COMMON CHANGES DURING PREGNANCY

During your pregnancy it is normal for you to experience some changes and discomforts that are related to pregnancy. These conditions may be uncomfortable but they’re usually not harmful to you or your baby.

Abdominal Pain

Lower abdominal pain is normal during pregnancy and is most common between 18 and 24 weeks. Your growing uterus is pulling and straining the muscles that support it. You may feel sharp pains or just a mild pulling sensation. It often occurs when you cough, sneeze, stand up, sit down, roll over, or during sex. Notify your healthcare provider:

  • If you have pain in your upper abdomen.
  • If you experience vaginal bleeding.
  • If your pain does not go away with rest or lasts longer than an hour.

Backache

Back pain is common and usually caused from the strain put on your back from a growing baby and by changes in your posture. Pain may be in your lower back and go down your legs. If you have back pain:

  • Avoid standing on your feet for long periods of time and change your position often.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes.
  • Avoid lifting heavy things or children.
  • Bend down at your knees and keep your back straight. Avoid bending at the waist.
  • Apply heat, cold or pressure on your back.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for exercises you can do.

Bleeding

It is not uncommon to have some vaginal bleeding or spotting in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It can be normal or a sign of a problem such as a miscarriage. If bleeding occurs later in pregnancy, it may be a sign of a serious problem. If you have vaginal bleeding, regardless of the amount or time during pregnancy:

  • Call your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Do not place anything in your vagina such as a tampon.
  • Avoid sex, exercise, or strenuous activity.

Constipation

Constipation is common during pregnancy due to changes in hormones that slow the passage of food through your body. If you are constipated:

  • Drink 8 glasses of liquids a day. Include fruit juices such as prune juice.
  • Eat foods high in fiber such as raw fruits and vegetables and bran cereals.
  • Exercise each day. Walking is good.
  • Do not take a laxative without asking your healthcare provider.

Indigestion

Indigestion is also called heartburn but it has nothing to do with your heart. It causes a burning feeling in your stomach that seems to rise up your throat past your heart. If you have indigestion:

  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones.
  • Avoid foods that cause gas and ones that cause you indigestion.
  • Do not drink fluids with your meals.
  • Sit up while eating.
  • Wait one hour after eating before lying down and don’t eat before going to bed.
  • Wait 2 hours to exercise after eating.
  • Don’t take medicines, including antacids or baking soda, unless you first check with your healthcare provider.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are varicose or swollen veins in the rectum. It is common to have these if you are also constipated. They can be painful and straining during a bowel movement may make them worse. Try to avoid constipation and, if necessary, talk with your healthcare provider for medication.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common in the first 12 – 14 weeks of pregnancy but can sometimes happen throughout the pregnancy. It is called “morning sickness” because it may be worse in the morning but you may feel nauseated any time during the day, especially if your stomach is empty. If you have nausea and vomiting:

  • Eat dry crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals each day to avoid an empty stomach.
  • Avoid smelling or eating foods that trigger your nausea.
  • Drink plenty of fluids in small amounts. Try ice chips or frozen ice pops if water causes nausea.
  • Do not take your prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach.
  • Call your healthcare provider if nausea and vomiting are severe.

Swelling

Swelling or edema is normal during late pregnancy. It happens in your legs and it is worse in the summer or if you have been standing for long periods of time. If you have swelling:

  • Put your legs up when you can.
  • Rest by lying down on your left side during the day and at night.
  • Limit salty food.
  • Never take medicine unless your healthcare provider prescribes it.
  • Call your healthcare provider if your face is swollen, especially around your eyes.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins. They happen most often in your legs but can also appear in your vulva and vagina. If you have varicose veins:

  • Put your legs up often.
  • Lie down with your legs raised.
  • Try not to stand for long periods.
  • If you have to sit at work, stand up and move around often.
  • Avoid wearing anything that binds your legs such as knee-highs and tight socks.

What We Have Learned

  1. Many changes in pregnancy are uncomfortable but they will not harm my baby or me.
    TRUE or FALSE
    The Answer is TRUE
  2. Morning sickness only happens in the morning.
    TRUE or FALSE
    The Answer is FALSE
  3. Lying down on my left side will help me if my legs are swollen.
    TRUE or FALSE
    The Answer is TRUE

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