At the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, each patient is an important member of her own care team and we believe education is the cornerstone of our high-quality care. Find information about minor discomforts and their remedies.

Abdominal Cramping

It is common in early pregnancy to feel cramping similar to menstrual cramps. You may also feel a bloated sensation. Later on in your pregnancy, there may be lower pelvic/groin discomfort on either side. This is caused by the stretching of the round ligaments and muscles that support the enlarging uterus. A heating pad and rest can help.

Backaches

Late in your pregnancy, the weight of your growing fetus causes changes in your posture which may cause backaches. Make a conscious effort to stand straight and tall. You should wear low heeled shoes. Rest, a back massage and heat will help.

Flu, Colds and Common Illnesses

When flu and colds occur in pregnancy, get extra rest, drink plenty of fluids and take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever or discomfort. A vaporizer helps moisturize the air and eases a sore throat or nasal congestion. Early in pregnancy, it is best to avoid any unnecessary medication. Sudafed decongestion tablets or Robitussin DM may be used in moderation for relief of cough. If you have a fever of over 101 degrees or if your symptoms persist, please call us. If you have a medical condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, which existed before your pregnancy, call us before using any medication.

Other common illness, such as a sore throat or rash, can be treated by your primary care physician. If you or your physician have any questions concerning medications or treatment at your stage of pregnancy, please call us.

Headaches

These are quite common in all stages of pregnancy. Rest, stress reduction and acetaminophen (Tylenol) help. Do not take products containing aspirin or ibuprofen.

Heartburn

Due to slower digestion and regurgitation, you may experience a burning, acidic feeling in your mid-to-lower chest. Sitting upright and elevating your head off the bed with pillows provide relief. Mild antacids like Mylanta, Maalox and Tums, used in small quantities, also bring relief.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are dilated veins which protrude into or out of the rectum. You can experience itching or burning around the anus or have a spot of blood on the toilet tissue after moving your bowels. Having regular, soft bowel movements may reduce hemorrhoids. Vaseline petroleum jelly, Anusol or Tucks pads may decrease the itching and burning.

Hip Pain or Pelvic Bone Pain

The hormones of pregnancy can loosen the ligaments in your hips and pelvis in expectation of delivery. This loosening allows the pelvis to accommodate the passage of the baby during labor, but, in the meantime, may create pain. Rest and heat help.

Leg Cramps

These tend to occur in mid pregnancy for unknown reasons. Leg cramps also tend to occur at night, often waking you up. A simple exercise of flexing your toes vigorously towards your knees may relieve them. Maternity support hose can also help aching legs, but they must not be too tight. Balance periods of rest with exercise during the day. Leg cramps are not usually caused by a calcium deficiency. If a specific area of tenderness or redness develops, call us.

Nasal Congestion/Nose Bleeds

This can be bothersome and may make you think a cold is coming on. Usually, however, it is due to an increased blood supply in the nasal membrane. As a result, nosebleeds may occur. Try using ice and compression. If nosebleeds persist, call us.

Pressure Under the Rib Cage

This can occur as the rib cage expands to accommodate the growing uterus. This pressure often feels like a sore spot or bruised area, especially under one rib. Sitting in a straight-backed chair with a pillow behind the lower back helps relieve the pressure and facilitates breathing. A warm bath or a heating pad may help.

Shortness of Breath

This often occurs in the last few months of pregnancy and is most likely related to the normal hormonal changes of pregnancy. You may find that you need to take more time to do your usual activities. You should rest more frequently and may need to stop some overly strenuous activities. If this becomes excessive, you should notify your physician.

Skin Changes Dry, Itchy Pigment, Stretch Marks

To relieve dryness and reduce itchiness, us a moisturizer. Some women develop brownish discolorations on their face or skin or a brown line may occur in the middle of their abdomen. These are related to hormone changes and will, in most cases, fade after delivery. Whether you develop stretch marks on your breasts and abdomen is determined by your skin type, heredity and total weight gain during pregnancy. No creams will prevent them.

Swollen Feet, Ankles and Hands

You can help relieve swelling by resting on your left side and elevating your feet several times a day. Remove rings which become too snug. Hands tend to be the most swollen in the morning. Some women develop numbness and tingling in the fingers.

Vaginal Discharge

This increases for most women. It is usually a white, creamy discharge. You should maintain good hygiene. However, you should not douche during pregnancy. If persistent itching or irritation occurs or if your discharge changes in any way, such as color, amount or odor, you should tell us.