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Discomforts And Body Changes

Discomforts & Body Changes

Table of Contents

Most pregnant women know that there will be some bodily changes and discomfort as her waistline expands. But when they actually get pregnant, they are surprised by numerous changes they experience. It will help a lot if a pregnant woman knows what changes would occur and how to deal with them. Here is what to expect.

The following body changes may occur in various stages of pregnancy:

  1. Breast changes
  2. Constipation
  3. Dizziness
  4. Fatigue
  5. Indigestion, Heartburn
  6. Hemorrhoids
  7. Itching
  8. Leg cramps
  9. Morning sickness
  10. Nasal Congestion
  11. Numbness and tingling
  12. Stretch marks and skin changes
  13. Swelling
  14. Urinary frequency and leaking
  15. Varicose veins

Natural Remedies For Pregnancy Discomforts And Body Changes

Here is what you can do to help with these discomforts and body changes during pregnancy.

Aches And Pains

A pregnant woman’s expanding uterus brings along aches and pains in the back, abdomen, groin area, and thighs. A lot of pregnant women also have backaches and aching near the pelvic bone caused by the increased pressure of the baby’s head, increased weight, and loosening joints. Some pregnant women experience pain that runs from the lower back, down the back of one leg, to the knee or foot. This pain is called sciatica in medical terms. This pain is caused when the uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Doing the following might help:
  • Lying down.
  • Resting.
  • Applying heat.
  • Call your doctor if pain doesn’t go away or gets worse.

Breast Changes

During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts increase in size and fullness. As you near the due date, hormone changes will cause your breasts to get even bigger to prepare for breastfeeding. Your breasts may feel full, heavy, or tender.

In the third trimester, some pregnant women experience leakage of colostrum from their breasts. Colostrum is the first milk that a woman’s breasts produce for the baby. It is a thick, yellowish fluid containing antibodies that protect newborn babies from infection.

Doing the following might help:
  • Wearing a maternity bra with good support.
  • Putting pads in bra to absorb leakage.
  • Call your doctor if you notice a lump, skin changes, nipple changes, or discharge other than colostrum.

Constipation

Many pregnant women experience constipation (difficulty moving your bowels). Constipation is when you are having hard and dry stools, fewer than three bowel movements per week, and painful bowel movements.

Your digestion slows down due to relaxation of muscles in the bowels. This is caused by high levels of pregnancy hormones. Pressure of the expanding uterus on the bowels can also cause constipation.

Doing the following might help:
  • Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water daily.
  • Avoiding caffeine.
  • Eating fiber-rich foods, such as fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads.
  • Doing mild physical activity.
  • Call your doctor if constipation persists.

Dizziness

Many pregnant women experience dizziness and lightheadedness throughout their pregnancy. These symptoms are caused by many different reasons. The growth of more blood vessels in early pregnancy, the pressure of the expanding uterus on blood vessels, and the body’s increased need for food all can contribute to make a pregnant woman feel lightheaded and dizzy.

Doing the following might help:
  • Standing up slowly.
  • Avoiding standing for too long.
  • Not skipping meals.
  • Lying on your left side.
  • Wearing loose clothing.
  • Call your doctor if you dizziness and lightheadedness persists.

Fatigue

Many pregnant women experience increased fatigue and feel exhausted in the first trimester. This happens despite having a good night’s sleep. This is normal and is not a cause of worry at all. This is your body’s way of telling you that you need more rest. Your fatigue and tiredness will decrease in the second trimester. Your body adjusts to the changes and your will experience a feeling of well being and energy. But the fatigue returns in the third trimester. As your body gets larger to accommodate the growing baby, sleeping may become more difficult. The baby’s movements, bathroom runs, and an increase in the body’s metabolism might interrupt or disturb your sleep. Leg cramping can also disturb your sleep.

Doing the following might help:
  • Lying on your left side.
  • Using pillows for support, such as behind your back, tucked between your knees, and under your tummy.
  • Developing good sleeping habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and using your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Going to bed earlier than normal.
  • Taking a nap if you are not able to get enough sleep at night.
  • Drinking required fluids earlier in the day, so you can drink less in the hours before bed.

Indigestions And Heartburn

Pressure of the expanding uterus and pregnancy hormones can cause indigestion and heartburn. Pregnancy hormones relax the muscles of the digestive tract leading to slow movement of the food. This causes indigestion and feeling bloated.

Pregnancy hormones also relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. This causes food and acids to come back up from the stomach to the esophagus. The food and acid causes the burning feeling of heartburn. As your baby gets bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach making heartburn more common in later pregnancy.

Doing the following might help:
  • Eating several small meals instead of three large meals — eat slowly.
  • Drinking fluids between meals — not with meals.
  • Avoiding greasy and fried foods.
  • Avoiding citrus fruits or juices and spicy foods.
  • Avoiding eating or drinking within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Not lying down right after meals.
  • Call your doctor if the symptoms persist despite trying the above remedies. Your doctor might recommend using an antacid.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy and almost half of the pregnant women get hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed, and bulging veins in the rectum and anus. They can cause discomfort, itching, pain, and bleeding. Increased volume of the blood during pregnancy can cause veins to swell and enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins in the rectum. Constipation can worsen hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids usually improve after giving birth.

