Aches and Pains During Pregnancy
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While pregnancy is a time for celebrating, proudly showing off your bump and preparing for the baby's arrival, it can also be a very taxing time for your body. The chances are that you will have to put up with a few of pregnancy's less desirable characteristics, including general aches and pains.
Common aches and pains during pregnancy
The most widely known problem associated with pregnancy is morning sickness. Contrary to its name, it does not necessarily only strike in the morning and neither is it always accompanied by vomiting. Morning sickness can be quite debilitating for many women, as it can last for the majority of the first trimester and a constant feeling of nausea can be extremely draining. The good news is, however, that it generally disappears or at least improves after the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
Another common pain during the first trimester of pregnancy is sore breasts and nipples. These can make exercise and sleeping a little uncomfortable, but wearing comfortable and supportive underwear might help. Stop sleeping on your front if this makes you uncomfortable. You will have to adjust your sleeping position as you go further into your pregnancy anyway, so you may as well get used to it early on!
Aches or cramps are common in your stomach during pregnancy (tummy cramps). Stomach cramps can be worrying when they feel like period pains as they can make women think that they are having a miscarriage. Miscarriages are most common during the first trimester of pregnancy but tummy cramps are not necessarily indicative of problems. Pain can be caused at the time of implantation or by your muscles stretching to make room for the baby to grow. There are numerous other potential causes for abdominal pain during pregnancy, including premature (or full term) labour, or simply an upset stomach. Frequent cramping from the late stages of the second trimester might be the practice contractions known as Braxton Hicks contractions. If the pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding or nausea, or if you have any other reason for concern, then call your midwife for advice.
General aches and pains in your joints, or in your back, are common during pregnancy. Your body produces the hormone relaxin during pregnancy which causes your ligaments to soften and stretch in preparation for labour. This puts additional pressure on your joints and can cause pain. As you gain more weight and your centre of gravity changes you may also notice that the added pressure on your spine gives you back ache too. You might also find that you get regular cramping in your legs, particularly at night. These types of aches and pains are not usually anything to worry about, but you should take care to relax and rest any areas of your body that are causing you pain. If the pain becomes severe then you should contact your doctor or midwife for advice.
Many women find that their digestive system is affected by their pregnancy. Indigestion, bloating and wind can all become uncomfortable problems for mums to be. Alongside this you may also experience either constipation or diarrhoea, or both. Be reassured that these are all normal side effects of pregnancy, but do speak to your midwife for advice if you are concerned, and make sure that you are maintaining a sensible diet and exercise regime.
Another common ache to suffer from during pregnancy is a headache. It is most likely that these headaches are due to hormonal changes. However, they could also be due to tiredness, stress, hunger, or dehydration. Try eliminating all of these possible causes by relaxing, getting more rest and making sure that you are maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. If you still find that you are experiencing headaches then speak to your doctor. There are some pain killers that you can take during pregnancy but you will need to seek professional advice first.
What can I do about aches and pains during pregnancy?
First and foremost, you should always call your doctor, midwife or hospital if you are concerned that you might be experiencing the symptoms of miscarriage, premature labour or even full term labour, or any pregnancy complication that will need medical attention. If you are experiencing severe pain or vaginal bleeding you should receive medical attention right away.
With many pregnancy aches and pains, it may be relatively easy to assess the cause and therefore to treat it. For example, if you are aware that you are not getting enough to eat and drink and you are experiencing headaches, the cure is probably quite obvious.
When it comes to cramps or aching joints and muscles then you could try a gentle massage or a warm bath to help soothe the discomfort. There are some painkillers that are allowed during pregnancy, such as paracetamol, but you must always seek advice from your doctor first.