Health Tips for Pregnant Women
Common Health Issues

Health Tips for Pregnant Women

Though pregnant women need extra amount of certain kinds of nutrients, a pregnant woman should be careful not to eat for two in terms of quantity. Some of the important nutrients pregnant women need include: folic acid, protein, iron, calcium etc.


Though there are many others, we would be highlighting the importance of a few. For example, if she does not get enough calcium during her pregnancy, she would lose some to her baby (she would also lose some through the body’s normal pregnancy process, this might lead to some adverse outcomes like preeclampsia).


The same deprivation occurs for many other nutrients—iron, for instance. Lack of iron in the diet of pregnant women causes iron-deficiency anaemia which can lead to pregnancy complications. In terms of severity, protein deficiency is also a very serious matter: a pregnant woman whose diet is extremely deficient in protein may produce a child whose growth levels are below normal.


Health and Safety Tips for Pregnant Women 

In addition, it is becoming increasingly evident that many things besides foods may adversely affect the unborn child. Among them, and how pregnant women can keep safe and healthy, are:

  • Certain medications including some antibiotics and tranquilizers, aspirin compounds in large quantities, certain diuretics, vitamins in excess quantities should be avoided.


  • Pregnant women should avoid drugs such as LSD, heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates and marijuana.


  • Smoking. There is evidence that smoking heavily will have detrimental effects on the fetus and on babies. Such as low birth weight, deformities, tissue damage, preterm birth, miscarriages and death in some cases.


  • Alcohol intake. Alcohol consumption will cause deformities, disabilities as well as withdrawal symptoms in the new-born child.


  • Artificial substances in food. Many food additives are suspected of having harmful, long range effects on the fetus as well as on the mother. Many doctors recommend avoiding food with additives during pregnancy


  • X rays. Avoid radiation during pregnancy. If you must have an X ray, make sure you let the technicians know so that they can shield your stomach with a lead apron.


  • Certain virus diseases, the most notorious being German measles (rubella). If you have not had German measles, mumps, or regular measles, try to stay away from children who have any of these diseases. It is important to have a rubella vaccination before you become pregnant but do not get one if you know or even suspect that you are already pregnant. And do not attempt conception in the two months following vaccination.


  • Sexually Transmitted Infections. The screening of STIs in pregnant women, especially those living with HIV, can reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) and screening and treatment for STIs can also prevent adverse perinatal outcomes



Your doctor will carefully consider the effect of any medication he prescribes during your pregnancy. He may ask you to stop smoking and drinking. He will insist that you refrain from taking any medicine without first consulting him.



There are a number of discomforts that seem to be fairly common among pregnant women. You may experience none of them, but if you do undergo any of the complaints described below, be assured that they are normal:


Backaches have a variety of causes unrelated to pregnancy. But if a backache is caused by your pregnancy, it might be due to strain caused by your heavy abdomen is pulling on unused muscles or even the position of the fetus and your uterus. This can sometimes be relieved by rest, a maternity corset or bandages, change in lying position; generally anything that can relieve the pressure.


Often a woman’s first experience with constipation occurs during her pregnancy, although not all, or even most, pregnant women suffer from this complaint. Diet is the most effective treatment, most women found relief by increasing their fiber intake


Eat coarse cereals such as oatmeal and substitute white bread for whole wheat bread. Eat plenty of leafy vegetables, such as salad greens and spinach, fruits, particularly apples, grapes and prunes. A mild laxative such as milk of magnesia is not harmful to relieve an occasional bout of constipation. But never take a stronger laxative or an enema without consulting your doctor.


Falls and Accidents

Because pregnant women tend to be more careful, they probably have fewer falls and other accidents than most people. And when minor falls do occur, they usually cause the fetus no harm. If you should have an accident, take the same steps to make sure you are not injured as you would if you were not pregnant. But if vaginal bleeding begins, or if the fetal movements you have been feeling seem to have stopped, call your doctor immediately.


Heartburn or Indigestion

Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart; it is a burning sensation in the esophagus. Eat small meals frequently rather than overloading the stomach with large heavy ones. Omit gas-forming foods such as beans and cabbage, and cut down on desserts and rich foods. If these measures do not prevent discomfort, a tablespoon of cream half an hour before a meal may help. To relieve heartburn or indigestion, take a teaspoonful of milk of magnesia rather than bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), which most doctors don’t recommend for a pregnant woman.



Hemorrhoids, enlarged veins in the anal regions often develop during pregnancy. One of the causes is constipation, which can be avoided or alleviated with proper diet. Your doctor will prescribe treatment for hemorrhoids, which usually disappear after childbirth.



Many pregnant women have difficulty falling asleep, especially during the last months when the fetus seems to press on your organs and stay up all night. A relaxing bath and massage often helps. If it does not, your doctor may prescribe a mild sedative. But remember, never take any medication without his permission.


Leg Cramps

Spasms of the leg occur most often during sleep. This is usually due to a lack of nutrients such as calcium and potassium; dehydration, as well as the added weight of pregnancy. Massaging and kneading the cramped muscles until they relax is the best method of treatment.


Nausea and Vomiting

‘morning sickness,’ the nausea and vomiting that usually, but not always, occur in the morning is common in the early months of pregnancy, although more than a third of all pregnant women escape it completely. 



Sources and References

Preeclampsia by José Geraldo Lopes Ramos, Nelson Sass and Sérgio Hofmeister Martins Costa 

Sexually transmitted infections in pregnant women from sub-Saharan Africa by Bongekile Ngobese and Nathlee Abbai

Reader’s Digest Family Health Guide and Medical Encyclopedia


Dr. Esther Oginni

Internal Medicine and Psychology

Esther Oginni is a medical doctor and public health enthusiast. Her medical interests are internal medicine with a deeper focus on gastroenterology and psychology.