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Common Problems in Pregnancy

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During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of changes. Sometimes these changes can cause discomfort and make you worried about what is happening. It is important that you talk to your midwife and/or GP if you have any symptoms.

Common Complications

 

  • Backache

    • During pregnancy your ligaments become softer, stretching to prepare you for labour. This can put strain on the joints in your back and pelvis.
    • To reduce the risk of backache:
      • Avoid lifting heavy objects
      • Keep your back straight when lifting
      • Wear flat shoes to allow your weight to be evenly distributed,
      • When sitting, sit with your back straight and well supported.
    • If you continue to suffer with backache ask your midwife to refer you to the physio.
  • Constipation

    • You may become constipated in early pregnancy because of the hormonal changes taking place in your body.
    • How to avoid constipation:
      • Eat foods that are high in fibre, like wholemeal breads, wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables, and pulses such as beans and lentils
      • Exercise regularly
      • Drink plenty of water
  • Cramp

    • It is a sudden sharp pain usually in the calf muscles or feet generally occurring at night. We are not always sure of the cause of cramp, however regular, gentle exercise in pregnancy, particularly ankle and leg movements, will improve your circulation and therefore help to stop cramp.
  • Feeling faint

    • You may often feel faint due to the hormonal changes in your body and your brain not getting enough oxygenated blood.
    • If your oxygen levels are too low you may actually faint. This can happen if you stand up too quickly or stand still for too long or even when lying on your back.
    • To avoid feeling faint:
      • Get up slowly from sitting or lying down.
      • If you feel faint when standing still, sit down quickly until the feeling passes or lie on your side.
      • It is not advisable to lie flat on your back later on in pregnancy or during labour.
  • Headaches

    • Some women suffer from headaches and migraines during pregnancy. It is important that you try to get regular rest and relaxation
    • The recommended dose of paracetamol is safe to take in pregnancy.
    • If the headache is severe or accompanied with blurred vision, swelling or heartburn then contact Loveridge Ward immediately.
  • Incontinence

    • Incontinence is a common problem which can affect you during and after your pregnancy. Sometimes are unable to stop a small leak of urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh. This is because your pelvic floor muscles relax slightly in preparation for labour and delivery.
    • In some cases, it can become a problem and you will be referred to urology for review.
  • Indigestion and heartburn

    • Indigestion is caused by hormonal changes in late pregnancy and due to the growing uterus pressing on your stomach.
    • Heartburn is more than indigestion, it is a strong burning sensation in the chest. It is caused by stomach acid passing from your stomach back into the tube leading to your stomach because of the valve relaxing.
    • How to avoid indigestion:
      • Eat little and often
      • When eating sit up straight to take the pressure off your stomach
      • Avoid fried and spicy foods
      • How to avoid heartburn:
      • Sleep well propped up with plenty of pillows
      • Avoid eating and drinking a few hours before going to bed
      • Drinking a glass of milk can help
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome

    • Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs as a result of swelling around the nerves of the wrist causing numbness, tingling or pain in one or both wrists. Pregnant people are prone to the disorder, with about 40% of women experiencing some symptoms during pregnancy.
    • The intensity of symptoms can vary from mild irritation, to occasional soreness, to serious pain. Symptoms may stop you from sleeping or make it difficult to perform regular tasks such as working, getting dressed, cooking or caring for your baby.
    • Symptoms can be worsened by:
      • repeating the same hand movements frequently
      • keeping your hands in the same position for an extended time
      • putting weight on straightened arms
    • The treatment will depend on the severity and the stage of your pregnancy.
    • The pain can be reduced by simple self help:
      • elevating your hands when you're resting or not using them
      • keeping your wrists in a neutral position (not bent forwards or backwards) during the day, and as much as possible while you're sleeping
      • maintaining good posture in your arms and wrists while working at a desk
      • taking breaks every 20 minutes while working at a desk
      • avoiding activities that strain your wrist
      • applying an ice pack on your inner wrist or by placing your hand in cold water for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes can help
    • Referral can be made to a physio where you may be given splints to wear on your wrists.   
  • Leaking nipples

    • Leaking nipples are normal and usually nothing to worry about. The leaking milk is colostrum, which is the first milk your breasts make to feed your baby.
  • Anaemia

