Common Discomforts of Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting

More than half of all pregnant women suffer from nausea and vomiting in the early stages of pregnancy. 
The cause is unknown but the following tips may help:

  • Symptoms usually resolve by 12–16 weeks gestation and are not harmful to your baby
  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Eat dry crackers when you get up
  • Eat solid foods and liquids at different times
  • Avoid coffee, fatty foods, spices and foods with strong smells
  • Avoid any foods that make your symptoms worse
  • Get lots of rest stop taking your prenatal vitamins until you feel better and take folic acid alone
  • Eat whenever and whatever you feel like
  • Potato chips, lemon or ginger ale may help an upset stomach
  • About 1% of pregnant women suffer from severe nausea (hyperemesis gravidarum)

If you cannot keep fluids down or are losing weight, contact your caregiver who may consider medical treatment and/or intravenous fluid replacement. 

Heartburn during pregnancy

  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Keep meal times relaxed and unhurried
  • Don’t eat spicy or fatty foods
  • Don’t lie down for 1-2 hours after eating
  • Avoid late night snacking
  • Use extra pillows in bed

Antacids that are safe in pregnancy

  • Calcium carbonate (Tums)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Alginic compound (Gaviscon)
  • Aluminum hydroxide (Maalox) 


Fainting is common during pregnancy, especially in a warm crowded space with decreased ventilation. If you feel light-headed: 

  • Sit down and put your head between your knees
  • Place a cool wet cloth on your forehead or behind your neck
  • Eat or drink something sweet

Fatigue and back pain

Due to increased metabolism and pregnancy hormones, unusual tiredness is common. The increase in weight and change in posture may also cause back pain. The following measures may assist you:

  • Take frequent rests and relax
  • If possible take a nap during a work break or as soon as you arrive home from work
  • Massage
  • Pregnancy belt
  • Physiotherapy
  • Tylenol

Frequent urination

The growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder. The reduced functional capacity makes pregnant women often feel “full” and have the urge to urinate (pee) frequently. Sometimes this pressure may cause urine to leak when you cough, sneeze or run. Kegel exercises may help this. Painful and frequent urination may be caused by a bladder infection and should be checked out by your caregiver.


The following measures may help you from becoming constipated:

  • Increase the fibre in your diet (bran, fruits, vegetables, dates, prune juice)
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Mild laxatives or stool softeners if needed only on the advice of your caregiver

Stool softeners safe in pregnancy

  • Docusate sodium (Colace)                   
  • Sennosides (Senokot)
  • Psyllium powder (Metamucil)
  • Peg 3350 (Restoralax)


The increased pressure in your veins caused by the weight of a growing uterus frequently causes hemorrhoids to develop. The following measures may help you:

  • Avoid becoming constipated
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods at a time
  • Take sitz baths with warm water

Safe over-the-counter remedies

  • Hamamelis (witch hazel)
  • Glycerine compresses (e.g. Tucks)
  • Zinc ointment (e.g. Anusol)
  • If the above measures do not bring any relief, your physician could recommend a prescription product

Trouble sleeping 

Many women find that they have trouble sleeping as the pregnancy goes on, particularly in the third trimester.

  • Have a sleep routine and a regular bedtime
  • Don’t watch tv or the computer for two hours before bed
  • You don’t have to sleep only on your left side. You can sleep any way you want that’s comfortable for you
  • Try putting a pillow between your knees or using a body pillow
  • Don’t drink as much in the evenings which will reduce the need to wake up at night to pee
  • Avoid foods that give you heartburn