Pregnancy discomforts
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Embarrassing Pregnancy Discomforts Part 2

Expecting a baby is exciting - but can also bring embarrassing little niggles like constipation and varicose veins! Here's our guide to how to overcome your discomforts.

Posted: 13 July 2009
by ThinkBaby

One of the most popular articles on ThinkBaby is all about Pregnancy Discomforts. That's right, whilst being pregnant might be exciting and lovely, we all know that not every day is going to see us as blooming pregnant beauties!
But while every mum-to-be knows to expect morning sickness and cravings during her nine months, but you might well find there are some pregnancy symptoms you’re not prepared for.
Don’t fret – our guide to what’s what and how to sort the problem should save your blushes. And remember, doctors and midwives have heard it all before, so if in doubt, just have a quiet word.

Slowing down
Constipation is an extremely common pregnancy problem and, like bloating, is caused by high progesterone levels slowing down your digestive system. Symptoms include going more than four days between bowel movements, hard faeces that are difficult to pass and a feeling that not all the faeces are being passed. Taking iron tablets can also cause problems (talk to your doctor about switching to a different brand if necessary), as can dietary changes.
What to do Eating plenty of fibre is a good way to prevent problems, along with drinking plenty of liquid (at least six glasses a day).
Gentle exercise should also help to stimulate the digestive tract. But if these measures don’t help, talk to your GP for advice about laxatives.

Burning issue
UTIs During the nine months of pregnancy, progesterone enlarges and relaxes the bladder so that it empties less efficiently. Bacteria in the urine left behind can then multiply, making urinary tract infections (UTIs) like cystitis much more common. Symptoms include burning or stinging when you pass urine, wanting to go urgently but only passing a small amount, sharp low abdominal pain and a raised temperature.
What to do You should see your doctor right away, as UTIs can develop into a kidney infection, which can be dangerous for both you and your baby, especially in the last trimester.
To ward off UTIs, drink lots of water to flush out your system, wear cotton underwear and keep the vaginal and perineal areas clean. Cystitis can occur for up to six weeks after delivery as the bladder returns to normal.

Leg work
Varicose veins Varicose veins (swollen, bulging veins, often found in the legs) can occur during pregnancy because your growing womb puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body, which then increases pressure in the leg veins. Hormonal changes can contribute, but while they can cause itching or discomfort, or make your legs heavy and achy, varicose veins are generally not a major cause for concern and will improve after the birth (although occasionally they may require surgery).
What to do To prevent them, avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy, avoid crossing your legs, put your feet up whenever possible and don’t stand or sit in one position for long periods. Many mums-to-be also find that support tights or flight socks really help.

Noisy nights
Snoring According to sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski at the Edinburgh Sleep Centre (www., around 30 per cent of women experience sinus congestion during pregnancy – which can cause snoring. Once again, high progesterone levels are the culprit! They dilate nasal passages, causing them to swell and partially block the airways.
What to do Homeopathy to ease congestion can be helpful, but make sure you see a qualified homeopath. Helen Savill, specialist in natural approaches to women’s health at Oeuf Clinic and Therapy Rooms (, suggests burning myrtle oil (safe in all trimesters) in your bedroom to ease breathing.
You can also try massaging the area between the eyebrows and the sides of the nose towards the top to relieve blocked sinuses. Sleep on your side rather than on your back, and if your partner’s really complaining, you could try wearing a nasal strip (available at most chemists) to keep your nostrils wide open.

Not tonight, dear
Loss of sex drive It’s not uncommon to experience a loss of sex drive during pregnancy. Reasons vary, and can include concerns about your baby, fluctuation in hormone levels, tiredness, your swelling tummy and difficulties adjusting to the idea of becoming a mother.
What to do Denise Knowles, sex therapist at Relate (, stresses that it’s important for couples to focus on the ‘quality’ rather ‘quantity’ of sex during pregnancy and to keep their expectations realistic.
And if your sex drive has really taken a nosedive, she feels it’s important to keep intimacy alive in other ways, such as kissing, caressing and cuddling. And remember, you won’t feel like this forever. Your libido should improve after the birth, though not necessarily right away, as you’ll have lots to occupy yourself! If you are finding it difficult to talk to your partner about any concerns, you should talk to a counsellor.

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