    • Anaemia is having low blood count. You may be unaware that your levels are low but if you feel tired, are pale, suffer from shortness of breath or dizzy then it is worth mentioning to your midwife. Women with anaemia during pregnancy are at higher risk of low birth weight babies and of needing a blood transfusion. Having anaemia can make caring for yourself and your baby more difficult.
    • You will have a blood test for anaemia at your booking appointment. Ensure you have a varied diet that contain good sources of iron like red meat, chicken and fish. If you are vegetarian then you need to make sure you are getting enough iron from other foods such as tofu, beans, lentils, peas and dried fruits.
    • Your GP may give you a prescription for iron tablets. When taking it is best to take on an empty stomach with foods rich with vitamin C e.g. orange juice which will ensure your body absorbs as much iron as possible. Tea, coffee, dairy products and antacids can all reduce the amount of iron you absorb, so avoid these for about two hours before taking your iron tablets. Iron tablets can make you constipated so make sure you drink plenty of fluids and have lots of fibre in your diet.
  • Nausea and Morning Sickness

    • Nausea is very common in the early weeks of pregnancy, some women feel sick and some are sick. It can happen at any time of day - or even all day long.
    • Hormonal changes in the first three months are probably one cause and the nausea usually disappear around the 12th to 14th week.
    • How to avoid nausea and morning sickness:
      • If you feel sick first thing in the morning, get up slowly and if possible eat something like a plain biscuit or dry toast before you get up.
      • Try to get plenty of rest and sleep whenever you can. Feeling tired can make the sickness worse.
      • Eat little and often - don't stop eating.  Eat bland, non-greasy foods, such as baked potatoes, pasta and milk puddings, which are simple to prepare.
      • Drink plenty of fluids.
      • Wear loose clothes without tight waist bands.
    • Some women continue to feel nauseous and are unable to keep anything down leading to dehydration and weight loss. If you suffer from hyperemesis then you may need admission to hospital to help with rehydration via a drip and anti sickness medication.  Vomiting may last up to 20 weeks or until the end of your pregnancy
  • Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)

    • Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is the general term for all pelvic pain. It includes pubic pain - previously called symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). PGP includes pain anywhere from the lower back down to the thigh, either at the front or back
    • The pain may range from a mild ache to severe pain that limits your daily activities.
    • Getting referred and diagnosed early can reduce ongoing discomfort and minimise pain with early referral to the physiotherapists
  • Skin and hair changes

    • Hormonal changes in your pregnancy will make your nipples and the area around them to go darker. Birthmarks, freckles and moles may also darken.
    • Some women develop a dark line down from their belly button to the pubic hair which gradually fades once your baby has been born.
    • If you go out in the sun whilst pregnant make sure you apply a good high factor sunscreen as you will tan more easily and don't stay out in it for too long.
  • Sleep

    • Later in your pregnancy you might find getting a good night's sleep difficult. Lying down can be uncomfortable and when you get comfortable you need to go to the toilet. Lying on your side with a pillow between your legs and under your tummy may help.
  • Stretch Marks

    • These are pink or purple lines which usually occur on your abdomen or sometimes on your upper thighs or breasts. Not all women get them, it depends on your skin type.
    • Some women's skin is more elastic. You are more likely to get stretch marks if you gain weight.
    • After your baby is born, the marks should gradually pale and become less noticeable.
  • Swollen Hands and Feet

    • Ankles, feet and fingers often swell in pregnancy because your body is holding more water than usual. Towards the end of the day especially if the weather is hot or if you have been standing a lot, the extra water tends to gather in the lower parts of your body.
    • Try to avoid standing for long periods, rest with your feet up higher than your heart as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Tiredness

    • In the early part of your pregnancy you may feel tired or even exhausted. Try to make time to rest with your feet up as well as accepting help from friends and family.
    • At the end of your pregnancy you may feel tired because of the extra weight you are carrying. Make sure that you get plenty of rest.
  • Vaginal Discharge

    • Most women will have increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Normal discharge should be clear and white and not smell.
    • If the discharge is coloured or smells unpleasant or if you are experiencing itchy or soreness then you may have a vaginal infection. The most common infection is thrush and you need to speak to your midwife or GP for some medication.
  • Itching

