Common Pregnancy Symptoms

You may experience a number of symptoms during pregnancy. Most of these are normal and will not harm you or your baby, but if they are severe or you are worried about them, speak to your midwife or doctor. You may feel some tiredness, sickness, headaches or other mild aches and pains, or have heartburn, constipation or haemorrhoids. There may also be some mild swelling of the face, hands or ankles, or varicose veins in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Healthy Living
Make sure you eat a variety of different foods to ensure your diet provides enough energy and nutrients for your baby to grow and develop and for you to cope with the changes taking place.

In line with the ‘Surrey Healthy Living’ policy and ‘NICE’ guidelines, the maternity team is there to help and advice in a sensitive and practical way on such questions as how to avoid excessive weight gain and combat obesity, in pregnancy and beyond, for your wellbeing and that of your baby.

Obesity increases risk to you and your baby during pregnancy, at birth and after the baby is born.

More information can be obtained from

Healthy Eating Drop In Sessions are held at the Royal Surrey County Hospital for Mums to Be who have an increased BMI (Body Mass Index).

Caffeine is a stimulant that is contained in tea, coffee and cola drinks. Too much caffeine should be avoided as it is passed through the placenta and may affect your baby.

Alcohol increases the risk of miscarriage or may lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, possibly resulting in severe abnormalities. The Department of Health advises pregnant women to give up alcohol altogether or to consume no more than 1 – 2 units of alcohol per week and to avoid getting drunk.

Smoking cigarettes, allows carbon monoxide, nicotine and other toxic chemicals cross the placenta directly into the baby’s blood stream – so the baby smokes with you! This will reduce its oxygen and nourishment and put it at risk of low birth weight, premature birth and other problems. The sooner you stop smoking the better, to give your baby a healthier start in life. Your midwife can arrange referral to your local Smoking Cessation coordinator or group (see also NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline). Cannabis smoking can have similar effects on the lungs, and the safety of using cannabis during pregnancy has not been established.


Medication and Supplements
Taking non-medicinal drugs during pregnancy is not recommended as it may seriously harm you and your baby. Over-the-counter medicines should also be avoided unless advised by a medical practitioner.

Folic acid helps to prevent abnormalities in the baby, e.g. spina bifida. The recommended dose is 0.4mg per day for at least 8 weeks before pregnancy and for up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy. If you are taking anti-epileptic drugs have a family history of fetal anomalies or you have diabetes the recommended dose is 5mg per day. Other vitamin supplements should only be taken after checking with your midwife. However, vitamin A should NOT be taken in pregnancy.




If you are planning to travel abroad, you should discuss flying, vaccinations and travel insurance with your midwife or doctor. Long-haul flights can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. We would advise women to take Aspirin 75mg half an hour prior to a flight, to wear support stockings, drink plenty of water and walk about as much as possible during the flight.

Car Safety

To protect you and your unborn baby, always wear a seatbelt with the diagonal strap across your body between your breasts and the lap belt over your upper thighs. The straps then lie above and below your bump, not over it. Also, make sure all baby/child seats are fitted correctly according to British Safety Standards.

Regular exercise is important to keep you fit and supple. Make sure any instructor knows you are pregnant. Provided you are healthy and have discussed this with your midwife, exercise such as swimming or aqua-natal classes are safe. However scuba diving, any vigorous exercise or contact sports should be avoided.


Some women find pregnancy to be a time of increased stress and physical discomfort. It can greatly affect your emotional state, your body image and relationships with others. If you feel anxious or worried about anything, you can discuss your problems in confidence with your midwife or doctor. Changes in mood and sex drive are also common. Sex is safe unless you are advised otherwise by your midwife or doctor.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse is a form of physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse within the context of a close relationship, usually between partners or ex-partners.  During pregnancy the rise of Domestic Abuse is increased.

It may happen anywhere, at any time in a relationship and across all social classes, age groups and ethnic or racial backgrounds.

Suffering abuse can seriously affect your health, your unborn baby, your confidence and belief in yourself.  The midwife will discuss this with all women during pregnancy.  She will inform you of where and how help can be found.  See ‘Useful Links’ for contact numbers.

Mental Health

Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times for all parents-to-be, but for people with mental illness it can also bring added concerns.

There is an increased risk for new mothers of developing depression, or having a new psychiatric episode within 3 months of birth – 10% of pregnant women will go on to develop a depressive illness. This risk is highest for women with bipolar disorder.

If you are worried you are at risk of this you must discuss this with your midwife, health visitor or doctor so that the right support can be put in place.

©2018 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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