Prenatal care - common symptoms
Growing a baby is hard work. Your body will go through a lot of changes as your baby grows and your hormones change. Along with the aches and pains of pregnancy, you will feel other new or changing symptoms.
Even so, many pregnant women say that they feel healthier than ever.
Being tired is common during pregnancy. Most women feel tired the first few months, then again toward the end. Exercise, rest, and a proper diet can make you feel less tired. It may also help to take rest breaks or naps every day.
Early on in the pregnancy, you will likely be making more trips to the bathroom.
If you have pain when you urinate or a change in urine odor or color, call your health care provider. These could be signs of a bladder infection.
Some pregnant women also leak urine when they cough or sneeze. For most women, this goes away after the baby is born. If this happens to you, start doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor.
You may see more vaginal discharge while pregnant. Call your provider if the discharge:
Having a hard time moving the bowels is normal during pregnancy. This is because:
You can ease constipation by:
Ask your provider about trying a stool softener. Also ask before using laxatives during pregnancy.
While you are pregnant, food stays in your stomach and bowels longer. This may cause heartburn (stomach acid moving back up into the esophagus). You can reduce heartburn by:
If you continue to have heartburn, talk to your provider about medicines that can help.
Some women have nose and gum bleeding while they are pregnant. This is because the tissues in their nose and gums get dry, and the blood vessels dilate and are closer to the surface. You can avoid or reduce this bleeding by:
Swelling in your legs is common. You may see more swelling as you get closer to giving birth. The swelling is caused by your uterus pressing on the veins.
To reduce swelling:
Leg swelling that occurs with headaches or high blood pressure can be a sign of a serious medical complication of pregnancy called preeclampsia. It is important to discuss leg swelling with your provider.
Some women feel short of breath at times while they are pregnant. You may notice that you're breathing more rapidly than usual. It happens more often in the early part of the pregnancy due to the changes in your hormones. It may also happen again toward the end of your pregnancy because of pressure from the baby. Mild shortness of breath from exercise that quickly gets better is not serious.
Severe chest pain or shortness of breath that does not go away can be a sign of a serious medical complication. Call 911 or the local emergency number or go to an emergency room right away if you have these symptoms.
You may get short of breath again in the later weeks of pregnancy. This is because the uterus takes up so much room that your lungs do not have as much space to expand.
Doing these things might help with shortness of breath:
If you suddenly have a hard time breathing that is unusual for you, see your provider right away or go to the emergency room.
Agoston P, Chandraharan E. History taking and examination in obstetrics. In: Symonds I, Arulkumaran S, eds. Essential Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 6.
Gregory KD, Ramos DE, Jauniaux ERM. Preconception and prenatal care. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 5.
Swartz MH, Deli B. The pregnant patient. In: Swartz MH, ed. Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 23.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 10/5/2020
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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