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Causes of Pregnancy Loss or Miscarriage

The true cause of 25-60% of pregnancy losses is unknown. Where it is known the causes could vary from medical conditions affecting the baby itself to those affecting the mother.

Most pregnancy losses within the first trimester are due to genetic disorders in the baby which are not compatible with life.


  • structural or functional abnormalities with the body of the mother’s womb or placenta or cervix,
  • pre-existing medical conditions in the mother such as sickle cell disease, poorly controlled diabetes or hypertension, pre-eclampsia and thyroid disease,
  • hormonal imbalances,
  • incompatibilities with the mother and baby’s blood group (eg. Rhesus incompatibilities),
  • immune diseases such as antiphospholipid syndrome,
  • infections and
  • trauma are common causes of stillbirth.

Some of these conditions may threaten the ability of the mother’s body to sustain the pregnancy to its completion. They do this directly or cause abnormalities in the unborn baby that may not be compatible with its survival.

Useful advice for going back to work after a miscarriage

What causes miscarriages?

The true cause of 25-60% of pregnancy losses is unknown. Where it is known the causes could vary from medical conditions affecting the baby itself to those affecting the mother.

Why Is Finding Out the Cause Important?

The essence of exploring the causes of pregnancy loss with your health provider (where possible) is to set in motion a plan of action. The aim is to permanently correct any abnormality, manage any chronic condition proactively. Thus, we may be better prepared to forestall a repeat pregnancy loss the next time the mother conceives.

With the guilt that follows miscarriages, some individuals believe that sexual intercourse, strenuous exercise or work can lead to miscarriages. On the contrary, there is no known evidence to support this notion.

A story of still birth

What do you Feel When a miscarriage Occurs?

Sometimes a pregnancy loss may be silent ie. the mother may not observe any obvious signs coming to the knowledge of what has occurred during a routine check or after a missed period.

Common symptoms include:

  • bleeding of various degrees,
  • passage of the fetus or bits of tissue from your vagina,
  • abdominal cramps of various degrees, fever,
  • lower back pain and loss of previously felt symptoms of pregnancy such as breast fullness, nausea.

Once a total or imminent pregnancy loss is confirmed, your health care provider will need to ensure that your womb is completely empty. This is verified through a series of tests which would include an ultra sound scan as well as give you medication and/or perform a surgical procedure on you.

What causes miscarriages ?


“I felt lost and alone and I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were, because we don’t talk about them.”

Michelle Obama in her autobiography titled “Becoming”

“It turns out that even two committed go-getters with a deep love and robust work ethic can’t will themselves into being pregnant.”

Michelle Obama in her autobiography titled “Becoming”
cramps may be a symptom of pregnancy loss
Always report severe cramps to your doctor

I particularly love these quotes from America’s former first lady. For someone idolised by women all over the world it was an honest admission to a devastating but very common issue. An issue that affects women of reproductive age the world over; pregnancy loss.
It was almost permission for women to acknowledge as valid, their feelings of loss, inadequacy, guilt and confusion at what society perceives as a basic ability of every woman. The ability to conceive and carrying a pregnancy to it’s successful completion.

Experiencing a miscarriage personally opened my eyes to the prospect of it happening to anybody. Speaking about it years after with women I knew exposed me to how close to home it could come. Relatives and friends had experienced it and never talked about it openly. It’s not something we do openly in our society.

What is A Miscarriage?

Pregnancy loss is the spontaneous termination of a pregnancy. If the demise of the baby occurs within the first 3 months to 20 weeks of life in the womb, (or when it would have been considered as viable) it is termed an abortion or miscarriage. However, a loss above 20 weeks is considered a stillbirth.

80% of all pregnancy losses occur within the first 3 months of pregnancy and 15-25% of recognised pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Click here to learn about the common causes of miscarriages.

Finally, you can find out tips on what to do if when a miscarriage occurs here.

A father’s account of pregnancy loss

Is Your Pregnancy Putting You At Risk For Diabetes?

Are you pregnant? Yes? Then you may be at risk for diabetes!

How does this happen?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that appears only during pregnancy. As strange as it may sound, studies show that 6-7% of pregnant women will develop this form of diabetes during the course of their pregnancy.

What causes gestational diabetes? Are the symptoms obvious? Is it possible to keep you and your baby healthy after a diagnosis?

Read on to find out!

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Our body releases a hormone called Insulin every time we have a meal.

This hormone helps to break down fats and carbohydrates, turning the sugar from our food into energy. At times, hormones from the placenta can prevent the production of insulin and sugar cannot be broken down properly.

Therefore, excess sugar remains in the blood and causes gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually starts around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.

If not managed properly, this sustained rise in blood sugar can cause damage to the nerves, blood vessels and organs in your body.

Risk Factors For Gestational Diabetes

Although it is not certain why some women get gestational diabetes while others do not, there are some factors that places anyone at risk of this condition:

  • Obesity
  • High levels of tummy fat
  • Age (Women older than 35 years)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Personal history of Gestational Diabetes
  • History of delivering large babies (more than 9pounds/4.1kilograms)
  • Sendentry Lifestyle
  • Race: Sadly, being black places you at a higher risk of this condition.

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

Many women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy may not notice any symptoms. Most women find out after they have been tested for the condition.

However, some signs you should watch out for are:

  • Incessant thirst.
  • Frequent urination and in large amounts
  • Persistent Fatigue
  • Sugar in the urine during a dipstick test
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Recurrent vaginal, bladder and skin infections

Your doctor will test you for gestational diabetes during your routine antenatal check ups. This is done between 24-28 weeks if you have never had it before or at your first visit if you had it in your previous pregnancy. This test is called an OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test).

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect You and Your Baby?

If left unchecked, gestational diabetes could put you at risk for:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Miscarriages and pregnancy loss
  • Increased risk of having a baby by caesarean section.
  • Stillbirth

On the other hand, it puts your baby at risk for:

.Jaundice ( yellowing of the eyes and skin)

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Macrosomia; a condition where a baby is too large and the head too big for a vaginal delivery.
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Low calcium levels
  • Issues with the formation of organs such as the heart
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes later in life

However, mothers who follow their obstetrician’s advice and recommendations for either medication or dietary changes do not have to worry about these risks.

Gestational diabetes can be adequately managed with diet and exercise
Gestational diabetes can be adequately managed with diet and exercise

Gestational diabetes can be adequately managed with proper diet and exercise. In some cases, supplementary insulin as injections may be recommended. Other times oral tablets are given to help control your blood sugar through other mechanisms .

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be overwhelming. However, there is no need to despair as it can be easily controlled so that you have a safe and healthy delivery.

Your pregnancy will need to be monitored more closely eg. more frequent antenatal visits. Follow your doctors advice at all times. Maintain a healthy diet, and remain physically active. Be consistent with your medications if you have any.

As long as you follow the guidelines above, you and your baby will be fine.


Is Exercising Safe In Pregnancy?

Do you remember a few years ago when a obviously pregnant athlete got in the news because she ran a race with while being pregnant ? Opinions were divided as to whether what she was doing was safe.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Exercising in pregnancy has benefits such as helping to prepare your body for labour and preventing excessive weight gain which in turn helps to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Exercise is an absolute no no in the following situations:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • With ruptured membranes (ie. when your water breaks) or if your womb begins to contract before 37 weeks (ie. falling into premature labour)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Vaginal bleeding ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If you develop a condition called Pre-eclampsia where you develop high blood pressure with evidence of organ damage. (Such as liver and kidney mal-function)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If there are issues with the neck of your womb which is called the cervix (issue such as an incompetent cervix)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If you’ve been told your baby isn’t growing well ( Intrauterine growth restriction)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If you are expecting twins or more especially after about the 7th month into your pregnancy ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If you have uncontrolled diabetes (high blood sugar) , hypertension ( high blood pressure) or thyroid disease⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • If you have other serious medical conditions ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

All these are medical diagnoses indicating you more or less need to get the information from your doctor to know that whether you have them or not.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Other situations where you COULD exercise but will need to get the go ahead from your physician before starting include:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • If you’ve had recurrent pregnancy loss ( 3 consecutive ones). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Have had previous preterm delivery ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • You have hypertension in pregnancy ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • You are anaemic ( the capacity for your blood cells to carry oxygen around your body is reduced) and you are showing symptoms ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • You are malnourished ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • So if you are having an uneventful pregnancy, your doctor may most likely clear you for exercise.

Did you exercise throughout pregnancy? What was it like for you? Learn how much exercise is safe for pregnancy women .

