Minor concerns

Nausea and vomiting
It is estimated that between 50 and 75% of women experience nausea (and sometimes vomiting) during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. For some, it's worse in the morning and gets better over the course of the day; for others it can strike at any time. With luck, your queasiness will disappear after week 13. Call Origins if you haven't been able to keep anything down for 24 hours.
Tips to help you cope:
- Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea. It might help to stick to bland foods. Also, cold foods generally have less aroma than hot foods
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, to keep your blood sugar levels balanced
- Keep a simple carbohydrate snack, such as crackers, by your bed. Nibble a few crackers as soon as you wake up, then rest for a little while before you get out of bed
- Avoid fatty foods, which take longer to digest
- Drink plenty of fluids between meals. If you've been vomiting a lot, try a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes
It's common to feel tired during the first 13 weeks and towards the end of pregnancy. Your body is asking you to rest as much as possible.
Try these strategies:
- If you're working, use your lunch hour to relax and put your feet upIf you have small children, nap when they do. Or rest while they're at pre-school or school
- Get as much help as you can from your partner, family and friends
- Eat small, frequent meals to keep your energy levels up
- Go to bed earlier and sleep in when you can
You may become constipated while you are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones make the muscles of your bowel relax so that food moves more slowly through your digestive system. Also, your growing uterus can put pressure on the bowel and reduce its efficiency.
Here's our advice:
- Eat wholegrains and add a sprinkle of wheat bran to your cereal
- Make bran muffins and use them for snacks
- Eat high fibre fruit, such as kiwifruit, oranges, apples and pineapple
- Include legumes in your menu - kidney beans, chickpeas and baked beans are all high fibre
- Drink plenty of water. Some women find that drinking tea and coffee makes constipation worse
- Ask your pharmacist to recommend a daily fibre drink, such as Metamucil
- Exercise every day.
Backache affects about 50% of pregnant women, especially in the later stages. As your baby grows, the weight of your abdomen pulls your lower spine forwards, putting a strain on lumbar muscles. Your shoulders often pull back to compensate, putting a strain on your upper back. What's more, pregnancy hormones soften your ligaments around your joints, which can cause aches and pains in your back and hips.
What to do:
- Be aware of your posture. Try not to let your tummy tip too far forward. Instead, imagine pressing your lower back into a wall. Keep your shoulders back
- Squat down to pick up anything heavy; never bend forward from the waist
- Wear flattish, comfortable shoes. Avoid high heels
- Put a cushion behind your lower back when you are sitting
- Sleep on a firm mattress
- If your backache is due to the position of your baby, get down on all fours. This moves the weight of the baby off your back and provides fast relief
Varicose veins
Pregnancy hormones cause the walls and valves of your veins to relax and stretch. Sometimes the veins become distended, swollen, itchy and painful. These are called varicose veins. They're common in the lower legs, but may also show up as haemorrhoids (piles).
Our advice:
- Avoid standing for long periods. If you have to stand, keep moving your feet
- Don't cross your legs when sitting. Keep circulation going by pointing and flexing your toes and rotating your ankles
- Support tights may help. Avoid trousers, leggings or socks that constrict the top of your legs
- If you have haemorrhoids, avoid constipation and don't strain on the toilet
Pain or burning behind your breastbone and a bad taste in your mouth after a meal are symptoms of heartburn. It's a problem that many pregnant women experience because hormonal changes relax the valve at the top of the stomach, allowing stomach acids to move upwards and burn the sensitive lining of the oesophagus.
To avoid heartburn, try these strategies:
- Eat five or six small meals a day, instead of three big meals
- Don't lie down directly after a meal. It's best to eat at least three hours before you go to bed
- If you still experience heartburn at night, trying raising the head of the bed by about 15cms
- Avoid very hot, very cold and spicy foods
- Bend your knees instead of bending at the waist
- Avoid tight fitting clothes
- Medicines are available to neutralise acid or keep the acid in your stomach. Always tell the pharmacist that you're pregnant

Major concerns

Warning signs
If you experience any of the symptoms below, contact Origins immediately on (09) 630 8270. If the situation is very urgent, call an ambulance on 111.
- Abdominal pain, cramps or painful contractions before your baby is due
- Contractions associated with vaginal discharge
- Low down pelvic pressure or backache that comes and goes before you are 36 weeks pregnant
- Watery leakage from the vagina
- Any vaginal bleeding
- A noticeable decrease in baby movements
- Facial puffiness or swelling
- Feeling hot, feverish and unwell
- Unusual or severe headaches
- Visual disturbances such as blurriness, flashing lights or dark patches
- Pain when passing urine, or offensive smelling urine
- Any other urgent concerns about your pregnancy
Threatened miscarriage
Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. Almost one in five pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Most occur within the first 12 weeks. The most common cause of early miscarriage is a chromosomal abnormality in the baby. These abnormalities occur around the time of fertilisation and usually do not indicate a problem with either of the parents. Miscarriages that occur after 12 weeks can be caused by a physical problem with the uterus or cervix or an infection, such as listeria.
Types of bleeding during pregnancy:
- If the bleeding is fresh, painless and lighter than a period, it is likely that your pregnancy is healthy and will continue. Contact Origins for an ultrasound to confirm that everything is OK
- If the bleeding is heavier than a period and associated with crampy period-like pain, it is more concerning. Please contact Origins
- If the bleeding is old, brown blood and painless, the situation is less certain. Please contact Origins
Pre-eclampsia is a condition specific to pregnancy and occurs in about 8% of expectant mothers. Pre-eclampsia is diagnosed when your blood pressure becomes high and protein is detected in your urine. You may have no symptoms at all in the early stages. Symptoms you might notice include headches, feeling 'jittery', visual disturbances, abdominal pain and vomiting, and facial swelling. In rare cases, pre-eclampsia can lead to seizures and other major health problems for both mother and baby. Your Origins obstetrician may advise that you be admitted to hospital for monitoring and observation.
Listeria is a common bacterium found in soil, water, plants and faeces. Most people are exposed to listeria on a regular basis, with no ill effects. However, for pregnant women, listeria infection can cause miscarriage, pre-term labour or stillbirth.

Good information about safe food choices can be found here.
Foods to avoid:
- Uncooked, smoked or ready-to-eat fish or seafood, including oysters, smoked ready-to-eat fish, sashimi or sushi*
- Paté, hummus-based dips and spreads
- Ham and all other chilled pre-cooked meat products including chicken, and fermented or dried sausages such as salami*
- Pre-prepared or stored salads (including fruit salads) and coleslaws
- Raw (unpasteurised) milk and any food that contains unpasteurised milk*
- Soft-serve ice creams
- Soft, semi-soft or surface-ripened soft cheese (e.g., brie, camembert, feta, ricotta, roquefort)*

*These foods are safe to eat if heated to above 72°C, where appropriate.
Toxoplasmosis is a common disease that can be caught from raw or undercooked meat and cat faeces. For an unborn baby, it can cause blindness, deafness, mental retardation or even death. Toxoplasmosis is difficult to diagnose and treat, so prevention is best.
How to avoid toxoplasmosis:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or wear gloves
- Eat only well-cooked meat
- Wear gloves while gardening and wash your hands carefully afterwards
- Wash fruit and vegetables, especially if they come from a home garden
- Avoid getting a kitten if you are pregnant
- Get someone else to change the cat's litter box

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443A Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland