Although most women have pregnancies uncomplicated by serious medical pregnancy problems or emergencies, few escape without at least some discomfort. Some problems, such as morning sickness, are more common during the early weeks of pregnancy and usually subside by the end of the third month. Others, such as hemorrhoids, may worsen as your pregnancy advances.
Morning sickness is the term used to describe the queasiness, nausea, or vomiting that about half of all pregnant women have during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Although morning sickness tends to be worse in the morning, some women complain of bouts of nausea throughout the day. It is not understood why some women have nausea and vomiting. Hormonal changes may be responsible. Although morning sickness is certainly unpleasant, it is rarely dangerous.
If you have morning sickness, there are certain things you can do to minimize your nausea and vomiting, although nothing is 100 percent effective. Many women find that the nausea is worse when their stomachs are empty. Thus, they make it a point to eat several small meals a day. Some keep crackers next to their bedside and find that they feel better when they nibble a few before rising in the morning.
You may find the smell of certain foods brings on the nausea. If this happens, avoid that particular food. If you feel nauseated, stick to a bland diet, avoiding spicy, rich, and fried foods. Drink lots of fluid, especially if you are vomiting. If plain water upsets your stomach, try crushed ice, fruit juice, or Popsicles. Some drugs are effective for eliminating the problem. However, many physicians are reluctant to prescribe a medication for nausea unless the problem is severe. Occasionally, however, vomiting may be serious enough that a pregnant woman becomes dehydrated. This condition usually requires hospitalization, during which anti vomiting drugs are administered and lost body fluid is replaced intravenously.
Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. If you usually are constipated, you may find the problem worsens during your pregnancy. It probably occurs because of decreased intestinal contractions and diminished ability of the bowel to expel its contents because of the pressure from the enlarged uterus.
There are things you can do to alleviate the problem. Drink plenty of fluids, exercise daily, and make sure your diet contains several servings of fruits (prunes are particularly good), vegetables, and grains such as whole wheat and bran. Bulk formers that contain psyllium (available without a prescription) are often helpful. Do not take a laxative unless you check with your physician.
Hemorrhoids occur when the veins at the anal opening become enlarged due to pressure. When you strain during a bowel movement, the veins may protrude through the anus and cause pain and itching. Generally, they become worse during pregnancy and often occur in conjunction with constipation.
Prevention is the best treatment. Avoid becoming constipated and straining at stool. If you notice pain during a bowel movement and feel a swollen mass near your rectum you probably have a hemorrhoid. To ease the discomfort, take frequent warm water baths. A cotton pad soaked with cold witch hazel cream applied to the hemorrhoids area also may help.
Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. Rather, the burning sensation in the middle of your chest and the sometimes bad taste in your mouth are the result of stomach acid flowing upward into your lower esophagus. This problem occurs in about half of all pregnant women when the muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus becomes lax, allowing stomach juices to flow back up and irritate the esophagus. It often worsens with advancing pregnancy because the stomach is moved out of position by the expanding uterus, which delays the emptying of its contents.
If you have heartburn, try eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals, which will keep food in your stomach to soak up the excess acid. Eat slowly and avoid greasy foods. Both regular and decaffeinated coffee may aggravate heartburn. Because heartburn is often worse when you lie flat, your physician may suggest sleeping with the head of your bed on 4- to 6-inch blocks. Also, avoid eating during the 2 or 3 hours immediately preceding bedtime. If these practices do not help, consult your physician, who may recommend anantacid.
Backache is common in pregnancies. Often backache occurs when you are tired or have been bending, lifting, or walking too much. When you are pregnant, your ligaments are more elastic, which allows your pelvis to expand during the birth of your baby. Although this is necessary, its negative effect is that your joints are more prone to strain and injury. During pregnancy, as your center of balance changes, so does your posture, inflicting more strain than ever on your already vulnerable back. Usually the pain is in the lower back. Some women get sciatica (pain that radiates down the legs). Most women also have pain in the abdomen because of the stretching of abdominal ligaments by the expanding uterus; called round ligament pain, it is generally worse during the second trimester.
Try not to gain more weight than is recommended because weight places stress on your back. Backache usually can be relieved by eliminating as much strain as possible. Sometimes a maternity girdle can help. Your physician also may recommend exercises to relieve the pain. If the pain is severe, your physician may recommend an orthopedic examination to determine whether there is an underlying problem.
Varicose veins usually become worse in later pregnancy and are more pronounced in women who stand for long periods and in older mothers. Heredity also plays a role in whether you get varicose veins. As many as 20 percent of all pregnant women have varicose veins. The condition tends to appear earlier and is more pronounced with each pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your blood vessels must accommodate an increased blood volume to supply the needs of your baby. Your uterus enlarges and the flow of blood from your leg veins to your pelvis decreases. This combination causes the veins in your legs to become swollen and uncomfortable or even very painful.
If you have varicose veins, keep off your feet (and elevate them) as much as possible. Do not wear clothing that is tight around the legs or waist. Support hose can help relieve the pain and swelling. Many physicians recommend that you put your support hose on first thing in the morning and not take them off until just before you go to bed. Surgery to treat varicose veins generally is not recommended during pregnancy. Rarely, the problem is so severe that it becomes necessary.
Edema (swelling) is common during pregnancy because of accumulated fluid in body tissues. Approximately one-quarter of your weight gain during pregnancy is fluid, which tends to congregate in various parts of your body, including the lower legs, feet, and hands.You may notice swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet after you have been standing for long periods. The problem usually is worse at the end of the day and in warm weather. After a night of rest, the legs and feet return to their normal size in most women. The fingers also are a common site for swelling. You may wake up in the morning with your fingers so stiff that you cannot button your clothing. Your fingers also may be puffy. Cold water compresses help relieve the swelling. Some women notice facial swelling. If your face becomes extremely swollen, especially around the eyes, this may be a sign of toxemia, a serious medical condition. See your physician immediately. Use diuretics only at your physician’s direction. Often a low salt diet will prove helpful. Lying down and elevating your legs for an hour in mid afternoon also may reduce the swelling in your legs.
Pregnancy Week To Week 1- 40