Pregnancy ailments

Pregnancy ailments - The Wonder Weeks

You probably recognize it: nausea, back pain, fatigue, frequent visits to the bathroom, stretch marks and perhaps high blood pressure. These are all pregnancy ailments that can occur during pregnancy.


Find out what the most common pregnancy ailments are and learn how to deal with them in this article:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Lower back pain
  3. Nausea
  4. Frequent urination
  5. Short of breath
  6. Pigmentation spots
  7. Change in smell and taste
  8. Retain of fluid
  9. PUPPP
  10. Restless legs
  11. Palpitations
  12. Ligament pain
  13. Hypertension
  14. Varicose veins
  15. Constipation
  16. Hemorrhoids
  17. Cramp in your calves
  18. Heartburn

1. Fatigue 

During the first trimester of pregnancy, chances are you will notice a difference in your energy levels. The change in your hormones takes a lot of energy out of your body, and on top of that, you are now living for two. New life is growing inside you. So it is not very strange that you are a lot more tired. In the second trimester you will notice that you have regained most of your energy, only to find that in the third trimester you have no energy at all.

This fatigue occurs in most pregnant women. Of course, there are exceptions, some pregnant women are tired for nine months or others are full of energy for the entire pregnancy.

2. Lower back pain

In the nine months you are pregnant, your belly grows tremendously. Your uterus is attached to your back with ligaments. As your uterus grows, more pressure is put on those ligaments, causing your back to hollow. In the beginning of the second trimester, you will probably notice that your back bends backward slightly to better support and balance the weight of your belly. This may be a cause of lower back pain.

3. Nausea

In most cases, nausea is one of the first signs that you are pregnant, it is perhaps one of the best known pregnancy ailments. Your pregnancy hormones are in full swing to grow the life inside you.

Did you know that over 75% of women experience nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy?

In the first three months of pregnancy, your body is under the influence of the hormone hCG. This hormone causes nausea. At week 9 of pregnancy, you are at the peak of nausea. After 12 weeks, your body will slowly get used to the hCG hormone and the hormone decreases. The nausea will then decrease as well. Most women experience no more nausea from week 14. 

About 2% of women suffer from HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) during their pregnancy. In this case, the nausea does not disappear after the first trimester and the symptoms can be much more intense. These women cannot keep anything down and are at risk of dehydration. In these cases, your baby is often not affected by anything, which is reassuring for many women in that position. Are you experiencing extreme nausea? If so, please contact your doctor.

4. Frequent urination

In the first trimester of pregnancy, your uterus may not yet be big enough to make a visible belly, but it is already getting bigger, and that can cause quite a bit of pressure on your bladder. Besides your uterus being one of the culprits of more frequent urination, the hormone hCG also plays a big role. The increase in the hCG hormone increases blood flow to your kidneys. Which, by the way, are also put to work harder because of the increased blood volume. This gives your kidneys extra fluid to process, which eventually ends up in your bladder.  The result: peeing, peeing and more peeing.

After the first trimester, your uterus will grow more upward and therefore will press less on your bladder. Until the last few weeks, your little one now takes up all the space and thus will press on your bladder again. Which can also possibly cause light leakage of urine.

5. Short of breath

Shortness of breath during pregnancy is a common ailment that affects about 60% to 70% of pregnant women. In the first trimester, you may already notice some of this. In the course of the pregnancy, you will notice that the shortness of breath becomes more intense. Even folding laundry can take a lot of effort. 

During the first and second trimester, hormones are the main culprit for shortness of breath. The hormone Progesterone sends a signal to your brain that you need more oxygen, causing you to breathe faster. 

In the third trimester, you will especially notice that you are short of breath. Your baby is growing rapidly, pushing aside all your organs, including your lungs. Your lung capacity has actually decreased by a quarter by the end of your pregnancy. As your baby begins to descend toward the end of the pregnancy, you will notice that you are slowly regaining some lung capacity.