There modifications to your regular exercise routine that are safe in pregnancy
How much exercise is safe for pregnant mums?
Image: Shutterstock

5 Reasons Why I Need Calcium In Pregnancy

Pregnancy comes with a lot of demands. For Cynthia, these demands met her unprepared. In the 7th month of her pregnancy, she started experiencing lightheadedness and severe fatigue. At the next hospital visit, the doctor calmly encouraged her to increase the calcium in her diet.

Some women get bad headaches with pre eclampsia

How important is this mineral in pregnancy?

In addition to promoting your baby’s growth, it also maintains your own bones and keeps you in good shape all through this journey.

In this post, we’d walk you through five exciting reasons why you should take enough of this essential mineral as a mum-to-be.

1. Calcium Strengthens Your Baby’s Developing Bones & Teeth.

This essential nutrient helps your baby grow strong bones before birth. Strong bones are crucial for survival outside the womb and we all know that a cute baby smile is incomplete without some of those white teeth.

Calcium helps in bone formation for you baby in the 3rd trimester

If you don’t take enough calcium during pregnancy, you’d deprive your baby of what he/she really needs.

Inadequate intake of this nutrient during pregnancy exposes a woman to the risk of certain bone related diseases later in life

A classic example is Osteoporosis, which is the reduction in bone size and presence of soft bones as a result of calcium deficiency. This condition arises because inadequate calcium consumption during pregnancy will result in a further depletion of the mother’s reserves (in her bones) to meet the baby’s requirements.

Low calcium levels increase the risk of osteoporosis characterized by cramps, and bone pain

Low levels of calcium in the bones will result in brittle bones.

3. Calcium Reduces The Risk Of Preeclampsia.

In plain terms, preeclampsia is the increase in blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy.

Reduced calcium intake during pregnancy may stimulate certain hormonal systems which alter blood pressure and lead to preeclampsia.

Studies show that pregnant women can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by consuming extra 1000mg of calcium per day. This is a safe and relatively cheap way of reducing the risk of preeclampsia in pregnancy.

4. It Also Helps Prevent Preterm Delivery.

Calcium supplements have been shown to reduce the risk of preterm delivery to a large extent.

Calcium supplements have been shown to reduce the risk of preterm delivery

How does this work?

Increased levels impair the release of a certain hormone, thereby reducing smooth muscle contraction (including the womb muscles). As a result, the possibility of preterm labour and delivery is greatly reduced.

5. It Reduces The Risk Of Postpartum Haemorrhage.

Postpartum haemorrhage is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the world at large.  

It is defined as the loss of blood more than 500mls during a Caesarean section and 1000mls during vaginal delivery. The first line of treatment for postpartum haemorrhage is oxytocin, and calcium is really important for this treatment to function properly.

When there is not enough calcium in the body during delivery, oxytocin may not get enough calcium to bind to, and postpartum haemorrhage occurs.

However, adequate levels in the body allow for smooth movements and effective functioning of hormones.


Get enough calcium during pregnancy, it is really important for your baby’s development and your own well-being too.

The good news is, you can get it easily through your diet or certain drug supplements prescribed by your doctor.

Best sources of calcium

Uncommon Signs Of Pregnancy Before A Missed Period

A missed period is an obvious sign of pregnancy. However, it is not the only sign of pregnancy. In fact, there are other uncommon signs of pregnancy that you may experience before a missed period.


Although a pregnancy test is the most effective way to confirm a pregnancy, a number of other uncommon signs can also be used to detect pregnancy. Nevertheless, most mums-to-be fail to recognize these signs.

What are these uncommon signs of pregnancy? How can you identify them?

Read on to find out!

The Uncommon Pregnancy Symptoms

1. Nausea

Nausea is a very common symptom of pregnancy, which is often called morning sickness. Most women begin to feel nauseous a few days after conception.

Excessive vomiting in pregnancy can take it's toll

Furthermore, studies show that this uneasy symptom is due to rising estrogen and progesterone (pregnancy hormone) levels.

2. Tender Breasts & Darkened Areolas

The areaola is the darker skin surrounding the base of your nipple. Tender, heavy and sore breasts and darkened areolas are noticeable about a week before the missed period. Due to the rising estrogen levels, some women feel sore in their breast. Their nipples begin to look darker, feel tingly, itchy or prickly.

In some cases, this symptom remains long after a missed period.

3. Food Cravings & Aversions

Another telltale sign of pregnancy is food cravings or weird food aversions. Imagine waking up at 2am and desperately wanting a bowl of hot pounded yam and egusi soup.

Weird right?

Well, you just might be pregnant. In fact, some women lose their appetites completely or become strangely selective in food options.

4. Mood Swings

An hormonal imbalance can affect the neural signaling process in the brain, leading to sudden and enhanced emotional outbursts. Interestingly, this can be an early symptom of pregnancy for most women.

If you don’t feel normal, take some time out to relax, speak to a friend. Experience some self-love; it’d help you respond properly to stressful situations. Please remember that more serious challenges with your mood in pregnancy need more attention. Please don’t ignore it.

5. Dizziness

Feeling dizzy and light headed is also one of the symptoms of early pregnancy before a missed period. This is because of the stretching of blood vessels which causes a reduction in blood pressure.

This symptom persists during the first trimester and gradually decrease in the remaining trimesters.

6. Metallic Taste in the Mouth

This is also known as dysgeusia. It is an awkward and strange taste in the mouth during pregnancy. This can be an early symptom of pregnancy which may persist all through pregnancy in some women.

7. Elevated Basal Body Temperature

The body basal temperature increases during ovulation and then returns back to normal. But in early pregnancy, it stays elevated.

This is due to the high hormone levels during pregnancy. If your basal body temperature remains high for 18-20 days after ovulation, then, you’re probably pregnant.

8. Fatigue & Exhaustion

Changes in hormonal levels can make one feel tired and exhausted.

This makes most women sleep more in the early days of pregnancy. In addition, its normal to feel tired and sleepy after doing a few chores while pregnant.

You can relieve fatigue and exhaustion by eating a healthy diet rich in minerals, iron, vitamin and plenty fluid. Read more about tips for fatigue during pregnancy here.

9. Increased Urge To Pee

This is also an obvious sign of pregnancy before a missed period and it increases as pregnancy progresses. The changing hormones and extra blood being produced results in an increased frequency of urination.

10. Sensitivity To Smell

There is an increased sensitivity to smell in early pregnancy due to increased level of oestrogen. It occurs in the weeks following conception.

When Do These Symptoms Start?

Everything varies from woman to woman.

In most cases, some of these symptoms begin to surface on the 7th to 10th day after conception. On the other hand, some of the other symptoms may take weeks to turn up.


Regardless of these telltale signs, a pregnancy test is the best way to confirm the possibility of a pregnancy. Whenever you think you’re pregnant, there are a number of easy and reliable ways to get tested.

  • Sapra, K.J., Buck Louis, G.M., Sundaram, R., Joseph, K.S., Bates, L.M., Galea, S., Ananth, C.V. (2016). “Signs and symptoms associated with early pregnancy loss: findings from a population-based preconception cohort.” Human Reproduction. Accessed on 19th October, 2020 from  https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/31/4/887/2380064
  • Katherine J Sapra, Germaine M Buck Louis, Rajeshwari Sundaram, Joseph, K.S., Lisa M Bates, Sando Galea, and Cande V Ananth (2018). “Time-varying effects of signs and symptoms on pregnancy loss <20 weeks: Findings from a preconception prospective cohort study.” Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology. Accessed on 19th October, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772892/#__ffn_sectitle
  • Guannan Bai, Ida J. Korfage, Esther Hafkamp-de Groen, Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, Eva Mautner, Hein Raat (2016). “Associations between Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue and Health-Related Quality of Life of Women in Early Pregnancy: The Generation R Study.” Plos One. Accessed on 19th October, 2020 from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0166133

Managing Excessive Sweating During Pregnancy

Are you a new mom? Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to find your clothes and bed sheets completely soaked with sweat?

You overcame fatigue during pregnancy and swollen feet from water retention now this. Are you wondering why you have to deal with postpartum sweating along with a host of other unpleasant postpartum symptoms? How do you deal with night sweats and when should you call your doctor?

Read on to find out!

Postpartum Recovery: What is Happening to Your Body?

Even if you are a seasoned pro, you might find yourself asking this question in the weeks after you give birth to your baby.

Although a lot of changes occur during pregnancy, many women expect that things will go back to normal immediately after childbirth. Well, we are sorry to inform you dear mama that that is not always the case.

Even as you try to adjust to the life of a new mom, your body still has a lot of things going on. Therefore, you should expect to deal with a number of uncomfortable physical and emotional changes like:

  • vaginal soreness and discharge
  • occasional painful contraction of your womb
  • leaking urine from time to time
  • digestive problems
  • breast soreness, engorgement and discharge
  • hair and skin changes
  • mood shifts and depression
  • struggling to loose weight

In addition to all this unpleasantness, night sweating is also another thing that new mothers complain about in the few weeks after childbirth.

Why are You Sweating at Night?

Your body will gradually try to return to it’s pre-pregnancy state after you give birth. During pregnancy, there were a lot of changes to your hormone and fluid levels. Therefore, your body will try to adjust to new hormone levels after pregnancy.

In addition to this, it’d also try to get rid of all the excess fluids that sustained your body & baby while you were pregnant. Therefore, it’s normal to experience excess sweating in the days and nights after you give birth. Asides sweating, you may also notice that you urinate more often. This is another way your body tries to get rid of all that extra fluid.

At times, sweating at night may also be due to other reasons. You may find yourself waking up all warm and sweaty simply because your room is too warm or your blankets are too thick. Excessive night sweats can also be a side effect of some medications.

On the other hand, your night sweats can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue like anxiety, hyperthyroidism, obstructive sleep apnea, tuberculosis or menopause.

How Long Will The Sweating Last?

You should expect to experience night sweating in the few days and weeks after childbirth. It is usually no cause for concern. However, if your sweating lasts for too long, please contact your doctor.

What You Can Do:

Waking up warm and sweaty may be very uncomfortable. However, it is comforting to know that this unpleasant postpartum symptom will not last forever. Your hormones and fluids should regulate on their own in due time and the excess sweating should stop.

Meanwhile, here are a few tips to help you feel better when your night sweats are at their worst:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Sweating so much can leave you dehydrated. Your body needs all the fluids it can get now, especially if you are breastfeeding. Pay attention to the colour of your urine; if it is dark or yellow, you need to drink more water.
  2. Change Your Nightwear: You need comfortable pyjamas. Go for one that is loose, light and made from cotton and other natural fibers. This will provide room for your body to breath and bring the sweating down a notch.
  3. Cool Down Your Room: You are bound to wake up sweaty if your room is too warm. So open your windows and put on a fan. You can also try an using an air conditioner to keep your room cool at night.
  4. Use Powder: Sweating a lot can make you prone to heat rashes and other skin issues. Try using some talcum-free powder on your body just before you go to bed. This will help prevent rashes from forming.
  5. Wipe Yourself Down : Try a warm bath before bed or wiping yourself down with a wet face towel. This is can be refreshing and help you cool down.

When to See Your Doctor

You should contact your doctor if your night sweating lasts for several weeks after delivery.

Pregnancy signs

Also inform your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms below:

  • fever over 38oC
  • unusual or smelly vaginal discharge
  • heavy bleeding that may contains large clots ( lumps of curdled blood) for more than 3days after delivery
  • pain or burning while urinating
  • pain, redness, or drainage at stitch or incision sites
  • warm, reddened breasts
  • severe abdominal cramping
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • feeling depressed or anxious
  • excessive weight-loss ( over 10%) despite a healthy appetite
  • cough lasting over 3 weeks

The Takeaway

As you try to adjust to your life as a new mom, you may have to deal with a lot of unpleasant changes.

We understand that having to wake up at night to feed, change, and soothe your baby is not easy. Not to talk of when you have to do it while you are all hot and sweaty. Good news it, this will not last forever.

Your body will be back to normal soon and then you can say goodbye to sweaty nights. Till then, you may have to keep your fan close and your air-conditioner, a little closer.

Are you having

What you should know about fibroids and pregnancy

Fibroids are tumours/masses that grow from the muscular wall of the womb. They are usually benign (i.e. they are not cancers). They affect between 40-60% of women by age 35%.

Fribroids from cause to treatment

Can fibroids affect my fertility?

For the vast majority of cases, women with fibroids can still get pregnant normally. However, in rare cases, a particular type of fibroid( submucosal, which grows from the wall into the womb cavity) can cause infertility and/or miscarriage.

