Common Pregnancy Discomforts and How to Alleviate Them
March 24, 2015
It’s exciting to see that “+” on the stick, or to hear your doctor confirm you are pregnant. A whole new life is forming inside you – Hooray! What’s not so exciting is the list of discomforts that can accompany pregnancy.
10 Less-Desirable Side Effects Of Pregnancy & Tips on How to Relieve Them
First, it’s important to note that some women sail through pregnancy glowing and with an ease of being that makes the rest of us green with envy (even in addition to the morning sickness). Point being: keep a positive mental attitude because every woman is different and some of you may never experience any of the following to an uncomfortable or debilitating degree. Just take your pregnancy one day at a time.
And, keep this list handy so if you do experience any of the following discomforts, you’ll be able to find some relief.
- Nausea and Vomiting. No surprise that this one makes the top of the list. Morning sickness – which many feel should be re-named “anytime sickness” – is common during the first trimester and typically recedes and disappears altogether by the second and third trimesters. It is exacerbated by traveling, fatigue and stress. You’ll hear advice that runs the gamut because everyone’s body is different. Ideally, it’s best to nibble throughout the day on little bits of food that sound appetizing (high-protein, complex carbohydrates, and whole-grain foods are important). Hydration is key, but try drinking fluids in between meals rather than during meals. Smoothies are a good way to get a little bit of everything into your body and they taste good too. If vomiting is excessive and/or you feel you’re dehydrated, call your midwife or OB/GYN to check in.
- Fatigue. Fatigue is most common during the first and third trimesters, and no wonder. There’s an awful lot going on in there! The best thing you can do when you’re tired is to sleep. If this isn’t possible, try to get your feet up and yourself into a reclined position as much as possible. Pregnancy anemia can be another cause of fatigue. Prenatal care is imperative so your doctor can check your blood levels and ensure your dietary intake is adequate.
- Heartburn/Indigestion. Between hormonal fluctuations and the ever-shrinking confines of the abdominal cavity, your poor stomach has a lot to contend with. Indigestion and heartburn are common as a result. Again, eating more small meals, rather than a few large ones, will help. Try to finish meals at least a couple of hours before you lay down so food and digestive juices are less apt to be pushed back up into the esophagus.
- Hemorrhoids. Oh, of all the things pregnant women contend with, this one can really send you over the edge. Increased blood supply, pressure on the perineum and anus and constipation (another side effect of pregnancy) can cause hemorrhoids. Preventing constipation that leads to strain during bowel movements is the best way to prevent hemorrhoids. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods, bran whole-grains and fruits. Sitz baths can help as can sitting on a rubber ring. Preparation H is safe to use.
- Allergies. Many women find they are more allergy-sensitive during this time. Use saline drops to keep your nose and eyes flushed free of allergens. If you need more substantial relief, talk to your doctor about using Zyrtec and Claritin, both of which are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
- Swollen ankles. Swelling in the hands and feet is a common occurrence, especially during the third trimester. However, chronic or severely swollen ankles can indicate pre-eclampsia. Keep your feet up as much as possible to aid circulation and let your doctor know if the swelling seems excessive, is painful or does not seem to go down when extremities are elevated. Wear loose clothing, minimize your salt intake and drink at least 8 cups of water a day (YES! Drink water. Do not listen to those who tell you to drink less. This leads to dehydration which is dangerous for you and your baby). Drinking fluids helps to keep your body flushing excess fluids and toxins.
- Urinary tract and yeast infections. You may have more frequent urinary tract and yeast infections while you’re pregnant. Keep hydrated and drink cranberry juice every day if you are prone to urinary tract infections. Good hygiene and 100% cotton underwear will help to prevent yeast infections. Urinating after sex will also help to keep vaginal flora and fauna in balance. Call your midwife or OB/GYN if you suspect you have an infection.
- Bleeding gums and noses. You may find that your gums and nose are more susceptible to bleeding. Visit your dentist early in your pregnancy and then brush and floss gently. Try using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth and gums. If nosebleeds are frequent, avoid nasal sprays and overly conditioned air, which can dry out the nasal passages. During a bleed, tilt the head down and pinch the bridge of the nose where the cartilage meets the bone for 10 to 15 minutes. Use it as an opportunity to get those feet up (always look on the bright side, right?).
- Skin/Pigment changes. Your skin is just as susceptible as the rest of you to fluctuating hormones. This can cause skin changes. Dry, itchy skin can be addressed using oatmeal baths, fragrance-free lotion designed for sensitive skin and topical ointments like Caladryl. Pigment changes are also a possibility, which can be minimized by lessening sun exposure, wearing sunscreen and using a hat or sunshade whenever possible.
- Lack of libido. For some women, pregnancy can make them extremely amorous; for others – it’s a mood killer. If you fall into the latter category, try spending more time kissing, cuddling or enjoying foreplay. Go on dates and/or spend quality alone time together to increase the romance factor.
Need some relief from common pregnancy discomforts? Contact Women’s Health Associates and we’ll be happy to do what we can to help you enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy.