Common Ailments of Pregnancy

Pregnancy asks a lot of your body, and it isn’t surprising that it also comes with specific discomforts and ailments that can last for just a few days, or right through the term. Knowing what to expect and tricks for minimising the effects will help you feel more confident, even if you do feel unwell.


Heartburn is an uncomfortable ailment which you are most likely to encounter during the last months, or third trimester, of your pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone, progesterone, relaxes the working of your oesophagus and of the muscle controlling the entrance to your stomach. At the same time, baby takes more and more space, pushing stomach contents so that stomach acid comes back up, causing heartburn.

Five tips to avoid heartburn:

  • Whenever you can, try to sit up and eat. You can even lean back slightly to give your stomach a little more space.
  • If heartburn bothers you at night, raise your head with an extra pillow.
  • Eating regularly makes it less likely that you will have problems – food in your stomach holds down the heartburn.
  • You can reduce the pain and discomfort by eating a handful of unroasted hazelnuts, a tablespoon of raw oat flakes or a dish of yoghurt.
  • Do not eat spicy food when pregnant and avoid fizzy water.


Constipation can become more of a problem during your pregnancy for several reasons:

  • Progesterone makes your digestive system work more slowly
  • The forward movement of the intestine, known as peristalsis, also slows down
  • The growing baby leaves your intestines less room to do their job
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements recommended during pregnancy can slow down your bowel movements
  • The muscles and connective tissues become weaker as birth nears, to facilitate an easier birth
  • And, of course, as you get heavier, you have a tendency to move less.

Five tips to keep your bowels going when you are pregnant:

  1. Drink at least two litres of water every day
  2. Include fibre in your diet, with at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Try soaking dried apricots and prunes for a few hours in water and add a few each day as snacks or with breakfast cereal
  3. Choose wholegrain whenever you can, as white bread and white rice slow down your bowel movements
  4. Muesli with water, milk or juice is better than dry snacks like crispbread and biscuits
  5. Take a little walk – the more you walk, the better it is for you.

Fluid retention during pregnancy

As your tummy swells, your legs and feet start to protest. They feel heavy and may swell considerably. At the same time changes in your hormones will make your body retain moisture – necessary for the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Your obstetrician will recommend you to be moderate with the salt in your diet.

Tired and heavy legs

Blood flows easily down to your feet under the influence of gravity, but it finds it more difficult to flow back upwards to your heart. The result is extra blood pooling in your veins, resulting in a heavy feeling in your legs. If you are pregnant, you also have more blood than usual, which adds an extra burden for your veins. If you follow our ten tips for heavy legs you’re already doing a lot, but if your legs start to show varicose veins you must definitely consult a doctor.