Hesperian Health Guides

Discomforts of Pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring problems that are uncomfortable but not dangerous. Avoid medicines for these discomforts. You can treat many of them simply and safely with home remedies.


An empty stomach makes the nausea of pregnancy worse. Eat small amounts, many times a day. Try eating a protein food like nuts, cheese, or meat before bed to keep full through the night. Eat something plain, such as rice, bread, or tortilla in the morning even before getting out of bed.

Fatty foods, spices, and strong-smelling foods may make nausea worse. Mint or ginger tea can help.

A pregnant woman with stomach acid rising into her chest
Changing hormones and a growing baby push stomach acid into the chest, causing burning and pain.


Heartburn is common in pregnancy. See ideas about how to prevent and treat it.

Constipation and hemorrhoids

Pregnant women often have trouble passing stool. This constipation can be very uncomfortable.

Straining to pass stool can cause hemorrhoids (also called piles). These are swollen veins around the anus. Hemorrhoids cause itching, pain, or bright-red bleeding. Learn how to prevent and treat constipation and hemorrhoids.


Women feel more tired during pregnancy simply because their bodies need more rest. This is normal. Rest and nap when you can.

Tiredness can be a sign of anemia, which is common but not healthy in pregnancy. Eat more iron-rich foods (such as meat, beans, lentils, and greens) and take iron tablets.

A woman sitting with her feet on a stool while preparing food

Swollen feet or hands

Rest and put your feet up a few times a day, especially if you spend most of the day standing or walking. Avoid packaged or canned foods — these usually have too much salt, which makes swelling worse.

Swelling when you first wake in the morning or swelling all over, including the face, are signs of pre-eclampsia. Check your blood pressure immediately, and even if it is OK, continue to have it checked at least once a week for the rest of the pregnancy.

This page was updated:30 Jun 2020