Happy, heavily pregnant woman
(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

9 common pregnancy 'side effects'

A woman’s body is beautifully adapted for having babies. What’s more, the same goes for your mind.

At first, it can feel unreal when you’re pregnant. But as your pregnancy goes on you start feeling more and more attached to the growing life inside you. Nine months usually feels just the right length of time to get used to the idea of having a baby and get ready mentally for giving birth.

When you’re pregnant, your body changes in lots of ways that help the baby grow and get you ready for giving birth. The only thing is, unfortunately, some of these changes can have less than pleasant ‘side effects’!

Of course, you want to give your baby the best chance to grow well and have a healthy start in life. And you need to look after yourself, too!

Pregnancy 'side effect'

First of all, let's be clear: you’re not ill, you’re pregnant! But as your body changes and gets ready for the birth, there can be some ‘side effects’ you’d rather do without.

You might experience all of these 'side effects' or maybe even none at all. But what are some of the things you have to put up with when you're pregnant?

  • 'Morning' sickness

One of the first things you might notice when you’re pregnant is ‘morning sickness’. In fact, this common name isn’t totally accurate, as you can feel nauseous at any time of the day, especially when your stomach is empty.

The nausea is caused by the pregnancy hormone HGC – the one that shows up in a pregnancy test. This does a really important job in stopping your pregnancy from ending prematurely. The unfortunate ‘side effect’ is that it can make you want to throw up.

For most women who have morning sickness, the symptoms start around six weeks after their last period.

From around week 12 the sick feeling usually starts to ease off, and by week 16 it’s over because the HGC hormone has done its job and your body stops producing it.

Some women have little or no nausea in the first weeks of pregnancy. Other women hardly feel able to do anything because they feel so queasy all the time. It can help to eat little and often, and avoid having an empty stomach.

  • Moody

During the first months of pregnancy, you may be feeling a jumble of emotions for a lot of different reasons anyway. But just like in the run-up to your period, the hormones during the first months of pregnancy can make you feel moody and irritable. At the drop of a hat, you can fly into a fury or burst into tears.

  • Tired

Having a baby growing inside you takes a lot of energy, and you might find you feel much more tired than usual. When you’re pregnant you need more rest and sleep than you usually do. On the other hand, some women feel bursting with energy when they’re pregnant. If that’s you, enjoy it – there’s no point in resting if you don’t need to. Go with your own energy level.

  • Hungry

Especially during the first months of pregnancy you can have a huge appetite – yes, as well as feeling nauseous some of the time. The old saying ‘you need to eat for two’ isn’t really true, you just need a normal, healthy diet.

Don’t worry if you put on a bit of weight – many women do. Later, when the baby starts growing faster, you’ll put on less weight yourself.

  • Needing the toilet

At the start of your pregnancy, the womb grows fast and starts pressing on your bladder. This makes you need to pee more often. Eventually, the womb starts growing upwards so it doesn’t push down on your bladder as much. Only at the end, the baby’s head can start pressing on your bladder again.

  • Cramps

As your womb gets bigger, it pulls down on the ligaments that hold it in place in your pelvis. This can cause cramp-like and stabbing pains in the abdomen.

  • Bigger breasts

Your boobs are getting ready to produce milk for your baby. Right from the start, your breasts grow bigger and can feel tight and tender. The stretching skin can also be itchy.

The veins in your breasts get bigger, so if you’ve got pale skin they can show through. This goes away after you stop breastfeeding – though when the whole experience is over your breasts will be a different shape. You’ll need a good, supportive bra when you’re pregnant to keep your breasts comfortable and stop them sagging.

Especially if it’s your first baby, your nipples get a bit bigger so the baby can latch on more easily. They can also be more tender. The areolae – the area around the nipples – also widen and the skin gets darker. They can also develop little bumps – these are glands which produce a grease to help keep the skin of your nipples supple.

  • Constipation

When you’re pregnant, everything needs to relax and stretch – first to make room for the growing baby, and eventually so your cervix and vagina can open up for the baby to come out. The hormone that makes this happen is called progesterone. Unfortunately, it also has some side effects.

The muscles in your bowels also relax. This means they can’t push the food through your intestines as quickly as they normally do. Your stool gets harder, and you can get constipated.

