Expert advice: Common pregnancy changes


Your body is bound to change when you’re expecting a child. Below is a comprehensive list of the common pregnancy symptoms due to physiological and hormonal changes.

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Obstetrician Dr Frances Paterson tells us more below:

Nausea and vomiting

Up to 85% of women will experience nausea and just over 50% will also have vomiting during the 1st trimester. Multiple pregnancies also experience Nausea and Vomiting more so, as it is associated with the increased levels of the pregnancy hormone (bHCG). Most cases of Nausea and Vomiting will stop between 16-20 weeks and is in no way associated with an abnormal pregnancy or a bad outcome. It is just generally part of the first journey in pregnancy.

Keeping well hydrated by taking small sips of fluids throughout the day is important. Small bland meals also seem to assist with the nausea. Ginger has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of nausea and vomiting and is safe for the baby.


Generally this is a symptom which women experience later on in their pregnancy, as the baby is getting bigger and applying more pressure to the internal organs along with the increased levels of progesterone causing relaxation of muscles. It is common as 70% of women experience it but resolves soon after the baby is delivered.

Eating small frequent meals and not lying down after meals can assist with symptoms. Avoiding caffeine and other food groups which have been found to make it worse is sensible.

Constipation and Haemorrhoids

Most pregnant women are on an iron supplementation, which is known to be a cause of constipation, but the iron supplementation is important. Therefore ensure to increase your water intake as well as take a “constipation-friendly” diet, high is fiber, which will relieve the constipation. Try to not take laxatives and with diet correction, the constipation should resolve.

Varicose veins

These are very common in pregnancy and pose my risk to the pregnancy. One is able to buy compression stockings to prevent and relieve the varicose veins, which should significantly improve once the baby is delivered.

Backache, Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and Carpel tunnel syndrome

Backache as well as other joint pains is common in pregnancy. Your back changes its usual shape to accommodate the baby growing in the uterus and the shift in your center of gravity. With this loss of lordosis and increased laxity of the ligaments and muscles due to the present of relaxing (a hormone), backache can occur. Water based exercises can be used to ease the pain but please consult your doctor if any medications are used to ensure their safety in pregnancy.

Vaginal discharge

Most women notice an increase in vaginal discharge, which is non-offensive and presents will no symptoms (itchiness) – this is due to the increase in hormone levels and considered a normal physiological change in the pregnancy. Should the discharge be malodorous or cause vaginal itchiness, a doctor should be consulted to ensure that it is not an infection which could affect the pregnancy.

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