7 uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms and how to cope with them

It’s normal to experience physical and emotional discomfort during your pregnancy – you’re growing a tiny human and your body is changing to accommodate this new life.

As your pregnancy progresses, it’s natural to experience physical and emotional discomforts. We look at seven of the most common uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms and how to deal with them at home.


Sleeplessness during pregnancy could have various causes, such as physical discomfort, anxiety about the pending birth and ability to cope with a new lifestyle; nightmares as a result of this anxiety; or pressure on your bladder resulting in frequent visits to the toilet.

How to cope

  • Avoid caffeine throughout the day.
  • Rest often for short periods.
  • Establish a relaxing routine before bedtime.
  • Do breathing and other relaxation exercises, especially before bedtime.
  • Read a book before bedtime.
  • Putting pillows under your tummy, between your knees and behind your back can provide you with added comfort and assist you in finding a comfortable sleeping position.

ALSO SEE: How to get more sleep during pregnancy


Because of hormonal changes and changes in the pH balance of vaginal secretions, thrush is more common during pregnancy.

How to cope

Consult with your midwife or GP about a suitable antifungal cream or pessaries for both you and your partner, as the infection can be passed between you during intercourse.


Mood swings

Mood swings often occur during pregnancy. Stress and exhaustion can contribute to fluctuating feelings. Anxiety about childbirth and parenting, as well as hormonal changes can also make you feel very emotional.

How to cope

  • Share your feelings with your partner, or confide in a close family member, friend or counsellor.
  • Set aside time to rest regularly.


Backache may sometimes be experienced during pregnancy due to a changed posture, or due to the ligaments softening in preparation for child birth.

How to cope

  • When standing and walking, straighten your back and tuck in your stomach.
  • Resist the urge to hollow your back and push out your tummy.
  • Don’t lift heavy objects. When you have to pick up anything, bend your knees, not your back.
  • Always sit on a straight-backed chair.
  • Avoid high heel shoes.
  • Have a relaxing back massage, but be careful of aroma oils during pregnancy.
  • Do back strengthening exercises like pelvic lifts (on your back on the floor); or while standing, do straight leg lifts to the back.

ALSO SEE: Benefits of yoga for backache during pregnancy

Shortness of breath

During the later stages of pregnancy, displacement of your lungs, stomach and other organs occur naturally due to the size of your baby. Your womb increasingly pushes up on your diaphragm, preventing it from moving properly during breathing. This may cause shortness of breath as there is less space for your lungs to expand and fill up with air.

How to cope

  • Rest more often, and while lying on your back, breathe in deeply while expanding the tummy as much as possible. This manipulates the diaphragm to make space for the lungs to expand and fill up with air.
  • Avoid overheating. Keeping cool will help you to feel less breathless.

ALSO SEE: 5 ways to reduce shortness of breath during the third trimester

Bladder weakness

As your baby grows, there is more pressure on your bladder which decreases the capacity of your bladder and may cause you to urinate involuntarily when you laugh, cough or sneeze. Weak pelvic muscles can also compound the problem.

How to cope

  • Pelvic floor exercises should be done right from the start of pregnancy (and even before).


Leg cramps

If you are affected by leg cramps or spasms (a common problem during the second and third trimesters), especially at night – it may be due to slower circulation, a decrease in magnesium and calcium levels, or an increase in phosphorous levels.

How to cope

  • Stretch the affected muscle and massage it until the muscle begins to relax.
  • Increase circulation by exercising your legs every night just before getting into bed.
  • Flex your foot (toes turned up) when you feel a cramp coming on.
  • Elevate the foot of your bed about 20 cm.
  • Bedclothes should be loose.
  • Consult your midwife or GP about magnesium and calcium supplements.

 ALSO SEE: Dealing with muscular discomfort during pregnancy

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