Common pregnancy problems and advice

Sometimes in pregnancy you can experience some unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms that are mostly harmless. The information below information is intended for self-treatment of minor problems in pregnancy.

If you are worried, your condition is getting worse or you have any of the following symptoms, please contact:

Under 18 weeks pregnant: Call 111 or visit Urgent Care or A&E
Over 18 weeks pregnant: Call Maternity Triage: 01895 279 054

  • Spotting or light vaginal bleeding
  • Constant vomiting
  • Leaking fluid from the vagina
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Persistent severe headache
  • Swelling in face, hands or legs
  • Contractions or cramps
  • Itching, especially on hands and feet
  • Sharp or continuing abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Blurred vision or seeing spots
  • Baby’s movements slow down or their pattern changes
  • You have a fever (high temperature)

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is very common, particularly in the early stages. This is sometimes described as 'morning sickness', however this can affect you at any time of the day or night. You may feel very unpleasant, and it can affect your day-to-day life but is usually harmless to your baby and most people tend to feel better by around 16-20 weeks.

You can help your symptoms by changing your lifestyle:

  • By getting plenty of rest
  • Using special acupressure bands on your wrists
  • Eating bland foods such as toast or biscuits
  • Eating food or drinks containing ginger
  • Eating smaller portions more often throughout the day
  • Avoiding food and smells that make you feel worse

Sometimes lifestyle changes alone will not resolve excessive vomiting and you may require some anti-sickness medication, you will need to see your GP for this medication.

There is a small chance of developing a severe form of pregnancy sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which sometimes requires hospital treatment.

If your symptoms are not improving, getting worse or you are worried, please contact your GP or call 111 for advice.

Indigestion (heartburn and acid reflux)

Indigestion, also called heartburn or acid reflux, is very common in pregnancy and can be caused by hormonal changes and the growing baby pressing against your stomach.

Changes to your diet and lifestyle usually can ease symptoms but if these are not effective then there are over the counter medicines available that are safe to take in pregnancy – such as Gaviscon.
You can speak with your local pharmacist to get the right one for you.

Things you can do to help with indigestion:

Eat and drink healthily:
If you’re feeling very full after eating, you’re more likely to get indigestion. Try having smaller amounts of food more regularly throughout the day and try not to eat too soon before going to bed. Some foods and drinks such as caffeine rich, spicy or acidic food may make your symptoms worse, try reducing or stopping these to ease symptoms.

Keep upright:
Try sitting up straight to eat and don’t lie down too soon after eating. Think about sleeping in more upright positions.

Stop smoking and avoid alcohol:
Smoking can cause indigestion by inhaling chemicals that relax the muscles in your gullet, which allows stomach acid to come back up more easily. Stopping both smoking and drinking alcohol in pregnancy are beneficial to yourself and your baby. Speak with your midwife or local pharmacy if you need support to stop smoking


The hormonal changes in your body may cause you to become constipated, even early on in your pregnancy. Constipation can be very uncomfortable and can cause haemorrhoids (piles) if you are pushing and straining too hard whilst going to the toilet.

If you are very constipated, you can see your GP or local pharmacy for over the counter medications.

To try and prevent constipation:

  • Eat foods that are high in fibre, such as wholemeal breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, and pulses such as beans and lentils
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink plenty of water

Thrush and vaginal discharge

Increased vaginal discharge in pregnancy is very common and is caused by increased hormone levels. Thrush (a fungal infection) is also common in pregnancy and can be very uncomfortable and itchy, to reduce discomfort ensure you clean regularly with water and wear loose cotton underwear and clothes.

Over the counter thrush creams and pessaries can be used in pregnancy, but NOT the anti-thrush tablets, your local pharmacy will be able to talk these through with you.

Please contact your local pharmacy or GP if:

  • You have thick, lumpy and white discharge
  • You begin itching and/or are sore around the vagina and vulva
  • You experience pain or stinging during sex
  • You experience pain or stinging whilst passing urine

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), also known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), is another common pregnancy condition that causes pain and discomfort in your pelvis and surrounding joints due to hormonal changes that relax the ligaments around your joints and pelvic area.

Some people experience mild discomfort and some people experience severe debilitating pain and are unable to complete day to day activities. If your pain is severe and your usual activity is affected, pain relief medication and physiotherapy treatment may be required.

Speak with your midwife or GP if the pain is not improving, getting worse or causing you distress.