Your body is going through a major upheaval – so expect to veer between feeling wonderful and woeful. Hers’s a list of uncomfortable but common pregnancy ailments and how to deal with them.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced only during pregnancy, approximately 10 days after fertilization; levels will increase dramatically in the first trimester, but drop later on. HCG is also the cause of any nausea and vomiting you may experince. Estrogen helps to regulate levels of progesterone and prepares the uterus for the baby and your breasts for feeding. It causes breasts tenderness and enlargement and is produced throughout pregnancy. Oxytocin causes uterine contractions during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is released during sex and this is why women in later stages of pregnancy are warned that sex may trigger an early labor. Relaxin is responsible for your constant backache, it softens teh cervix and loosens the joint around the pelvic area to prepare for delivery.
These hit women between 18 and 24 weeks. As your uterus grows, the ligaments are pulled and stretched. Hormonal changes can also play a part in these cramps. To ease the discomfort, try not to switch positions too quickly, especially when you’re turning at the waist. When you feel the stretching pain, bend towards it to relieve it; rest and move slowly. If you have intense cramps or they are accompanied by vaginal bleeding, shoulder pains or painting spells, contact your gynaecologist.
Many women tend to arch backwards to counterbalance the baby load, causing a large amount of stress to the back. Things may get worse when your baby has moved down into your pelvis and its head is pressing on your lower back.
Use breast pads to avoid embarrassing spots on your clothes and buy a larger size bra once your breasts start growing.
This can be a result of changes in your circulation or conditions like hypertension, diabetes and thyroid disorders. Put your feet up and drink lots of fluid.
Headaches are common in early pregnancy and your doctor may advise you to drink plenty of fluids and to relax in order to minimize them. Don’t resort to over-the-counter medication without first consulting your doctor.
These are usually related to circulatory changes, pressure on the nerves in your legs due to the pelvis pressing on your lower back and even a low calcium level. Some mothers suggest these tips:
- Raise your legs on a pillow or the arm of your sofa.
- Avoid high-heeled shoes and too-tight clothes.
- Increase your calcium intake.
‘Morning sickness’ can, in fact, strike at any time, and especially if you’re tired and hungry. Some women suggest eating several small meals during the day, or crackers first thing in the morning. Avoid oily and fatty foods if possible and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration especially if you’re vomiting frequently.
This form of swelling is normal during pregnancy and is due to fluid accumulation. Try:
- Elevating your legs.
- Not standing for long periods.
- Wearing comfortable, roomy shoes.
- Rotating your ankles regularly.
Be alert for signs of pre-eclampsia such as sudden swelling of your face or hands, a weight gain of more than 2kg a week, dizziness, persistent heartburn, visual problems or continuous headaches.
There will be a slight increase in vaginal discharge. This is normal if it looks clear and whitish. Closer to delivery, there will be a slight thicker discharge or a more watery. Consult your doctor if you notice an itch, burning sensation, odor, unusual discharge or pain. Please inform your doctor if you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease or recently been treated with antibiotics.
Use the same methods for easing leg cramps if you suffer from varicose veins. The swollen veins can also appear near the vulva and vagina. They are caused by the pressure from the uterus on your veins and often develop if you stand or sit for long periods of time.
Finally, don’t suffer alone! Tell your husband that these changes are happening and ask him for some moral support.