Doing the following might help:
  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Eating fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, raw or cooked leafy green vegetables, and fruits.
  • Not straining with bowel movements.
  • Call your doctor and ask about using products such as witch hazel to soothe hemorrhoids.

Itching

About 20 percent of pregnant women feel itchy during pregnancy, usually in the abdomen. Some pregnant women also experience red, itchy palms and soles of the feet. It is believed that itching is mostly caused by pregnancy hormones and stretching skin. Usually the itchy feeling goes away after giving birth.

Doing the following might help:
  • Using gentle soaps and moisturizing creams.
  • Avoiding hot showers and baths.
  • Avoiding itchy fabrics.
  • Tell your doctor if itching discomfort doesn’t improve after trying the above self-care measures.

Leg Cramps

At different times during your pregnancy, having sudden muscle spasms in your legs or feet is not uncommon. They usually occur at night. This is due to a change in the way your body processes calcium.

Doing the following might help:
  • Stretching the muscles gently.
  • Doing mild exercise.
  • Flexing your foot forward if cramps happen suddenly.
  • Eating calcium-rich foods.
  • Call your doctor and ask about calcium supplements to mitigate the problem.

Morning Sickness

Hormone change in the first trimester can cause morning sickness (nausea and vomiting). Although it is called as “morning sickness”, it can occur at any time of day. Morning sickness usually goes away by the second trimester.

Doing the following might help:
  • Eating several small meals instead of three large meals to keep your stomach from being empty.
  • Not lying down immediately after meals.
  • Eating dry toast, saltines, or dry cereals before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Eating bland foods that are low in fat and easy to digest, such as cereal, rice, and bananas.
  • Sipping on water, weak tea, or clear soft drinks. Or eat ice chips.
  • Avoiding smells that upset your stomach.
  • Tell your doctor if you experience severe, constant nausea and/or vomiting several times every day.

Nasal Congestion

Most of the pregnant women experience nosebleeds and nasal stuffiness during pregnancy. They are caused by the increased amount of blood in your body and hormones acting on the tissues of your nose.

Doing the following might help:
  • Blowing your nose gently.
  • Drinking fluids and using a cool mist humidifier.
  • Squeezing your nose between your thumb and forefinger for a few minutes will help.
  • Tell your doctor if nosebleeds are frequent and don’t stop after a few minutes.

Numbness And Tingling

Many pregnant women have swelling, tingling, and numbness in fingers and hands. These are symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. These symptoms are caused by swelling of tissues in the narrow passages in your wrists. This will go away after giving birth.

Doing the following might help:
  • Resting your hands frequently.
  • Call your doctor and ask about fitting a wrist splint.

Stretch Marks & Skin Changes

Stretch marks usually appear in the second half of pregnancy. Stretch marks are red, pink, or brown streaks on the skin. These marks mostly appear on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and breasts. They are caused by the stretching of the skin.

Some pregnant women notice other skin changes during pregnancy. These include darker and browner nipples and development of linea nigra (a dark line) on the skin that runs from the belly button down to the pubic hairline. Appearance of patches of darker skin over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip is also common. Same type of patches often appears on both sides of the face. These spots are more common in dark-skinned women and are called melasma or chloasma.

Doing the following might help:
  • You need not do anything. Stretch marks and other skin changes usually fade away after delivery.

Swelling

Many pregnant women develop mild swelling in the face, hands, or ankles at some point during their pregnancy. Most often the swelling becomes more noticeable as the due date approaches.

Doing the following might help:
  • Drinking eight glasses or more fluids daily.
  • Avoiding drinking caffeine and eating salty foods.
  • Resting and elevating your feet.
  • Wearing a support hose in consultation with your doctor.
  • Inform your doctor if a swelling develops suddenly in your hands or feet or you weight increases rapidly. This can be a sign of preeclampsia.

Urinary Frequency & Leakage

Pregnant women commonly experience temporary bladder control problems in pregnancy. Baby in your womb baby pushes down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. This pressure can lead to more frequent need to urinate, as well as leaking of urine when sneezing, coughing, or laughing.

Doing the following might help:
  • Going to bathroom frequently.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Doing Kegel exercises to tone pelvic muscles.
  • Call your doctor if you experience burning sensation while urinating, as it may be an infection.

Varicose Veins

Varicose are swelling and enlarged veins usually in the lower legs and feet.  Varicose veins are common during pregnancy. Increased blood volume during pregnancy causes veins to swell and enlarge. Pressure exerted by the uterus on the large veins behind it causes the blood to slow in its return to the heart. These things cause varicose veins.

Doing the following might help:
  • Avoiding tight knee-highs.
  • Sitting with your legs and feet raised.