Pregnancy is one of the most exciting of life's experiences. We want your pregancy to be as painless and comfortable as possible. This page outlines a list of common ailments that may occur during a pregnancy, along with simple explanations and suggestions on finding relief. As always, please contact us if you have any questions.

Nausea

It is not uncommon to feel nauseated in the beginning of pregnancy due to increasing amounts of pregnancy related hormones.

Relief Measures: Eat dry foods: crackers, toast, and cereal before getting out of bed. Eat 5-6 small meals each day so your stomach does not get empty. Avoid any greasy or spicy foods. Limit fluid intake during meals but try to drink water freely between meals. Avoid strong smells until the nausea passes. Other over the counter measures that have been shown to be helpful: atomic fireballs, anything with ginger and sea bands. If the nausea persists, let your OB know.

Hemorrhoids

These are varicose veins that surround the anus and the rectum and they are caused by pressure which interferes with their circulation.

Relief Measures: It is important to prevent constipation by keeping up on fluids and eating a healthy diet containing enough fiber. If they protrude through the rectum you can carefully push them back in with a lubricated finger. A modified knee-chest position and hip elevation may also help to relieve the discomfort. Witch hazel soaks are also soothing. If these symptoms persist, please contact your OB provider.

Bleeding Gums and Nosebleeds

These are caused by increased blood volume, swollen mucous membranes and fragile capillaries during pregnancy.

Relief Measures: It is important that if you notice bleeding gums to see your dentist as a regular part of your prenatal health care. Frequent oral hygiene, increased flossing and finger massage of gums will also help. If it happens when you are not brushing your teeth, make sure you see your dentist.

Nose bleeds may be stopped by resting pressure below the bridge of the nose. If the bleeding is frequent and heavy, consult your OB provider.

Dizziness

A variety of factors can cause dizziness. Low blood sugar, low blood pressure, standing for extended periods of times, and sudden changes in position. Also, the weight of a pregnant uterus can cause pressure on the great vessels which return blood to your heart.

Relief Measures: Be sure to move slowly when changing positions during pregnancy and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. It is important to eat regular meals and avoid long exposures in the sun. It is important to discuss these problems and feelings with your OB provider. If you experience loss of consciousness, notify your OB provider immediately.

Swelling of the Lower Extremities

Slight swelling of the feet is common in pregnancy, especially prone to occur during hot weather. It is caused by increased pressure of the uterus on the lower vessels.

Relief Measures: It is important to avoid constricting clothing and to drink plenty of fluids and eat at least 2-3 oz. servings of protein each day. Get frequent exercise and lie down when you can and change positions frequently. Try to rest for 30-60 minutes daily on left side with legs slightly elevated on a pillow. Report any swelling that does not decrease, or if the swelling is present when you wake up in the morning, or any swelling occurs around the face or eyes.

Increased Perspiration

This is caused by activity of the sweat glands which is increased during pregnancy.

Relief Measures: Sometimes increased daily personal hygiene and changing deodorants will help control this. Please talk to your health care provider if this problem becomes excessive.

Increased Skin & Face Pigmentation

The “mask of pregnancy” or other skin associated problems can be caused by the increase in hormone levels during pregnancy. These changes can be normal. However, if they become irritative, cause excessive itching, or continue to spread, this ought to be discussed with your health care provider.

Relief Measures: It is important to limit your exposure to the sun. You may notice a “mask of pregnancy” or darkened line from the umbilicus region down to the pubis area which is called linea negra. It is appropriate to experiment with certain types of makeup if you feel you need to cover these areas and know that most of these changes usually fade or disappear after pregnancy.

Backaches

Most pregnant women will have some degree of back ache due to postural changes and ligament stretching and pulling. However, some more dangerous causes of back pain ought to be discussed with your health care provider.

Relief Measures: Rest frequently during the day. Maintain good posture during the day. Be careful to lift with appropriate technique as your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy. Do not stand in one position for too long. Use a foot stool under your feet while sitting. It is important to avoid wearing high heeled shoes during pregnancy. When bending to pick things up, make sure you bend at knees and not at your waist. This will cause less strain on your back. There are exercises suggested in most pregnancy books on how to relieve upper and lower back pain including the pelvic rock and shoulder circling exercises. If you experience any low, dull back ache that is rhythmic or constant and is not relieved by a change in position, call your OB provider immediately.

Headaches

Headaches are caused from an increase in circulating blood volume and from the hormone Progesterone. There are other common causes of headaches that ought to be discussed with your health care provider.

Relief Measures: This usually subsides after the 3rd month. An Acetaminophen product such as Tylenol may be suggested by your OB provider. Call your OB provider if your headaches persist, especially those that appear in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Frequency of Urination

The growing uterus presses against the bladder in the first few months of pregnancy. During the middle part of pregnancy, the lower segment of the uterus is drawn up, relieving some of the problem. Some hormones in pregnancy can also add to the increased need to urinate.

Relief Measures: Frequency of urination may be normal. Continue to drink plenty of water. If you have pain with urination or have any low abdominal discomfort, call your OB provider.

Difficulty Sleeping

This is caused generally by the discomfort due to any of the aches and pains of pregnancy, plus the inability to get in a comfortable position.

