Being pregnant

Each woman is different and therefore, each pregnancy is different. The first trimester of pregnancy is characterized by a hormonal change. It could well be that the absence of your period is the only sign of a pregnancy, but it could also be that you clearly notice that your body is adapting to changes due to the pregnancy. Nausea, fatigue and ligament pain are the most common complaints.

Nausea

The fertilised egg and, later, the placenta produce the hormone hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). This hormone can cause nausea. Nausea is difficult to treat, but it can help to avoid having an empty stomach. Try to eat something before you get up in the morning, and try to frequently eat something light between meals. Avoid food that is heavy or rich in fat. A good night’s sleep and frequent naps during the day can also prevent nausea. If the nausea gets really bad, your GP or gynecologist can prescribe medication.

Fatigue

Hormonal changes and the growth of the uterus and of the baby will cost extra energy. Therefore, it is normal to feel tired when you’re pregnant. Usually there is not much that can be done about it, except sleeping a few hours. Usually, women feel less fatigued after the first trimester.

Ligament pain

The growth of your uterus could cause a cramping pain. The stretching of the ligaments of the uterus could cause a sharp pain in the groin. Both complaints are normal during pregnancy.

Other complaints

Other common pregnancy discomforts are: frequent urination, sensitive or painful breasts and mood swings. All of these discomforts are normal during a pregnancy, but if the discomforts become really bad, please do not hesitate to talk to us. For more information, see ‘pregnancy discomforts’.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common complaints for pregnant women in the first three months of their pregnancy. The symptoms are often the worst in the morning. This so-called morning sickness is caused by hormonal and physical changes; your body still has to adjust to the new situation. It usually helps to get up slowly in the morning and to have a cup of tea and something to eat (like a cracker, granola bar or biscuit) before starting your daily routine. It is very normal to have less appetite during the day, and to be sensitive to certain smells. If the vomiting gets too bad or you cannot eat or drink at all, please contact your midwife.

Fatigue

Many women experience fatigue at the beginning of their pregnancy. Your body is working hard to give the pregnancy a good start, which is why you might have less energy. Fortunately, these complaints usually disappear after three months, and you will feel stronger and fitter in the months that follow. However, should you suffer from persistent fatigue after the first three months, please let us know during your pregnancy checkup, so that we determine a course of action.

Constipation

Constipation can be defined as hard stools and not being able to go to the bathroom in a normal and relaxed way. Constipation can also cause abdominal pain, which is why it is very important to do something about it. Eat high-fiber foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and make sure you have a balanced diet. If all of this does not work, it might help to add a couple of teaspoons of flaxseed to your food or to use lactulose. We can give you further advice during your appointment.

Abdominal pain

In the beginning of your pregnancy, you will often feel some pain in your abdomen due to the fact that your uterus is growing. Some women experience more abdominal pain than others. Later on in the pregnancy, you will feel more pain in your sides and in your groin. We call this round ligament pain. This pain is very natural: your uterus is bigger and heavier and your ligaments have to carry more weight. Be aware of your posture and do not lift anything heavy. At 20 weeks pregnant and onwards, it is better not to sit up straight when you are getting out of bed, but to roll over on your side first. Constipation can also be a cause of abdominal pain. It is wise to take this seriously. If you experience a nagging pain in your abdomen, it might also be a sign of a bladder infection. Please let us know if you are experiencing such health issues.

Vaginal bleeding or spotting

One in five pregnant women experience bleeding or spotting in the first three months of pregnancy. Usually, the bleeding is innocent and will disappear after a day or two. Sometimes, however, it can be a first sign of a miscarriage. In that case the bleeding will continue and you will get additional stomach cramps, as if you are about to have heavy menstrual bleeding. Vaginal bleeding or spotting after sex is harmless. Later on in the pregnancy, when you are close to your due date, you could experience some vaginal bleeding caused by a hard stomach. Vaginal bleeding is always a good reason to call us. If you are losing a lot of blood, please call the emergency telephone number.

Vaginal discharge

It is quite normal for pregnant women to have more vaginal discharge than usual. Normal discharge is clear or light-colored and looks a bit slimy. If you have green, brown, or frothy discharge, possibly in combination with itching, you should contact us during office hours.

Heartburn

At 30 weeks pregnant and onwards, you could experience heartburn. This is mainly caused by your baby slightly pushing your stomach aside, so that stomach acid can rise up into your oesophagus more easily. It could help to drink a little bit of milk or to slowly chew on raw almonds. It could also help to sleep more upright than you are used to. You can use medication for heartburn, as long as the medication is suitable for pregnant women. During your appointment, we can give you further advice.

Pelvic pain

In the beginning of your pregnancy, you will often feel some pain in your abdomen due to the fact that your uterus is growing. Some women experience more abdominal pain than others. Later on in the pregnancy, you will feel more pain in your sides and in your groin. We call this round ligament pain. This pain is very natural: your uterus is bigger and heavier and your ligaments have to carry more weight. Be aware of your posture and do not lift anything heavy. At 20 weeks pregnant and onwards, it is better not to sit up straight when you are getting out of bed, but to roll over on your side first. Constipation can also be a cause of abdominal pain. It is wise to take this seriously. If you experience a nagging pain in your abdomen, it might also be a sign of a bladder infection. Please let us know if you are experiencing such health issues.

Heart rate

You could have a high heart rate during your pregnancy. This is due to your heart having to pump harder as more blood is flowing through your body. This is no cause for concern. If it bothers you, try and breathe through your nose when you feel your heart rate is increasing.

Incontinence

Pregnancy can cause stress incontinence, which is caused by weaker pelvic floor muscles, and the baby sometimes pushing on your bladder. Please let us know if you are experiencing stress incontinence, so that we can offer you some exercises to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. We can also refer you to a physiotherapist.

Fluid retention

Especially at the end of your pregnancy, your body will retain fluid. During the summer, this is usually a little more problematic than during the winter. Your hands and feet are swollen and your rings and shoes do not fit you as well as before. This is all perfectly normal. There is no need to eat less salt or to drink less; doing so will have the opposite effect. Please contact us if your body retains a lot of fluid in a short period of time, or if you gain a lot of weight.

Itching

Itching during pregnancy can occur for different reasons. Itchy skin is very common during pregnancy and often occurs in combination with acne. Sometimes you will only experience itching on your belly, which is caused by the stretching of the skin of your growing belly. Menthol gel or oil can help to relieve the itching. A medical eximination is necessary, if your whole body or just your extremities feel itchy, without there being a rash. Please contact us to make an appointment.

Hard stomach (Braxton Hicks)

At 30 weeks pregnant and onwards, your uterus will start contracting every now and then. We call this a “hard stomach”, which can be described as the uterus preparing for the delivery of your baby. Some women often suffer from a hard stomach, but others do not at all. A hard stomach is harmless as long as it does not hurt and does not occur frequently. If the hard stomach is, however, painful or occuring frequently, please call us on the emergency telephone number.

Problems sleeping

Many women have trouble sleeping during their pregnancy. Possible causes include frequent urination, being unable to find a comfortable position due to your growing belly, having a hard stomach at night, or the baby being restless. It often helps to take a nap in the afternoon. A nap will help you break the vicious circle of not sleeping. If you cannot sleep because you are anxious or stressed, we can help you find a solution. A foot massage or a glass of warm milk and honey before you go to bed could help. Sleeping pills should only be used when they are prescribed by your GP.

Moeders voor Moeders

The Dutch organization “Moeders voor Moeders”, roughly translated as “Mothers helping other mothers”.
For more information, please go to the website of Moeders voor Moeders.

Moeders voor Moeders
KNOV verloskundige