6. Pigmentation spots: the pregnancy mask

There they are again – hormones, the main cause of pigmentation spots during pregnancy. In the vast majority of pregnant women, the pigment spots appear on the face, which is why it is also called the pregnancy mask (melasma or chloasma). 

These pigment spots are caused by hormonal fluctuations. The hormones Progesterone and Estrogen cause the cells in your face to produce more pigment than usual. This creates dark spots, often on the cheekbones, forehead, around your eyes, lip and on your chin. In some cases, you may also develop pigment spots on your arms and neck.

Tip: Avoid the sun, which makes pigmentation spots more severe. And always protect your face with a high factor sunscreen.

7. Change in your taste and smell

Suddenly developed an aversion to that daily cup of coffee in the morning? That’s not surprising: your pregnancy hormones are turning your sense of smell and taste completely upside down. For example, your favorite perfume may suddenly smell very different and scents you were never aware of may now suddenly smell very good. 

The hormone estrogen causes your sense of smell to strengthen during pregnancy. You will notice that you become more alert because you subconsciously want to protect your baby. Smells that you suddenly dislike are often the smells of products you don’t need, better to leave out or products you should be extra careful with during pregnancy. Think of coffee, raw meat or food that is expired. 

Because your sense of smell is related to your taste, you may well develop an aversion to certain foods as a result. Most women only experience this pregnancy ailment in the first trimester.

8. Retain of fluid

Especially in the last trimester of pregnancy, you can retain a lot of fluid, this is also called edema. Over 80% of pregnant women experience this. During pregnancy, you can retain as much as two to three pounds of fluid!

Most pregnant women especially suffer from fluid in the legs, ankles and feet. During the day you will notice that the fluid, due to gravity, is increasingly drawn to your feet. At the end of the day they can feel very swollen. You can recognize edema by the swelling of the skin, the tightness of the skin and if, for example, you press your finger on your skin, the imprint will remain for a while. 

Tip: Drink plenty of water and tea, make sure you get enough exercise for blood flow, don’t eat too much salt and make sure you don’t wear squishy shoes or socks.

9. PUPPP

PUPPP → Pregnancy itch occurs in about 20% of pregnant women. It is an itch that is really characteristic of pregnancy, often on a particular body part and sometimes itching all over the body. Pregnancy itching can be caused by rapidly growing skin, for example your belly or breasts. Your skin grows so fast that it becomes tight and itchy. Better circulation or dry skin can also cause your skin to itch tremendously. 

A few tips against itching:

  • Don’t dress too hot
  • Don’t go into a hot bath or hot shower for too long; this dries out your skin
  • Try to avoid scratching, no matter how difficult it is
  • Menthol powder or gel can help well to reduce itching

10. Restless legs

A pregnancy ailment common to many pregnant women. The unpleasant feeling occurs because under the influence of pregnancy hormones, the walls of your blood vessels become weaker. Moreover, there is more blood in your body. So the vessel walls have to endure more pressure, especially in your legs. If you suffer from restless legs, you may soon develop varicose veins as well. This is because when the pressure on the vessel walls becomes too hard, they start to “lump,” and blue veins appear. They usually disappear after pregnancy, by the way.

What helps:

  • Try to keep moving as much as possible (walking, biking, swimming)
  • Rinse your legs in the shower alternately with hot and cold water
  • Sit with your legs crossed as little as possible
  • Elevate your legs in bed
  • Wear support stockings
  • Avoid standing for long periods at a time
  • Keep up your iron level

11. Palpitations

Heart palpitations, you probably know what that feels like. During or after exercise, for example, this is quite normal. With palpitations, you feel your heart beating clearly in your chest or, for example, in your head. Some people even feel their heart skip a beat or make an extra beat. 

Even during pregnancy this is something that occurs regularly and we understand very well that this can be frightening. However, the fact that you experience palpitations during pregnancy is logically explained. During pregnancy extra blood is produced (about one and a half liters), because your baby also needs nutrients and blood. So your heart has to work harder to pump this blood around.

