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Common Discomforts of Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time- you have that pregnancy glow, longer, fuller hair, and people smile at you for no other reason than being pregnant, but in the privacy of your own home you are battling constipation, hemorrhoids, back ache, pelvic pain, and heartburn. These conditions are termed “the common discomforts of pregnancy.” Below you will find why these conditions are so common and what you can do to prevent and manage these aches and pains.

Why it is common: Pregnancy hormones cause your digestive system to slow down causing food to move more slowly through your stomach and intestines. This gives your body more time to absorb nutrients for a growing baby. Your body is also absorbing more water which can make stool harder.

What can you do: Since your body is absorbing more water you need to drink more water- at least 64oz daily. Exercise can also help “move things in the right direction.” Take an extra 15-30 min walk several days a week. Eat plenty of foods that are high in fiber including whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fruit (like prune juice). If these measures don’t work, then over the counter Metamucil or other stool softener may be in order.

Why it is common: During pregnancy your blood volume expands dramatically and your uterus grows with each week of pregnancy. Together, this causes increased pressure on the veins in and around your rectum leading to swollen pouches- aka hemorrhoids that can be tender, bleed, or itch.

What can you do: You want to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements so ensure you are eating high-fiber foods and exercising regularly. A warm sitz bath can alleviate pain and discomfort and ensure the area is clean and dry.

Back Ache
Why it is common: A number of factors contribute to back ache. Pregnancy hormones cause softening of the ligaments and joints and the growing uterus causes a shift in center of gravity as well as put pressure on the sciatic nerve (which runs down your buttock, back, and thigh) causing tingling and numbness.

What can you do: Change positions throughout the day and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Exercise and stretch daily- swimming and yoga can work wonders. For relief try heat, massage, pelvic tilt exercise (cat-cow) and a body pillow aligning your hips, knees, and ankles during sleep.

Pelvic Pain
Why it is common: As the uterus grows, the round ligaments that hold your uterus in place stretch. If you move or change position too quickly, cough, sneeze, or lift something heavy you may feel a sharp pain in your pelvic area. This is called round ligament pain.

What can you do: Take care with the way you move your body, slow down, and ensure you are lifting things properly- or ask someone to assist you. Some women find that a pregnancy support band can be helpful to support the abdomen, uterus, and hips.

Heart Burn
Why it is common: The same hormones that cause your stomach and intestines to slow down gives the contents in your stomach (stomach acid) more time to move back up into your esophagus which can lead to indigestion and a burning sensation in your chest and throat.

What can you do: Eat small frequent meals throughout the day. Aim for 5-7 small meals instead of 3 large meals. Drink plenty of fluid. Monitor your diet- some women are more prone to heartburn after eating certain foods. The foods that most commonly cause heartburn include fatty, greasy, acidic, and spicy foods. Do not lie down immediately after eating and prop pillows behind your head when sleeping. If these measures don’t work, you may need prescription medication to neutralize stomach acid.

These are just a small sample of the common discomforts of pregnancy. Ensure that you have a good book for reference instead of looking up symptoms on the internet- you can really scare yourself. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.