Common Pregnancy Ailments
The body has a great deal to do during pregnancy! Sometimes the changes taking place will cause irritation or discomfort, and on occasions they may seem quite alarming.
Most ailments experienced during pregnancy are usually temporary and caused by hormonal changes and the extra strain a pregnant body is under. Additionally, most are normal and not a serious concern. However, for peace of mind and assurance all is well, be sure to mention any worries to your doctor.
Backache During Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes strain on the back and posture. To avoid or reduce backache, avoid lifting heavy weights, wearing high-heeled shoes or standing for too long.
Tips to help to alleviate pregnancy backaches:
Support your back with a cushion. Kneeling on all fours and rocking from side to side.
Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
Sit with your back straight and well-supported.
Use hot or cold pack on the sore part of your back.
Have someone to massage your back. Use a professional massage therapist for a pregnancy massage.
Bloating During Pregnancy
Bloating is caused by fluid retention, which is a common complaint aggravated by prolonged standing. Drink sufficient fluid daily and limit the intake of tea, coffee and cola, as the caffeine content of these drinks affects the vitamins in food, particularly vitamin C. Some women also feel better when consuming less salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Constipation During Pregnancy
Experiencing constipation is normal during pregnancy. The consumption of iron-containing prenatal vitamins, hormonal changes and the pressure of the uterus on the rectum can aggravate constipation.
Make sure to have adequate amounts of fiber in your diet and drink plenty of water. Additionally, exercising regularly to keep your muscles toned and ask your doctor if you can change to a different type of prenatal vitamin that does not include iron.
Faintness in Pregnancy
Pregnant women often feel faint. This is because of the hormonal changes occurring in the body and/or low blood pressure in which the brain is not getting enough blood and therefore not enough oxygen.
It can happen during long periods of standing, getting up too quickly from sitting or from a bath. It can also happen when you are lying on your back.
To help, get up slowly after sitting or lying down; if you feel faint when standing still, find a seat quickly and the faintness should pass, if it doesn’t, lie down on your side; if you feel faint while lying on your back, turn on to your side.
Heartburn / Indigestion
Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the chest caused by the regurgitation of stomach acid into the throat. The symptoms of indigestion, including heartburn, are common during pregnancy and are caused by hormonal changes and the growing womb pressing on the stomach.
To reduce indigestion and heartburn, eat small frequent meals, avoid spicy and greasy foods and refrain from drinking large amounts of liquid before bedtime. Coffee and chocolate may aggravate the problem.
Try to sit as upright as possible and avoid lying flat after a meal. Propping yourself up with pillows at night may help to ease the symptoms.
If the symptoms are not relieved with diet and lifestyle changes, the doctor may prescribe medications to help to ease the symptoms.
Incontinence in Pregnancy
Incontinence is a common problem both during and after pregnancy and is due to the extra weight and pressure of the baby pressing on your bladder and pelvic floor.
Pregnant women are sometimes unable to prevent a sudden spurt of urine or a small leak when they cough, laugh or sneeze, or when they move suddenly, or just get up from a sitting position.
This may be temporary, because the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles around the bladder) relax slightly to prepare for the baby's delivery.
You can help to prevent incontinence by doing pelvic floor exercises. Regular pelvic floor exercises during and after pregnancy will help alleviate incontinence that has onset.
In many cases, incontinence is curable. If you have a problem, talk to your midwife or doctor.
Leg Aches and Cramps
The extra weight carried during the pregnancy can cause the legs to ache. Leg cramps are also common in the last months of pregnancy. Simple stretching and leg exercises may help in alleviating these aches and cramps.
This is especially common in the early months of pregnancy and can occur at any time of the day. It usually disappears by 14 weeks, however can last longer.
To help soothe morning sickness:
Get enough quality rest.
Stay away from odors that upset your stomach.
Instead of eating three large meals each day, eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day.
Before getting out of bed, eat a few crackers to calm the stomach.
Snack on protein-rich foods, such as yogurt.
Skip foods that are greasy or high in fat.
The frequent need to urinate can often start early on in a pregnancy, sometimes continuing throughout the entire pregnancy. In later pregnancy, it is the result of the baby’s head pressing on your bladder.
