Discomforts & Illnesses During Pregnancy

Arranged alphabetically:


Apply heat to your lower back, back massage, and the use of a firm mattress may offer relief. Avoid lifting and bending. Wear a supportive bra, try stretching, pelvic rocking, wearing an external abdominal binder or Tylenol. Wear supportive shoes with low heels.

Bleeding gums

Practice good oral hygiene. Use a soft toothbrush and floss regularly. Try warm saline mouthwashes.

Braxton-Hicks contractions

Rest on your left side and relax. Empty your bladder frequently. Drink at least three glasses of fluids for possible dehydration. Call the office if they are regular and/or intense.

These types of contractions help your body gear up for birth but do not open the cervix. They can occur as early as the second trimester. Braxton Hicks often occur in the afternoon or evening, after physical activity, or after sexual intercourse. They are more likely to occur when you are tired or dehydrated.

Breast pain

Breast tenderness is normal, especially in early pregnancy. If you are experiencing significant breast pain perform a breast exam, avoid caffeine, and try Vitamin E 800 IU. Wear a supportive bra constantly. Make your doctor aware of concerns.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you have numbness or tingling in your hands this is a normal reaction caused by your body’s swelling tissues pressing on the nerves. Increase your water intake and decrease your salt intake. Wear a wrist splint while sleeping. This usually disappears post-partum.


Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster and it can be transmitted across the placenta to the fetus. If you have had chickenpox, you don’t have to worry about being exposed as you have life-long immunity.

If you have not had chickenpox or you did not get the varicella vaccination, avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles. If you have been exposed, please call our office right away.

Colds/Sinus Infections

No medications will cure a cold, so take medications to help your symptoms. Antibiotics are drugs that fight bacteria, but colds are caused by viruses. A decongestant (Sudafed) can help you breathe if your nose is blocked.

A steam vaporizer may make you feel better. An expectorant (plain Robitussin) can help
your cough and your chest congestion. Lots of water helps loosen secretions. Tylenol can help aches, sore throat, and feverish feelings. Throat spray and lozenges can soothe your throat.
So can frequent sips of warm liquids and salt water gargles. You can take an antihistamine (Benadryl) if you need something to help you sleep, but otherwise they are for allergies. There is no good medicine to stop a runny nose – that’s your immune system trying to flush out the virus. Over the counter cold medications are combinations of the medications mentioned above. It’s usually better to take something for the symptom you have rather than taking a multi symptom medication.


Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Eating more fiber (fresh fruits and vegetables) and whole grain foods may help prevent constipation. Maintain a regular exercise program. Try Colace 50-200mg, Metamucil twice a day or Miralax.


Drink liquids to avoid dehydration. Avoid dairy products. Try rice, bananas, toast, or Imodium AD. Call our office if it is severe or lasts longer than 48 hours.

Difficulty breathing

Your uterus is starting to take up more room in your abdomen, pressing the stomach and the diaphragm up towards the lungs. Use pillows to elevate your back and rest. To help breathe easier, move slowly and sit or stand up straight. If you notice major changes or experience pain call your provider.

Dizzy spells

Dizziness/fainting during pregnancy is caused by changes to your circulation. If you experience dizziness, avoid rapid breathing. Get up slowly – sit first. Lie on your side. Eat small frequent meals. Try calf raises. Squeeze your leg muscles to prevent blood from pooling in your legs.


Feeling tired is common in your first trimester. Take frequent rest periods. Avoid exercise and caffeine before bed. Try warm milk and relaxation. You will notice fatigue will return at the end of your pregnancy.

Fifth Disease

Parvovirus B19 causes a common childhood disease that in rare cases could cause miscarriage. If you have been exposed (the risk is highest from your own children), a blood test can determine whether you are protected because you already had the disease. A later blood test can determine whether you developed the disease during pregnancy, since symptoms are minimal. If you have been infected, we may need to follow you and your baby with ultrasound examinations and bloodwork.


Avoid gas-forming foods and straws. Try eating your meals more slowly and avoid anything that causes you to swallow air, such as gum chewing and carbonated drinks.

Flu vaccine

Yes, pregnant women should have the flu vaccine.

Head Lice or Scabies

Nix is ok to use. Wash all sheets and clothes in hot water.


Rest in a dark room and drink fluids, try relaxation techniques, massage, and or hot/ cold compresses. Try Tylenol 325mg every four to six hours. Call your doctor if headaches persist.


Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Limit beverages with meals. Do not eat before bed. Raise the head of your bed. Don’t smoke. Try Maalox, Pepcid, Tums, Mylanta, Prilosec OTC, Prevacid or Rolaids. Contact your doctor if over-the-counter medications are not helping.


Eat a high fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids. Try cold compresses or warm baths. You may try Metamucil, Tucks, Preparation H or Anusol. Extra weight gain can make this worse as well as sitting for extended periods of time.


Try an Aveeno bath, moisturizing lotion, and drink plenty of water. Adding cornstarch to bath water may help. If itching is severe or you have a rash, please call our office.

Leg cramps

Cramping in your legs may often occur at night and may affect your sleep. Wear comfortable flat-heeled shoes. Avoid crossing your legs
and elevate them whenever possible. If you experience a leg cramp, flex your foot back and pull your toes toward your head. Massage the calf in long, downward strokes. Soak your legs in a warm tub before bed. Also, try adding more bananas to your diet and drinking milk before bedtime.


Listeriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that is transmitted by some foods. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The listeria bacteria can infect the fetus during pregnancy, causing a miscarriage, stillbirth, or an infected newborn.

Take these precautions:

• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.

• Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, bologna, or other deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot.

• Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.

• Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

• Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.

• Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.

Nasal congestion

Some increased stuffiness is usual with pregnancy. Use a humidifier to moisten the air, drink fluids, try saline nasal drops or spray. Dab petroleum jelly around the edges of nostrils to keep the skin moist.

Nose bleeds

These are common in pregnancy as the veins
in your nose have extra blood supply. Treat
with finger pressure on the side of the nose that is bleeding. Avoid overheated air, excessive exertion and medicated nasal sprays. Blow your nose gently. Saline spray and Vaseline are safe to use. Notify your doctor if nosebleeds persist.

Swollen hands/feet

During pregnancy, the body increases the amount of blood and body fluids to meet the needs of your baby. Swelling can be a normal part of pregnancy. If you experience swelling, avoid restrictive clothing and long periods of standing. Elevate your legs throughout the day. Wear support hose. Walk for ten minutes every one to two hours. Drink at least eight glasses

of water daily and limit sodium intake. Some patients will benefit from compression stockings to reduce swelling. Rapid onset of swelling, especially of hands or face should be reported immediately.

TB test

TB testing is fine anytime in pregnancy.

Tetanus Vaccine

The Td shot is safe in pregnancy. If you
have an accident and tetanus vaccine is recommended, please check with your doctor to see if you should get the TDAP vaccine.

TDAP (tetanus, pertussis, whooping cough)

Yes, pregnant women should have TDAP vaccine. This should be given in late second trimester or third trimester.

Vaginal discharge

Cervical mucous increases as pregnancy progresses. Wear cotton underwear and pantiliners. Avoid tight pants or jeans. Call the office if you have odor or itching, or a change in color or consistency of your discharge.


Avoid long periods of standing and crossing legs. Wearing support hose, elevating legs, and taking rest periods may help to relieve symptoms.

Round ligament pain

You have bands of tissue that support the uterus on both sides and as your uterus grows these are pulled and stretched. This can feel as either a dull ache or sharp pain. You may notice this when going from sitting to standing, coughing or sneezing. Changing position may help relieve the pain. Warm baths may also help to ease discomfort.

Rubella (German Measles)

This disease can cause birth defects, but you would have to have it during pregnancy for your baby to have any risk. If you have had rubella, you are immune. We test for immunity routinely with your first lab tests in pregnancy.

If your immunity is low, we suggest you receive the vaccine just after delivery. If you are not immune and you have been exposed, you should talk with your doctor. Fever, rash, and swollen glands would not show up for two weeks or more if you did get sick. The risk is higher to your baby if you develop the disease in the first trimester.

Stretch marks

Apply moisturizers daily. Stretch marks are not preventable but usually will fade with time. 


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