What to expect during pregnancy

An illustration of a confused woman with a question mark over her head

Giving birth and having a child can be a very exciting time in your life. To enjoy a positive pregnancy and childbirth experience, our tips and information will help you enjoy your pregnancy to the fullest.

Caring for your body during your pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you may experience nausea, vomiting and constipation. These are all very common symptoms during pregnancy. These self-care tips are designed to help relieve your symptoms. If you have any concerns or persistent symptoms contact your healthcare provider.

Common pregnancy aches and discomforts:

  • Nausea and vomiting
    • Self-care tip: Take ginger, chamomile, vitamin B6, and/or try acupuncture. (You should discuss taking supplements with your healthcare provider before introducing them into your diet.)
  • Heartburn
    • Self-care tip: Changes in diet and lifestyle can be very helpful. If these do not work, you can consider taking antacids.
  • Leg cramps
    • Self-care tip: Take magnesium and calcium, try other non-pharmacological treatments like muscle stretching, massage, relaxation, heat therapy, dorsiflexion of the foot.
  • Low back and pelvic pain
    • Self-care tip: Exercise! Regular exercise can prevent lower back and pelvic pain. 
      Physiotherapy, support belts and acupuncture are all valuable options for you as well.
  • Constipation
    • Self-care tip: Your first step is to modify your diet. If it does not seem to be helpful, you can add wheat bran or other fibre supplements.
  • Varicose veins and swollen ankles, feet and legs (oedema)
    • Self-care tip: Try different non-pharmacological options like avoiding prolonged standing, compression stockings, leg elevation and water immersion.

Preparing for birth

When you are preparing to give birth, knowledge truly is key. Health education is a fundamental part of antenatal care as it helps to prepare physically and psychologically. Knowing what is happening and being at ease during delivery has many beneficial effects during labour. It can be very beneficial for you and your partner, family member or friend to learning about ways to help manage tiredness, pain and fatigue can support through the stages of labour.

Some of the common antenatal support available includes understanding childbirth, relaxation techniques, caring for your new-born and how to breastfeed. Antenatal support is available to both you and your partner, friend, or family member. 

Talking to other people going through the same experience for advice and support is another great way to prepare for labour and your new-born. You might want to join a local support group and keep in touch with other pregnant women, their partners, family members, social workers or health providers. Meeting regularly, sharing experiences and information can be very beneficial self-care options. You can also connect with people on social media platforms such as WhatsApp.

More information

Your healthcare provider will be able to offer a variety of resources and information on pregnancy and birth. There is a vast range of information available online. You can also visit an IPPF Member Association in your country where our teams will be happy to help. 

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