Expectant mothers may experience all sorts of aches and twinges. Use these tips to help you stay comfortable.
Abdominal/pelvic pain. As your pregnancy advances, you may experience discomfort from reflux, indigestion, gas and constipation more often than usual. Also, the ligaments supporting your uterus begin to loosen and stretch, which can cause stabbing pains or soreness. Braxton-Hicks contractions—brief tightening sensations in your uterus—may also happen occasionally in the second half of pregnancy.
For relief, try taking a warm bath or applying a hot water bottle to any painful area except the uterus; moving around can also relieve digestive pain. For Braxton-Hicks contractions, try lying down until they subside. Of course, if abdominal pain is intense or persistent, play it safe and speak with your physician.
Back pain. The weight of your baby can put painful strain on your lower back. To ease back pain, pay attention to your posture. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and head high. While sitting, place a pillow behind the small of your back for extra support. Try sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your knees to give your back some relief and allow for maximum blood flow to your baby. Also consider a maternity belt, which supports the growing belly and takes pressure off the back.
Headaches. During early pregnancy, headaches may be brought on by hormonal changes, a lack of sleep or stress. Make sure you get enough rest, and take time to unwind to relieve stress. In the third trimester, headaches are more likely due to the strain of carrying extra weight. As with back pain, maintaining good posture can help relieve the tension.
Leg pain and cramps. The increased pressure from your growing baby can send sharp pains shooting down your legs. Consuming foods rich in potassium and calcium, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, bananas and dark leafy greens including kale and spinach can help prevent leg cramps. Support hose can help as long as they are not too tight, as can low-heeled—not flat—shoes with good arch support.
Are Pain Relievers Safe?
Many over-the-counter medications are off limits during pregnancy. When taken as directed, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is safe. Avoid pain relievers containing aspirin or ibuprofen, which could harm your baby.
This article was reviewed by Jamie Cooper, D.O., F.A.C.O.G., OB/GYN with St.Vincent Medical Group.