Coping with Common Pregnancy Discomforts
Coping with Common Pregnancy Discomforts
by Erin Pavlina
From heartburn to morning sickness, pregnancy comes with many discomforts. Here are some tried and true methods for dealing with them.
Morning sickness hits early, in the first trimester. Some women vomit in the morning and are fine the rest of the day, while others suffer a constant nausea the entire day. Usually morning sickness disappears after the first trimester, but it can linger all through pregnancy. If you’re unable to keep down anything, including water, call your doctor.
Suggestions for coping with morning sickness:
- Eat crackers or something bland before getting out of bed. Sometimes the act of getting up triggers the nausea. So getting something in your stomach before you rise may prevent an attack.
- Don’t mix your foods. Graze during the day instead of sitting down to a heavy meal that combines different foods. Eat fruit, then a couple of hours later eat some carbs, then a high protein snack, etc. This allows your stomach to digest food quicker than if foods are competing for acid.
- Avoid toxic foods. This means avoiding any food that makes you sick. If broccoli used to be your favorite food but now you can’t stand the sight or smell of it, avoid it! Eat only foods that appeal to all your senses. You’ll eventually get back to loving broccoli.
- Avoid toxic smells. This means smoke, laundry rooms and detergents, perfumes and colognes, litterbox odors, etc. Be aggressive about avoiding anyone who emits a smell you’re not fond of!
- Sleep. Most women don’t throw up while sleeping, so rest whenever you get a chance. Sleeping has a way of restoring your body and may give you a fighting chance. You’re probably tired anyway, so nap, nap, nap!
- Foods that help. Some women find that sucking or smelling a lemon helps their nausea. Try ginger, either in a tea, a capsule, or crystallized. Sometimes carbonation works well. You can also try accupressure Sea-Bands, used for seasickness.
- Lower your stress. Stress can also trigger nausea. Keep yourself as relaxed as possible. Listen to soothing music and have your partner give you massages.
Heartburn strikes most often later in pregnancy, but can occur at any time. The upward push of the uterus as it grows causes your stomach to become compressed, leaving you less room for food. Hormones also cause your joints and ligaments to relax, including the ones in your esophagus, which can cause acid reflux.
Suggestions for coping with heartburn:
- Avoid spicy foods. These can really upset the stomach and are notorious for causing heartburn.
- Eat small meals. Because your stomach has less room than it used to, eat much smaller meals. Go back to grazing during the day. Packing too much food in your stomach leaves it no where to go but back up! Digestion is slowed during pregnancy to allow nutrients to be fully absorbed, so your stomach is much slower at doing its job.
- Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. This can be tough when you want a snack before bedtime, but it’s just not worth it. Giving your stomach 3 hours to get the food into your intestines will mean going to bed with a happily empty stomach. Nothing in the stomach means less to come back up that esophagus.
- Elevate your head while sleeping. Sleeping during the third trimester is tough and usually involves a lot of pillows. Put something extra under your head to help keep the acid from getting up into your throat.
- Take an antacid. If you have to do it to find relief, do it. Avoid any antacid that contains aluminum. You may as well take one that has extra calcium in it. Sometimes, only an antacid will do. Don’t feel bad if you swore off any medicines. The benefits can outweigh the risks.
Other Pregnancy Discomforts
- Constipation: Even if you’ve never been constipated before you might become constipated during pregnancy thanks to hormones. Eat lots of fiber. A fruit smoothie in the morning will keep you regular.
- Stretch Marks: You can’t prevent them, no matter what anyone tells you. Try rubbing arnica on your belly to help them “heal” faster. Some women get stretch marks and some don’t. If your mom had stretch marks, there’s a good chance you will too.
- Leg Cramps: When a leg cramp hits, immediately stretch out your leg. Massage/rub it until the cramp is gone. Try not to overextend your legs while stretching at night. Try getting extra calcium and potassium in your diet. It may prevent the cramps.
- Dizziness: Dizziness is common in pregnancy. Remember to get up slowly. Keep your blood circulating properly by not sitting for more than an hour without stretching. Especially if you are on an airplane, be sure to walk around every hour.
- Cramping: In the first trimester moderate to severe cramping can be a sign of miscarriage, so if you have cramping and/or bleeding, call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. Cramping in the second or early third trimester could be a sign of labor. Empty your bladder, drink a lot of water, and lie down. If the cramps go away, you’re probably fine. If they don’t, call your doctor.
- Headaches: Some women get more headaches during pregnancy than they did before. Avoid caffeine or withdraw from it slowly. Try herbal packs over your eyes, massage, quiet dark rooms, sleep, extra water. If nothing’s working and you absolutely need relief, you can take a Tylenol.