  • Piles and varicose veins

Another side effect of progesterone: it makes your veins relax too. At the same time, you’ve got more blood circulating in your body when you’re pregnant. This can give you varicose veins in your legs – the extra pressure on your softened veins makes them stretch and they can work their way to the surface of your skin. They can give an itchy and uncomfortable feeling.

Another nasty place you can get varicose veins is in your anus. Then they’re known as haemorrhoids or piles. These are itchy, sore bobbles on the inside or outside of your anus. And if you’ve got constipation, the pushing and straining can make them worse.

All in all, progesterone does a great job making you stretchy so your stomach can grow and you can push out the baby. But the side effects are a pain in the backside – literally!

Related: How The Baby Develops Week by Week

Mother and baby health tips

How can you do your best to make sure your baby develops well and is born healthy? And look after yourself at the same time? Here are a few of the most important tips.

  1. Stop smoking
    Stop smoking. Well, you’ve probably heard that one before!
    Cigarette smoke is full of poisonous chemicals, and they all very easily get to the baby. So if you smoke, your baby smokes too.
    And this stops it from growing properly. The babies of smoking mothers are born smaller. What’s more some research shows that they’re more likely to have a clubfoot. Later in childhood, their lungs don’t work as well. And they’re more likely to die around the time of the birth.

    Passive smoking
    This tip also applies to your partner or the people around you when you’re pregnant. When they smoke, you breathe the smoke, and your baby smokes too.
    Babies who live in a smoky atmosphere are more likely to die in their sleep for no obvious reason – this is called ‘cot death’. So it’s also important not to smoke after the baby is born – or at least not in the same room as the baby.
    And of course, if you give up smoking you’re also looking after yourself! You know it’s bad for you, and now you’re pregnant you’ve got an extra important reason to kick the habit.

    Help to stop smoking
    Depending on your situation, early pregnancy can be a stressful time. This makes giving up smoking seem extra difficult. But there are lots of places to find tips and help.
    Try reading 'The easy way to stop smoking' by Allen Carr – it helped millions of people to give up smoking. You can also download it here.
  2. Don't drink alcohol
    Don’t drink alcohol. Like the poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke, alcohol easily gets to the baby. So if you drink, the baby drinks too. Alcohol stops the baby’s brain from developing properly – and really heavy drinking can cause birth defects.
    Can just one drink do any harm? Well, researchers find it hard to say. It’s not easy to tell whether small amounts of alcohol have any effect on the baby. But as soon as women drink a bit more – say two glasses of alcohol a day – their babies are born a bit smaller than normal. So just one drink certainly can’t be doing the baby any good. That means the only safe advice is not to drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.   
  3. Don't take drugs
    Don’t take drugs. Cocaine is particularly nasty – it cuts off the blood supply to the baby and can really cause a lot of damage. Hashish, or marijuana, has less dramatic effects. But as with smoking tobacco, the babies of people who smoke cannabis when they’re pregnant are born smaller than normal.
    It’s the same story with amphetamines, or speed, or crystal meth. And women who are hooked on heroin give birth to addicted babies. They’re small, they cry a lot, and they lie trembling in their cots. In short, it’s the same story as for smoking and alcohol. If you take drugs, your baby does too. And it always has a bad effect.  
  4. Be careful with medication
    Be careful with taking medicines – especially during the first three months. Some medicines can seriously harm your baby. Just because you can buy some medicines over the counter at the chemist or drugstore, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to take when you’re pregnant.
    Read the instructions with medicines carefully to see if they’re okay for you to take. You can also ask the staff at the pharmacist’s or drugstore to check for you.

    If you normally take medicines for an illness, talk to your doctor about it preferably before you get pregnant. If you find you’re pregnant unexpectedly, see your doctor as soon as possible.

    Paracetamol (or acetaminophen) are okay to take – though it’s best only to take them if your doctor recommends it, perhaps to bring down a fever. Normal doses of either aspirin or ibuprofen may increase the risk of miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy.

