Physical discomforts during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful period. But pregnancy can also bring some moments of discomfort. We listed the most common of these discomforts, so called pregnancy symptoms, and advice on how to reduce the discomforts.

Pregnancy hormones soften the tissue normally keeping the pelvis together; this might cause back- and pelvic pain, even early in pregnancy. Bad posture can cause or increase the back pain in a later stage of the pregnancy.
Things that might help:

  • Wear decent, flat shoes
  • Mind your posture; stand up straight and avoid a swayback
  • When getting out of bed: turn on your side before you sit up
  • If you sleep on your side: try sleeping with a pillow between your legs
  • Avoid standing or sitting in one position for a long time, try to vary positions
  • Avoid walking stairs, vacuuming, mopping and bending as much as possible
  • A binder might provide some stability

If pain continues or increases, consider visiting a physiotherapist or mensendieck therapist (specialised in pregnancy).

Braxton hicks are very common during pregnancy. The uterus is a muscle and muscles tend to contract. Braxton hicks are very individually, where one experience a lot of Braxton hicks, other women do not experience them at all. As long as they do not occur regularly and they are not painful, there is nothing to worry about.
Being to busy might cause you to experience a lot of Braxton hicks during pregnancy so taking it easy is advised. A hot jug, shower or bath often helps. Sometimes Braxton hicks are a sign of a cystitis (bladder infection), if you suspect this always consult your general practitioner.

Your intestines slow down during pregnancy due to pregnancy hormones. Your body retracts more fluid from the defecation, which may cause constipation. Drinking at least 2 litres water a day is the best remedy. Exercise and food containing enough fibres might also help (lettuce, fruit, wholegrain food). In addition one or two glasses of Roosvicee Laxo a day might help.

During pregnancy it is very normal to have more and thinner discharge than usual. This is caused by higher blood flow of the vagina. This is nothing to worry about as long as there are no other complaints. Does the discharge come with itchiness or pain, please contact your general practitioner; you might have a yeast infection.

A lot of things can cause dizziness, although there is usually nothing to worry about. Low blood pressure, low iron levels, low blood sugar or hyperventilation may cause dizziness. Further along the pregnancy the enlarged uterus may also reduce the blood flow to your heart, for instance when lying on your back. Lying on your side or sitting up carefully might help. Avoid standing up too quickly. In addition, it is important to keep your sugar levels stable during pregnancy so do not skip any meals. Try to have something to eat or drink with you at all times.

The first three months of pregnancy are no pick nick for a lot of pregnant women. Pregnancy hormones (amongst other things) causes exhaustion so it is important to get enough rest. Usually your old level of energy will return after about twelve weeks. Pregnancy is a sport and will require as much rest and routine as possible. Try to create small moments of rest during the day, this does not necessarily needs to be sleep, but make sure you as a mother and your child get some rest.

During pregnancy the body retains a lot more fluid, especially towards the end, possibly leading to fat ankles. Try raising your legs when seated and raise the end of the bed a little by for instance putting a pillow underneath the mattress. Exercise is also good; standing still over a long period of time is not. Avoid wearing tight shoes or socks. Stimulate the blood flow by ending your shower with cold water. Your hands might also retain some additional fluid. The pressure on the nerves in your hands might cause your fingers to tingle. Moving your fingers may help. Wearing special skate-wrist-protection might also help decrease the tingly sensation in your fingers; the splint ensures the hands to lie straight, relieving the pressure on the nerves.

During the first weeks of pregnancy a loosened sphincter of the stomach causes heartburn. The hormone progesterone causes this phenomenon. Also, the angle between the stomach and the oesophagus is blunted which makes it easier for the burn to get to the oesophagus. Later on in the pregnancy the pressure of the uterus against the stomach may cause heartburn.
Advice against heartburn:

    • Try to maintain an upward position providing you with more space in the abdomen.
    • Do not wear pants that are too tight.
    • Avoid spicy or greasy food, drinks with carbon dioxide, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes
    • Eat small portions and do not lie down immediately after eating.
    • Small pieces of bread, biscuits, pudding, yoghurt, cottage cheese or milk might help.
    • Home medicines like Rennie, Antagel or Regla pH are safe to use during pregnancy.

