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Woman holding baby bumpWoman holding baby bump

Complications during pregnancy

Pregnancy can affect a women’s body in different ways and at different times. The changes taking place can cause irritation or discomfort which may cause concern.

You should always raise any worries with your GP, midwife or the hospital. They will be able to give you advice and suggest any actions you may need to take.

You can read about common health problems during pregnancy on the NHS website.

Existing health problems during pregnancy

You should discuss any existing health problems with your GP when you're trying to get pregnant or when you find out you're pregnant. Your GP or midwife will tell you if you need to be aware of any risks and if any existing problems may affect your pregnancy.

Sickness

It’s very common to experience nausea and / or vomiting during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks.

Some women can suffer from an extreme sickness condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).  If you’re being sick frequently and can’t keep food and water down contact your GP as soon as possible.

Severe sickness in pregnancy on the NHS website

Time off work for sickness

Sickness in pregnancy is treated the same as any other period of sickness, you must provide a medical certificate to your place of work and / or Customer and Local Services (formally Social Security).

Payments if you're off work sick (Short Term Incapacity Allowance)

Bleeding

Light bleeding is quite common during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but, bleeding can also be a sign that something is wrong. If you experience bleeding contact your doctor, the out of hours GP or the Emergency Department at the hospital as soon as possible.

If you're more than 12 weeks pregnant and you experience bleeding contact Delivery Suite on +44 (0) 1534 442448, don't wait until your next antenatal appointment. Your midwife will advise you on the correct course of action for you.

Stomach pain

Mild stomach pains or cramps can be a normal part of pregnancy caused by your ligaments stretching or bloating. However, if you have a pain that doesn't go away or it becomes very uncomfortable you should contact your doctor, the out of hours GP, Delivery Suite +44 (0) 1534 442448 or the Emergency Department at the hospital as soon as possible.

If you're more than 12 weeks pregnant and you experience severe stomach pains you should contact the Delivery Suite +44 (0) 1534 442448 or the Emergency Department straight away and they'll advise you.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a rise in blood pressure and can be the first sign of a condition called pre-eclampsia. Your blood pressure will be checked at every antenatal appointment that you have. You need to contact your midwife straight away if you get any of the following:

  • severe headaches
  • blurred vision or spots before your eyes
  • swelling, especially in your hands or face
  • severe pain below your ribs
  • vomiting

Pre-eclampsia on the NHS website

Overweight and pregnant

Your body mass index (BMI) is used to work out if you’re overweight before you become pregnant. To find out our BMI you can use the BMI calculator on the NHS website.

A BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you're overweight, and a BMI of 30 or above means you're very overweight, or obese.

If you have a BMI over 35 your midwife will refer you for dietetic support at the hospital. You may also be offered a glucose tolerance test at 28 weeks and extra scans.

Screening for diabetes (glucose tolerance test) on the NHS website

Most women who are overweight deliver healthy babies and have a straightforward pregnancy. However, there may be increased risks including:

  • miscarriage
  • gestational diabetes
  • pre-eclampsia
  • blood-clots
  • increased risk of requiring caesarean section or operative birth

You can read more about weight and pregnancy on the NHS website and why your weight matters during pregnancy on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website.

Diabetes

Diabetes is when there's a higher than normal amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood.

You may already have diabetes before you were pregnant or you could develop it while you're pregnant, this is called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes doesn't usually cause any symptoms. Most cases are picked up when your blood sugar level is tested during routine pregnancy blood tests.

If you have diabetes or develop it during your pregnancy you will receive extra monitoring to make sure that you and your baby stay healthy.

If you develop diabetes during pregnancy it usually disappears after you’ve had your baby, although you will be at risk at developing diabetes in later life. Your GP can monitor you for this.

Developing diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) on the NHS website

Existing diabetes and pregnancy on the NHS website

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP)

PGP is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at the back or front of your pelvis.

Symptoms include:

  • pain in the front and centre of your pubic bone
  • pain across your lower back
  • pain in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum)

The pain can also radiate to your thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area. The pain is usually felt more when you are:

  • walking
  • going upstairs
  • standing on one leg (for example, when you’re getting dressed or going upstairs)
  • turning over in bed

It can also be difficult to move your legs apart, for example, when you get out of your car.

Treatment for PGP

Physiotherapy can help to relieve or ease the pain, improve muscle function and improve your pelvic joint position and stability. This can include:

  • manual therapy to make sure the joints of your pelvis, hip and spine move normally
  • exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor, stomach, back and hip muscles
  • exercises in water
  • advice and suggestions, including positions for labour and birth, looking after your baby and positions for sex
  • pain relief, such as TENS machines
  • equipment, if necessary, such as crutches or pelvic support belts

Who to contact for help with PGP

Speak with your midwife or doctor and they can refer you to a physiotherapist at the hospital. They can help you to manage your pain and show you exercises that may help.

Itching

Many women experience itching during pregnancy as your skin stretches as your baby grows. Itching may also be caused by raised levels of different chemicals in your blood. But if you have severe itching it could be a sign of a condition called obstetric cholestasis. The itching may be more noticeable on your hands and feet, but can all also be all over the body.

Itching and obstetric cholestasis on the NHS website

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