During my two pregnancies I’ve experienced a lot of the enjoyable side effects that come with growing a person inside your body. So here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to help alleviate these oh-so-wonderful ailments. Hopefully some of these tips will help you as you journey through your nine months of gestation.
Heartburn – One of the most common ailments; it can feel as though a small gnome has lit a campfire in your chest. There are lots of ways to prevent it, such as eating more frequent and smaller meals, not lying down right after eating, and avoiding triggers such as fatty foods, caffeine, or chocolate. My go-to cure has been a glass of warm milk with a tablespoon of honey. But for those times when that doesn’t work I’ve also tried Pepcid (approved by my OB) and/or a mixture of 8 ounces of warm water to 1 tsp. baking soda. I’ve also heard ginger tea or lozenges can help, too. When all else fails, just sitting upright, walking around or activity in general proves to quell the pain eventually.
Constipation – A horrible side effect and one I had a lot of problems with in my first pregnancy, probably because I ate mostly fried foods and couldn’t stand veggies. It can be easily avoided by drinking LOTS of water and eating a high fiber diet. The best sources of mixed fibers are unrefined cereal grains such as oats, brown rice and whole wheat, beans, green vegetables, and most fruits, particularly apples and berries. But should you find this doesn’t cut it, drinking a glass of prune juice or taking a laxative will help soften your stools. If the pain gets extreme you may end up needing an enema to reset things, but I would consult your OB first.
Swollen Feet & Hands - It happens to all of us so plan on wearing flip-flops in the summer or buying a shoe size bigger to accommodate your swollen feet during the later stages of pregnancy. Standing or walking for long periods of time and eating foods high in salt can worsen the condition. Drinking plenty of water and keeping your feet elevated can certainly help lessen the swelling. With both pregnancies I visited a chiropractor specializing in pregnancy and it has been a godsend for me in dealing with all the aches and pains. I found that “flushing” – where I lie on my side and my chiropractor or husband massages up my outer leg towards my heart, increasing the blood flow to my heart and away from my feet, helps alleviate some of the swelling and discomfort. Sometimes my hubby will even use a rolling pin or a foam roller so the pressure isn’t too pinpointed. If you’re having a lot of swelling or joint pain, I would highly suggest asking your OB for a recommendation to a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy; it seriously makes the third trimester livable for me.
Breathlessness – I am a singer and I can tell you that after about the sixth month I had to stop singing. I have absolutely no lung capacity and my diaphragm is so constricted I can’t hold a note much less climb a flight of stairs without panting. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do but take it easy and wait for the baby to drop, freeing up space in your upper abdomen. I have, however, found that stretching out my diaphragm has done wonders. I do a basic yoga position where you’re on all fours and you lift your head up as if you’re looking towards the sky. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you begin to feel a stretch in the little space right below the center base of your rib cage. If you need to, you can drop your hips towards the floor, putting the weight onto your hands and knees while continuing to look up. This should stretch your entire abdomen, which should feel amazing. Again, this should be a light stretch so be careful. If at anytime it becomes uncomfortable or feels too intense consult a chiropractor or your OB for further stretching instruction.
Pregnancy is not always pretty and most of the time it includes some nasty side effects. In the end I try to stay positive and remember that this nine months of discomfort was all in God’s master plan to make me actually excited (and willing) to go through the process of delivering a baby the size of a watermelon.
What pregnancy ailments affected you the most and how did you cope with them?