Discomfort during your pregnancy


Bd de la Cluse 30
1205 Genève

Begoña Martinez de Tejada Weber
Begoña Martinez de Tejada Weber
Médecin-cheffe de service

Pregnancy leads to physiological changes and to certain discomforts that disappear after birth for most women. To be in good condition, ensure you stay physically active during the day and continue to exercise (soft sports) if your condition permits. Eat a balanced diet and ensure good sleep hygiene, as much for you as for your baby.

Here are a few tips on how to limit discomfort during pregnancy. If these inconveniences persist despite these measures, talk to your doctor or your midwife.

Nausea and vomiting

  • In case of morning sickness, have breakfast in bed.
  • Split your meals (5-6 meals a day).
  • Avoid food that is difficult to digest.
  • Sit upright when eating.


  • Split your meals.
  • Limit greasy, acid, spicy food and sodas. Consume coffee, black tea, mint-based products (herbal teas, sweets) and chocolate with moderation.
  • Avoid lying down immediately after a meal.
  • Sleep in a slightly upright position.


  • Drink a lot of water (1.5 to 2l a day).
  • Increase your fibre intake (vegetables, fruit, brown bread, pulses, whole grain).
  • Listen to your body and take the time to go to the toilet. 


If you experience this problem, try to overcome constipation issues and check with your doctor. There are treatments.

Water retention (oedema) and heavy legs

  • Avoid excessive weight gain.
  • Raise your legs when resting, do pelvic movement exercises.
  • Spray your legs from top to bottom with cold water or have cold water foot baths.
  • Wear compression stockings.
  • Have massages.

Sometimes, numbness and tingling in the hands may occur during the last trimester. Talk to your doctor, especially if the symptoms worsen or if you experience loss of sensitivity


Your stomach hardens and you feel pain similar to period pain or cramps. Your womb may occasionally contract at any time during your pregnancy. In this case, these contractions involve little or no
pain and are very different to the contractions that occur at the end of the pregnancy.

If before week 37 the contractions increase in intensity and frequency and you have a history of premature birth, contact your midwife or doctor.

Light dizzy spells

When lying down, the vena cava (located in the abdomen) may be compressed causing a light dizzy spell. In this case, immediately change position and turn to your left side to restore the blood flow until full recovery.

Ligament pain

During pregnancy, your body changes to accommodate your baby and allow for his/her delivery. Ligaments become lax under the effect of progesterone. This may cause instability - as your centre
of gravity changes - and pain in the pubic area, at the back of the pelvis and on both sides of the spine. This type of pain is troublesome but not dangerous.

Avoid movements that increase the pain and favour mild mobilization. Massages, relaxation as well as the specific exercises shown to you during childbirth preparation classes can help

Muscle and back pain

Due to the postural changes caused by the pregnancy, intense demands are made on certain muscles, lesser on others. As a result, muscle strain is frequent. The pain sometimes radiates into the legs.

Continue to be active and favour moderate physical activities. Heat (poultices, baths), massages or physiotherapy can help.

Caution: if you experience a loss of sensitivity or strength in the legs or if you are unable to move, check with your doctor.

If you experience pain, whatever its nature (muscle, headaches), speak to your doctor or your midwife. He/she will decide on the best course of treatment as some painkillers are contraindicated during pregnancy. 

Disturbed sleep

Close to bedtime, have a light meal and avoid stimulants. Enjoy some downtime and put in place a ritual to help induce sleep. Place a cushion under your stomach or behind your back to make you more comfortable when you are lying down.

For a healthy and happy pregnancy, manage your sleep, stay active and rest during the day if you feel the need to do so. If you are tired, especially if you have other children, ask your family and friends for help.

When to seek immediate attention

Quickly see your treating doctor, your gynaecologist or, if they are unavailable, the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Emergency Services if you experience one of the following:

  • bleeding
  • pain/burning when urinating
  • clearly decreased baby movements
  • headaches, visual disturbance, shiny spots in front of your eyes or a sudden and significant increase in weight
  • fall or accident
  • fever (above 38°C) or influenza symptoms
  • painful or regular uterine contractions before week 37
  • water breaking (amniotic fluid).

Obstetrical emergencies

They are open to all pregnant women who require immediate medical attention. The future mother is attended to by a midwife who assesses the problem. The doctor then intervenes if necessary.

The HUG Gynaecology and Obstetrics Emergency Services are open 24/7. 

Last update : 11/04/2019