Spotting or cramping may be a result of the fertilized egg (embryo) implanting in your uterine lining. This is often referred to as “implantation bleeding” and may occur between 6 to 12 days after conception.
Breast tenderness can be an early sign of pregnancy. The increase in hormones can cause swelling, tenderness and darkening of the areola (the area around the nipple).
Vaginal discharge is common throughout pregnancy and is due to the increase in estrogen and other hormones which stimulate secretions from the cervical glands. These secretions can be yellow, clear or pearly grey and usually don’t have an odor.
Nausea and vomiting or “morning sickness” is most common during the first trimester but can affect some women the entire pregnancy. Even though it is commonly known as “morning sickness,” nausea and vomiting may be worse in the late afternoon and early evening. There are a few things you can do to help reduce nausea:
• Don’t let your stomach get empty, try eating 6-8 small meals in favor of 3 larger ones.
• Eat foods that appeal to you and avoid the foods that trigger nausea.
• Try ginger tea or foods containing ginger.
• Use motion sickness wrist-bands.
• Take your prenatal at night instead of in the morning.
• Talk to your practitioner about increasing your intake of B6 or About the FDA approved medication to alleviate morning sickness.
Fatigue is common, especially during the first trimester. It takes a lot of energy for your body to prepare the perfect environment for your growing baby. Make sure you are resting when you feel tired and eating a well balanced diet.
Heartburn is a common discomfort during pregnancy. When stomach acids bubble back into the esophagus it’s both unpleasant and uncomfortable. Try the following suggestions before taking an antacid:
• Avoid food high in fat, fried foods and spicy foods.
• Eat smaller meals more frequently.
• Avoid caffeinated and acidic beverages like coffee and soda.
• Don’t lie down or bend over right after a meal. Try walking.
• Change into loose fitting clothing.
• If heartburn is especially bad at night, try sleeping propped up on pillows and avoid eating late.
• Antacids such as Mylanta, Maalox or Tums provide instant relief. If your heartburn persists you may consider using over the counter acid blockers such as Tagamet or Zantac. Do not take high sodium antacids like Alka-Seltzer. Always check with your practitioner before taking any medication.
Constipation is likely to occur as your pregnancy progresses because hormones cause the digestive tract to relax and function more slowly. Try the following to help relieve discomfort:
• Drink plenty of fluids. Carry a bottle of water with you during the day.
• Incorporate high-fiber foods into your diet like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals.
• Exercise regularly. Try walking after meals.
• Metamucil, bran tablets or Fiberall are safe to use.
• Don’t use laxatives without talking to your practitioner first.
Hemorrhoids are dilated, twisted blood vessels in and around the rectum. They can cause itching, burning, pain and even bleeding during a bowel movement. Unfortunately they are common, especially in the last months of pregnancy when the uterus is constantly pushing on the rectal veins. Hemorrhoids usually improve without treatment shortly after birth. Some tips to help:
• Avoid constipation by drinking more fluids and increasing fiber consumption.
• Try not to sit for extended periods of time. Walk around or try lying on your side.
• Use flushable wipes, Witch Hazel or Tucks pads to soothe irritated area.
• Ice packs can relieve discomfort.
• Take a sitz bath.
• Preparation H, Anusol or 1% hydrocortisone cream are safe to use for itching and pain relief.
Increased urination is often ignored during pregnancy as a normal discomfort. However, if you experience any pain it could be a sign of a bladder infection. If you have chills or a fever accompanied by a low backache contact your practitioner immediately.
Round ligament pain occurs when your ligaments stretch to support your growing uterus. They can feel dull or sharp and extend across or on either side of your abdomen. They commonly occur hen rolling over in bed, walking quickly, or with sneezing and coughing. Remember to:
• Change positions slowly.
• Use your hands to support your weight when shifting positions.
• Rest as much as you can.
• Maternity support belts may offer some relief. They are designed to help lift the weight off the pelvic floor.
Stretch marks can’t be stopped but there are a few things you can do to help ease itchiness that occurs from your expanding belly. Try using an oil or cream after you shower or bathe. Drink plenty of fluids and consider adding essential fatty acids to your diet. These occur naturally in oily fish such as salmon and in flax seeds and walnuts. You can also add a supplement to your diet. Stretch marks fade after birth.
Linea nigra appears as a narrow dark line from your belly button to your pubic bone. Caused by pregnancy hormones it usually fades or disappears completely after birth.
Chloasma is often referred to ask “pregnancy mask” and is a result of pregnancy hormones causing the skin to form brown patches on your nose, forehead, cheeks and neck. Be sure to wear sunscreen to avoid the patches getting darker. They usually lighten or disappear after birth.
Red spots on your face, neck, upper chest or arms are tiny blood vessels caused by pregnancy hormones. The redness should disappear after birth.
Difficulty sleeping increases as your pregnancy moves further along. Try the following suggestions:
• Use additional pillows to support your legs and back. There are even special maternity pillows that provide additional support.
• Have a small snack before going to bed.
• Get regular exercise during the day.
• Take a warm shower before bed.
• Avoid caffeine and sugar late in the day.
Leg cramps are common in late pregnancy. They commonly occur at night and may wake you up. The pressure your uterus puts on nerves or blood vessels in your legs is usually the culprit. Lack of calcium or too much phosphorous in your diet can also be to blame. To prevent and relieve leg cramps try the following:
• Avoid highly processed foods such as lunch-meats, pre-packaged food and carbonated drinks. There are larger amounts of phosphorous found in these items.
• Increase your calcium intake.
• Take a warm shower before bed.
• Exercise daily.
• Stretch before bed.
• Avoid pointing your toes to stretch when lying in bed, flex your feet instead.
If you are suffering from a leg cramp:
• Do not massage the calf during the cramp.
• Stand on a flat surface and lift your toes up, as if to rock back o your heels. Try walking that way.
• Sit on a firm bed or chair. Straighten your leg and flex your foot slowly toward the knee.
Leaking from your nipples is common for many women during the second or third trimester. Some women don’t experience this until after the birth of their baby. The fluid is whitish or yellowish and is called colostrum. This is the first food for your newborn and contains antibodies to help protect your baby. If you notice you are leaking use breast pads and keep your breasts clean and dry.
Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels in your legs. Your calves may ache or throb. Most varicose veins will shrink after birth. In the meantime:
• Avoid standing for long periods of time. Use a stool to perform tasks instead.
• Don’t cross your legs when sitting.
• Elevate your feet.
• Avoid clothing that inhibits good circulation.
• Wear support hose to help prevent leg pain.
• Exercise 30 minutes daily.
Shortness of breath is a result of your uterus pressing up on your diaphragm and crowding your lungs. To alleviate some of the pressure try:
• Use proper posture and sit up straight.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Wear comfortable (not tight) clothing.
• Sleep propped up on pillows.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Eat smaller meals more frequently.
• Avoid caffeine.
Hip and low back pain are results of your pelvic ligaments softening and stretching in preparation for birth. To relieve these common discomforts try:
• Use a heating pad on sore areas.
• Try using a maternity support belt.
• Rest on your side to take pressure off the affected areas.
• Try sitting on an exercise ball.
• Prenatal yoga classes offer poses to help manage discomfort.