Common Pregnancy Discomfort
Below is a list of Common Pregnancy Discomforts you may experience during your pregnancy. If you experience any of these, we have offered some suggestions for relief of the discomfort.
Nausea and vomiting are very common complaints in early pregnancy, and are related to many factors. They usually improve by the fourteenth week. Because low blood sugar levels can add to their severity, it’s wise to eat frequent small meals, and even to have a snack when (not if) you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Avoid greasy, high-fat foods and foods with strong odors. Prenatal vitamins sometimes add to the problem, and if so, please discontinue them until you are feeling better. If you can, try taking at least 800 mcg of Folic acid daily or two childrens chewable vitamins. This usually does not worsen nausea.
To avoid gastric reflux, which is increased in pregnancy, and which causes heartburn, avoid lying down immediately after eating. To decrease the gag reflex, do not brush teeth immediately after eating.
Most pregnant women are appropriately concerned that they eat properly. However, if you are having significant nausea and vomiting, this may be difficult. It is far more important that you eat something than that it be absolutely nutritious. If you can’t keep anything down, your body begins to break itself down to furnish energy. On the other hand, if you can supply outside energy in almost any form, this breakdown can be prevented. Therefore, even food that might be considered less than perfect is much better than throwing up a balanced meal. During the difficult weeks, please eat whatever appeals to you and can stay down.
If the above suggestions do not work, try:
- Vitamin B6 25-50 mg every 6 hours, taken with Unisom ½ tab at bedtime
- Seabands wrist bands (acupressure therapy for nausea)
- Ginger tea, lozenges
If your nausea is still severe, prescription medicine such as Phenergen or Zofran may be recommended.
Many factors, including hormones, activity, the enlarging uterus and others can increase constipation, one of the most frequent complaints of pregnant women. Remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of liquids, and use bran-type cereals and other high fiber foods. Exercise is also helpful. You may also try a stool softener, such as Colace, or a bulk laxative such as Metamucil or Citrucel. Miralax or Milk of Magnesia are also OK to use in pregnancy.
Faintness and Dizziness
Blood vessels and blood pressure react differently during pregnancy, and this can cause you to feel faint or dizzy, often suddenly. Dehydration and low blood sugar seem to make the symptoms worse, and should be avoided. Being extra warm, standing for long periods of time, and getting up quickly can all increase the problem, too. Since anemia can also contribute, please let us know if the symptoms persist or are severe so that we can check your hemoglobin at the office.
Headaches in pregnancy are quite common, due to many factors. They can occur at any time during the gestation, but are especially prevalent during the thirteenth through nineteenth weeks of pregnancy.
To help decrease headaches, avoid going long periods without eating, dehydration, excessive caffeine, noxious fumes, etc. Analgesics such as Tylenol may be used, but don’t forget simple measures such as cool compresses to the forehead, or resting in a quiet, dark room. You can take up to 1,000 mg of Tylenol (acetaminophen) every 6 hours (Total 4,000 mg in 24 hours). Do not take aspirin or Ibuoprofen (Advil). Relaxation techniques such as warm baths, walks in the fresh air, breathing exercises and massages may be helpful. If you are also experiencing sinus pressure, Mucinex is safe to take in this trimester and a cool humidifier may be helpful. If there is green or yellow nasal discharge in addition, and this is persistent, call the office. If the headache is accompanied by visual changes or neurologic symptoms such as numbness or weakness, please call. If you are prone to migraines, please discuss options for management with one of the providers.
Hemorrhoids are caused by the general increase in blood volume, as well as relaxation of blood vessels throughout the body, and by pressure from the enlarging uterus on veins in the rectum. Constipation and straining most definitely aggravate the problem, and should be avoided. Local application of Tucks pads, Anusol or Preparation H may be helpful. Soaking in a warm tub of water, or applying warm compresses can help relieve symptoms, too. Hemorrhoids usually improve dramatically after delivery.
A sudden and severe increase in pain from hemorrhoids may signal the formation of a blood clot, which although not hazardous, will usually take some time to resolve. Please let us know if this occurs so that we can see you in the office and confirm this disorder for consideration of surgical relief. The best way to manage hemorrhoids is to avoid them. Staying well hydrated, having adequate fiber in your diet and the use of a stool softener can all help prevent the formation of hemorrhoids.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
Most women note an increase vaginal discharge during pregnancy, due to increased estrogen levels. However, if the discharge becomes foul odored, or green or yellow in color, please let us know. If you think you have a yeast infection, Monistat is OK to use. If your symptoms are not improving, you will need to be seen in our office.
“Round Ligament” Pain
Many pregnant women experience sudden, brief pain in their lower abdomen, described as “pulling,” or sharp in nature, usually worse on one side. These often occur with standing up from sitting, rolling over in bed, coughing, sneezing, or other maneuvers which change the direction of stress on the abdominal wall connective tissue. Indeed, despite their name, these “round ligament” pains probably have nothing to do with the round ligaments, which are very loose structures attached to the upper uterus, and which become even softer and stretchier with pregnancy. Instead, these pains can be traced to hormone-induced changes in abdominal wall muscles and ligaments. They represent no hazard to you or the baby, but can be quite uncomfortable. If you have any question about abdominal pain, please let us know.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is quite common, and is due to hormonal changes causing a perceived “air hunger,” by elevation of the diaphragm by the enlarging uterus, and by several other factors. You will note that you get tired and out of breath more rapidly with exercise, also. However, if you notice a sudden change, or that you have significant difficulty breathing, please call.
Swelling of the Feet and Legs
Some swelling of the lower extremities, especially during the third trimester, is perfectly normal, and by itself causes no problem more hazardous than discomfort. If you are not uncomfortable, no measures need be taken. Elevation of the lower extremities, decreasing salt intake, and increasing fluid intake all seem to help. While swelling is almost always innocent, you should let us know if it becomes severe, or is accompanied by facial swelling, headache, visual changes or nausea. We will need to at least check your blood pressure if these occur. If swelling is one-sided or associated with pain in the deep muscles of the leg, this could be a blood clot. Please call our office to arrange an evaluation.
Varicose veins occur during pregnancy for several reasons, including increased blood volume and relaxation of blood vessels, combined with an inherited tendency to develop them. They are usually not hazardous, but can be quite uncomfortable. Moderate exercise, elevation of the legs, and full-length support hose can help somewhat. Try to avoid standing for long periods of time, crossing your legs at the knee, and constrictive clothing. Please notify us if you have severe calf or leg pain, especially if there is a specific area of tenderness or redness.