Information for the public

Managing common problems

Pregnancy brings a variety of physical and emotional changes. Many of these changes are normal and pose no danger to you or your baby, even though some of them may cause you discomfort. Remember that your midwife or doctor is there to give you information and support.


Backache is common in pregnant women. You may find that massage therapy, exercising in water or going to group or individual back care classes may help you to relieve the pain.


If you become constipated while you are pregnant, your midwife or doctor should tell you ways in which you can change your diet (such as eating more bran or wheat fibre) to help relieve the problem.

Haemorrhoids (piles)

There is no research evidence on how well treatments for haemorrhoids work. However, if you get haemorrhoids, your midwife or doctor should give you information on what you can do to change your diet. If your symptoms continue to be troublesome, they may offer you a cream to help relieve the problem.


Your midwife or doctor should give you information about what to do if you get heartburn during your pregnancy. If it persists, they should offer you antacids to relieve the symptoms.

Nausea and sickness

You may feel sick or experience vomiting in the early part of your pregnancy. This does not indicate that anything is wrong. It usually stops at around your 16th to 20th week. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about this. You may find that using wrist acupressure or taking ginger tablets or syrup helps to relieve these symptoms. If you have severe problems, your doctor may give you further help or prescribe antihistamine tablets for sickness.


If you have thrush (a yeast infection – also known as candida or vaginal candidiasis) your doctor may prescribe cream and/or pessaries for you to apply to the area for 1 week. While you are pregnant, it is best to avoid taking any medicine for thrush that needs to be swallowed. There is no evidence about how safe or effective these medicines are for pregnant women.

Vaginal discharge

You may get more vaginal discharge than usual while you are pregnant. This is usually nothing to worry about. However, if the discharge becomes itchy or sore, or smells unpleasant, or you have pain on passing urine, tell your midwife or doctor, because you may have an infection.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are also common. They are not harmful during pregnancy. Compression stockings may relieve the symptoms (such as swelling of your legs), although they will not stop the veins from appearing.