5 Common Pregnancy Ailments and Their Management
While pregnancy can be beautiful and thoroughly exciting, it can also result in several annoying pregnancy symptoms and ailments.
Nevertheless, even if you know that all that nausea is perfectly normal, you’d undoubtedly want to know some tried and tested solutions for symptom-management. Well, here’s your guide to the most common pregnancy ailments, and what you can do about them over these nine months.
#1 – Morning Sickness
Everything is going well in your pregnancy – just a touch of tenderness in your breasts, a slight splattering of blue veins across your chest, and a slight increase in urinary frequency. Until one day, you wake up with an immense urge to vomit. As chances would have it, you’re among the estimated 75% of pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness, a misnamed malady, during their pregnancies.
Now – why misnamed? Because even though you’ll often feel queasy in the mornings, nausea can hit you any time. Morning sickness typically develops from the 6th week of pregnancy; it’s also one of the first signs of pregnancy.
For the vast majority of expectant women, morning sickness doesn’t typically linger much beyond week 12 – 14 of pregnancy.
But, is there anything you can do to help yourself if you still have five more weeks to go before nausea clears? Yes – there are two ways to minimize your misery:
- Eat well – A pregnancy diet that’s rich in protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole-grain bread, brown rice, and oats) can help keep nausea at bay.
- Try alternative remedies – There are a wide variety of complementary medical approaches, such as full-body prenatal massage, acupuncture, and biofeedback, that can minimize your discomfort and nausea.
#2 – Headaches
Sometimes, pregnancy can be a headache – literally. Headaches can occur at any time during your pregnancy, but you’ll tend to experience migraines most during the first trimester. And the primary culprit for these nasty headaches? Well, you can blame your changing hormone levels and blood volume.
When you’re suffering through pounding pain at your temples, keep in mind that you should avoid the usual migraine treatment options – over-the-counter and prescription medications – unless your doctor has cleared the treatments.
But of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to suffer through an aching head without taking action; the following tactics might offer you some sweet relief from your recurrent headaches.
- Cut down on caffeine slowly – If you’ve decided to nix caffeine out of your diet, aim to do so gradually. Cutting back too much, too fast during pregnancy can trigger withdrawal headaches, and that’s probably the last thing you want.
- Track what you eat – Certain foods in your diet can induce headaches. By tracking your food, you may discover a link between specific foods and your headache patterns. You can then cut these foods out.
#3 – Backache
As your belly grows more prominent in the second trimester, the otherwise stable joints in your pelvis are loosened up by a hormone called relaxin to enable easier passage of your baby during delivery.
Your now-unstable pelvic joints, in addition to the weight of your growing uterus, throws you off-balance as your center of gravity shifts forward.
As a result, your lower back curves more than usual in attempts of bearing the load – causing strained muscles, and you guessed it, backache. If you’ve now reached the stage of pregnancy where your hands are always on your back, you’d be pleased to know that there are ways to relieve your backache.
- Watch your posture when sitting – Make sure the chairs you use provide sufficient back support. Also, never cross your legs when seated – this can cause forward pelvic tilt and exacerbate those already-strained back muscles.
- Wear the right shoes – Now that your center of gravity is out of whack, you should avoid both high heels and flat shoes. Instead, you should opt for low-heeled options to keep your body in alignment, so your back isn’t under so much stress.
#4 – Heartburn
No one knows heartburn quite like an expectant woman, especially those in their 30s. But – what causes heartburn? Well, remember the hormone relaxin? This hormone also relaxes smooth muscle tissues throughout your body – including, you guessed it, those in your gastrointestinal tract.
Heartburn occurs when the ring of muscles that separates your esophagus from the stomach relaxes and allows stomach acids to flow back up from the stomach to the throat. These stomach acids irritate the esophageal lining, causing a burning sensation just right about where the heart is – explaining why this symptom is called ‘heartburn.’
So – how can you prevent this burning sensation?
- Avoid digestive overload – Don’t overeat in a meal; you’ll only exacerbate the burn. Try eating six small meals a day – this can help you with bloating, energy levels, and of course, heartburn.
- Watch your weight – Keep your eye on the weighing scale: your pregnancy weight gain should be within the 11.5 – 16 KG recommended range. Extra weight on your frame can make heartburn worse.
#5 – Edema (Swelling of the ankles and feet)
During pregnancy, you’ll experience mild swelling throughout your body. And thanks to the laws of gravity, most of the swelling will take place in your lower extremities – legs, ankles, and feet.
But – what causes the swelling? Well, edema occurs when the increase in body fluids – meant to nurture both you and your baby – accumulate in your tissues as a result of increased pressure of your growing uterus on the pelvic veins and blood pressure. Poor blood circulation can exacerbate the compiling of the fluids.
Before you despair over not being able to fit into your shoes anymore, here are two ways you can stop your feet from swelling up:
- Prenatal massage – Through a process called lymphatic drainage, Javanese massage methods can help break up the accumulation of bodily fluids and significantly reduce swelling in your lower extremities.
- Kick up your feet – Whenever possible, elevate your legs when you’re sitting. As mentioned, this can help with alleviating your back pain, too.
Don’t experience most (or any) of the common symptoms listed above? Don’t fret – all women, and pregnancies, are different. If you’re experiencing any sign you’re not sure about, check in with your doctor!
In the meantime, please check out these other helpful guides from Theraply:
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