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Alabama EFNEP; Woman having back pain because of pregnancy

Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting usually begin around the eighth week of pregnancy. This can be a sign of a healthful pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting become dangerous when you are unable to eat or drink anything. If this happens, you should contact your health care provider immediately. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • In the morning, eat a few crackers and rest for fifteen minutes before getting up.
  • Get out of bed slowly.
  • Eat small meals or snacks often so that your stomach does not become empty. For example, eat every two hours. Do not lie down right after eating. It is best not to skip meals.
  • Eat what you feel like eating and eat when you are hungry. You may want to avoid cooking or eating spicy, fatty, or fried foods.
  • If cooking smells bother you, open windows and turn on the stove fan. If possible, ask someone else to cook. Eat cold food instead of hot, as it may not smell as strongly.
  • Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. Drink non-caffeinated, carbonated beverages such as ginger ale.


Heartburn often results from relaxed muscles that allow stomach acids to rise. Heartburn is a very common problem during pregnancy, and it is often one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Eat small meals frequently throughout the day.
  • Chew slowly and deliberately.
  • Don’t drink while eating; consume plenty of fluids in between meals.
  • Keep track of foods that produce heartburn and eliminate them from your diet.
  • Avoid lying down after eating.
  • Avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, and spicy foods.

Urination Problems

Incontinence is a common problem that can affect you during and after pregnancy. Sometimes pregnant women are unable to prevent a sudden spurt of urine or a small leak when they cough, laugh, sneeze, move suddenly, or get up from a sitting position. Needing to urinate often may start in early pregnancy. Sometimes it continues throughout pregnancy. In later pregnancy, it is the result of baby’s head pressing on your bladder. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • If you find that you need to get up during the night to pass urine, try cutting out drinks in the late evening. Make sure, however, that you drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free drinks during the day. Later in pregnancy some women find it helps to rock backward and forward while they are on the toilet. This lessens the pressure of the womb on the bladder so that they can empty it properly.
  • Do Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles around the vagina tightly (as though you were stopping the flow of urine midstream). Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat this ten times. Do a set of Kegels at least five times a day.


You may become constipated very early in pregnancy. Constipation means you are not passing stools (feces) as often as you normally do. As a result, you have to strain more than usual or are unable to completely empty your bowels. Constipation also can cause your stools to be unusually hard, lumpy, large, or small. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Eat foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils.
  • Participate in physical activity regularly to keep your muscles toned.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Leg Cramps

A cramp is a sudden, sharp pain usually in your calf muscles or feet. It occurs most commonly at night. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Regular, gentle exercise in pregnancy, particularly ankle and leg movements, will improve your circulation and may help to prevent cramps from occurring.

Try these foot exercises:

  • Bend and stretch your foot up and down vigorously thirty times.
  • Rotate your foot eight times one way and eight times the other way.
  • Repeat with the other foot.

To help ease a cramp, try pulling your toes toward your ankle or vigorously rubbing the calf muscle or foot.

Feeling Faint

Pregnant women often feel faint. Fainting happens if your brain is not getting enough blood and, therefore, not enough oxygen. You are most likely to feel faint if you stand up too quickly from a chair or out of a bath. It also can happen when you are lying on your back and when you get out of bed too quickly. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Try to get up slowly after sitting or lying down.
  • If you feel faint while standing still, find a seat quickly, and the faintness should pass; if it doesn’t, lie down on your side.
  • If you feel faint while lying on your back, turn on your left side. It is better not to lie flat on your back in later pregnancy or during labor.

Hot Flashes

During pregnancy you’re likely to feel warmer than normal. You’re also likely to sweat more. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of natural fibers, as these are more absorbent and breathe more than synthetic fibers.
  • Keep your room cool. You could use an electric fan to cool it down.
  • Wash frequently to help you feel fresh.


Backaches often occur as your increasing weight pulls your spine forward and shifts your center of gravity. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Practice good posture. Tuck your buttocks under and stand straight and tall.
  • Wear supportive shoes with low heels.
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time. Put one foot on a step stool to relieve back stress while standing.
  • Participate in physical activity at least three times a week (e.g., swim, walk, stretch).
  • Get a back massage.
  • Rest.

Breast Changes

In preparation for producing milk, your breasts will increase in size during pregnancy as your milk glands enlarge and fatty tissue increases. They become tender and more sensitive and may tingle with temperature change or touch. As your blood supply increases, the blood vessels enlarge, and bluish veins may appear on your breasts. The areola and nipple also darken, and the Montgomery glands (the small pores around the areola) enlarge. Some women will notice a substance leaking from the nipple in the last three months of pregnancy. This is colostrum, the substance produced prior to breast milk. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Wear a supportive bra to ease the strain on your breasts and back muscles as your breasts become heavy. You may be more comfortable sleeping in a bra.
  • Wear disposable or washable breast pads if you are leaking colostrum.
  • Avoid soap in your areola and nipple, as this tends to dry out the skin.  Use warm water to keep the area clean.
  • If you are leaking, allow your breasts to air dry a few times a day and after a shower.

Difficulty Sleeping

During pregnancy, some women have trouble falling or staying asleep. In the early months, trouble sleeping may be part of your body’s adjustment to pregnancy. During the last few months, your increased size may make your normal sleeping position difficult, and baby’s kicking may wake you during the night. Also, increased bladder pressure may cause you to wake up often during the night. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Participate in physical activity daily.
  • Take a warm, relaxing bath before bed.
  • Reduce any noise or lighting that might keep you awake.
  • Avoid eating a big meal within two hours of going to bed.


Women often feel more tired than usual and need extra sleep during pregnancy.  Fatigue is an important sign from your body that you need extra rest. Listen to your body, and do not push yourself. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Rest as much as you can. Sit down and put your feet up.
  • Accept the fact that you need extra rest, and pace your daily life accordingly.
  • Take naps when you feel tired.
  • Try a rest break instead of a coffee break.
  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, as they may increase fatigue and be harmful.
  • Eat small, well-balanced meals several times a day.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough iron and protein.
  • Include physical activity, such as a brisk walk, in your daily routine.


The increased blood volume and your body’s hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause headaches. Stuffy nose, fatigue, eyestrain, anxiety, or tension also may increase the frequency of headaches. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Apply a cool, wet washcloth or ice pack to your forehead and/or to the back of your neck. (A warm cloth works better for some people.)
  • Try to get plenty of sleep every night and rest during the day when possible.
  • Try to eat something every two to three hours.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Take a warm shower or relaxing bath.
  • Get some fresh air or take a walk.


Being pregnant can lead to many conflicting emotions and mood changes. Many women are subject to sudden outbursts of emotion that can be caused by several factors, including fatigue, stress, and hormonal changes. Try these helpful coping tips:

  • Talk about your feelings and concerns.
  • Continue with activities you enjoy.
  • Take time to pamper yourself.
  • Be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Avoid becoming overly tired.

This is part of the Today’s Mom program of Alabama EFNEP.

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