Knowing what to expect and how to cope can help you have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a time of change for both you and your baby. During your pregnancy you will be experiencing many physical and emotional changes and your baby will be growing and developing.

To see a timeline of your baby’s development, visit fetal growth and development by March of Dimes.

The following list highlights some common concerns experienced during pregnancy and provides comfort measure suggestions. If you experience any unusual changes or are concerned, talk to your health care provider.

Changes During Pregnancy

You may have poor appetite or you may feel hungry but have no desire to eat. This can lead to weight loss, low energy, fatigue and nutrient loss.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Eat small meals or snacks every two to three hours
  • Include protein rich foods in meals and snacks
  • Eat food before drinking fluids
  • Choose cold or room temperature foods
  • Eat foods that you do not need to prepare like yogurt, fruit, nuts and crackers
  • Being active and getting fresh air can help improve your appetite
  • Find tips and menu ideas to improve your mood with food

It is common in pregnancy to experience pain or discomfort in your back due to the extra weight being carried.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Use good posture and body mechanics
  • Apply warm compresses to the sore area
  • Sleep on a firm mattress and tuck a pillow between your legs

Occasional bleeding from the gums is common in pregnancy due to changes in hormone levels.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Get dental cleanings and check-ups every six months
  • Tell your dentist that your are pregnant

Difficulty passing stools.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Being active
  • Drink plenty of fluids (about 10 cups each day). Find ideas on how to make water your drink of choice.
  • Eat foods high in fibre such as vegetables and fruit, beans, lentils, oatmeal, bran cereal, and baked goods containing bran or flaxseeds
  • Talk to your health care provider before taking any fibre supplements, laxatives or over-the-counter constipation medication

Loose, watery stools and frequent bowel movements (more than three times a day).

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Try to avoid:
  • Foods that cause you to produce gas
  • Drink plenty of fluids (about 10 cups each day)
  • Choose foods high in soluble fibre such as legumes (e.g. beans and lentils), whole grains (e.g., oats, barley), vegetables (e.g. avocado, sweet potato, green peas, carrots, okra, eggplant), and fruit (e.g. pear, apples, oranges, figs)
  • Milk and milk products may worsen your diarrhea; choose alternatives like soy milk, or lactose-free milk instead

A ‘burning’ feeling in your throat and chest. As your baby grows there is less room for your stomach and the food you have eaten.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Eat small amounts of food throughout the day
  • Avoid eating close to bedtime
  • Stay upright for at least one hour after eating. If you need to lie down, prop yourself up on a pillow
  • Limit high fat, spicy, greasy or fried foods
  • Limit acidic foods, such as oranges and lemons
  • Limit coffee, tea, chocolate and mint
  • Drink fluids between meals, not with your meal
  • Talk to your health care provider before taking heartburn medications

Swollen veins in the rectal area, which can cause itching, pain, and/or bleeding.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Follow the suggestions for constipation
  • Try not to strain during bowel movements
  • Take warm baths
  • Use hemorrhoid ointment if needed

Painful muscle contractions in the lower leg.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Exercise and stretch throughout the day to improve circulation in your lower body
  • During a leg cramp, gently stretch the calf of your leg by straightening your leg and pointing your foot towards your knee. Gently massaging your calf may also help.

Many individuals suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This is sometimes called ‘morning sickness’, but it can happen at any time of the day.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Eat small meals or snacks every two to three hours
  • Eat cold foods
  • Try to include protein rich foods in meals and snacks
  • Limit greasy and fried foods
  • Avoid strong flavours, like pepper, chili and garlic
  • Separate solids and liquids
  • Drink small amounts of fluid at a time, to avoid dehydration
  • Try lemonade or ginger ale
  • Eat plain, starchy foods before getting out of bed or when feeling nauseous. Keep crackers by your bed to eat before getting up.
  • Avoid smelling foods while they are being cooked
  • If your morning sickness lasts more than three months or causes you to lose weight, talk to your health care provider. Prescription medication may help.

Although they may be worrisome to you, they are not harmful.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Use lotion to help keep your skin moist and reduce the itchiness of dry skin
  • Stay out of the sun or use sunscreen

Pregnancy may cause you to retain extra fluid. Sometimes this extra fluid can cause gradual swelling of hands, legs, ankles and feet.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Rest with your legs up
  • Lie on your left side while sleeping. It helps your blood flow from your legs back to your heart.
  • Drink plenty of water and move around during the day
  • Call your health care provider if you have puffiness around your eyes or sudden, dramatic swelling of your face, hands, ankles, legs or feet

It is common, especially in the first trimester.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Talk to your health care provider as it may be a sign of anemia (low iron level)
  • Take a daytime nap if possible
  • Rest

It is common to take longer to fall asleep and you may wake up often throughout the night.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Try to avoid:
    • Food and drinks with caffeine. The effects of caffeine can last and keep you awake up to eight hours.
    • Going to bed hungry. Have a small snack high in fibre and protein (berries with yogurt, nut butter with whole grain bread).
    • Eating large meals in the evening that are greasy or spicy
  • Drink fluids throughout the day and avoid having too much in the hours before bed
  • Create a bed time ritual to help you relax
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment – use pillows to support your joints and back, sleep in a cool, dark room
  • Be active during the day

It is normal to urinate (“pee”) more often as the growing fetus puts pressure on your bladder.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • If it burns when you urinate, see your health care provider

Swollen veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin.

Suggested comfort measures:

  • Avoid clothing that is tight around your legs or waist
  • Rest and put your feet up as much as you can
  • Move around if you must stand for long periods
  • Support/compression stockings may help