    Ideally, you should avoid taking medicines when you’re pregnant – only take them if your doctor advises that it’s really necessary.
  5. Wash your vegetables
    Wash your vegetables, and make sure your meat is well cooked. Some kinds of food poisoning can also infect the baby.
    Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite. You can get it from raw meat and unwashed vegetables – and famously it’s in cat stool! Although it doesn’t make you very ill it can damage your unborn baby’s brain or eyes. Also, avoid unpasteurised milk – or cheese made from unpasteurised milk. It can give you a Listeria infection, which can cause a miscarriage or premature birth. Boiling milk or pasteurising it (briefly heating it to 72 degrees Celsius) kills the Listeria bacteria.

Related: Best Foods To Eat When You're Pregnant


For women who are trying to get pregnant, there’s one vitamin that’s particularly important: folic acid, or vitamin B9.If you get at least 0.4 milligrams of this vitamin daily before you get pregnant and early in your pregnancy, your baby is much less likely to be born with serious defects like spina bifida.This is when the baby’s spine doesn’t close up properly.

You can get folic acid from leafy green vegetables, orange juice, or whole grains and pulses. But if you’re trying to get pregnant – or if you find out you’re pregnant – even if you do eat a varied diet, it’s not easy to get enough of the vitamin just from your food.

This means it’s wise to start taking a folic acid tablet every day if you're trying to get pregnant. You can get them from chemists or drugstores.

Recipes for regret

  • 'I didn’t want the baby anyway, so I don’t care if I have a miscarriage.'
  • 'I don’t care if the baby is small – at least it will make the birth easier.'
  • 'I don’t want to get fat – if I stop smoking I’ll put on weight.'

These are all really bad reasons not to look after your body and the baby inside you by stopping smoking, drinking or taking drugs. If you wish you weren’t pregnant, risking your own and your baby’s health won’t solve the problem. 

As the pregnancy goes on, the fact that you’re having a baby will gradually feel more and more real. And when the baby’s born, suddenly it becomes very real indeed! Having a baby can make you see things in a very different light. If you’ve been persuading yourself it’s okay to do things that can harm your baby, you risk having to live with serious regrets.

Did you learn something new?


Hello sly, thank you for reaching out to us and asking a great question. Instructions on most pregnancy tests will tell you to read the results in a certain amount of time, usually from a couple of minutes up until 10 minutes later. So you may take a pregnancy test and read it within the time period as indicated on the instructions that come with the pregnancy kit you have purchased. 

Sasa Mary. Asante kwa kutufikia na tunasikitika kusikia juu ya kile unapitia lakini huna haja ya kujisumbua. Kile unachokiona ni kawaida kabisa. Matokeo ya Utafutaji Vipodozi vilivyoangaziwa kutoka kwa wavuti Wanawake wengi wanaotarajia wanaripoti kuwa na ladha ya metali au sour katika vinywa vyao kama moja ya dalili zao za uja uzito. Mabadiliko katika maana yao ya ladha, inayojulikana kama dysgeusia kwa hali ya matibabu, yanaweza kuendelea hata wakati hayala lakini tena, usiwe na wasiwasi kwani hii ni kawaida kabisa wakati wa trimester ya kwanza. Dysgeusia husababishwa na mabadiliko katika viwango vya homoni yako wakati wa uja uzito. Homoni za ujauzito, hasa estrogeni, zinaonekana kuchukua jukumu la kudhibiti na kudhibiti hisia zetu za ladha. Na unapokuwa mjamzito, viwango vya estrogeni - na kwa hivyo ladha zako za ladha - zinaweza kubadilika sana. Jaribu kuondoa ladha hiyo ya madini na asidi. Zingatia ladha ladha kama vile juisi za machungwa, limau na - kudhani tummy yako inaweza kuzishughulikia - vyakula vilivyojaa katika siki Vyakula hivi vyote sio tu na nguvu ya kuvunja ladha ya metali kinywani mwako wakati wa ujauzito, pia huongeza uzalishaji wa mshono, ambayo itasaidia kuiosha. Jaribu pia kusugua ulimi wako kila wakati unapotapaka meno yako, au suuza kinywa chako na suluhisho laini la chumvi (kijiko cha chumvi ndani ya 250 ml ya maji) mara chache kwa siku ili kusawazisha viwango vya pH kinywani mwako na uondoe ladha hiyo maridadi. Pia, kutotaka kufanya ngono wakati wa ujauzito pia ni jambo la kawaida kabisa.Wakati wa trimester ya kwanza, kichefuchefu, uchovu na huruma ya matiti yenye kuumiza inaweza kuweka damper juu ya ngono. Baadaye, unaweza kuwa na hisia mchanganyiko juu ya muundo wako unaokua, unaobadilika, ambao unaweza kufanya uchumba wa jadi kuhisi shida. Wakati kujifungua kunakaribia, wanawake wengi wanasema ngono ni jambo la mwisho kwenye akili zao, ambazo zinalenga laser kwa mtoto anayesubiriwa sana. Kwa muda mrefu wakati mwonekano wako wa kupendeza uko sawa na mwenzi wako, hakuna sababu ya kuwa na wasiwasi kuhusu gari lako la ngono. Lakini ikiwa anahisi kukataliwa au kufadhaika, hakikisha unajadili kinachoendelea, na jaribu kutafuta njia za kuendelea kushikamana. Ikiwa hiyo haifanyi kazi, muombe mtaalamu wako kupendekeza mshauri ambaye anaweza kukusaidia na mwenzi wako. Tunatumahi kuwa habari hii inasaidia na bora kwa mtoto na hongera. Kwa habari zaidi juu ya ujauzito, nenda kwenye ukurasa huu:https://lovemattersafrica.com/pregnancy/being-pregnant/your-body-and-pregnancy

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 11:35 am
Hello...am two months pregnant and do not desire sex.my hubby is getting affected. What do I do since I am still a wife and have to fulfill my duties M

Hi Sharon, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry that you and your husband are going through such a difficult time. It is quite common for pregnant women to lose their sexual desire. You cannot force yourself to have sex and nobody can force you either. However, the good news is that your body is constantly changing under this pregnancy and your low libido might not last the whole time. Have a conversation with your partner and try and come to a compromise. c

Calcium had been my problem which legs pains, foot ,sometimes I can't work because of the body pains and I am pregnant that makes the pains to increase, I need your help with anything that can help me improve my health
Fri, 04/10/2020 - 07:04 pm
Am 5 months pregnancy,during the evening hours am getting tired,during the early months,I was social to everybody,but now am just feeling to have my husband around,sometimes almost to follow him at his working place .how can I control these please?

Hello Purity, thank you for reaching out to us. Congratulations on your child! Truth is, pregnancy is a little difficult on the female body and as time goes on you will notice yourself getting more tired than usual. Also, because of hormonal changes, you will notice a change in mood. All these things are perfectly fine and normal. However, if you feel that you get abnormally tired, see a medical practitioner for advice on the way forward.

Hi Carolyn, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry you are going through such a hard time. Vomiting is really common, especially in the first trimester. If it goes on past the first trimester and becomes quite unbearable, see a medical practitioner for advice on the way forward.

Am delight
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 05:17 pm
I abort pregnancy last month 6 and I saw my period 14 and I have sex on the 24 now this month I don't see my period on the 14 again Please help me out

Hello Delight, thank you for reaching out to us. To know what days you are fertile, you should know the length of your cycle. Your cycle starts on the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. To know how long your cycle is, you will need to track it closely for a few months. Most women's cycle's last between 28 and 30 days. However, yours may be longer or shorter. Day one through seven are considered to be infertile. Day eight through to day 19 are considered to be your most fertile. From day 20 to the day 26 to 30 are considered to be your infertile days.

Thanks for your information, I have learned a lot. I have some questions to ask :I had sex with my husband few weeks before my period in daily basis and when the period finally arrived we also had sex, and my period only stayed for two days instead of four or five days, could it be am pregnant?

Hi Joy, thank you for reaching out to us. The answer to your question technically lies in how long your cycle is. Your cycle lasts from the first day of one period to the first day of your next period. To know how long your cycle is or to understand if it is irregular, you should watch it for a few months. Most women's cycle's last between 28 and 30 days. However, yours may be longer or shorter which is perfectly normal. Day one through seven are considered to be infertile. Day eight through to day 19 are considered to be your most fertile. From day 20 to the day 26 to 30 are considered to be your infertile days.

We hope this helps.

