Most of ailments experienced during pregnancy are usually temporary and caused by hormonal changes and the extra strain your body is under. Your 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. There is rarely any need for alarm, but you should mention anything that is worrying you to your maternity team.
Pregnancy strains your back and posture. To avoid or reduce backache, avoid lifting heavy weights, wearing high-heeled shoes or standing for too long. The following are some tips which may help to alleviate 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. If you are engaging a professional massage therapist, do inform him/her that you are pregnant.
This is because you are retaining fluid, which is a common complaint that is aggravated by prolonged standing. You should drink 2 litres of fluid daily and should limit your intake of tea, coffee and cola as the caffeine content of these drinks will affect the vitamins in your food, particularly vitamin C. Some women also feel better when they eat less salt and monosodium glutamate.
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. You should ensure that you have adequate amounts of fibre in your diet and drink plenty of water.
This arises from low blood pressure. Avoid long periods of standing, getting up too quickly and overheating, especially in the bath.
Heartburn / Indigestion
This 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, you should eat small frequent meals, avoid spicy and greasy foods and refrain from drinking large amounts of liquid before bedtime. Alcohol, coffee and chocolate may aggravate the problem. You should 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.
This can be due to the extra weight and pressure of your baby pressing on your bladder and pelvic floor, especially when you laugh, sneeze or run. Regular pelvic floor exercises during and after pregnancy will help.
Leg Aches and Cramps
The extra weight which you carry during the pregnancy can cause your legs to ache. Leg cramps are also common in the last months of pregnancy. Simple stretching and 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.The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers these suggestions to help soothe morning sickness:
- Make sure you get enough 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 your stomach.
- Snack on protein-rich foods, such as yogurt.
- Skip foods that are greasy or high in fat.
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 fibre, such as wholemeal bread, fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water will help to prevent constipation; which in turn can help to ease or prevent piles.
Sleeplessness and Tiredness
It is common to feel tired and exhausted during your pregnancy. This could 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
These are raised, red lines on your 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-coloured scars.
Swollen Ankles, Feet and Fingers
During pregnancy, you may experience swelling of the ankles, feet and fingers as you are retaining more fluid than usual. To avoid and ease the swollen ankles, refrain from standing for prolonged periods, try to wear comfortable shoes and put your feet up as much as you can. Swelling of the ankles and feet often occurs at the end of the day, after a day of walking and standing. This gradual swelling is not harmful to you or your baby. However, if you experience sudden swelling of the face, feet and fingers, do contact your doctor immediately.
This is a yeast infection of the vagina and can be treated with a cream or pessary.
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal. The discharge is usually clear and white, and should not smell unpleasant. If the discharge is coloured or smells strange, or you feel itchy or sore, you will need to consult a doctor as you may be having vaginal infection.
Variose veins are distended veins around your calves, back, legs or thighs. The veins in the legs are most commonly affected. If you have varicose veins, you should avoid standing for prolonged periods and sitting with your legs crossed. Avoid putting on too much weight as this increases the pressure. You should also sit with your legs up, as this will help to ease the discomfort. Regular exercises will help in improving the circulation and ease the symptoms.