Common Pregnancy Complaints
Your body is going through some major changes. It's no surprise that some of these changes create discomfort. Here are some of the most common pregnancy complaints and ways to deal with them.
Why it happens: Backaches usually occur later during your pregnancy due to softening of the ligaments, which puts extra strain on the joints of the back and hips, and/or due to your changing center of gravity, which causes you to lean forward to compensate but also puts extra strain on your back.
What to do: Good posture, exercise, massages, and a firm mattress can all help in relieving the pain in your lower back. Good posture will take some strain off your back muscles. Exercise will help you to strengthen those muscles. Massages improve your circulation, soothes muscles, and helps you to relax. The firm mattress will help support your muscles.
Other notes: Avoid wearing high heels as this will put more stress on the back muscles.
Why it happens: Certain hormones are released when you become pregnant to help your body relax muscles so they are pliable and will stretch with the growing baby. Unfortunately, when the intestinal muscles relax this slows down your bowl movements, which can make your stool dry and hard, becoming painful to pass.
What to do: First of all, drink lots of water to help keep the stool from drying out and becoming too hard. Exercise also helps your body move things along. Simply walking can help. Also, eat lots of fiber. Fiber is found in all varieties of food.
Here are some foods that are rich in fiber (most fibrous foods first):
- Split peas
- Black beans
- Lima beans
- Whole wheat cooked spaghetti
- Bran flakes
Other notes: Don’t take any strong laxatives and consult your doctor if the problem persists. Try not to push your bowels too hard or strain them; this could cause hemorrhoids.
Fatigue/Tiredness Refer to the Rest and Relaxation During Pregnancy page.
Why it happens: It is in part due to hormonal changes and in part due to the growing uterus putting pressure on your bladder. Later in your pregnancy, this pressure even limits the capacity of your bladder.
What to do: Because this is mostly a problem during the night, try limiting your liquids before you go to bed. You can also try rocking back and forth while urinating; this could help drain your bowels more completely.
Why it happens: Experts aren’t conclusive about why leg cramps happen. Some say it is a lack of calcium or potassium or even a lack of salt in your diet (this last one is less common). Others think they occur in response to low circulation, which could explain why they often happen at night when you’re more sedentary.
What to do: Because it can be hard to determine exactly why they happen there are several ideas of treatment. Try eating foods with more calcium and potassium. Stretch you calves before bed. When it does happen, massage the area in pain and flex your foot to stretch it out.
Why it happens: Your body is coping with many different changes and hormones being released in the body (especially in the first trimester). Not to mention, this is a big part of your life and the feelings associated with being pregnant can create fears, anxieties, etc. It’s normal to feel moody and have a variety of emotions at the drop of a hat.
What to do: These are natural feelings, and they will come and go. Try not to worry; you are not alone. Sometimes going for walk, taking a nap, resting, or taking a few breaths can help.
Why it happens: Not all women experience morning sickness but about half do, and it doesn’t just happen in the mornings. It can happen any time of day; although, many say that it’s worst in the morning. This could be because of low blood sugar or because of pregnancy hormones. Usually, morning sickness is more common in the first trimester, then tapers after that. It’s associated with varying degrees of nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to smells.
What to do: Most agree that eating small amounts of food throughout the day helps, as well as keeping crackers by your bed so you can eat them as soon as you wake. When you start feeling hungry, eat.
Other notes: While most women agree that morning sickness is irritating and uncomfortable, it won’t affect the health of your baby. However, a severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, does require professional attention. Women who have this are unable to keep any food down and throw up multiple times a day, which leads to dehydrating.
Why it happens: Excess weight gain. When you’re pregnant your skin stretches to accommodate the baby growing inside of you. Some women have more elastic skin than others and are less likely to get stretch marks. You’ll usually see stretch marks in the middle to the end of your pregnancy in your abdomen, breasts, upper thighs, buttocks, and inner thighs. Although, you may see them in some places and not others. Everyone is different.
What to do: Unfortunately, if your skin is prone to stretch marks, it’s likely you’ll have them and there’s no way to stop them from coming. However, you can be sure to keep hydrated and eat healthily to keep your skin healthy and more elastic so that your marks are fewer and smaller. Lotions and creams will not work.
Why it happens: During pregnancy there is a softening and thickening of the mucous membranes that increases the amount of vaginal discharge. This is normal. It’s not bad and should not be an area of concern unless it is discolored, foul smelling, or is accompanied with blood. In this case, consult your doctor.
What to do: Don’t worry. Wear cotton underwear and change often, depending on how much and how uncomfortable it is.