As we recently discussed, many of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy are normal. Your obstetrician or midwife can advise you in ways to find relief, and we’ve compiled a few suggestions that can help alleviate some of the most common discomforts.
Heating pads, hot water bottles and warm (but not hot) baths can bring relief for this common complaint. For prevention, try giving the high heels a rest during pregnancy and stick to shoes with proper arch support to reduce the pressure on your back. If you can avoid all heavy lifting, do, but if you have toddlers and groceries to tote around, make sure you lift with your knees to avoid any injuries. Most places will also offer help carrying groceries out to your car; take advantage of this!
Remember if you’re having intermittent or crampy back pain that doesn’t get better with rest and hydration, you should call your doctor’s office as this can be a sign of preterm labor.
Because aspirin, ibuprofen and most migraine medications aren’t recommended during pregnancy, headaches can feel especially debilitating. Avoid fatigue, dehydration and low blood sugar by getting plenty of rest and having water and snacks handy. Try including a little protein in your snacks. Pay attention to your triggers -- certain foods, glaring light, harsh temperatures and strong odors can cause headaches for some women. For relief, try applying a compress to the forehead or base of the skull or taking a cool shower. Regular exercise and massages can also help with tension-related headaches.
Remember to call your provider if your headache is different than usual or you also have changes in vision or high blood pressure.
Abdominal Aches and Itchiness
Stretching ligaments around the uterus can cause sharp pains and dull aches in the abdomen. Bloating, constipation and Braxton Hicks contractions are other culprits of abdominal pain. Gentle exercises and stretching can reduce some of this discomfort, and bending into the sudden pangs can also bring relief. Keeping hydrated and relaxing in warm baths also helps.
Pregnant women who experience itchy belly might find relief in applying a moisturizer after toweling off and taking an occasional oatmeal bath. Avoid moisturizers that contain alcohol and lots of scents. Other topical treatments, such as calamine lotion, may also bring relief.
Many pregnant women experience swelling at some point in their pregnancy, often in the third trimester. This is due to a normal accumulation of fluids, and the best defense against it might seem counterintuitive: drink plenty of water. Avoiding salty foods and eating foods that are natural diuretics (like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beets,oats, cabbage, carrots, lettuce and tomatoes) may also help. Keeping cool and propping up your feet are other effective measures to promote circulation and reduce swelling.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, we at Women’s Healthcare Associates want to make the experience as comfortable for you as possible. Hearing about the experiences of other expecting moms in group prenatal care can be comforting. To learn more aboutCenteringPregnancy, read here, or browse our obstetrics providers.