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10 of the Worst Pregnancy Side Effects and How to Handle Them

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10 of the Worst Side Effects of Pregnancy and How to Handle Them Martinan/fotolia

Pregnancy side effects like gas, incontinence and swelling can be embarrassing and painful. Here are 10 of the worst side effects and how to handle them.

1) Fatigue

Growing a baby uses a lot of your body's resources, so fatigue is common. Toss in an increase in progesterone which can work like a sedative, and that ups the ante, according to Parents.

UCSF Medical Center recommends getting as much sleep as possible, including short naps. Exercise increases your energy. Just be mindful of the intensity.

2) Morning Sickness

This is generally at its worst in the a.m., but morning sickness can last all day. It seems increased amounts of estrogen stimulate the brain area responsible for nausea and vomiting.

Eat small frequent meals. Stay away from fatty, fried or spicy foods. Before getting out of bed, try eating dry starchy foods, like crackers or toast. Limit coffee, which can make nausea worse.

3) Frequent Urination

Thanks to hormonal changes, your bladder fills more often because increased circulating blood volume means your kidneys have to filter more fluid. Plus, you can expect more pressure on your bladder as your uterus keeps growing.

Basically just pee when you need to pee. And limiting fluids is not the answer. “Your body needs more water to sustain increased amniotic fluid and blood levels during pregnancy,” said Parents.

4) Incontinence

Pregnant women can experience incontinence. Try panty liners to catch any leaks, and make plenty of trips to the bathroom, WebMD suggested.

5) Bloating and Excess Gas

Women experience much higher levels of progesterone during pregnancy. This causes the body’s gastrointestinal tract to slow down the digestive process. The result: gas, bloating, burping, flatulence and an upset stomach.

To get food moving faster through the gastrointestinal tract, try exercise. Avoid things like carbonated beverages, beans, cauliflower and dried fruit.

6) Breast Tenderness

During the first trimester, breasts become tender and get larger. Wear soft, stretchy bras. At night, try a well-fitting tank or a soft sleep bra, Parents said.

7) Constipation

Once again the hormone progesterone is to blame by slowing food moving through your digestive tract. Constipation may get worse later in pregnancy due to the pressure of your growing uterus puts on your rectum.

Increase your fiber by eating foods such as fruits, raw vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dried fruits. Keep fluids intake high. Exercise helps lessen constipation. Safe stool softeners can be prescribed by your doctor, according to UCSF Medical Center.

8) Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can be a little itchy or even somewhat painful. Sometimes they can cause rectal bleeding.

Eat more fiber and keep fluid intake high to prevent hemorrhoids. If they develop, anti-inflammatory creams and witch hazel pads are safe to use. Stool softeners are okay, but first consult your doctor.

9) Swollen Extremities

This is normal because you're retaining more water. During pregnancy your blood chemistry changes. This can push fluid into your tissue, said BabyCenter.

One remedy: elevate your feet and legs to improve circulation and reduce swelling.

10) Backache

Back pain can result when you shift your posture because you’re carrying extra weight in front. UCSF Medical Center suggested trying a pelvic rock exercise to ease backaches and to strengthen your lower back muscles. Elevating your feet while sitting also helps.

Reviewed October 14, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

"12 Icky Pregnancy Side Effects | BabyCenter." BabyCenter. N.p., 2016. Web. 13 Oct.2016.

"Coping With Common Discomforts of Pregnancy." UCSF Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Fields, Lisa. "7 Embarrassing Pregnancy Symptoms." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Johnson, Sharlene K. "Handling a Tough First Trimester of Pregnancy." Parents. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.