Your body will go on an incredible journey as you nurture the babies developing in your uterus to the point where they can exist outside.
Inevitably, there are aches, pains and discomforts along the way because of the sheer scale of the task you are accomplishing. If any symptoms worry you, talk to your doctor or midwife so they can reassure you or do further investigations. Here are some of the most common problems.
Morning sickness is badly named. While some women do get a bout of acute nausea in the mornings, others get it in the evenings or even all day. A lucky few don’t suffer it at all.
Higher hormone levels in a twin, triplet or more pregnancy do make you more likely to suffer nausea, but there are things you can do about it. The main cause is low blood sugar, so try to eat little and often. Some women find regular nibbles of dry biscuits help. Others have found relief by wearing a travel sickness band.
Different foods trigger nausea in different women. The commonest culprits are oily or spicy foods and foods with strong odours. Avoid these if it helps. You can also try eating foods rich in zinc (dairy products, meat, eggs, fish, ginger, maize, nuts and pulses), which has been found to help combat morning sickness.
If you vomit three times a day for three days, contact your doctor or midwife for some help so that your body doesn’t start to miss out on important minerals and fluid.
Indigestion often gets worse when you are hungry, so eat little and often. Some foods make it worse: try avoiding cheese, spicy foods, tomatoes and chocolate.
A glass of milk before bed can help to neutralise acid in the stomach. You can also try sleeping in a more upright position, either by propping yourself up with pillows or by sticking some books under the bed at the head end.
Gentle exercise such as yoga helps some, while others swear by hot drinks like peppermint, ginger and fruit teas. If all else fails, speak to your midwife or doctor, you can get a prescription for Gaviscon or other medication.
Foot and knee trouble
More fluid circulates round your body in pregnancy and, owing to gravity, some of it collects in your feet. If they swell up, avoid tight-fitting socks or shoes, and sit down with your feet up as often as possible. Gentle exercise such as walking and swimming can help disperse the fluids.
Extra supplies of the hormone relaxin can also leave you with aching knee joints. Again, rest up and support your knees where possible.
Although swelling is normal, if it appears suddenly and is accompanied by swelling in your hands and/or face, it may be a sign of preeclampsia. Tell your doctor or midwife if this happens at once so they can rule this out or make sure you get appropriate monitoring.
The extra blood needed to nurture your babies can put pressure on your veins. Varicose veins are swollen veins just below the skin, and they can become uncomfortable towards the end of pregnancy. A doctor can prescribe support tights or stockings. Shoes with a small heel (not flat and not too high) may reduce the onset of varicose veins. It also helps to put your feet up and avoid long periods of standing.