Pregnancy Care Guidelines

Part I: Common conditions during pregnancy

This sections looks a the conditions which are common during pregnancy.

A number of conditions are common during pregnancy. While these conditions are not harmful to the pregnancy, they can be distressing or debilitating and women may seek advice about managing symptoms. Recommendations are based on evidence about the effectiveness of interventions in reducing symptoms.

The summary of advice on common conditions during pregnancy is considered a priority for inclusion in these Guidelines. Advice on other conditions, such as vaginal discharge and backache is included in the NICE Guidelines NICE 2008.

Summary of advice for women about common conditions during pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting

  • Although distressing and debilitating for some women, nausea and vomiting usually resolves spontaneously by 16 to 20 weeks pregnancy and is not generally associated with pregnancy complications
  • Discontinuing iron-containing multivitamins may be advisable while symptoms are present


  • Increasing dietary fibre intake and taking bran or wheat fibre supplements may relieve constipation
  • Stimulating laxatives are more effective than preparations that add bulk but are more likely to cause diarrhoea or abdominal pain

Reflux (heartburn)

  • Heartburn may be improved by having small frequent meals, and reducing foods that cause symptoms on repeated occasions
  • Medications may also be considered for relieving heartburn


  • Haemorrhoids may be improved by increasing fibre in the diet and drinking plenty of water; standard haemorrhoid creams can be considered if symptoms continue

Varicose veins

  • Varicose veins will not generally cause harm to the woman or baby and usually improve after the birth

Pelvic girdle pain

  • Pregnancy-specific exercises, physiotherapy, acupuncture or use of a support garment may provide some relief from pelvic girdle pain

Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • There is little evidence on the effectiveness of treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome


  • NICE (2008) Antenatal Care. Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health. Commissioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. London: RCOG Press
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