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.
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.
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.
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.
Snoring According to sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski
at the Edinburgh Sleep Centre (www.
edinburghsleepcentre.com), 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 (www.oeuf.org.uk),
suggests burning myrtle oil (safe in all
trimesters) in your bedroom to ease
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 (www.relate.org.uk),
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.