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    What’s Happening to My Body? 10 Common Pregnancy Discomforts

    Rachel Beier, BSN, RNC-OB Maternal Care Advisor at The Women's Hospital 06/19/2017

    There can be many discomforts to a woman's body that may accompany pregnancy. Consulting with your doctor is always an important thing to do when suffering from any sort of pain, but you may find these tips below to be helpful to ease common pregnancy discomforts. Read more...
    1. Backaches
     Backaches are caused by your growing uterus as it shifts your center of gravity and stretches and weakens your abdominal muscles.  Often times, women compensate by using incorrect posture and awkward positions.
    How to help backaches:

    • Use good posture and body mechanics.
    • Stretch and practice back strengthening exercises.
    • Walk or do light exercise most days of the week.
    • Apply warm or cold compresses to the sore area.
    • Use pillows behind your back, under your abdomen, and between your legs when sleeping.
    • Sleep on a firm mattress on your side.
    • Ask your partner for a back massage.

    2. Heartburn
     Pregnancy hormones cause relaxation of the muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Your growing uterus pushes up on your stomach, causing stomach acid leakage into your esophagus.  The result is a feeling of burning in your throat and/or chest.
    How to ease heartburn:

    • Eat six small meals per day.
    • Avoid eating close to bedtime.
    • Drink liquids between, not during, meals.
    • Avoid caffeine, spicy, acidic or greasy foods.
    • Prop your upper body up on a pillow to sleep.
    • Consult your healthcare provider for possible medications.

    3. Insomnia
     Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.  Frequent urination, night sweats, anxiety, baby moving frequently, and trouble getting comfortable in bed may all cause insomnia.
    How to help insomnia:

    • Take a warm bath.
    • Read a book or magazine.
    • Try relaxation exercises before bed.
    • Avoid evening caffeine and exercise.
    • Use pillows under your abdomen, behind your back, and between your legs, or try a full body pillow.

    4. Dizziness
    Pregnancy causes circulatory changes, resulting in less blood flow to your upper body and head.
    How to help dizziness:

    • Change positions and stand up slowly
    • Drink lots of fluids
    • Avoid standing for long periods of time
    • Avoid overheating
    • Lie down on your side

    5.  Constipation
    Pregnancy hormones cause slowed movement of your gastrointestinal tract as well as rectum compression, making bowel movements more difficult.
    To help ease constipation:

    • Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
    • Drink prune juice.
    • Eat high fiber grains, cereals, and legumes (beans).
    • Eat raw fruits and vegetables.
    • Try light exercises, such as walking.
    • Consult your healthcare provider for medication recommendations.

    6.  Varicose Veins & Hemorrhoids
     Your growing uterus puts increased pressure on the veins of your lower body and restricts blood flow, causing blood to pool in your veins. Varicose veins are blue, swollen veins in your legs that may itch and burn; hemorrhoids are painful, itchy veins in the rectal area. Hemorrhoids may develop when pregnancy hormones cause veins to relax and swell. Constipation can make them worse.
    How to help ease varicose veins:

    • Elevate your feet and legs, especially at night.
    • Stand for shorter periods of time.
    • Avoid crossing your legs for long time periods.
    • Wear compression stockings.

    How to help ease hemorrhoids:

    • Shift your weight off of your bottom.
    • Soak in a warm tub.
    • Apply an ice pack.
    • Consult your healthcare provider about medications.
    • Gain an appropriate amount of weight for your pregnancy.

    7.  Leg Cramps
     The cause of leg cramps is unknown, but they may occur due to decreased circulation in your lower body or increased pressure on the nerves going into your legs.  They are also known as a “charley horse” and frequently occur at night.
    How to help ease leg cramps:

    • Exercise regularly to improve lower body circulation.
    • Straighten leg and bend foot toward you to relieve a cramp.
    • Massage calf in long downward strokes & walk around.

    8. Morning Sickness
     Morning sickness is very common; about 70-85% of pregnant women experience nausea and/or vomiting early in their pregnancy.  It can occur at anytime of the day, not just in the morning, and it can last the entire day.  For most women, symptoms will subside by around 16 weeks, but for some, it lasts their entire pregnancy.  The exact cause is unknown, but it likely involves the rapid rise of hormones in early pregnancy, which triggers a heightened sense of smell and sensitivity to odors and an altered sense of taste.
    How to help ease morning sickness:

    • Take your prenatal vitamin daily.
    • Try eating dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed.
    • Eat small, frequent meals.
    • Avoid fatty, fried foods.
    • Drink lots of fluids, and chew gum or suck on hard candies to get rid of a bad taste in your mouth.
    • Avoid odors that bother you and use a fan when cooking.
    • Eat bland foods such as dry cereal or pretzels and include protein when possible.
    • Try ginger ale, tea, capsules, or candies.
    • Call your healthcare provider for medication options.

    9. Swelling
     Swelling results from increased body fluid from pregnancy hormones.  It may develop in your hands, legs, ankles, and feet, especially later in pregnancy and during warmer months.
    To help ease swelling:

    • Drink lots of water and be active during the day.
    • Try compression stockings.
    • Stand as little as possible.
    • Elevate your legs with pillows while sleeping.

    10. Nasal Congestion & Nosebleeds
     Nasal congestion may occur during pregnancy because your body makes more blood due to an increase in hormone levels.  These changes cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell up, dry out and bleed easily. You may feel like you have a stuffy or runny nose.
    To help ease congestion and nosebleeds:

    • Drink lots of liquids to keep nasal passages moist.
    • Use a humidifier.
    • Try saline nose drops (consult your healthcare provider before using any other type of nose drops or decongestants).
    • Dab petroleum jelly around the edge of your nostrils to keep skin moist.
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