Common Pregnancy Problems

There are many minor problems and discomforts that may occur during pregnancy. Most of them can be reduced, if not avoided entirely, when the appropriate action is taken. This may simply be a matter of eating the right food or getting more rest. There are two main causes of the discomforts: the secondary effects on a woman’s body of the hormones produced in pregnancy, and the weight and pressure of the enlarging uterus containing the growing baby. As with all medical problems, prevention is better than cure. For this reason, regular antenatal check-ups by the family doctor or at a clinic, and conscientious following of their recommendations, can stop many problems before they start.

Aches and pains

Backache is one of the commonest complaints in pregnancy. The most likely causes are softening of the pelvis ligaments, causing low back pain across the buttocks, and changes in posture associated with weight gain which usually causes pain higher up the spine. Backache will be minimized if the pregnant woman maintains good posture, particularly keeping the back straight, not hollowed; she should wear well-fitting shoes with low heels; get adequate rest; and not put on excessive weight. As always, she should be particularly careful when lifting and carrying things – for example, bending the knees and keeping the back upright rather than stooping to lift something off the floor. Massage and radiant heat treatment may help to relieve the aches.

Severe backache may be a sign of a prolapsed or herniated intervertebral disc, popularly known as a slipped disc. If you have had this problem before, you should be particularly careful during pregnancy to reduce strain on your back.

Pain in the groin, called round-ligament pain, is caused by strain on the round ligaments that support the uterus. It usually occurs between the third and seventh months. Although often described as an ache on one side of the abdomen, it can also be a sharp, stabbing pain. The woman may find it helpful to rest with her legs and hips raised by pillows.

Pain under the ribs in late pregnancy is caused by the enlarging uterus pressing on the diaphragm and the lower ribs. This usually stops once the baby’s head is engaged in the lower pelvis. There is no particular treatment, but good posture is a help.

Cram ji in the legs is quite common, particularly in the calves, and usually occurs at night. The cause is unknown. Exercise, such as rotating the foot, and massage will often disperse the spasm although a dull ache may persist for a couple of days.

Breast tenderness often precedes the burst of growth in the breasts that occurs during the first few weeks after conception. The feeling of heaviness and soreness may be accompanied by a tingling sensation and generally increased sensitivity. Throughout pregnancy the woman may need extra support for her breasts in the form of a sturdier bra than the former model. Tender breasts will give less discomfort if they are properly supported by a good bra specially made for the purpose.