Dealing with the Discomforts of Pregnancy
- Pressure of a pregnant uterus on blood vessels, lessening the flow of blood to the legs
- Pointing of the toes
- Sudden stretching
- Fatigue or chilling
- Lack of calcium in the diet
- The object is to stretch the cramped muscle to improve circulation.
- For foot cramps, stand on the affected foot.
- For calf cramps, straighten knee, pull foot toward head, hold and then relax and repeat.
- For thigh cramps, stretch leg backwards.
- For buttock cramps, stretch leg forward.
- NEVER massage a cramped muscle because it enhances rather than relieves the cramp and can cause tenderness for days.
- Excessive weight gain (40-60 lbs.) and curvature of the spine may affect stability of the foot, causing a breakdown of the arch.
- Turn foot in when walking barefoot to hold up arch.
- Wear shows with arch supports.
Groin Ache or Pain
- Poor posture
- Standing too long
- Pressure of the baby
- Spasm of the round ligament
- Do light effleurage (small circular massage) in groin area, giving a slight lift as hands comes upward. Use pressure on the down stroke.
- For relief of sudden spasm, pull up leg on same side as spasm, as if tying a shoe, or lie down on affected side with leg drawn up.
Nausea and Vomiting
- Hormonal changes, possibly related to low blood sugar
- Eat small frequent meals.
- Have dry crackers or toast before getting up in the morning.
- Try hard candy like peppermints or lemon drops.
- Patience- it usually subsides at the end of the first trimester.
Dizziness, Lightheadedness, and Fainting
- Pressure from the pregnant uterus on greater abdominal muscles
- Decreased blood sugar
- Avoid sudden changes in posture/movements.
- Get up slowly after lying down- roll side to side then push up to a sitting position.
- Follow physician’s advice for treatment of anemia.
- Avoid standing or lying flat on back for long periods of time.
- Do not skip meals-eat properly.
- Avoid hot, stuffy areas.
- Decreased activity of intestine due to pressure from an enlarged uterus & the relaxing effect of progesterone on muscles & intestines
- Decreased physical activity
- Impaired tone of stretched abdominal muscles
- Eat bran cereal, fresh vegetables and fruit. Drink plenty of water daily.
- Decreased activity of intestinal tract
- Avoid gas forming foods like beans, cabbage, corn, fried foods, pastry, very sweet desserts & food known to cause problems.
- Eat bulky foods & drink plenty of water.
- Smaller bladder capacity from the pressure of the uterus on the bladder (in the first trimester) and from pressure of the weight of the baby (in the third trimester)
- Limit caffeine intake & intake of fluids close to bedtime.
- Be aware of signs & symptoms of urinary tract infection & report to physician.
- Symptoms include: burning upon urination, flank pain, painful pressure, especially after emptying the bladder
Swelling of Legs
- Increased fluid in body & increased pressure from the uterus, causing difficulty in the return of fluid from the lower parts of the body
- May be a sign of more serious problems. Report excess swelling to your physician.
- Elevate legs as much as possible.
- Support hose may provide some relief.
- Avoid standing or sitting with legs dependent for long periods of time.
- Increased estrogen causes normal “pregnancy” discharge
- Increased progesterone may cause a yeast infection
- If discharge is not causing itching or irritation & is non-odorous, do not worry.
- If a yeast infection is suspected, report symptoms to your physician.
Ache in Back, Hips, or Thighs
- Pressure of baby on small nerves on the inside of the spine & pelvis
- Pelvic rock on all fours or creeping on all fours. This may encourage the baby to readjust his/her position.
- Poor posture/muscle tone
- Lax abdominal muscles let uterus fall forward which leads to lordotic posture
- Softening effect of hormone action on spine & pelvic joints
- Careful attention to correct posture & body mechanics
- Pelvic rock, especially on all fours
- Kneel in a crawling position several times a day
- When standing, lift one foot & place it on an object so it’s higher than the other foot; or stand with one foot in front of the other & rock back & forth slightly
- Firm mattress on your bed
Tingling, Numbness, & Swelling of Extremities
- Enlargement of breast tissue high in the armpit, resulting in pressure on nerves and blood vessels
- Place hands on shoulders & rotate elbows in a circle.
Diaphragm Pressure (Cramp or Stitch under Ribs)
- When the baby is high in the abdomen, the diaphragm is pushed against the base of the lungs.
- Lift rib cage by raising arms sideways & upward above the head and then stretch.
Shortness of Breath
- When the baby is high in the abdomen, the diaphragm is pushed against the base of the lungs
- Sleep propped up with pillows or spend the first ten minutes in bed lying on your back with arms extended above your head & resting on the bed.
- Late pregnancy will bring relief (when the baby drops into the pelvis)
- Relaxing effect of progesterone & the pressure of a heavy uterus on the lower part of the large bowel
- Obesity, lack of exercise, excessive sitting, constipation
- Straining to move bowels
- Same for constipation
- Do Kegel exercise regularly to stimulate circulation in the pelvic area.
- Apply cold compresses, e.g. ice, witch hazel, Epson salt
Varicose Veins/Leg Ache
- Hereditary predisposition
- Relaxing effect of progesterone on walls of veins
- Pressure of enlarged uterus on abdominal veins slows blood return from lower limbs
- Standing with knees locked, causing muscular constriction, preventing proper venous return
- Avoid thigh-high hosiery or any clothing that causes muscular constriction which prevents proper venous return.
- Change position frequently and avoid long periods of standing or sitting.
- Do Kegel exercises regularly.
- Take long walks because the massaging action of muscles close to veins is good for stimulating circulation.
- Crawl on hands & knees several times a day. Be sure knees are flexed & supported by pillows when at rest. Do pelvic rock exercise.
- Elevate legs & hips several times a day.
- Wear support hose or stockings made of elastic; put on while lying down, ideally before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Never stand with knees locked. They should always be flexed.
Updated June 6, 2016