Relief Measures: Try to avoid eating immediately before bed and try practicing relaxation techniques. It may help to go for a walk in the evening, followed by a comfortable, warm bath. Therapeutic massage and deep stretches of the large muscle groups may add to this relaxation and allow you to sleep better. Contact your health care provider before attempting any medication designed to help you sleep.

Heartburn

This can occur during anytime in the pregnancy. It is a burning sensation in the lower chest or upper abdomen and is caused by food backing up from the stomach into the esophagus. It has nothing to do with your heart. It is caused by the increasing levels of Progesterone in pregnancy.

Relief Measures: Try not to lie flat after eating or at bedtime. Sometimes lying on your left side or being propped up with pillows will help prevent the reflux of food. Avoid heavy, greasy, or spicy foods. Try eating smaller amounts of food but eat more often and drink small amounts of milk or cold water. If it persists, a low sodium antacid may be recommended by your OB health care provider. Try to avoid baking soda or other home remedies. The sodium in these pills can contribute to fluid retention. Contact your OB provider if your symptoms persist.

Constipation

This is due to the changes in the digestive system during pregnancy. The pressure of a growing uterus may also impair the motion of the intestines. It generally is a sign of dehydration.

Relief Measures: Eat raw fruits, vegetables, prunes, and other whole grains or bran cereals. It is important to drink enough fluid. 1 cup of hot water with lemon 3 times a day may also be helpful. Exercise, especially walking, is helpful. Never hold back the urge to have a bowel movement. Regularity during pregnancy is very important. A bulk producing substance such as Metamucil or Citrucel may also be suggested by your OB provider. Make sure to consult your provider before using any medication or if these symptoms continue.

Fatigue

This is caused by a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin due to an approximately 40-50% increase in total circulating blood volume. It is common to feel this early in pregnancy and again in the last 2 months.

Relief Measures: Daily exercise is helpful in preventing fatigue and by getting your body in good physical condition and improving circulation. Plan to relax by lying down at least once a day. It is important to get plenty of sleep at night. It is important to eat a well balanced diet and take prenatal vitamins. Take iron supplements if prescribed and if your fatigue continues, talk to your OB provider. Your OB provider can provide a list of foods enriched with iron that will allow your digestive system to function normally.

Vaginal Discharge

During pregnancy there are increased vaginal secretions due to the increased blood supply to the vagina. You are also at higher risk for developing vaginal yeast infections during pregnancy.

Relief Measures: Bathe frequently and wear cotton undergarments. Also, avoid pantyhose or other tight fitting pants during pregnancy. It is important to avoid vaginal sprays, powders, feminine hygiene products, and other colored or scented toilet tissue during pregnancy. Vaginal discharge should not be a greenish color, foul smelling, or irritating. If you have an increase in the amount of mucous or watery discharge, be sure to call your OB provider.

Stretch Marks

These are the result of the breakdown in the lower, less elastic layers of the skin. Also, if your mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, you will likely have them as well.

Relief Measures: They commonly appear in the lower abdomen, breasts, thighs, and buttocks. Massaging with lotion will help reduce the dryness and itching associated with stretch marks. Stretch marks do fade after pregnancy, but generally cannot be prevented. Talk to your health care provider about other measures that might aid in the recovery of stretch marks after pregnancy.

Leg Cramps

These are generally due to pressure of the enlarged uterus on the circulatory system and extremities. You may have a decreased ability to absorb calcium during pregnancy. Leg cramps are especially common in the last trimester of pregnancy. They are not a serious condition but can be very painful.

Relief Measures: It is important to elevate legs frequently during the day. Using a heating pad or hot water bottle can help provide relief. Point toes upward and press down on the knee cap or hold the back of a chair and slide the foot of the cramping leg as far back as you can, keeping the heel flat on the floor. This stretches the calf muscle and helps to relieve the cramp. Assess the amount of calcium you take in your diet on a daily basis. If you are unable to get adequate amounts of calcium, talk to your health care provider about calcium substitutes

Pelvic Discomfort

This can be a very common problem during pregnancy. The growing uterus pulls on the round ligaments causing pain. Hormone influences cause pubic bone and joint relaxation. In the last trimester of pregnancy, your pelvic joints are movable and this can be very uncomfortable. Moving fast or coughing may even send a pain into your abdomen from your pelvis.

Relief Measures: Call your OB provider with any pain or pressure to determine the cause and appropriate care. There are various causes of pelvic discomfort, such as muscle and joint spasms, fatigue, excessive weight gain, and preterm labor. Rest on left side and use some specific exercises such as modified knee-chest position which may decrease this discomfort. If you experience no relief or if you are experiencing rhythmic or constant cramping, call your OB provider.

Breast Problems

Breasts begin to enlarge in preparation for lactation and may be very tender and may even begin to leak.

Relief Measures: Wear a good support bra. You may find it more comfortable to wear it while sleeping. Your bra should have wide, nonelastic straps to provide good support. Wear nursing pads for leaking that are not plastic lined. Call your health care provider immediately if any leaking is tainted with blood.

Shortness of Breath

Difficulty in breathing may be due to pressure on the diaphragm by the growing baby. Also, some chemical changes in the blood stream can cause a sensation of shortness of breath during pregnancy.

Relief Measures: Moving slowly will help. Lying on your left side when you sleep with your head elevated will also help. Sometimes sleeping on a lounge chair is also helpful. Maintain good posture throughout the day. If you have persistent shortness of breath, it is important to discuss this with your OB provider immediately.

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