During pregnancy your body produces about one and a half extra litres of blood for your heart to pump around your body, causing your heart rate to go up. These may feel like heart palpitations but is very common so there is nothing to worry about.

During pregnancy the torso will press down on your legs and cause the blood flow to slow down. This may cause leg cramps, especially during the night. Try to exercise regularly to keep the blood flowing; walking and cycling are excellent, light exercises before going to bed might also help.
An exercise that often helps relieve leg cramps: stretching the legs and flexing the toes upward. Heighten the end of the bed slightly and circle your feet.

The growth of the uterus causes tension on the ligaments tied to the uterus which may cause a stinging or pressing pain in the groins or vagina. The amount of pains differs from woman to woman, unfortunately there is not much to help ease the pain. Do not lift heavy bags, turn around carefully in bed and take it easy overall. Some women find it useful to wear a binder to relieve some of the pressure on the ligaments.

The first and most common signal of pregnancy is usually nausea. A common phrase is ‘morning sickness’ because this nausea usually takes place during the morning, after waking up. In some cases vomiting is part of the deal. Things that might help are eating something light before getting up in the morning, starting your day low key and eat smaller amounts of food during the day; five or six meals a day instead of three large meals. Avoid greasy food and choose easily digestible food. The nausea usually disappears after twelve to sixteen weeks.

The skin might change under the influence of pregnancy hormones. A lot of women blush easier due to an increase in the blood flow of the skin. Pigment stains may also occur, often in the face, hence the name ‘pregnancy mask’. There is no cure for the yellow/brown stains. Sunlight might darken the stains, which is why it is advised to avoid the sun and use sun protection during summer.

Some women describe it as the feeling that your legs want to run while you just want to sleep, or some ticklish feeling that will not stop. It is a very typical pregnancy symptom. Pregnancy hormones weakening the walls of the blood vessels and the increased blood volume in the body cause this feeling.
Things that might help

    • Exercise
    • Alternate between hot and cold water on the legs in the shower
    • Try to cross your legs as little as possible
    • Elevating the legs a little at night by lying a pillow under them

During pregnancy your belly and breasts grow a lot over a relatively short period of time. The hips, upper legs and butt will also grow a lot rounder during pregnancy in most cases. The stretching of the skin can cause tiny tears in the deeper tissue of the skin. This will cause stretch marks to appear on the skin. Unfortunately this is barely preventable, the marks will fade in the long run.

During pregnancy the need to pee will increase due to the pregnancy hormones loosening the sphincter of the bladder. In addition to this the growth of the uterus increases the pressure on the bladder. A lot of women experience unwanted loss of urine. It is important to train the pelvic muscles every day to limit the unwanted loss of urine as much as possible. If peeing hurts or there is abdominal pain we advice you tot have your urine tested for a bladder infection at the general practitioner.

Varicose veins and haemorrhoids are very common during pregnancy. They are caused by tissue softening hormones and a decreased blood flow in the legs. Varicose veins often appear on the legs and in the groins, but may also appear on the labia. Varicose veins around the anus are called haemorrhoids. Try to keep the blood in your legs flowing by walking regularly but also take your rest in time. Sit with your legs up after a long day. Holding a cold compress to the varicose veins might help ease the pain. Alternating hot and cold baths (or shower) might also help. If the varicose veins keep popping up your general practitioner can write you a prescription for supportive stockings. Haemorrhoids can be cured using ointment or suppositories. Try to keep your defecation soft by drinking, exercising and eating enough fibres.

We recommend keeping an eye on your weight during pregnancy. The ideal amount of weight to gain would be between 10 and 15 kg, depending on your weight and posture before pregnancy.
We discourage ‘eating for two’, snacking much or drinking a lot of fruit juices and soda. Instead try to maintain a healthy lifestyle: eat healthy and variable and exercise regularly. The baby’s growth will go steadily during pregnancy no matter the weight gain of the mother.