If you find that you need to get up in the night to pass urine, try cutting out drinks during the late evening. However, make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free drinks during the day.
Later in pregnancy, some women find it helps to rock backwards and forwards while they are on the toilet. This lessens the pressure of the womb on the bladder, so you can empty it properly.
If you have any pain while urinating or you pass any blood in your urine, you may have a urine infection, which will need immediate treatment. Drink plenty of water to dilute your urine and reduce pain. You should contact your doctor within 24 hours of first noticing these symptoms.
These are dilated veins in your anus and can be very painful, itchy and uncomfortable, usually occurring from the third month onwards. Piles may bleed a little and may make going to the toilet uncomfortable and painful.
Constipation and straining on the toilet can aggravate the condition, so try to keep your stools soft and regular. Having a diet high in fiber and drinking plenty of water will help to prevent constipation; which in turn, can help to ease or prevent piles.
Sleeplessness and Tiredness While Pregnant
It is common to feel tired and exhausted during pregnancy. It can be due to anxiety, heartburn, and your baby pressing on your bladder or sheer bulk, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
A hot milky drink and a warm shower may help you relax and try to get as much rest as possible. Avoid caffeinated drinks as caffeine can make it harder to go to sleep.
Stretchmarks / Striae During Pregnancy
Stretchmarks during pregnancy are raised, red lines on the breasts, abdomen, thighs or bottoms and are usually permanent. Stretch marks happen whenever the skin is stretched and affect up to around 80% of the pregnant women.
The likelihood of getting stretch marks increases if your weight gain is more than average during your pregnancy. Certain creams or cocoa butter may help lighten the marks. Over time, the skin will shrink and the stretch marks will fade into white-colored scars.
Swollen Ankles, Feet and Fingers During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, swelling of the ankles, feet and fingers may be experienced, caused by excess fluid retention.
To avoid and ease swollen feet and ankles, refrain from standing for prolonged periods, wear comfortable shoes and put your feet up as much as possible.
This swelling is not harmful to you or your baby. However, if you experience sudden swelling of the face, feet and fingers, contact your doctor immediately as this is not normal.
Thrush – Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
This is a yeast infection of the vagina and can be treated with a cream or pessary.
Vaginal Secretions During Pregnancy
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal. The discharge is usually clear and white, and should not smell unpleasant. If the discharge is colored or smells strange, or you feel itchy or sore, consult a doctor asap, as it may be a vaginal infection.
Varicose Veins in Pregnancy
Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen around your calves, back, legs or thighs. The veins in the legs are most commonly affected. You can also get varicose veins in the vulva (vaginal opening), although these usually get better after the birth.
If you have varicose veins, avoid standing for prolonged periods and sitting with your legs crossed. Sit with your legs up, as this will help to ease the discomfort.
Regular exercises will help to improve circulation and ease the symptoms. Foot exercises and other antenatal exercises, such as walking and swimming, will help with circulation.
Try sleeping with your legs higher than the rest of your body and use pillows under your ankles or calves. Also support tights may also help to support the leg muscles – available at most pharmacies.
Leg and Feet Cramping While Pregnant
A cramp is a sudden, sharp pain, usually in your calf muscles or feet. It is most common at night. Regular, gentle exercise in pregnancy, particularly ankle and leg movements, can improve circulation and help to prevent cramping. It usually helps to pull the toes hard up towards the ankle or rub the muscle hard.
Try these foot exercises:
Feeling hot in pregnancy
During pregnancy you’re likely to feel warmer than usual. This is due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin. You’re also likely to sweat more.
Skin and hair changes in pregnancy
Hormonal changes taking place in pregnancy will make your nipples and the area around them become darker. Your skin color may also darken a little, either in patches or all over. Birthmarks, moles and freckles may also darken.
Some women develop a dark line down the middle of their stomach. These changes will gradually fade after the baby is born, although your nipples may remain a little darker.
If you sunbathe while you are pregnant, you may find you burn more easily. Protect your skin with a high-factor sunscreen and don’t stay in the sun for a long time.
Hair growth can also increase in pregnancy, and your hair may be greasier. After the baby is born, it may seem as if you are losing a lot of hair, but you are simply losing the extra hair.