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 01:44 pm
Am 3months pregnant and ave been experiencing abdominal pain and at times walking becomes a problem.so what is the cause of this. Again am asking what is the best time to start going for clinic check up? Plz help
Ekeh Reginald
Fri, 05/01/2020 - 01:00 pm
This article is really really nice I'm glad I read it as it will be of help to me soon Thanks for the nice article

Hello Ekeh Reginald, thank you for your positive feedback and we are so glad that our content is able to bring a positive impact into your life :) We hope you have a lovey weekend and that you are staying safe during these crazy times!


Love Matters Team <3

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 09:55 am
Good morning, pls I need your advise. Myself and hubby love in my ovulation period, 2 weeks after I started feeling the symptoms of spitting, fatigue, movement round my belly, excessive pee, abdominal pain, tender breast and so on. And then I saw a slight blood on the first day of my menstrual period and a bit of heavy flow on the second day, can I still say am pregnant? Pls help out
Sun, 05/10/2020 - 01:40 pm
Thanks, the information is very useful, i want to ask a question, i'm just 17yrs, and i'm still a virgin, i'm i too small to have sex with my boyfriend.

Hi Favour, thank you for reaching out to us. 17 is definitely too young to be having sex. The age of consent in most countries is 18 and so if you have sex with someone now, that person could get arrested for rape even if you both consented. 17 is also a little too young to be making decisions like this. Wait a couple of years at least.

Please I was suppose to see my period on 5th of May 2020,but uptil nw have nt seen it ,I used pregnancy strip to check it ,but the result came out negative and uptil nw have nt seen it,am worried pls help me
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 02:29 pm
Please I drank wine that contained about 11% acohol twice during the second and third weeks of my pregnancy,I hope it won't affect my baby?

Hi Sekeenat, thank you for reaching out to us. It is understandable that you would feel a little nervous about this slip-up. Alcohol during pregnancy is not a good idea. Although some people claim to have had alcohol and been okay, a lot of things could go wrong. If you did not have a large amount you should be fine. Just do not have anymore.

Sat, 05/16/2020 - 10:58 am
pls have been feeling that m pregnant,have carried out pregnancy test both blood and urine but both says negative,and m srull seeing my period,and now i feel cramps and pain in the left side of my stomach pls i need answwrs thanks

Hello busola, thank you for reaching out to us. We are sorry you are going through a tough time at the moment but considering that this may be a serious medical issue we strongly advise you to see a medical professional for a comprehensive diagnosis. 
Here is a list of health institutions that should be of help


Have a wonderful weekend and stay safe!

Hello busola, thank you for reaching out to us. We are sorry you are going through a tough time at the moment but considering that this may be a serious medical issue we strongly advise you to see a medical professional for a comprehensive diagnosis. 
Here is a list of health institutions that should be of help

Have a wonderful weekend and stay safe!

Hi Mrs. Abraham, congratulations on your marriage. Typically pregnancy symptoms begin to show around 4 years after conception. However, some people do show early pregnancy signs like breast soreness, nausea, and fatigue. You could take a urine pregnancy test which is sensitive beginning two weeks after conception.

Hey Laura, thank you for getting in touch and we are sorry to hear you are going through a difficult time. Take time to consider making this decision and map out the various options in front of you dear. One option to consider can be found on this link, click here to find out more: https://lovemattersafrica.com/pregnancy/unsure-about-being-pregnant/abortion

Have a wonderful week ahead and stay safe.

Mon, 05/25/2020 - 11:19 am
I have never enjoyed sex .. When I am having sex with my partner I never release so I just do it to satisfy my partner .. My virginal is ever dry .. Am so stressed ..so my question is,, is it possible for me to conceive with that problem coz am feeling like am pregnant. i have not yet received my period for this month and last month my period started on 20th. kindly help.

Hello Natasha, thank you for reaching out to us and we are sorry you are going through a difficult time at the moment. Since this is a medical issue we strongly advise you to see a medical professional for a comprehensive diagnosis. 

Here is a list of health institutions that should be of help

Innocent Ede
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 06:07 am
Doctors, my woman is pregnant,and she keep vomitt vomitting on everything she eat or drink.i want to know d solution please.
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