Can having a fibroid affect my pregnancy?

Most women would not have any symptoms due to fibroids during pregnancy. However, your doctor would be on high alert for some risks that may arise during the pregnancy:

Intra-uterine Growth Restrictions:

Very large fibroids may take up womb space and not allow your baby to grow optimally.

Our baby came early because of IUGR
Premature delivery:

Carrying very large fibroids and a growing baby may over-stress the uterus, leading to a miscarriage or premature delivery.

Placenta abruptio:

Fibroids may lead to a premature release of the placenta from the wall of the womb. This means oxygen supply to the baby would be greatly reduced and there is an increased risk of heavy bleeding

Breech presentation:

A breech presentation occurs when a baby is positioned with its legs towards the vagina instead of head down. In this case, depending on the type of breech, the doctor may suggest a caesarean section instead of vaginal delivery.

fibroids can cause a baby to have a  breech presentation
Breech pregnancy

Am I at any risk?


This may occur during pregnancy or after delivery. Fibroids may cause bleeding directly or due to the issue with the placenta mentioned above. It”s important to note that this is not a menstrual period. The presence of fibroid in the muscle of the womb may prevent the womb from contracting fully to close off the bed where the placenta came off of in the lining of the womb. Your health care team can take extra precautions to avoid this by some manoeuvres or giving you some medication to support your wombs contracts.


Fibroids can degenerate. A process called red degeneration. This can be extremely painful and require a hospital admission for pain relief and fluids. Fibroids with stalks found on the outer surface of the womb can twist on themselves. This can also be a source of pain.

Poor contractions

Fibroids may disrupt the normal muscular structure of the uterus. This can lead to poor contractions and not being able to reach full dilatation. If the cervix is not fully dilated, or labour takes longer than usual, a caesarean section may be necessary to deliver the baby.

Post-partum haemorrhage:

If the uterus is not able to fully contract after the baby is born, there is a very high chance of heavy bleeding and this is a medical emergency.

Medication to avoid during pregnancy

Fibroids are pretty common amongst women of the black race. During pregnancies, they could be quiet or have effects ranging from minor discomforts to serious complications. Either way, with an experienced medical team, especially in Nigeria where it is fairly common, you will be fine.

Causes Of Water Retention In Pregnancy

The changes in your body during pregnancy sometimes cause some discomfort. One of these changes is water retention ( oedema).


During pregnancy, most women observe mild to moderate swelling, especially in the hands, feet and ankles. Some times, your feet feel heavy sometimes numb. Your face may look puffy, your nose a bit larger. Your rings and footwear may stop fitting like they used to. Interestingly, some mums have had to go up a shoe size as a result!

The amount of swelling varies from woman to woman. This variation is based factors like temperature and time of day; it’s usually more in the evening hours.

This article contains all you need to know about water retention (oedema) in pregnancy; the causes, symptoms and tips on how to keep it under control.

What is water retention / oedema?

Oedema is the accumulation of fluid in the body tissues.

It’s quite common during pregnancy because the body produces more blood and body fluids to meet the demands of the developing baby.

Although most women notice oedema in the 2nd trimester, it may begin between the 22nd and 27th week and remain until childbirth

Causes Of Oedema During Pregnancy

1. Increased Blood & Fluid Volume

Interestingly, your blood volume increases by up to 50% during pregnancy. This increase occurs to ensure that you and your little one (or two) get all the necessary nutrients and oxygen.

2. Increased Hormone Production

Several hormones rise in levels to maintain pregnancy. These include HCG levels (which is used to confirm pregnancies), to progesterone, oxytocin and other hormones necessary for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

However, this increase in particular hormone levels (especially progesterone) can cause the body to retain more fluids.

3. The Growing Womb

The growth of the baby results in a complementary growth of the womb. This slows the return of blood from your legs to the heart. The backed up of fluid accumulates in the feet, calves and in extreme cases thighs and groin.

Water retention in pregnancy

4. Weather

Another point to note is that hot weather increases the chances of oedema in pregnancy. That is, women who live in regions like Africa and Asia are at a higher risk of retaining water in pregnancy. Our kidneys try to reduce loss of body water in such regions, subsequently leading to oedema.

5. Your Diet

Certain meals and drinks which contain caffeine and high amounts of sodium cause the body to retain water in order to keep the internal milieu balanced.

