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How to Cope with Pregnancy Aches and Discomfort

As your body changes, pregnancy aches and discomfort can occur, especially in the third trimester. Read our self-care tips and coping strategies here.

4 mins to read May 9, 2022

As your body changes throughout your pregnancy, pregnancy pains and discomfort can occur, especially in your back, legs and feet. In early pregnancy this can be because of the hormonal changes in your body relaxing your ligaments. As your pregnancy progresses, physical changes in your body are the likely culprits.

If you’re concerned about any of your pregnancy aches or pains talk to your healthcare professional for advice. The good news is there might be ways to ease your minor pregnancy aches and pains.

We’ve put together a handy list of coping strategies for you


1.    Avoid lifting heavy objects

It’s easier to injure yourself during pregnancy so avoid lifting anything heavy when possible. Ask others for help so that you don’t put extra strain on your body.

2.    Lift items safely

If you have to pick up something light,  don’t bend at your waist. Instead bend your knees, keep your back straight and use your leg muscles to stand. Then carry the item close to your body.

3.    Maternity pillow

Try using a maternity support pillow for your desk chair or sofa to give you some relief. Using a pregnancy pillow in bed may help you sleep more comfortably. If you don’t have a specialised pillow, putting a pillow between your knees and under your belly should help. From 28 weeks, women should settle on their side to sleep, either left or right is fine. Lying on your back can compress major blood vessels which supply oxygen to your baby.

4.    Wear supportive shoes

By wearing flat, supportive shoes with arch support, you will be comfortable for longer while standing and exercising.

5.    Light exercise

There are lots of great benefits of exercising during pregnancy such as improved sleep and mood. Aim to do 30 minutes of low intensity exercise each day. This could include walking or swimming. Make sure you discuss your planned exercise with your healthcare professional before you start. This is especially important if you’re planning to start a new exercise or increase the intensity of your current activities.

6.    Prenatal Yoga or Pilates

Prenatal yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that might help with aches and pains by increasing flexibility and muscle strength. During the class you’ll be shown low impact movements, safe and gentle stretches that will strengthen your body. Make sure you discuss your planned exercise with your healthcare professional before you start.

7.    Rest up

You may notice that you are more tired, especially during the first and third trimester. Changing hormones are usually to blame during your first trimester, and trouble getting a good night’s rest in your third. Pregnant women generally need more sleep than they used to as their body is doing a lot of hard work growing a little person inside. Try and get a long night’s rest, or nap during the day if you can, to help you get 8-10 hours of good sleep a day. Just remember, even for naps, it’s recommended to sleep on your side.

8.    Warm bath

Running a warm bath is a great way to soothe your aches and relax your muscles (and mind!). It’s important to make sure that you don’t run the bath too hot, so you don’t overheat.

9.    Prevent leg cramps

On top of walking and swimming, gentle stretches may help increase blood flow to your legs and help with leg cramps. Gently bend, stretch, and rotate your feet, and stretch your calves before bed. If you’re experiencing bad leg cramps, talk to your healthcare professional about whether certain supplements or medication might help you.

10.    Reduce ankle swelling

Fluid retention during pregnancy is a common cause of swelling in your ankles and can be uncomfortable. Talk to your healthcare professional immediately if swelling increases suddenly or is causing too much discomfort. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water, try not to stand for too long at a time and rest with your legs up and uncrossed. Your healthcare professional may recommend wearing compression socks or medication.

11.    Pain relief

If you need pain relief during pregnancy, check with your healthcare professional regarding which is best for you.  It’s usually okay to take paracetamol, however it is best to  confirm this with your healthcare professional first. Over the counter pain relief may provide short term relief if you’re experiencing minor aches or pains, but should not be taken in high doses or for too long.

12.    Pelvic pain

The physical and hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can cause pelvic girdle pain. Your healthcare professional can provide you with safe exercises and movements to relieve the pain or refer you to a pregnancy physiotherapist if required.