Most women experience some type of discomfort at some point during their pregnancy. Whether for morning sickness in your first trimester, or aches and pains as the pregnancy gets further along, here are some common complaints and tricks for remedies you can try. Always speak to your healthcare provider during your prenatal visits if something is bothering you so they can provide you with the best care possible.
The physical growth of your uterus and hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause a strain on your back muscles causing back discomfort. In addition to carrying an increased weight in the front of your body, pregnancy hormones relax the ligaments of your joints and pelvis, making them more flexible, which can contribute to back pain. ACOG recommends getting regular exercise to strengthen your back and stretch the muscles that support your back. Watch your posture when you are standing or walking and be sure to wear supportive shoes. Applying heat or cold therapy to your back is okay – we recommend trying both, and doing what feels best.
Heartburn and indigestion
During pregnancy, our bodies create a hormone called progesterone that causes the valve between the stomach and esophagus to relax, preventing stomach acid to pass back into the esophagus, causing irritation and the feeling of heartburn. Many women experience heartburn in their third trimester, when the uterus has grown significantly larger and applies more pressure on the intestines and stomach, pushing what we eat back up into the esophagus. To minimize heartburn, eat smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals. Try to avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods as these can contribute to heartburn. Wait an hour to lie flat, so the food you have eaten is well digested, and prop yourself up with extra pillows when sleeping. Some women find yogurt or a glass of milk to be a natural way to relieve symptoms of heartburn. Always speak with your healthcare provider regarding over the counter medications that you might want to try to relieve heartburn.
Nausea and vomiting
Anywhere between weeks 5 to 18 of pregnancy, some women may experience nausea, with or without vomiting. It is often referred to as “morning sickness” as this is a common time of day that most women experience the symptoms, though it can happen at any time of day. It is thought that the increased hormone levels of pregnancy and slowed movements of the stomach contents contribute to these feelings. To help with morning sickness, eat small snacks and avoid an empty stomach. We recommend carrying crackers or nuts in your bag, so you always have something to snack on throughout the day. It is important to stay well hydrated, and helpful to drink cold fluids throughout the day. Try sipping on something carbonated or sour in small amounts to see if that helps your symptoms. Find a hard, sour candy to keep on hand to suck on throughout the day as well. Always call your healthcare provider if you are unable to keep fluids down, or if you are showing signs of dehydration such as dark colored urine or dizziness.
While everyone is different when they are pregnant, many women describe a feeling of exhaustion, especially in their first trimester. As our bodies create more nutrients to carry to our growing baby, and hormonal levels alter, in additional to the physical and emotional changes our bodies are going through, many women will have decreased levels of energy as a result. This is a normal part of pregnancy, and we recommend getting extra rest during times where you may feel an increase in fatigue. Try getting in bed an hour earlier at night, and squeeze a nap in during the day if you feel your body needs it. You may need to adjust your current schedule or routine to accommodate some extra sleep in your first trimester, so be kind to yourself and know that that is okay!
Constipation & hemorrhoids
During pregnancy, the bowels often move more slowly, and in addition, the iron in prenatal vitamins may contribute to constipation. Sometimes, as the uterus grows and puts pressure on a woman’s bottom, hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins, may appear. If you experience these symptoms, always let your provider know, so they can guide you for over the counter treatment options. In addition, to avoid constipation, or improve symptoms, drink plenty of fluids. We recommend 2-3 liters of water per day. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes high-fiber food choices such as fruits and vegetables will help as well. For hemorrhoids, many women find a sitz bath, which is soaking your bottom in warm water, will help relieve the discomfort that they are feeling and it also helps to shrink the size of hemorrhoids. Make sure you are moving around during the day and avoiding sitting for long periods of time on a hard surface.
About the author:
Boston NAPS, LLC is a Boston-based, private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families. Boston NAPS services include prenatal, postpartum, lactation, and newborn support and education to families throughout Massachusetts. All services are offered in the privacy and comfort of your home, with some services also offered in a group setting. For more information about Boston NAPS, please visit their website at www.BostonNAPS.com.
- “Backpain during pregnancy” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, January 2016. Web.