To pump this extra volume of blood around, the heart’s four cavities become slightly larger and the muscle walls thicken. This allows more blood to be pumped around with one “beat.

Besides the size of the heart increasing slightly, the number of heartbeats per minute also increases gradually during pregnancy. The average number of beats per minute is highest in the last trimester. The heart then beats 10 to 20 more times per minute.

How special it is that your heart is literally growing for your baby!

12. Ligament pain

Your uterus is attached to your lower back and pelvis with ligaments. Because your uterus grows with your baby, these ligaments are suddenly under a lot of pressure and have to stretch, causing a nagging or pressing sensation in the lower abdomen, groin or back. Some women experience this pain from time to time, while others experience it throughout their whole pregnancy. 

In most cases, ligament pain begins at 20 weeks of pregnancy. With a subsequent pregnancy, it may start earlier because your (abdominal) muscles are already a bit more stretched and can provide less support.

Tip: If you tilt your pelvis forward and straighten your back, the uterus “hangs” a little less on the ligaments and hopefully the pain decreases. Sometimes against ligament pain it helps to wear a belly band.

13. Hypertension

10% of women who become pregnant for the first time experience hypertension, also known as pregnancy hypertension. High blood pressure during pregnancy can create dangers for you and your baby. You are at risk of preeclampsia and your baby may experience growth retardation. 

That’s why your blood pressure is always closely monitored by the midwife to diagnose hypertension at an early stage.

14. Varicose veins

Many pregnant women suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy. This is because due to pregnancy hormones, the walls of your veins become weaker. This causes the return flow of your deoxygenated blood to not flow properly and puts pressure on your veins causing them to expand. This can become visible and blue-purple veins can start to show through your skin. 

To try to prevent varicose veins, you can do the following:

  • Move your legs as much as possible
  • Sit with your legs elevated
  • Placing a pillow under the mattress while sleeping
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed

15. Constipation

Pregnancy hormones affect many things, including your digestion. Progesterone hormone causes your intestines to slow down. As your stool sits longer in your intestines, more fluid is withdrawn and you may experience constipation. 

Not only the hormones, but also your growing uterus affects your digestion. Your baby needs space to grow, this puts pressure on your intestines. As a result, they have less space and therefore will not work as well.

16. Hemorrhoids

During pregnancy, you may suffer from, as mentioned earlier, constipation. Prolonged pressure during defecation or childbirth can cause hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swellings of veins near the anus, inside or outside your anus. This can form a painful clot and is therefore experienced by many women as the most annoying pregnancy ailment. Hemorrhoids cause a lot of pain and itching. 

Tips: Try to avoid constipation. There are also ointments to reduce the pain and itchiness. An ice pack could also possibly help relieve some of the pain.

17. Cramping in the calves

About half of pregnant women experience cramping in the calves during pregnancy. It often occurs from the second trimester onward and may persist until the end of pregnancy. Besides being very painful, it can also interfere well with your sleep…. How the cramping occurs is possibly due to several factors:

  • Fatigue of your muscles. The muscles in your legs have to carry more weight, so they will tire faster.
  • Blood flow. Because your uterus is growing, there may be extra pressure on the veins in your legs, causing blood flow to be disrupted. 
  • Fluid deprivation. During pregnancy, you may be fluid deficient, which can cause cramping to occur more quickly.

18. Heartburn

Over 50 to 70% of women suffer from heartburn during pregnancy. Your stomach is closed off by a valve, which prevents food from going back into your esophagus. The hormone Progesterone, which your body produces more during pregnancy, causes the muscle that closes your stomach to weaken. Which allows stomach acid from your stomach to enter your esophagus. This can cause a very burning sensation. At the beginning of pregnancy, your hormones are the cause of heartburn.

At the end of your pregnancy, your growing uterus may well be the culprit. This will at some point start to press against your stomach, allowing stomach acid to move up your esophagus.

Tip: Stop drinking coffee, carbonated water or orange juice and eat smaller portions that do not contain too much fat. What applies to the outside, now also applies to the inside: be gentle with yourself.