Being pregnant can be a wonderful experience. Knowing you have a life growing inside of you can be mind-blowing, and being able to carry your child for nine months is a beautiful thing, but there are also very real sacrifices that come with it. The various aches and pains that accompany childbearing can take a toll on you if you are not prepared or do not treat them properly. We've got some tips on how you can soldier through these nine months without (or with a little less) breaking a sweat.
If you're having: Back pains
Why it's happening: Your uterus is expanding, it's bigger than it's ever been before (at least if this is your first time getting pregnant) and you're carrying a significant amount of extra poundage. This can affect your posture and balance which in turn strain your back.
What to do: Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on the painful parts. You could also soak in warm water in a bathtub. To prevent the strain on your back, make sure your weight gain is in check. A weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms) during pregnancy is normal.
If you're having: Swelling of the hands, ankles, and feet (edema)
Why it's happening: Edema usually happens during the third trimester, and typically sets in in the afternoon or evening. It affects 75% of pregnant women. If you're noticing the swelling getting worse, consult your doctor. It could be pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension), which is fatal in some occurrences.
What to do: Elevate your legs and feet to prevent fluid from pooling. Drink eight glasses of water everyday and avoid salty foods. Wear supportive, non-restrictive footwear.
If you're having: Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the numbness or pain that occurs in the fingers, palms, or wrists. It can also be accompanied by a tingling or burning sensation in the fingers.
Why it's happening: The swelling from weight gain and water retention can put pressure on the nerves that surround the forearm, all the way into the hand.
What to do: Wrist exercise and stretching: Curl your fingers into a fist, then bend the wrist towards your palm. Straighten your fingers and stretch your wrist in other direction. Repeat with the other hand. Do 10 repetitions at least once a day. If you're at your computer for most of the day, remember to take lots of stretching breaks between work. You could also adjust your keyboard so your wrists are straight and not bent.
If you're having: Sciatica. It's characterized by a feeling of numbness and a sharp pain in the hips which radiate down to the legs.
Why it's happening: Pain occurs when your sciatic nerves (goes from lower back to feet) are affected by the pressure and inflammation from your back.
What to do: If you're able to, find the time to practice some basic prenatal yoga or do this simple exercise: Stand facing a wall, place your hands on the wall and lift your leg behind you. Count to five, lower it back down and repeat with your other leg. Do three repetitions on each side at least once a day.
If you're having: Leg cramps
Why it's happening: Cramps in the legs usually occur during the second trimester, when you're starting to carry a considerable amount of extra weight. You're also carrying more blood and water in your veins and the extra fluid causes cramps.
What to do: Do some light stretching when you're getting ready for bed to ensure your muscles are more flexible, which in turn reduces cramps. Give your legs a light massage to distribute fluid evenly or place a heated pad on the areas that are giving you problems.