High sodium diets encourage water retention

Caffeine is a diuretic. It increases urine production, thereby sending signals to your brain that you need to retain more fluids than you actually need.This excess fluid leads to oedema.


During pregnancy, we recommend some of these foods and beverages. They are safer and easy to prepare.

7. Insufficient Water Intake

We know alot of mums find it difficult to hold food down due to morning sickness.

reducing your water intake due to morning sickness can ecourage water retention
Some pregnant mums are grossed out by plain water

Some mums are also grossed out by plain water. Believe it on not, a reduction in your water intake makes the body retain more fluid .

8. Long Standing Hours

Standing for long can shift most of your body fluids to the feet due to the effect of gravity. Hence, fluid accumulates and your lower limbs begin to swell.

9. Varicose veins

The increased blood volumes and pressure from gravity put a strain on the valves that keep your blood flowing in one direction from your legs towards the heart. When these valves become weak, mums tent to develop more prominent veins on their calves. This backed up fluid can accumulate in the feet as oedema.

How Do I Relieve Oedema During Pregnancy?

Doing the following can provide relieve for you from edema during pregnancy:

1. Move Around

If you stand for a long period of time, take a break and sit. If you sit for long, take a few minutes to walk around. Staying in one position and not exercising the body can lead to fluid accumulation. Exercise will improve circulation of fluid around your body.

2. Sleep On Your Side.

During pregnancy, it is advisable to sleep on your side, preferably on the left. This will relieve the pressure on the body’s major vein which is on the right. This vein is the major drainage channel for fluid from your lower extremities.

3. Drink More Water.

Drinking about 8 to 10 cups of water daily will help your body get rid of excess sodium and other waste products. This helps to reduce swelling.

Reduce oedema by drinking more water. Add a slice of lemon to your water if plain water grosses you out.

4. Reduce your salt intake.

High salt diets encourage the body to keep extra water in order to maintain it’s internal balance. Do not add salt to your served meals at the table just before you eat.

'high salt diet encourage oedma

Limit your intake of sodium from other sources such as canned or processed food such as crisps. Furthermore, you can use spices such as garlic, locust beans (iru), ogiri, dawadawa, thyme, oregano and rosemary or incorporating dry sea food – crayfish, shrimp or fish powder. These are excellent ways of adding flavor to your food while limiting salt intake. Also, remember you do need sodium in your diet but in moderate amounts.

5. Reduce Caffeine Intake.

Drinking too much caffeine is not good for your pregnancy. It can also worsen oedema.


6. Raise Your Feet.

If your feet are swollen elevate you leg whenever you aren’t moving around. This involves raising your feet with pillows when lying down or placing your feet on a step stool while you sit. This helps to drain the fluids that have pooled in your legs.

7. Dietary Modifications.

Some meals help to relieve oedema during pregnancy. Eating foods rich vitamins and minerals can go a long way to keep edema in check. Meats like turkey and chicken are high in protein. In addition, proteins are broken down by the body to essential amino acids which help balance the amount of fluid in your tissues.

When should I be worried about oedema?

Although water retention is often seen in pregnancy, it can be a warning sign you shouldn’t ignore. If you notice the following in addition to the oedema please consult your doctor:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision or spots of light in your vision
  • Reduced daily urine output
  • Pain in your chest or upper part of your tummy
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Painful hot calves
  • Fever
  • Incessant body itching
  • Sudden severe swelling of just one leg

In Conclusion,

Oedema is a common side effect of pregnancy that resolves a few weeks after your baby is born. It can be managed with minor dietary and lifestyle changes. However, it can be a warning sign for health conditions that need attention from your doctor.

Finally, remember to listen to your body and remain vigilant for early warning signs of water retention.

Signs of pre eclampsia

10 Cold Remedies During Pregnancy

Cold is a common infection in Nigeria, especially during harmattan.

Although, this may be normal for most people, a pregnant woman would have to be extra careful. Why? Simply because dealing with any illness during pregnancy is quite complicated. Whatever happens to a mum-to-be affects both her and the baby.


During pregnancy, your immune system becomes weaker in order to accommodate the growing baby. However, this leaves you prone to certain bacterial and viral infections including cold.

Common cold is caused by a type of virus known as a rhinovirus.