    • Mild itching is normal in pregnancy because of the increased blood supply to the skin. In late pregnancy the skin of the abdomen is stretched and this may also cause itchiness.
  • Vaginal Bleeding

    • Bleeding from the vagina at any time is concerning. It is important to find the cause quickly as some types of bleeding are more serious than others.
  • Bleeding after sex

    • The cells on the surface of the cervix often change in pregnancy and make it more likely to bleed - particularly after sex. This is called a cervical erosion.
  • Bleeding in late pregnancy

    • The most common bleeding in late pregnancy is the small amount of blood mixed with mucus that is known as a 'show'. This is a sign that the cervix is changing and becoming ready for labour to start. It may happen a few days before contractions start or during labour itself.


Infections during pregnancy

 

  • Influenza (Flu)

    • While flu is a mild illness for most people, it can be very serious for pregnant people. Pregnant people are more likely to develop serious complications as a result of flu, and rarely even death, compared those who are not pregnant. There are also risks for the baby, including miscarriage and premature labour.
    • Receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy is the best way to protect you and your unborn baby from getting serious complications of flu, including death. The flu vaccine is licensed for use by the European Medicines Agency and is regularly used for pregnant people across the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries.
    • The flu vaccine is available every year from late September onwards, the start of the winter flu season, contact Loveridge ward to make your appointment.  The vaccine can be given at any stage in your pregnancy but ideally as early in the season as possible in order to receive the best protection for you and your baby. Even if you received the flu vaccine in the past, you still need to get the vaccine as flu protection only lasts for one flu season.
    • Pregnant people can suffer the same minor side effects as anyone else, including soreness where the vaccine was injected and, less often, a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after being vaccinated. Other reactions are very rare. Flu vaccine does not contain live virus and so it cannot give you flu. It will only protect you against flu.
  • Whooping Cough

    • Whooping cough (pertussis) is an infection which can affect people of all ages but is particularly serious in babies. Most babies who get it will have to be admitted to hospital, some will end up in intensive care and it can even result in death.
    • Very young babies (under three months) are at most risk of serious disease. All babies are vaccinated against whooping cough at two, three and four months of age. This means they can be vulnerable to the infection in the first two to three months of life before they get their vaccines.
    • The best way to protect babies is to give the mother the vaccine during pregnancy, at any stage after 16 weeks. She will make antibodies that will be passed onto the unborn baby, which then protect the baby after they are born and get their own vaccine.
    • All pregnant people are offered the whooping cough vaccine between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. This is the recommended time so the unborn baby receives the highest level of protection. Studies have shown that giving the vaccine to pregnant people is very safe for both people
  • Group B streptococcus

    • Group B strep or GBS is a bacterium, which can be found in the intestine and vagina. Approximately 28% of women carry GBS without any symptoms and approximately 20% of pregnant women & birthing people are colonised with GBS. In a very small number it infects the baby, usually just before or during labour and can lead to serious illness or death.
    • You will be offered antibiotics in labour if you have previously had a baby with invasive GBS infection, GBS has been found in your urine in your current pregnancy, GBS has been found on swabs from your vagina which have been taken for another reason during this pregnancy, you have a high temperature during labour, you have an infection of the membranes around the baby (Chorioamnionitis).
    • Please find additional information from the Group B Strep Support leaflet linked below:
    • www.gbss.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2017-Joint-RCOG-GBSS-PIL_final.pdf
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

    • STI's are on the increase, with chlamydia being the most common.
    • Up to 70% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms of a STI. However, many STI's can affect your baby's health during pregnancy and after birth.
    • If you have any reason to believe that you or your partner have should get checked out with your GP or the Orchard Centre
    • Leaflet available: www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=118932&p=0
  • Rash in pregnancy

    • Itching is common in pregnancy. It can be caused by raised levels of certain chemicals in the blood, such as hormones. As your bump grows, the skin of your tummy (abdomen) is stretched and this may also feel itchy.
    • If you develop a rash or illness at any time in your pregnancy then contact your midwife or GP as you will probably need extra investigations.

 

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