Pregnancy concerns

Pregnancy can be associated with a wide range of symptoms that may be hormone or pregnancy growth related. Some symptoms are significant, so mention any concerns to your health professional who will be able to provide you with the best advice.

Bleeding and pain in early pregnancy

Bleeding in early pregnancy occurs in 1 in 4-5 pregnancies. It may be any combination of light or heavy, intermittent or constant, painless or painful.

Mostly the bleeding is not of significance and the pregnancy continues without any problem. Sometimes it may represent an impending miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (outside the womb – most often in the uterine tube). However, any amount of bleeding is worrisome and should be reported to your health professional as soon as possible. Women who are Rh(D) negative should be given anti-D immunoglobulin injections to protect against developing antibodies in the blood against the baby’s blood group.

Any of these symptoms should always be reported immediately to your health professional. There are a number of possible causes and your doctor will check all these with you and advise about management.

Nausea and vomiting

This is related to the high hormone level (HCG) in early pregnancy and usually settles by 12-14 weeks. For some women, however, it may continue for longer. Most women find that the nausea is relieved by snacking on carbohydrates. It is most important to maintain your fluid intake and any persistent vomiting should be reported to your health professional. There are some medications which are safe in pregnancy that can help manage significant nausea and vomiting.


This typically occurs when standing for a long time, bending down, or jumping up quickly. It is related to a drop in blood pressure. While not serious, it is important to be aware of this and avoid a possible fall. This is most likely to occur in women who have a naturally low (healthy) blood pressure and in the second trimester (between 14 and 26 weeks).

Abdominal and pelvic discomfort, and backache

The uterus has a ligament that runs from each side to the internal abdominal sidewall. Pain near the round ligaments is typically on the right side of the abdomen/pelvis and often occurs upon waking, suddenly rolling over in bed, or other vigorous activity. No treatment is necessary, as the pain is usually mild and self-limited.

As the pregnancy progresses all the joints – especially around the pelvis and lower back - start to soften in preparation for the birth. This may result in backache for some women that may be assisted by using a support or seeking advice from your health professional.


Mild swelling, especially of the ankles and fingers can occur in late pregnancy as a result of the increased amount of circulating fluid. Significant or sudden swelling may be a symptom of a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia. This is characterised by increased blood pressure and other symptoms may include vision changes, new nausea or vomiting, rapid weight gain, headache and abdominal pain. If any of these symptoms occur, then it is best to seek medical advice immediately. Pre-eclampsia can be dangerous for both mother and baby.

Swelling in one leg only also needs medical advice to exclude a deep vein thrombosis.

It is important to check with your health professional to determine the cause for any symptoms that you are experiencing.