can never be eradicated. If there is an active infection of genital herpes in the vagina or vulva at the time of birth, a Caesarean section will be advised. An active infection of genital herpes can have severe repercussions for the baby such as brain damage, blindness and death, though very few babies become infected. Symptoms include genital pain, tingling pain during urination, vaginal discharge, tenderness in the groin, fever, general aches, headache, depression, small red spots and blisters around the genitalia, swollen lymph nodes in the groin.


Hormones can play havoc and can commonly cause headaches as your body adjusts to pregnancy. Often headaches occur as a result of muscle tension, particularly in the upper back and large neck muscles. Sometimes headaches signal digestive disharmony or may be an indication of high stress levels.


Hormones released during pregnancy soften the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach allowing digestive acids and sometimes regurgitated food back up into the esophagus.

You will feel it as a burning sensation behind the breastbone. This is likely to increase in the latter stages of pregnancy as the baby grows and space becomes limited. Although this does not affect the baby, it can cause discomfort for you.


Some women experience incontinence in the latter stages of pregnancy. This can be caused by the pressure on the bladder and the relaxing of your intestinal muscles in preparation for birth. Here are a few ideas on what you can do to help prevent this occurring Incontinence


Anxiety can affect your natural sleep pattern during the earlier months of pregnancy and leave you feeling irritable, vague and desperate for rest. In the latter phases, your baby becomes active when you are resting and can keep you awake with pronounced prods and kicks.

Itchy Skin

As the womb expands and the skin stretches, itchiness results. If you at any point during pregnancy notice an abnormal itchiness all over your body and particularly in the lower legs, contact your health professional. This is to rule out the possibility of obstetric cholestasis, a rare liver-related condition.


Every labour differs. Your state of mind has been proven to greatly affect your experience and stress and fatigue are factors known to increase pain.


Your body has been preparing for lactation since shortly after conception and some women can express breastmilk from the midpoint of pregnancy. There are many thoughts as to how you can encourage milk flow naturally.

Malposition Of Foetus

Your health professional will become increasingly interested in your baby’s positioning in the womb. About four per cent of babies will remain in a breech position at birth with the bottom pointing downwards. If this is the case, you may be advised to have a Caesarean section .


If one or both breasts becomes red, patchy or very sore, you may have an inflammed condition called mastitis. The flow of milk becomes blocked and the surrounding tissue may become infected by bacteria that have entered the ducts via the nipple. Many women tend to suffer from mastitis and it can be excruciatingly painful.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness, which despite its name may occur at any time of day and can last all day, is a common symptom of early pregnancy, thought to be caused by the digestive system reacting to the HCG pregnancy hormone. Naturopaths believe the severity of morning sickness reflects the health of the maternal liver. Root ginger and plain borwn rice have helped some women overcome the discomfort of nausea.

Nasal Congestion

Also called sinusitis, the mucus membranes inside the nostrils and sinus swell during pregnancy due to hormones. While it can make you feel heady and congested, there are some good old fashioned ways to clear the nasal passages including pressure point massage and aromatherapy inhalations.


Caused by increased blood supply, nose bleeds occur frequently.

Nipples, Sore, Cracked

Lactating mothers frequently experience sore, cracked nipples in the first few weeks. While many mothers complain of painful wounds that keep reopening upon feeding, there’s a few natural methoda that may help.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression can be a serious condition. Typical symptoms include persistent feelings of depression, constant fatigue, anxiety, bouts of tears and apathy. Although there is a lot you can do for yourself, you may need professional help as well.

Post Partum Recovery

Many women claim childbirth to be the most physically demanding experience of their life. A speedy recovery is essential for a mother whose attention is constantly in demand. Although much of this depends on preparation, there are ways to hasten healing.


Stretchmarks occur where the skin has been extended to accommodate a growing baby. There are thoughts that these can be minimised by moisturising oils. Whereas some women seem to be just plain lucky and do not seem to suffer from stretchmarks, others adopt a strict routine to try to avoid them.

Varicose Veins

Increased blood volume and hormonal changes during pregnancy affects the flow of blood returning to the heart. Varicose veins can appear in the legs, vulva, or rectum (see haemorrhoids). Often the problem is hereditary.

Vaginal Discharge

Your vagina may change colour due to hormones and increased blood flow. Discharge is normal but may be more noticeable in the latter stages. If the discharge is smelly, itchy or blood stained, contact your health professional immediately.

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