Minor Ailments in Middle Pregnancy and Their Management

During pregnancy, the rapidly rising hormones, like oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin, change the maternal body into a suitable environment for the foetus. Most of these bodily changes are normal.

  • Most of the minor ailments in pregnancy will spontaneously subside after delivery. Therefore, pregnant women do not need to worry.
  • Herbs and medicines should be avoided especially during early pregnancy because they can enter the foetal circulation through the placenta. Some medications exert toxic or teratogenic effect on the foetus. One should always seek doctor’s advice before taking any medications.

Leg Cramp

  • This usually occurs at rest and therefore can affect sleep. It usually results from muscle tension.
  • Sometimes severe vomiting can lead to low level of calcium and potassium in blood, resulting in cramps.
  • If severe vomiting presents at the same time, hospitalisation for electrolyte replacement may be necessary.

Tips

  • Stretch your leg, point your toes towards your head

Prevent leg cramps

Leg exercise: Sit with back supported by pillow or head rest of bed. Rest the feet on two pillows, move the ankles up and down, inward and outward, then combine these movements by making a circle. Repeat 10 times. (Please refer to “Antenatal Exercise”)

Varicose Veins

  • Varicose veins are swollen veins that bulge near the surface of the skin, usually in legs, sometimes in vulva during pregnancy.

Tips

  • Avoid standing for long periods of time
  • Avoid sitting with your legs crossed
  • Wear flat shoes instead of high heel as your calf muscles move better and foster healthy circulation
  • Sit with your legs up as often as you can, to ease the discomfort
  • Sleep with your legs higher than the rest of your body – use pillows under your ankles or put books under the foot of your bed
  • Do foot exercises and other antenatal exercises, walking and swimming, which will help your circulation
  • Try compression stockings. To prevent blood from pooling in your legs, put the stockings on before getting out of bed in the morning, while you’re still lying down. It makes it easier for blood to flow up toward your heart.

Low Back Pain

  • The gradually growing foetus and the enlarging uterus exert greater and greater pressure on the spine and the pelvis. Low back pain is very common as pregnancy advances.

Tips

  • Wear comfortable footwear and avoid high heel shoes.
  • Keep the spine straight and maintain correct postures while sitting and standing.
  • Sleep by lying sideways and rest the back on a wedge to support the lower back.
  • Practise antenatal exercise. (Please refer to “Antenatal exercise”leaflet)
  • Physiotherapy and pelvic corset can help to reduce low back pain. Please consult your doctor if the pain becomes severe.

Haemorrhoid (Piles)

  • As the uterus grows larger in later pregnancy, pelvic pressure increases and haemorrhoid may result.
  • Pelvic pressure is even higher during vaginal delivery and the haemorrhoid may become bigger.
  • Very often, the haemorrhoid will subside spontaneously a few months after delivery.

Tips

  • Drink adequate fluid every day and consume a high fibre diet to avoid constipation.
  • Apply local application to soothe the pain.
  • Consult doctor if there is large amount of bleeding while opening the bowel.

Skin Problems

Itchy Rash

During pregnancy, the skin becomes more sensitive and sometimes itchy because of the hormonal changes. You may notice some tiny, slightly raised, red spots or slightly bigger wheals especially over your tummy, legs and buttock. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about and it would go away several weeks after delivery.

Tips

  • Try not to scratch as this could worsen the itchiness and might cause skin infection
  • Avoid showering with hot, steamy water, rubbing the towel against your skin and using excessive soap
  • Wear loose, cotton clothing
  • Apply adequate amount of moisturizers

If you have the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice immediately. It could be related to obstetric cholestasis or pregnancy complications.

  • Vesicles
  • Severe and persistent itching which might have affected sleep
  • Fever, jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin), the colour of your urine darken, joint pain

Acne

You may have exacerbation of acne when you are pregnant due to the hormonal changes.

Tips

  • Keep your skin clean.
  • Avoid eating hot and spicy food.
  • You should consult a doctor instead of using over-the-counter medications for worsening acne. Some acne medications could lead to malformation of your baby.

Stretch Marks (Striae)

  • Stretch marks are often the result of the rapid stretching of the skin. Many pregnant women develop striae during the second half of pregnancy, especially those bearing heavier baby or with multiple pregnancy.
  • It commonly appears on the skin of tummy, thighs and breasts. Initially, it appears as pink, as the baby growth, it turns purple. After delivery, it gradually turns white. Yet, it might never disappear completely.

Tips

  • Up till now, no cream is found to be effective in preventing striae completely.
  • Keeping the skin well moisturised by applying lotion or olive oil helps to decrease the severity of striae.
  • Striae will gradually fade after delivery. Postnatal exercise can help to tighten the skin in abdomen. (Please refer to “Postnatal exercise” leftlet)
(Content revised 07/2017)