Common discomforts of Early Pregnancy – How to manage?
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
You are feeling amazing and great and then suddenly food aversions, nausea and tiredness have set in, even weight loss. For many women first trimester can be tricky and exhausting to navigate.
Here is some information about common discomforts of pregnancy and how you can manage many of these.
Nausea and Vomiting
Commonly known as “morning sickness” but can occur not just in the morning, but all day! 50-90% of pregnant women experience nausea with or without vomiting. The severity of symptoms varies and usually occurs between weeks 5 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. The symptoms are usually at their worst around nine weeks and are improving by week 16.
What can you do to help your symptoms?
- Choose foods that have a dry quality and taste bland. Avoid spicy foods with strong odors. Try the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast).
- Drink plenty of liquids. Icy poles and jelly are sometimes easier to tolerate.
- Several small frequent meals are easier for digestion– keep something in your stomach at all times (especially with protein if you can muster it!), eating something before you get out of bed can be helpful (a few crackers on your nightstand)
- Drinking ginger teas or adding ginger to drinks can help prevent nausea.
- Nausea may feel worse when you are over-tired, and taking rest or nap breaks frequently throughout the day may help.
- Your doctor may recommend stopping your prenatal multivitamin as some of those can increase nausea. If you are otherwise healthy, you can take only folic acid in first trimester.
Vitamin remedies and other over the counter products
- Vitamin B6 25mg three times a day.
- If no improvement, then add Doxylamine (Restavit) 1/2 tablet in the morning and 1/2 -1 tablet before bed (usually causes sleepiness).
Your doctor may prescribe drugs for nausea and vomiting if you are not able to manage your symptoms with the above changes. Doctors usually choose drugs that have a good safety data in pregnancy. Generally, neither nausea & vomiting nor modest weight loss will adversely affect the baby.
If the remedies and drugs do not work for you, or you are unable to keep down any solids or liquids over several hours you may be suffering from Hyperemesis.
When morning sickness is severe, it is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. A pregnant woman who experiences severe vomiting for an extended period may need monitoring and treatment in hospital. An intravenous (IV) drip is inserted to replace essential salts and fluids and prevent dehydration. If you are vomiting whenever you eat or drink, consult a health care professional, since early treatment can protect you and your baby from health complications.
Watch out for the following:
- very dark urine/small amount or no urine over several hours
- blood in vomit
- extreme fatigue
- dramatic weight loss
- dehydration due to inability to keep fluids down
Any amount of vaginal bleeding can be alarming and may increase the risk of miscarriage. Bleeding in early pregnancy is common and often does not harm the pregnancy.
If you experience fresh vaginal bleeding with or without abdominal pain, see your general practitioner or Obstetrician. You will need an ultrasound to check the health of pregnancy. If pregnancy is alive and there is no ongoing bleeding, most likely there is no cause for concern and no treatment is needed.
In some circumstances and if you have had a miscarriage in the past, your doctor may prescribe vaginal progesterone tablets to support your pregnancy against miscarriage. Its important to note that not all miscarriages can be prevented.
If you are experiencing heavy bleeding or severe pain – you should either see your doctor on an urgent basis or present to an emergency department for assessment. This may be a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (if pregnancy has not yet been confirmed by ultrasound to be inside the uterus).
Many women experience dizziness and light-headedness in early pregnancies. Fainting is rare but does happen even in some healthy pregnant women. There are many reasons for these symptoms and include: the growth of more blood vessels in early pregnancy, the pressure of the expanding uterus on blood vessels, and the body’s increased need for food.
Follow these tips to feel better:
- Stand up slowly
- When you are feeling lightheaded, lay down on your left side
- Avoid sitting or standing in one position for a long time
- Eat healthy snacks or small meals frequently
- Don’t get overheated
High pregnancy hormone levels slow down digestion and relax muscles in the bowels, making constipation a common pregnancy discomfort.
Try the following tips to stay more regular:
- Eat fibre rich foods like fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables, whole grain cereals or breads daily.
- Use a fibre supplement like Metamucil or Benefiber
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water every day.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks.
- Get moving. Mild exercise like walking may help ease constipation.
You may feel tired, even if you have had a lot of sleep. Many women find they are particularly tired in the first trimester. This is normal and is your body’s way of telling you that you need more rest.
It feels hard to feel low energy for weeks on end. Make sure your doctor has checked your haemoglobin and iron levels. Be kind to yourself and ask for help if you are struggling. Consider pushing deadlines further – after all you are growing a human!
Who can I talk to?
The specialists at Create Health are always available for advice regarding a pregnancy. Particularly if you think you might have risk factors for pregnancy or fertility concerns, we are experts in this area and are here to help.