Common Discomforts of Pregnancy and How to Tackle Them?
Pregnancy is one of the most emotionally and physically demanding times of any woman’s life. Your body is undergoing a sea of physical, chemical and hormonal changes as a new life unfurls inside you. But, we get your dilemma. “If such wonderful things are happening inside my body, why don’t I feel so good? Why am I bloated, fatigued, nauseous or just downright uncomfortable most of the time?” But don’t worry, experiencing fatigue during pregnancy or nauseous or bloated are more common than you think. Read on to learn how to tackle these common discomforts of pregnancy!
Like most things in life, nothing’s perfect. Not even the human body. As your fetus is growing, your body races against time to ensure the conditions needed for its growth. An unintended consequence of that is you feeling under the weather. The common discomforts of pregnancy can interfere with the fulfillment of the mother’s daily nutritional requirements and adversely affect pregnancy. Thus, we share with you some common discomforts of pregnancy and relief measures.
Dealing with Nausea
One of the most common first trimester symptoms is nausea and most women suffer from this. The nausea of “morning sickness” can occur anytime and can range from mild queasiness to nausea and vomiting. Some women can even suffer from continued vomiting, resulting in acidosis (excessive acidity of body fluids and tissues), dehydration and excessive weight loss.
There is no one cause of nausea but the hormonal changes are among the most common culprits behind this type of early pregnancy discomfort. These hormonal changes increase the woman’s sensitivities to the appearance, texture, and smell of some foods.
Some common strategies to alleviate nausea or morning sickness are as follows:
- Arise slowly while waking up.
- Eat dry toast or crackers.
- Chew gum or suck on ginger or gingered candies.
- Eat small but frequent meals.
- Avoid foods with strong odors.
- Drink caffeine-free carbonated beverages when nauseated, instead of citrus juice, milk, coffee or tea.
Nausea is common and generally goes away after 14-16 weeks of pregnancy. But it can be a cause for concern if it doesn’t. If you are experiencing symptoms like severe dehydration, frequent vomiting, weight loss (more than 5% your body weight), constant weakness and fatigue then seek medical advice.
Preventing Pregnancy Constipation and Haemorrhoids
Constipation and hemorrhoids are common discomforts of pregnancy experienced by almost all women. Some women experience chronic constipation prior to pregnancy, while others develop constipation while pregnant. Constipation during pregnancy can occur due to increased progesterone (hormone) levels, low fiber intake, low fluid intake, medications (such as iron salts and magnesium sulfate) and hypothyroidism.
Constipation is experienced when the smooth muscles throughout the body, including the digestive tract, are relaxed due to the release of hormones like progesterone. This leads to the sluggish passage of food through the intestines causing hemorrhoids or swelling during pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids (or piles) are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels inside or around the rectum and anus. It can be painful and straining during bowel movements may even cause bleeding. Pregnant women may sometimes experience similar discomforts but these are usually temporary.
Given below are a few approaches to effectively prevent or alleviate constipation and its related symptoms.
1. Eat foods high in fiber
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, helping the stool pass more quickly through the intestines. Soluble fiber allows more water to remain in your stool, making waste softer, larger, and thus easier to pass through your intestines. Foods containing high levels of fiber include dried beans, oats, lentils, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity can help reduce your constipation while pregnant. Exercises stimulate bowel movements and keep the digestive tract healthy. There are endless options for exercises to choose from. These include swimming, walking and practicing yoga, to name a few.
3. Drink more glasses of water
Pregnant women should drink 8-12 glasses of water daily to keep themselves hydrated. Drinking enough water can help soften bowel movements and relieve constipation easily. You can also drink lemonades, coconut water, and other fluids to meet your daily water requirements.
4. Use laxatives only as prescribed by your physician
Some laxatives may contain aloe vera extracts which can be harmful to you and your baby. Some common side-effects of aloe vera include uterine contractions and low blood pressure.
5. Spread out your iron supplement throughout the day
Your prenatal pills have a high iron level, so cut it in half and take half in the morning and a half in the evening. Your doctor may also be able to recommend an iron supplement that’s easier on the stomach.
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the upper part of the digestive tract including the throat. It is one of the most common discomforts of pregnancy (like constipation and hemorrhoids) that women face and can occur anytime during pregnancy.
The hormone progesterone produced during pregnancy relaxes the stomach valve and your growing uterus presses on it. As a result, gastric acids and liquids travel back up your esophagus (food pipe) causing heartburn.
To relieve the symptoms of heartburn follow these steps:
- Relax and eat slowly.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat small and frequent meals.
- Drink liquids between meals.
- Avoid eating greasy and fatty foods.
- Skip spicy and fatty foods.
- Wait an hour after eating before lying down.
- Wait two hours after eating before exercising.
Dealing with Bloating and Flatulence
With constipation comes bloating and flatulence (gas) that are the most unpleasant (and embarrassing!) pregnancy discomforts. This is more common than you think. The bacteria in your intestinal tract that help you digest carbohydrate-containing foods produce gas. Additionally, the hormones, progesterone, and estrogen in combination with certain foods can make your body produce more gas.
Follow these steps to reduce bloating and flatulence:
- Limit consumption of foods that cause more gas in your body.
- Eat small portions spread throughout the day.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Use digestive supplements (anti-gas pills) to prevent gas and bloating.
Steering clear of Urinary Tract Infections
During pregnancy, your kidneys work overtime to get rid of all your waste products and produce more urine. However, your bladder may not fully empty because your growing uterus is constantly pressing on it, leaving room for bacteria to multiply and grow until you develop UTI also known as Urinary Tract Infections.
To reduce the risk of UTI, follow the tips mentioned below:
- Drink plenty of water to flush out the kidneys.
- Drink cranberry juice, especially if you’re prone to kidney infections.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to get plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system.
- Eat yogurt and look for other products with added probiotics (or take a probiotic supplement) to increase “good” bacteria in the urinary tract.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, which acts as a diuretic.
- Wear cotton undergarments.
- Avoid tight-fitting pants.
- Wipe front to back when using the bathroom to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.
- Urinate when you first feel the need to do so instead of trying to hold it.
- Urinate before and after having intercourse.
UTIs are easy to treat with antibiotics that are safe during pregnancy, so don’t despair if you experience any of these symptoms. An untreated UTI can develop into a kidney infection in pregnant women.
Fighting Fatigue During Pregnancy
Feeling unusually tired and exhausted are common first trimester symptoms. Fatigue during pregnancy is among the most common discomforts. But don’t worry as it’s absolutely normal and the reason for fatigue during pregnancy is hormones!
Your body undergoes a major physical change during this phase with the uterus and breasts growing and your baby getting most of your energy already. Your fatigue during pregnancy comes from the physical drain on your body and you need to take it seriously.
Follow these steps to beat fatigue during pregnancy:
- Take a nap when you need it.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Exercise regularly unless recommended otherwise by your doctor.
- Take your prenatal vitamins to ensure you’re getting enough iron.
- Eat small portions spread throughout the day.
It is important that you eat foods that give your body sustained energy throughout the day. Have more complex carbohydrates that take your body longer to digest resulting in more lasting energy. For lasting energy in a meal or snack, combine foods rich in complex carbohydrates with protein-rich foods.
These health concerns are very common during pregnancy and can easily be prevented by following a few simple tips and tricks. But everyone’s body is different and few might require medications to deal with them. But, it is important that you keep yourself nourished and hydrated at all times. Consult your nutritionist/ health expert for more recommendations.