Because we know you'll have a lot of questions!


Pregnancy Symptoms and Changes

Most pregnancies have some related discomforts which may vary widely from each person and pregnancy. They are caused by your body adapting to physical change and changes in your hormone levels. They are not dangerous for you or your baby.


  • BREAST TENDERNESS: Generally occurs early in pregnancy and gradually disappears.

  • NAUSEA AND OCCASIONAL VOMITING: Generally the second symptom to appear. It usually improves after 10-12 weeks of pregnancy, but may return in mild form throughout pregnancy.

  • HEADACHES: Often appear when nausea improves, may occur daily, and usually lessen after 14-16 weeks. Unusually severe headaches should be reported to us.

  • PREMENSTRUAL-LIKE CRAMPING: Can occur throughout the first 12 weeks, is usually mild and not dangerous.

  • VAGINAL DISCHARGE: Increases throughout pregnancy, and appears somewhat like nasal mucous. It is usually not bloody, foul smelling, watery, or itchy. In the last month, it may have a slight blood tinge or brown colour.

  • FATIGUE: This occurs throughout the first trimester. It may feel as if you have taken some form of sleeping pill, especially in the afternoon. You may also have some difficulty sleeping at night.

  • ROUND LIGAMENT PAIN: This appears around the 14th week and peaks at 18-20 weeks with relief by around 26 weeks. These are sharp, stabbing pains on the sides of your lower abdomen caused by pulling of uterine ligaments. They are aggravated by physical activity and turning motions and usually resolve by simply taking it easy and resting.

  • BACKACHE: This usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy and can be associated with sciatica (pain radiating down the legs). It is caused by the change in your posture from enlarging abdomen. Avoid high-heeled shoes and prolonged sitting. It is treated with heating pads, massage, and physical therapy.

  • SWELLING (Oedema): This also occurs in the second half of pregnancy, and is mostly limited to the lower legs. It is not associated with problems, unless it progresses to the hands and face, and your blood pressure becomes elevated. Oedema will usually resolve with bed rest on your side. Thirty minutes standing or walking in a swimming pool will work very well for leg oedema.

  • LEG CRAMPS: These occur most often at night and usually resolve with increased potassium (have a glass of grape juice daily and eat bananas).

  • VARICOSE VEINS: These veins will frequently appear on the lower extremities or vulvar area as pregnancy progresses. They can become worse with each pregnancy. The use of support hose and leg elevation is recommended.

  • SKIN CHANGES: Pregnancy is associated with increased pigmentation, enlargement of existing moles, mild acne, and the appearance of small red spots called hemangiomas. Most lesions will disappear or become smaller after pregnancy ends.

  • DIZZINESS AND FAINTING: On occasion you may feel weak and may even “pass out.” This is caused by a combination of low blood pressure and/or low blood sugar. Always stay well hydrated and carry some sweets or crackers with you for emergency situations. Frequent episodes should be reported to Dr Byrnes.

  • SHORTNESS OF BREATH AND PALPITATIONS: Can occur but usually resolve by resting. Severe, persistent symptoms should be evaluated.

  • FETAL MOTION: In your first pregnancy, this appears by the 22nd week: earlier in subsequent pregnancies. Consistent motion is established after the 24th week and is most noticeable after meals in the evenings. Motion may decrease slightly in quantity in the last month, but the fetus still should move several times everyday. Please notify us if it does not. A simple test of your babies well being is a “kick count.” After 26 weeks, fetal motion of any kind should occur at least 10 times in the hour after a meal.

  • CONTRACTIONS: By 24-28 weeks you may notice non-painful tightening of the uterus (Braxton-Hicks) about 3 times per hour. These are normal. If you are less than 37 weeks and having painful contractions at 5 times per hour, which do not resolve with rest and fluids over the next hour may the sign of premature labour and should be reported. In the last month, increased irregular and sometimes painful contractions are common as the uterus “prepares” for labour.


Morning sickness is nausea or vomiting that usually occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy. Despite its name, you may feel nauseated or vomit at any time of day.


It is not understood why some women develop morning sickness, but certain factors such as hormones are involved. Women with high levels of pregnancy hormones tend to develop this condition and have it with subsequent pregnancies. More than half of pregnant women have morning sickness during the first trimester. It usually goes away by the second trimester, when the level of pregnancy hormones in your body falls.


When morning sickness is severe, it is called hyperemesis gravidarum.

NOTE: Please do not take any medications without notifying Dr Megan Byrnes, as some medications cross the placental barrier and may cause undue effects on the growing baby.


These steps may help

  • Eat snacks that are high in protein, don’t have rich, fatty foods

  • Avoid foods if their taste, smell or appearance is not suitable to you

  • Having frequent small snacks instead of full meals; being hungry can make it worse

  • Eat a nourishing snack before you go to bed at night

  • Increase intake of fluids such as water, fruit juice, clear soups, high electrolytes particularly if you are vomiting

  • Take it easy, especially in the mornings, as rushing about will make the nausea worse

  • Try and avoid time spent in kitchen, as the smell of food can make you nauseous

  • Try to avoid eating while you are shopping as movement often makes morning sickness worse

  • Try eating a biscuit or something light before you get out of bed in the morning

  • Seek medical help, before it can get worse


Moderate morning sickness may require

  • Medication to reduce nausea and vomiting ​(Dr Megan Byrnes will explain the side effects and risks of any medication prescribed.)

  • Intravenous fluid treatment to relieve dehydration


Severe hyperemesis gravidarum may require

  • Hospitalisation

  • Not eating or drinking anything, then slowly introducing food into your diet

  • Lab tests of blood and urine

  • Intravenous treatment to balance the electrolytes in your blood

  • Ultrasound examination of the pregnancy

  • Dietician review.