Sadly, it is easily passed from one person to another. Furthermore, there are more than 200 other viruses responsible for cold, making it so common in our communites.

In this article, you’d find the major symptoms of cold, home-based remedies and simple tips to avoid common cold during pregnancy. Furthemore, we’d supply you with a few insights on the right time to contact your doctor when the cold is persisitent.

Symptoms Of A Cold During Pregnancy

cold symptoms

Common symptoms of cold during pregnancy include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Fever

Remedies For Cold During Pregnancy

Not all drugs are safe to use during pregnancy. As a result of this, you must consult your doctor before taking any medication as a pregnant woman.

Nevertheless, we have compiled these home-based remedies to help you tackle common cold without visiting the hospital:

1. Rest

Actually, your body may be stressed out and in need of rest. This may be why your immune system cannot fight the cold.

Whenever you notice a runny nose or continous sneezing, try to get enough rest.

2. Stay Hydrated.

Water Works.

Sneezes, fever, and a runny nose causes the body to lose fluids. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Warm beverages, chicken peppersoup, water, juice, hot ginger tea, are highly recommended.

3. Be Active

Don’t allow the cold weigh you down. If you don’t have fever and you’re not coughing, you can do some light pregnancy-safe exercise.

Exercising as a means of losing baby weight

It may help you feel better.

4. Eat Well

Maintaining a good, healthy diet can help relieve your cold symptoms. You may not have the appetite to eat, but when you can, ensure your diet is healthy.

5. Take More Vitamin C and Zinc.

Vitamin C and zinc helps to boost your immune system. Citrus fruits like oranges and tangerines, as well as mangoes, tomatoes, strawberries are rich sources of vitamin C.

You can get zinc from foods such as turkey, beef, eggs, yoghurt, etc. You can also take supplements.

6. Prenatal Supplements

You can also take prenatal vitamin supplements which contains vitamin C and zinc. Just ensure you are not taking other supplements aside from what your doctor recommended for you. Please do not exceed the recommended daily dose (RDA) and avoid vitamin A supplements in first trimester.

7. Saltwater Gargle

Gargling with warm salt water can help to ease a sore or scratchy throat.

8. Honey

Eating honey is good to help relieve cold symptoms. You can eat the honey directly or mix in hot water with lemon.

9. Moisturize Your Air.

Breathing warm, humid air helps to relieve congestion. Steaming with hot water will also help. Try running hit water from your shower or bath and close all the windows and doors. The cool mist will also do you good. If neither of these are feasible there are humidifiers in sale in the stores.

10. Nasal Drops

Saline nasal drops and sprays are effective for loosening nasal mucus and soothing swollen nasal tissue.

How To Reduce The Risk:

To reduce your risk of getting sick during pregnancy, you should:

  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Avoid getting stressed.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid close contact with sick family or friends.

When To See A Doctor:

After following all the guidenelines above, and the cold is still persistent, you should see a doctor. Also, if the cold is associated with any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • High fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe vomiting
  • Reduced sleep
  • Coughing out greenish or yellow mucus
  • Dizziness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Decreased foetal movement
  • Cold symptoms lasting longer than 10 to 14 days
  • Aida Erebara, Pina Bozzo, Adrienne Einarson, and Gideon Koren (2008). “Treating the common cold during pregnancy.” The College of Family Physicians of Canada. Accessed on 10th October, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377219/#__ffn_sectitle
  • Lora Sabin, Evan M. S. Hecht, Mohamad I. Brooks, Mrigendra P. Singh, Kojo Yeboah-Antwi, Abanish Rizal, Blair J. Wylie, Philip A. Bondzie, Matthew Banos, Jordan Tuchman, Neeru Singh and Davidson H. Hamer (2018). “Prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy: what do pregnant women and health care workers in East India know and do about it?” Malaria Journal. Accessed on 10th October, 2020 from https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-018-2339-9#citeas
  • Leqian Guo, Doudou Zhao, Ruo Zhang, Shanshan Li, Rong Liu, Hongli Wang, Shaonong Dang, and Hong Yan (2019). “A Matched Case-Control Study on the Association Between Colds, Depressive Symptoms during Pregnancy and Congenital Heart Disease in Northwestern China.” Science Rep. Accessed on 15th October, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345882/#__ffn_sectitle

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