Some changes that come with pregnancy can be uncomfortable, even downright unpleasant. It can help to know that these are your body’s natural responses as it adapts to growing a baby—but even though they’re normal, sometimes you just want some relief! Fortunately, simple coping strategies that support your changing body will ease these discomforts without interfering in the natural processes taking place.
Hormones produced by the placenta are responsible for many of the changes in your metabolism, breasts, skin, uterus and other body areas during pregnancy. These hormones are normal and necessary for a healthy pregnancy, but they can bring some discomforts as your body adjusts. Not everyone will experience these discomforts during pregnancy. Your genetic makeup, eating habits, exercise routine and personal outlook all can affect how you experience these changes.
Varicose Veins, Hemorrhoids, Bleeding Gums, Nosebleeds, Stuffy Noses and Increased Vaginal Discharge
These symptoms are caused by the increased blood volume in your system—together with hormonal changes. Your body has a lot more blood these days—nature’s way of making sure your baby gets plenty of oxygen and nutrients. You may remember being thirsty all the time in early pregnancy—you needed the fluid to build up such a rich supply of blood! Making smart, healthy choices will help. Put your feet up throughout the day, eat fiber-rich foods that will help with constipation, take a daily walk and gently brush and floss your teeth regularly. Wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing will prevent increased moisture from causing vaginal infections.
For backaches, try warm baths, massage, gentle exercise or heating pads to help with the strain. Placing pillows between your knees or propping pillows behind your back or under your belly will help when you lie down. You may find relief from back pain by getting down on all fours and slowly arching their backs up, like a stretching cat, then back down, or by doing pelvic tilts. This helps shift the weight down into the muscles a bit—a pleasant change from how things rest when you’re on your feet.
Heartburn and Constipation
As baby grows, your stomach will have less room and you may need to eat smaller meals more frequently. Your body naturally slows down digestion in pregnancy, in order to get as much nutrition as possible from the foods you eat, resulting in heartburn and constipation. To resolve these issues, drink water when you’re thirsty, keep nutritious snacks on hand to eat between meals and pay attention to which foods trigger your symptoms. Often, it’s a processed food, such as white bread or greasy pizza. Eating papaya enzyme (available in the vitamins section of any Whole Foods store) several times a day will help digestion and ease heartburn. You may also want to try snacking on raw almonds or taking a leisurely walk after meals.
Swelling happens because the growing weight of the baby—together with hormones (again!)—makes it hard for your veins to return all of your blood from your arms and legs to your heart. So, your body adapts by letting some of the fluid from your blood go into your tissues. Puffy hands and feet are the unpleasant result. Cucumbers, parsley and watermelons are natural diuretics (which means they help return the fluid to your bloodstream). Eating them may help ease swelling. Also, listen to your body. Give it rest when you’re feeling tired, but be sure to stay active each day. Swimming is a great exercise in pregnancy because it gets your heart rate up and the gentle support of the water feels great and helps with swelling.
Know that you are providing the perfect environment for your baby to grow and develop. Any discomforts are a reminder that you are doing the amazing work of nourishing your baby. They soon will pass and be forgotten, replaced by your baby in your arms.
Adapted from Giving Birth with Confidence.
A Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator is your trusted partner for one of the most important journeys of your life.
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