Your body changes in many ways during pregnancy and it can be worrying or simply leave you wondering what to do. Here are some common ailments and how to handle them.
This is very normal, particularly in the first trimester. Your body has a huge job on right now, so that’s using all your resources. The good news is that it does pass and in fact many women experience an energy surge in the second trimester or at least feel more energized than during the first, but then find themselves slowing down again in the third as the impact of carrying all that extra weight around takes its toll.
What to do: The best option is to ensure you get plenty of early nights and say no to any non-essential commitments. If you’re still feeling exhausted in the second trimester and find it a struggle to get through the demands of the day then you may be low in iron. This is common in pregnancy as baby is laying down her own iron stores at your expense. Let your LMC know if this is the case – they will be checking for iron levels in blood tests and will be able to suggest options to help raise your levels.
Pregnancy hormones render your veins less efficient at propelling blood, which means that it tends to pool and can cause varicose veins.
What to do: To prevent and relieve varicose veins in your legs, lie on your back and put your legs vertically against a wall at least once a day. Even better, get your partner to run vitamin E down your legs while you do this – about time they made themselves useful! If your veins become hard or red there might be a small clot – see your doctor as this could be symptomatic of an underlying deep vein thrombosis.
Blame the hormones again, but they can also make pregnant women more prone to constipation and the straining can then trigger varicose veins around the anus.
Cue the dreaded haemorrhoids!
What to do: The best way to avoid haemorrhoids is to deal with the constipation. Try to include some gentle exercise regularly, increase your fluid intake to two to three litres of water a day and eat a diet full of fruit and veges as well as whole grains. There are creams available from the pharmacy to relieve pain or your GP can prescribe mild steroid cream and/or suppositories. You can also try applying witch hazel directly to haemorrhoids three times a day with a cotton pad or sit in a warm shallow bath with witch hazel added.
Aches and Pains
Back: Many women experience back pain in pregnancy. Poor posture can be a big contributor to this and that pain can increase as your stomach expands and your back takes on the extra pressure.
What to do: Staying active will help keep your muscles and joints strong and you can practise good posture too by tucking your pelvis under slightly to prevent the sway back that can occur late in pregnancy. As the bump expands, some women find relief from using a pelvic support belt (your LMC can help you get hold of one). In very rare cases, back pain can be the sole symptom of labour. If the pain comes and goes in regular waves, contact your LMC.
Pelvic: This tends to occur as the uterus gets bigger and the muscles soften.
What to do: Spending time off your feet will help, avoid sitting with your legs crossed and try using the pelvic support belt. If you are having difficulty moving about or have any numbness or weakness in your legs or buttocks check with your LMC.
Apart from preventing you from squeezing into your favourite pair of heels, swollen ankles don’t usually pose any kind of health problem and are very common in pregnancy.
What to do: Elevation is a good strategy – sit with your legs higher than your hips. Exercise can also provide relief. Make sure you don’t limit your fluid intake in an attempt to combat it. Keep drinking six to eight glasses of water a day. If you experience sudden swelling in your ankles and/or legs, hands or face, contact your LMC who will check your blood pressure, as this could be the first obvious sign of toxaemia. ′
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