Pregnancy: Side Effects and How to Manage them (part 1)

Pregnancy is an exciting time! It is also a time when it is especially important to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. This article will focus on ways of dealing with morning sickness, tiredness, and leg cramps. This article is the first of a two-part series on managing pregnancy side effects.


There is no single cause of morning sickness, but it is very common. It does not necessarily happen just in the morning either. A major cause is the increased hormone levels in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Many women find it helpful to avoid foods that are very greasy, spicy or acidic. Eating regular, small meals also helps prevent sickness – many women are more likely to be sick when their stomachs are empty. It is recommended that you eat 300-500 extra calories per day when pregnant. If you are expecting twins, double this. Talk to your doctor if you lose weight, or if the morning sickness continues after the first three months of your pregnancy.


Growing a baby is physically exhausting! During the first trimester, fatigue is even more common because your body is working hard to make the placenta. Sleep as much as you can. At least 8 hours per night is recommended. You may find that scheduling naps during the day can also be helpful. Exercise is also a good way of boosting your energy levels.


There are many possible causes for leg cramps. One of them is tiredness. It could also be caused by the uterus pressing on certain nerves. Another possible cause is the pressure of the baby on some blood vessels, which can decrease circulation in the legs. Avoid standing or sitting in one place for long periods of time. Leg cramps could also be caused by being low on calcium, magnesium, potassium or water. You can find calcium in milk-based products and in fish, and also brazil nuts and almonds. Magnesium can also be found in almonds, as well as whole wheats, spinach, and dark chocolate. You can find potassium in, for example, bananas, potatoes, or yoghurt. It is recommended that pregnant women drink 2-3 litres of water per day. During a leg spasm, try massaging your calf muscle. It may also help to stretch it by sitting down with your leg straight, and flexing your foot (so that your toes move towards your knee).


Pregnancy can be worrying, but the side effects described above are very common. If you are concerned about your pregnancy, talk to your doctor. You should definitely speak to your doctor if you have:

  • Blood or fluid coming from you vagina
  • Sudden or extreme swelling in your face or fingers
  • Severe or long-lasting headaches
  • Vomiting or nausea (feeling sick) that won’t go away
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe pain or cramps in your lower abdomen (around the stomach area)
  • Chills or a fever
  • Less urine, or burning when you urinate
  • Any illness or infection
  • Any other symptoms that may bother you.


In the next article of this two-part series, read about three more symptoms related to bowel movement and urination. Click here to read part 2.



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