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Common Pregnancy Discomforts and How to Address Them

During pregnancy, your body will go through a lot of changes as your baby grows and your hormones change. Along with the other common symptoms during pregnancy, you will often notice new aches and pains. Our providers have created a simple guide to help you cope with these discomforts.

ACHES AND PAINS

You may feel stretching and pulling pains in the abdomen that sometimes runs down the groin and thighs or vagina. These may be due to the pressure of the uterus or nerves running through the pelvis. These pains are usually made worse by standing and are relieved by lying down. Backaches and aching over the pubic/pelvic bone are due to the pressure of the
baby’s head, your weight increases and the normal loosening of joints in this area. Maintain good posture, use lumbar support whenever possible. Heat over the area may give some relief. Use an abdominal support or binder if necessary. If these symptoms do not resolve, please contact our office for an appointment since these symptoms may indicate other problems.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation results from relaxed intestinal muscles and from pressure caused by a growing uterus. To help prevent constipation, make sure you eat fresh or dried fruits, raw vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals every day. Drink 8-10 glasses of liquid. Water is best but you can drink fruit and vegetable juices for variety. Caffeine tends to cause your body to lose fluids so avoid liquids such as coffee, tea and colas. If necessary, you can use Metamucil, Citrucel or Colace. It is not necessary to have a bowel movement everyday as long as the stool is soft.

DIZZINESS, FAINTING, LIGHTHEADEDNESS

These conditions can occur at any time during your pregnancy. It is probably due to the extra blood going to your uterus and legs. These symptoms are usually relieved by lying down on your left side and hydration. To avoid feeling dizzy or lightheaded, move around more instead of standing or sitting in any one position for a while. If the symptoms persist, please contact our office.

HEARTBURN

Heartburn or indigestion may cause a burning feeling in your chest or a burp of bitter fluid, especially during the latter part of your pregnancy when your baby is large enough to exert some pressure on your stomach.

  • You may use antacids in liquid or tablet form such as Tums, Gelusil, Mylanta or Maalox.
  • You may want to avoid sodium bicarbonate products as they can cause you to hold water
  • Try to eat 5-6 small meals instead in a day.
  • Do not lie down or bend over after meals. When resting after a meal, prop yourself up with pillows in bed or sit in a chair.
  • Avoid fatty and fried foods.
  • Avoid black pepper, chili powder, beverages with caffeine and meat extracts (bouillon or broth).

HEMORRHOIDS AND VARICOSE VEINS

Pressure on the large veins behind the uterus causes the blood to slow its return to the heart. This can lead to varicose (swollen and twisted) veins in the legs and hemorrhoids (varicose veins around the anus).

  • Avoid tight garments, knee highs or garters.
  • Sit with your legs raised whenever possible.
  • Wear support hose. If you shower at night, put them on as soon as you wake up. If you shower in the morning, put them on after you have elevated your feet for 5 minutes.
  • Avoid constipation. Warm tub baths and Tucks will help relieve hemorrhoid discomfort.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed, especially at your knees.
  • When standing, keep your legs moving so the blood can be pumped back upwards. You can shuffle your feet, raise your knees up or walk in place.

LEG CRAMPS

Cramps in your legs or feet may be due to a change in calcium metabolism during your pregnancy. One way to prevent muscle cramps is to drink more lowfat or nonfat milk or eat more calcium-rich foods such as dark green vegetables, nuts, grains and beans. If you do get a cramp, relieve it by gently stretching the muscle. Stretch your leg with your foot flexed toward your body. Pointing the foot away from the body can make it worse. A warm, moist towel or heat pad wrapped on the muscle may also help.

NAUSEA AND VOMITING

Nausea and vomiting, often called “morning sickness” are common in early pregnancy. Many women have it at other times of the day. Usually morning sickness resolves after 3 months.

  • Eat frequent small meals whether you are hungry or not.
  • Try starchy foods such as plain crackers, toast, rice cakes, zwieback, dry
    breakfast cereals or a sandwich.
  • Avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods.
  • Keep sleeping and working areas well ventilated to get rid of odors.
  • Drink liquids between meals rather than with the meals. Sometimes
    carbonated drinks such as ginger ale, 7-up, or seltzer will help.
  • If symptoms are persistent and you cannot hold down any food or liquids, please notify us right away.

SKIN CHANGES

You may have changes in your skin color during pregnancy. Your nipples darken and you may notice a dark line down your abdomen running from your umbilicus (bellybutton) through the pubic area. You may also have blotchy brown pigmentation(discoloration) of your forehead or cheeks. Stretch marks are pink, red or purple streaks in the skin over the breasts, abdomen, thighs, or buttocks. Creams and lotions do not prevent them. Most of these changes will fade after delivery but may not disappear completely.

TINGLING

Tingling and numbness of the fingers and a feeling of swelling in the hands are common during pregnancy. They are probable due to the swelling of tissues in the narrow passages in your wrists and will disappear after pregnancy. If they affect your muscle strength or motor skills, please bring it to our attention.

FREQUENCY OF URINATION

Frequency of urination is common in pregnancy. The growing uterus presses on the bladder and causes you to urinate more frequently. Later in pregnancy, there is pressure from your baby’s head on the bladder. Drink less fluid after your evening meal if you are having trouble getting enough sleep because of getting up in the night to urinate.

HEADACHES

Headaches are common during pregnancy, especially during the 1st and 3rd trimesters. They rarely signal a serious problem. The causes of the headache are uncertain. In the first few months of pregnancy, they may be caused by normal changes in your hormone levels and an increase in blood volume and circulation. In the second trimester, pregnancy related headaches may disappear as your body becomes used to the hormonal changes. Towards the end of the pregnancy, headaches tend to be related more to posture and tension from carrying extra weight. Talk to your provider about ways to help prevent or lesson the severity of headaches.

CONGESTION AND NOSEBLEEDS

During pregnancy, you may have a runny or stuffy nose or occasional nosebleeds. These symptoms often begin toward the end of the first trimester and may continue until after delivery. To help relieve symptoms of congestion and dryness, you can use a humidifier in your room to help moisture in the air. Some women prefer the steam of a warm shower before bed to help relieve congestion. You may also use saline drops or nose spray to help moisten nasal passages.

SWELLING

It is normal for your body to produce and retain more fluid during pregnancy, particularly during the last few months. This can cause slight swelling especially in the legs, feet and ankles, but also the hands and face. Tips to relieve some swelling are:

  • Elevating feet and legs.
  • Lying on your side.
  • Frequent breaks throughout the day to elevate your feet.
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting.
  • Do not salt food, and reduce sodium consumption.

Swelling can be dangerous when accompanied by severe headache, blurred vision, dizziness or severe pain in the belly. Please contact your provider if you experience any combination of these symptoms. Also call your provider if one leg is much more swollen than the other, especially if you also have pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh.