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Common pregnancy concerns

Updated: Oct 4, 2018

Pregnancy can increase sensitivity to odors and to foods. Swelling of feet and ankles and loosening of hip ligaments in the third trimester can make walking more difficult and may increase risk of losing balance and falling on slippery ground.

A medical professional is listening for a fetal heart beat with a stethoscope on the abdomen of a pregnant woman in her third trimester .
Hearing the baby's heart beat can make discomforts worth the wait.

Discomforts in pregnancy can vary from being annoying for some women to being life threatening for others. Reducing stress levels whether physical or emotional can help them all but may be particularly important for a woman with more severe discomforts or complications.

“Morning sickness? - Call it all day sickness.”
"Puffy ankles? - Why are my hands and face puffy then?"

Feeling nauseated in the morning can be a typical discomfort during the first trimester for many women but for some it includes vomiting and can occur all day long. Smells of food, chemicals, or even perfume may make it worse. Being sensitive and skipping the perfume or cologne may be courteous if someone you live with or work with is having more difficulty with morning sickness because for many it can be all-day-sickness. Not eating lunch or other snacks with a lot of aroma at your desk or nearby can also help - take it to the breakroom or another room if possible.

Swelling, retaining extra fluid between cells, is called edema and it can be fairly common for a woman in her second or third trimester to start getting puffy ankles or feet. It can help her to have more frequent breaks to prop her feet on a chair or even to lay down on the floor (maybe on an exercise mat) and prop her feet up on a wall so that the fluid has gravity to help it move towards the abdomen where it can be excreted by the kidneys. If the puffiness is also occurring in a woman's hands and face than it may indicate a more severe condition called pre-eclampsia. More frequent breaks or work that can be performed sitting down with feet propped up can help. Breaks a few times a day to spend in a relaxed Knee/chest yoga style position may help relieve internal pressure on the abdominal area and promote better excretion of extra fluid. When fluid collects it means toxins are also collecting and the condition may become life threatening for the woman and infant if the edema and high blood pressure worsen. For more information and a drawing of the Knee/chest position see: G5: Pre-eclampsia & TRP Channels,

Prenatal discomforts are common, it can help to be courteous.

Not all women want pickles and ice cream and many may get tired of jokes about it.

  • Cravings can occur and may suggest a need for more of some nutrient. More severe morning sickness sometimes is helped by lemonade and potato chips - nutritious? The combination is providing electrolytes from the salt and the potassium and magnesium content of the potatoes. The lemonade is replacing stomach acid with the lemon juice and also providing a little of the electrolyte potassium. The lemonade sipped very gradually can be easier on an unsettled stomach than drinking a large glass quickly.

  • Pickles are also a source of acidity which may be low if vomiting is occurring in addition to feeling queasy. Greasy foods like ice cream however may make queasiness worse. Small portions more frequently of any food may be the most comfortable for a pregnant woman as it is easier to digest during the early months and takes up less space in the overcrowded abdomen during the later months of pregnancy.

  • Cravings for chocolate may suggest a need for phospholipids which are important for building membranes and help with fetal brain development. Chocolate has very little caffeine compared to coffee and the fat and sugar content may be more of a concern if blood sugar or weight gain is an issue. Baker's cocoa powder is sugar free and has no added fat and dark chocolate tends to have less sugar and fat added than milk chocolate. Chocolate also provides other antioxidants and nutrients and can be a healthy addition to the diet in moderation (an ounce or less per day would be moderate). Phospholipids are present in human breast milk and help stimulate the baby's appetite and promote a healthy weight gain for the newborn.

Baby-on-board is a blessing and can be a joy as well as add discomforts for the expectant woman. Ask her if you can help in anyway and let her guide you in what is a help for her needs during each stage of the pregnancy. Things change as her body adapts to the growing infant - what to expect when expecting? changes in shape, changes in diet, changes in mood, changes in energy level. It can be normal to have bursts of energy in anticipation of the expected bundle of joy and plans for a nursery may be made that can't be completed as envisioned - remember babies needs their caregivers most, not decorations. Focus on health and cleanliness and if the curtains don't match the crib-liner, oh well, the baby won't care.


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