Common ailments in pregnancy and how to manage them
This article gives you a run down of some of the ailments/ issues you may experience in pregnancy, why they happen and what you can possibly do about them, although some I’m afraid you may just have to live with!
Why - 50% of women are affected, but the true cause isn’t known
Management - eat small amounts throughout the day and avoid trigger smells. Rest, drink little and often. Sucking mints or ice cubes is said to help.
When to get help - Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a serious form and can lead to weightloss and dehydration so see you GP or midwife if concerned
Why - can be caused by changes in your blood pressure or possibly due to lack of iron in the diet, which make healthy red blood cells and transport oxygen through the body
Management – rest and eat plenty of iron rich foods. Head between the knees when it comes on. Change direction slowly and avoid standing too long
Pelvic girdle pain
Why – happens to a great many women and can be varying in its pain level! Different women feel it in different areas (pubic bone, hips, groin, lower abdomen, buttocks, lower back or inner thighs), but it's difficult to know why some people get it and others don't. It has been said that poor muscle strength in the back and pelvis at the beginning of pregnancy can lead to it in later pregnancy. unfortunately in some cases it can be very debilitating.
Management - be conscious of the movement patterns that exacerbate the issue and try to avoid them. Try not to relax entirely though, as you need a bit of movement. Your healthcare professional will be able to recommend a physio if needed, but often small changes in your day-to-day routine can help, such as avoiding standing on one leg (while getting dressed for example), changing your sleeping position, avoiding any asymmetrical movements (crossing legs, reaching to one side) finding different ways to climb stairs etc.
Constipation, indigestion and heartburn
Why – down to progesterone relaxing the smooth muscle tissue on the walls of your digestive organs, meaning they don’t work as well as they should
Management - drinks lots of water and eat more fibre with wholemeal bread, rice, pasta, fruit, veg and pulses. Warm baths, avoiding standing for too long and exercise can help
Greater range of movement / instability
Why – you may notice, due to the increased relaxin hormone in your body, that you can stretch further or that you feel more mobile and flexible – although this may feel like a great thing, don’t try pushing yourself into these positions as it may affect your joint stability post-birth. This hormone also means that key joints (pelvis, knees, ankles) are at risk and could end up causing pain and longer term problems. Your back is also at risk of pain due to the forward shift in your centre of gravity and the relaxed ligaments in the intervertebral column along with the weak abdominals.
Management - make sure you practice the right technique when doing functional movements or exercise.
Why – the pregnant body is more resistant to insulin to ensure that maternal glucose circulates for longer and is absorbed by the foetus.
Management - gestational diabetes can be helped with exercise as this builds up an insulin sensitivity, but you do need to be careful when exercising if you need injections. your healthcare professional will do a test for this and if you have it, will get you to monitor and change your diet.
Why – this is possibly down to the hormonal effects of increased urinary output in the start of pregnancy and then down to the pressure of the uterus on the bladder later on. Urinary tract infections are common during pregnancy.
Management– not much you can do here other than to make sure you’re always near a toilet! And, ensure that you do still drink. Don’t avoid drinking water just because you might need the loo – this can lead to dehydration
Why – this is from the increased blood flow through the body and the pressure on your delicate nose vessels can rupture more easily.
Management – sit forward and use your thumb and index finger to pinch your nostrils. Breathe through your mouth while holding this for 10-15 mins to help it clot. Prevention – stay hydrated, blow your nose gently, keep your mouth open when you sneeze
Why – this is due to the skin stretching as the baby grows and an increased blood supply.
Management - try wearing loose fitting clothing and non-synthetic fibres.
Swelling feet/ Hands
Why – this can be down to raised blood pressure or water retention, but it could also be a pre-curser for pre-eclampsia, so check your blood pressure regularly
Management – again, avoid standing too long so that blood pools. Try to avoid stress that increases your blood pressure. A good excuse to have a sit down and relax!
When to get help – there are various risk categories for pre-eclampsia so check with your midwife if you have any concerns and they will be able to monitor you
Why – this is down to the changes in your respiratory system making you more sensitive to carbon dioxide, which controls our ventilation (breathing and depth).
Management - you may find you’re breathless after even the easiest exercise, so just make sure you don’t over exert yourself like you would in a regular class. Also, work on your posture so that you have optimal breathing efficiency
Feeling Hot hot hot
Why – you may find you feel a lot hotter than normal and this is down to the changes in your core temperature – it’s raised by 0.5 degrees.
Management- ensure you drink plenty of fluids and exercise in suitable, breathable clothing
I sincerely hope you manage to get through your pregnancy unscathed but we all know that it’s fairly uncommon to avoid absolutely everything, so please do let me know about your experiences and if you have any ‘solutions’ you’d like to share then we’d all love to hear about them!
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