The A to Z of Pregnancy

The A to Z of Pregnancy

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This is a guest article from Arabella Greatorex, from Exeter Family Activities, which has listings for playgroups, ideas for local days out, attractions, baby shopping, antenatal classes, breastfeeding support, baby activities and postnatal exercise classes.

The A to Z of Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, your body goes through immense changes which can bring a number of common ailments, many of which can be treated easily at home with natural remedies. Don’t forget to seek the advice of your GP or midwife if you have any concerns about your or your baby's health.


This is common amongst pregnant women and can lead to tiredness so eat lots of iron rich foods, such as green vegetables, pumpkin seeds and red meat. Remember to include vitamin c in your diet as this is needed to assimilate iron. Red raspberry leaf tea also has lots of iron in it.


This can be caused by the carrying the baby’s extra weight and by the relaxation of the muscles in preparation for labour. Remember to stand “tall” and wear low heeled, comfortable shoes. Resting with your feet up and not lifting heavy items are also important. Get your partner to give you a back massage as often as possible.

If you have a desk job, make sure your chair and desk are correctly aligned and that you can see your computer screen easily and comfortably. If you have to stand for long period of time, check to see if you can change your duties or take frequent, short breaks. If in doubt, ask for an occupational health assessment.

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Bleeding Gums

When pregnant, you are more likely to suffer from dental problems, including bleeding gums caused by infections, so be extra vigilant about dental hygiene and increase your vitamin c intake. Don’t forget to make the most of your entitlement to free dental treatment. If you don’t have a dentist, call the NHS Helpline and they can tell you your nearest NHS dentist.

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This is quite common towards the end of pregnancy as the large baby begins to put pressure on the diaphragm. Good posture can help to ease this, so sit and stand as straight as possible and you may need to use some extra pillows in bed. If you are at all worried about your breathlessness, do go and see your GP or midwife.

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Increased levels of progesterone and changes to your body can affect bowel movements and most pregnant women suffer from constipation. Drinking lots and lots of water and eating plenty of fibre will help keep this to a minimum.

The A to Z of Pregnancy

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Night time cramps are another unwelcome feature of pregnancy. If you do suffer, try giving yourself a leg massage just before bed to improve circulation. If you suffer from an attack, strong massage and forcing the leg straight will help. Have a quick walk around when the attack has passed to ease out the muscles.

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Slight dizziness can be suffered by many pregnant women but do check with your midwife if it is frequent or severe as it can be the first symptom of a serious illness. Otherwise, stand up and change position slowly, make sure you get up and go for short walks frequently and don’t go too long without food.

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Don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse to stop exercising – the fitter you are the easier the birth will be and the quicker you will recover. Do take care though and be guided by your body – now is not the time to take up a new very physical sport and it is wise to check with your midwife about the level of activity that is right for you.

A walk in the park will provide you with lots of fresh air as well as some exercise (which may help you sleep better) or perhaps you could find out about yoga or Pilates classes near you.

Fluid Retention

Many women will suffer from fluid retention when pregnant, which can cause feet, legs and hands to swell. Hand and leg massages can help to reduce this swelling and remember to sit with your feet raised when possible. Homeopathic remedies such as Apis and Natrum Mur can help. If the swelling becomes severe, do mention it to your midwife or doctor as it can be the first symptom of several serious ailments.

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Your hair will change quite unpredictably due to hormone changes – some women will find their hair seems thicker as less falls out, others that they lose more hair than before. Hair may also be greasier or drier than normal. Just remember to look after your hair well and, if you can, get regular hair cuts to keep you feeling on top form.

It is best to avoid any chemical treatments though; there have been concerns that some of the chemicals may find their way into your body and the results can be unpredictable so you could end up with green hair when all you wanted was to get rid of your roots!

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Even if you never normally suffer, you are likely to now. This can range from slight discomfort through to burning sensations in the upper chest. Ask your pharmacist about proprietary remedies or try peppermint tea.

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High Blood Pressure

Cayenne pepper, three times a day in juice or water is said to help stabilize high and low blood pressure. Remember to follow your GP's advice as well.

The A to Z of Pregnancy

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Caused by anyone of a number of factors – general discomfort and the need to wee frequently being common ones. Don’t forget to keep drinking water through out the day, though you could reduce your intake after about 7pm to see if this helps with the latter.

Move around the bed to find your most comfortable position, which is often on the right hand side. A V-shaped pillow can be very comfortable and can be used to breastfeed when the baby has been born. Remember to relax for an hour before you go to bed, turn off the television, have a warm bath, ask your partner to give you a massage or read a book. A cup of hot milk or teaspoon of honey and cider vinegar in warm water can help you sleep better.

Taking regular, light exercise during the day will help, especially if you managed to get out into the fresh air.


Another common and usually minor but irritating side effect of pregnancy, it is often caused by sweating. Wearing loose clothes made of cotton or other natural fabric will help as will frequent cool baths or showers. Applying calamine lotion to the affected area can help but do check with your doctor if you suffer from severe itching on your hands or feet as this could be a symptom of a serious illness called cholestasis.

Morning Sickness

Some women will hardly suffer; others will carry on being sick all the way through their pregnancy. It doesn’t just strike in the morning either. Some will actually be sick, others will suffer from nausea for hours without needing to be sick. Strong smells (especially artificial ones) can make it worse, so ban spray air fresheners and the like.

Ginger helps with nausea – try a ginger biscuit before you get out of bed in the morning or make ginger tea by steeping grated fresh ginger in hot water for a few minutes. Eat little and often – even if you don’t really feel hungry, have a dry biscuit or banana and stave off the hunger pains later in the day. Fatty, rich or spicy foods often make things worse, so try eating plainer foods such as potato, pasta or breads.

There are several homeopathic remedies that you could try: pulsatilla is good when nausea comes on in the evening; ipecac for continued nausea not relieved by vomiting; nux vomica helps with nausea that is worse in the morning; sepia if the nausea is made worse by the smell of thought of food.

Multiple Births

Are you having a multiple birth? Find out about The Challenge of Twins from one mum of twins who has been there already.

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It is now well known that all smoking (including passive) during pregnancy is harmful to the baby as well as to you. If you can, stop altogether and get your partner to as well. If not, at the very least, try and cut down as much as possible. You could try saving the money you would have spent on cigarettes and put it towards a relaxing massage for you or a really special present for your baby – that way you will see a real reward for giving up as well as having the satisfaction of knowing you are giving your baby the best possible start.

Talk to family and friends about giving up and ask them for help – either moral support or simply not smoking in front of you. Talk to your GP about aids that you can use when you are pregnant and check out support groups in your area.

Have you seen the Chinese Gender Predictor? It is a not entirely scientific way of predicting the gender of your child, supposedly found from ancient Chinese writings!

Stretch Marks

These are red lines that will eventually turn silver and are caused by the skin stretching as the body changes shape. Keeping the skin supple, with lots of massage and good moisturiser, will help. Vitamin E creams are especially good, as is aloe vera.


At various stages of your pregnancy, you are likely to find that you pass water frequently – typically early on in the pregnancy when the uterus is still low and towards the end when the baby presses against the bladder. If it wakes you at night, you could try drinking more during the day and less as the evening progresses but don’t cut down on the total amount that you drink.

Related: Ewan The Dream Sheep - The cute and cuddly sheep who emits low-frequency sounds proven to calm and relax babies to help them sleep.

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About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!

Events in June 2021