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?


Hi Innocent, than you for your question. Vomiting and nausea are very common in the first three months of pregnancy. At the end of 3 months, the vomiting should stop. However, some women have really extreme cases and may need medical attention. If you feel that the issue is serious please see a medical practitioner for advice on the way forward.

Hello Gift, thank you so much for reaching out to us and asking a great question. For more information on the best time to conceive, click here: https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/menstruation

Mon, 06/22/2020 - 05:43 pm
My problem is that any tyme we had a sex with my ma husband i had a very serious abdominal pain that sometimes lead's to bleeding am 2 months pregnant plz help m
My Girlfriend and i had unprotected sex, she took P2 the next day...after around 10 days, she had spotting or light periods for like 3 days...now her periods have not started and its been around 4 weeks. WE are worried

Hello Nic, thank you for getting in touch and we are sorry you are going through a hard time.  She should see your doctor within 3 weeks of taking Postinor-2. She may experience spotting or vaginal bleeding earlier than expected. If she has not gotten her period within 3 weeks of taking the tablets she must see her doctor, as she may be pregnant. If Postinor-2 does not work, she could be pregnant. Her doctor will order a pregnancy test. If stomach pain is severe she should see her doctor immediately as on rare occasions a tubal pregnancy could occur.

Postinor-2 is only intended as an emergency measure. If you have not already done so you should discuss with your doctor other methods of long term contraception.

Eunice Wanyax
Wed, 06/24/2020 - 04:05 pm
I have stopped using family planning fora month now I have not seen period could I be pregnant; my periods were regular through out even when I was using family plan

Hi Mesh, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. Your menstrual cycle runs from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. This takes about 28 days (four weeks), but different people’s cycles vary between 21 and 42 days (3–6 weeks). Click here to find out more: https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/menstruation Have a wonderful week ahead and stay safe! 

Hi Lucy, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. If you already had a CS, you may be able to have your next baby vaginally but you would need to consult your doctor first as you go through your pregnancy.

Have a wonderful weekend ahead and stay safe!

Hi Lucy, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. Couples have a 50/50 percent chance of conceiving either a boy or a girl. It is important to note that health experts worry that some parents will place unrealistic hopes on a sex-determination technique and become disappointed whether or not they succeed. The method could either fail to produce a child of the desired sex or the right gendered kid could grow up with traits that contradict with parental expectations. In addition, there is no scientific evidence to prove that any method that you come across or try will actually work. The best thing you can do is leave it to fate because, at the end of the day, the child you bring to this world will be special, irrespective of sex or gender.

Have a wonderful weekend ahead and stay safe!

I had sex 4 days after my periods then took morning after pills immediately one week later am having heartburn and headache does it mean am pregnant?

Hi Carol, thank you for getting in touch and we are sorry you are going through a hard time. Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill, is effective if started within 120 hours, or five days. The sooner emergency contraception is started, the better it works. 7 days is unfortunately too long a time to wait so if you are currently experiencing these symptoms, get a pregnancy test to find out whether or not you are in fact pregnant and seek medical advice. 

Hi Anita tash, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. There is a possibility that what you are experiencing is morning sickness which is a side effect of getting pregnant. The best way to know for sure is to get a pregnancy test and check for yourself if this is the case. They are readily available and affordable at any pharmacy. Do let us know what the test results are and let us know how we can assist you. Have a wonderful weekend ahead and stay safe!

My girl is having some spotting a week after we have had sex. It is almost a week for the date of her normal periods. Is it a reason to be worried?

Hi John, although there are a variety of reasons why she may be late on her periods e.g. use of birth control pills, stress, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, there is also a chance that she could also be pregnant. Vaginal bleeding or spotting during the first trimester of pregnancy is relatively common. Some amount of light bleeding or spotting during pregnancy occurs in about 20% of pregnancies, and most of these women go on to have a healthy pregnancy. If you are worried, the best thing to do is get a doctor's consultation and also have a pregnancy test done to help identify the cause of the symptoms you have described. Have a wonderful weekend and all the best! Stay safe!

Hi Maureen, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. Congratulations on your pregnancy and we are sorry about the morning sickness. If you would like to elliviate these feelings, look at the following:

  1. Choose foods carefully. Select foods that are high in protein, low in fat, and easy to digest, and avoid greasy, spicy, and fatty foods. ...
  2. Snack often. ...
  3. Drink plenty of fluids. ...
  4. Pay attention to nausea triggers. ...
  5. Breathe fresh air. ...
  6. Take care with prenatal vitamins. ...
  7. Rinse your mouth after vomiting

There is more information available on google so feel free to conduct a search and find a solution that fits with you.

I've learnt alot....i need to know if it possible to get pregnant after a miscarriage cuz i had a miscarriage about 2 months ago and now i can feel as if im pregnant again

Hi Judy, thank you so much for reaching out to us and for the feedback, we appreciate it. You can get pregnant after a miscarriage. However it is adviseable that you see a medical practitioner at your earliest convenience to help you through this period.

Staicy Annette
Sat, 10/31/2020 - 11:51 am
Hello I had sex one day after my periods but felt suspicious and took P2 before 72hours elapsed. 8 days I experienced vaginal bleeding like periods but lasted only 2 days.. what could be the problem? Is it possible a pregnancy?.. kindly assist Thank you

Hello Staicy, thank you for getting in touch asking a great question. Light spotting may show up after using p2. If you are still uncertain or doubt your status then why not go purchase another pregnancy test and confirm. If the results come back positive, then it would be best to visit your doctor and get proper consultation on the same. Please keep us posted and have a wonderful week ahead. Stay safe!

I saw my last period on 17th,and on 23th i make sex with ma man by that time i notice their some blood,after some days i started feel icould do sex any time i saw ma ma.
Sun, 11/22/2020 - 03:37 pm
hi I have miss my mp for one week and my nipple is seriously itching me and things like mucus are coming out in large quantity what might be problem?
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