Minimizing your discomfort during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, your body will go through a variety of changes to accommodate your new baby. While this may be a joyous time, you may find a lot of these bodily changes to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. Talk to your doctor about all of your discomforts of pregnancy and any concerns you might have. Your doctor can help you find the safest ways to alleviate your symptoms.
Gastrointestinal symptoms of pregnancy
One of the first symptoms of pregnancy is nausea. Unfortunately, your stomach issues may not stop there. Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll find that your growing baby will cause a variety of changes in your digestive tract. Among these discomforts, you may experience:
- Nausea and vomiting
You may have heard plenty of things about morning sickness even before you found out you were pregnant. This is an extremely common discomfort of pregnancy that usually passes in the second trimester. If you are having prolonged or extreme symptoms of nausea and vomiting, talk to your doctor to avoid dehydration and other complications.
- Hemorrhoids and constipation
Hormone changes and the shifting of your digestive tract to accommodate your baby can make create constipation which is often accompanied by swollen veins in the rectum called hemorrhoids. Eating a healthy diet can help stimulate digestion. Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce symptoms or if you have severe abdominal pain.
While you may feel hungrier during your pregnancy, your stomach is actually being compressed by your growing baby. This can push stomach acid back up into your esophagus causing heartburn. Try eating smaller, healthy meals that do not include a lot of fat or spices. Avoid over-the-counter medications until you talk to your doctor.
Joint and back pain during pregnancy
Your growing baby isn’t just putting pressure on your stomach, he or she is adding weight and pressure to your back and joints. These discomforts of pregnancy can include:
- Backache and sciatica
Pregnancy affects your posture and gait, which can wreak havoc on your back. It can even put pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back down your leg, causing pain, tingling and numbness. Practicing good posture, sleeping in a comfortable position and avoiding lifting heavy objects can help reduce the strain on your back.
- Loose and aching joints
During the end of your pregnancy, your body will release hormones to help soften the cartilage so the pelvis area can expand during labor. This hormonal change combined with the redistribution of your weight can lead to aching joints. While this is normal, talk to your doctor about any excessive pain and avoid doing any activities that cause further aching.
Additional symptoms of pregnancy
Additional discomforts of pregnancy include:
Your fatigue may increase in the last trimester when it becomes more difficult to sleep. Listen to your body and get plenty of rest. If you have insomnia, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep such as adjusting your sleeping posture.
- Breast changes
Your breasts will grow during pregnancy and may become very sensitive. They may even begin to leak fluid in preparation for breastfeeding. To minimize discomfort, try wearing a supportive and comfortable bra that protects your nipples from irritation.
- Skin changes
The fluctuation in hormone levels throughout your pregnancy can cause a variety of changes in your skin, including acne and darkened skin patches on the face called melasma. You may also notice a dark line along your belly, called the linea nigra. Do not take any oral medications for these skin problems because they could be harmful to your baby. The majority of the time these issues fade after delivery. You may also notice that as your skin stretches to accommodate you changing body shape, you’re developing stretch marks along your abdomen, hips and breasts. The color of these will also fade, but may still be visible after delivery. Avoiding excessive weight gain and keeping your skin moisturized can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks.
- Frequent urination
During your third trimester, your growing bundle of joy may be sitting on your bladder, making you feel like you constantly have to urinate. It’s also common to experience mild to moderate urine leakage, particularly when you cough or sneeze. Performing Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic muscles to prevent leakage.
Particularly toward the end of your pregnancy, you may notice swelling of your face, hands, legs and feet. A small amount of swelling is normal and can be reduced by elevating your feet whenever possible, not wearing tight stockings and getting regular, light exercise throughout the day. Excessive swelling could be the sign of an underlying condition such as pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Keep an open dialogue with your doctor about how you’re feeling and be sure to ask questions about anything that concerns you. Your OB-GYN can help you find the best solutions for comfort during your pregnancy.