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Ailments in Pregnancy

Although most women go through pregnancies without complications, it can however be an uncomfortable time. Many of these ailments are caused by fatigue and carrying around the excess kilos.

Being prepared for them is half a battle. Below is a table of the common complaints experienced at some point and to some degree by most expecting Moms


Abdominal pain 2nd and 3rd trimester The ligaments supporting the uterus tend to stretch during pregnancy, giving rise to round ligament pain. Dragging pain on one side only or stabbing cramp-like pain when you attempt to stand up after sitting or lying down for a while None. Since the pains are spasmodic, painkillers don't make sense. Hot water bottle can be used to relax muscles.
Backache All three trimesters Progesterone causes the ligaments especially in the pelvic joints to soften and stretch. Ligaments that support the spine also relax, placing strain on muscles, joints of the lower spine, pelvis and hips. Bad posture aggravates the pain. Lower back ache. Sacroiliac pain across the top of the buttocks and this extends down into them. Good posture, exercises meant for strengthening the spine; avoid high heels - choose shoes with moderate heels. Sleep on firm mattress. Avoid lifting heavy objects. Massage may help. Consult doctor if pain travels down your leg.
Bleeding gums All three trimesters Pregnancy hormones cause the gums to thicken and soften - increased blood flow leads to swelling especially around the teeth. Food tends to collect at the base of the teeth causing tooth decay and gum infection.(gingivitis) Brushing, hard foods cause the tender gums to bleed easily. Gingivitis worsens the bleeding. Oral hygiene is important; brush teeth esp. after eating. Dental visits are important; your dentist should be informed about your condition to avoid possible x-rays.
Constipation All three trimesters Progesterone causes the intestinal muscles to relax and in turn slows down bowel movements. Bowel contents dry out and this causes stools to harden and painful to pass. Pain in the lower abdomen; infrequent hard stools Whenever you feel like emptying your bowels, obey the call. Take plenty of fiber rich foods and lots of fluids, preferably water. Avoid laxatives. Regular exercises help as well.
Cramps 3rd trimester Thought to be due to low levels of calcium and in extreme cases due to lack of salt. Extreme pain in the legs, enough to wake you from your sleep. A shooting pain followed by a general ache Firm massage for a couple of minutes. For persistent cramps your doctor may prescribe calcium tablets
Cravings All three trimesters Thought to be related to high levels of progesterone Strong desires for certain kinds of food Indulge yourself provided they are not full of calories
Fainting 1st and last trimester Accumulation of blood in the legs and feet together with demands of the uterus causes the brain to be deprived of blood Dizziness, unsteadiness and need to sit or lie down Avoid standing still for long periods. Keep yourself cool in hot weather. If you feel faintness coming lie with your head flat and feet elevated
Flatulence 1st and last trimester Eating certain foods e.g. pulses. During pregnancy the system is more sluggish and the wind may be more difficult to expel. Frequent passing of gas, rumbling of the tummy Avoid problem foods. Peppermint and hot water may help
Hemorrhoids (piles) 2nd and 3rd trimester Pressure in the pelvis from baby's head may obstruct the blood vessels in the rectum causing the veins around the rectum to balloon. Anything that increases pressure in the abdomen like constipation, chronic coughing, lifting will worsen the problem Itching, soreness, severe pain when passing stools, slight blood if the hemorrhoid is large and prolapses outside the rectum A diet high in roughage, plenty of fluids, exercises are preventive measures against constipation; minor cases will improve after delivery but if it persist you may need creams. Keep the area clean; if it itches badly apply an ice pack
Heartburn 3rd trimester The valve at the stomach entrance relaxes causing the small amounts of acids into the oesophagus Burning sensation behind the breast bone and sometimes regurgitation of sour fluids Avoid problem foods and late snack or meal. Prop yourself up in bed and try a warm milk drink. Antacid may be prescribed
Incontinence 3rd trimester Pressure of the enlarging uterus on the bladder, thus reducing its capacity and the inability of the pelvic floor muscles to stop leakage. Leakage of urine when you increase pressure within the abdomen e.g. when you laugh or bend down or cough Empty your bladder often, avoid heavy lifting and constipation
Insomnia All three trimesters The general increase in metabolism. Baby may kick you night and day. Perspiration and frequent urination may also wake you up. Difficulty going to sleep or getting back to sleep after waking Wear light clothes to avoid overheating. Hot milk or warm bath, a good book may all help
Itching 2nd & 3rd trimester Itching is common and is caused by increased blood supply to the skin; troublesome or generalized itching in the later stages of pregnancy can be due to dangerous liver problem (obstetric cholestasis) Obstetric cholestasis causes generalized itching, dark urine, pale stools, jaundice Close medical care is essential - involving regular scanning, cardiographs, blood tests, placental blood flow scans. Early delivery is thought to be vital (ard 37-38 weeks)
Morning sickness 1st trimester Sudden high levels of hormones HCG in particular; its production closely parallels the time of nausea. A diet before conception that is low in vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates increases the chances of morning sickness. Tiredness contributes to this feeling too. Feelings of nausea at the sight and smell of food or cigarette smell; accompanied by vomiting Eat small frequent meals. Avoid getting exhausted. Suck peppermints, nibble dry fruits or dry crackers, keep up your fluid intake.
Nasal discomfort All three trimesters
Oedema 3rd trimester Fluid retention in the lower parts of your body and fingers. Pressure of the uterus on the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart from the lower parts of the body. Can be associated with preeclampsia Swelling of hands and ankles; shoes feel tight and fingers may feel stiff in the mornings Avoid standing too much in hot weather. Rest with your legs up during the day. Avoid food with high salt content. Those with severe condition may be restricted from taking salt and may have to use diuretics to get rid of excess fluid.
Pelvic discomfort 3rd trimester Baby's head presses upon nerves causing pain in the groin especially when the head is engaged in the pelvic cavity at the end of the pregnancy Pain in the groin especially after walking or some exercise. Pins and needles spreading down the back of legs Rest and avoid violent exercise. Consult your doctor before taking any analgesic such as paracetemol
Pigmentation 2nd & 3rd trimester Increased production of melanocyte stimulating hormone. Exposure to strong sunlight worsens things Darkening around the nipple area, down the center of abdomen, deepening of birthmarks, mask across the face and down the sides Use sunblock when you are in the sun. avoid bleaching skin; pigmentation will fade shortly after birth
Rashes 3rd trimester Excess weight gain, poor hygiene and perspiration in the skin folds Red skin rash occurs in the heavy folds of skin. Usually occurs under heavy breasts or in groin areas Keep the areas clean; apply calamine lotion and dust with talcum powder after baths.
Shortness of breath 3rd trimester Pressure on diaphragm prevents easy breathing. Lying down can also push the uterus and bay up against the diaphragm. Shortness of breath on exertion. Rest in the day and go to bed early. If breathlessness is accompanied by pain or swelling consult your physician.
Stretch marks 2nd and 3rd trimester Depends on your skin type and its elasticity. Nevertheless this can occur regardless because of excess weight gain Silver marks on the thighs, abdomen and breasts Creams and ointments have little effect. Eventually the marks fade but don't totally disappear. Avoid excess weight gain
Sweating 2nd and 3rd trimesters Increased blood supply causes the blood vessels beneath skin to dilate Intense perspiration after walking or some light exercise Wear light cotton clothes and underwear. Drink plenty fluids.
Taste disturbances All three trimesters Related to hormonal changes Metallic taste; appreciation of certain foods changes - food becomes less palatable. Increased preference for sweets None.
Thrush All three trimesters Yeast infection of the vagina. Reason for it being common in pregnancy is not known. Can affect baby's mouth at birth Thick, white curdy discharge accompanied by intense itchiness. Pain when passing urine Antifungal creams and pessary prescription - infection clears up in 2-3 days. If baby gets it, course of medicines will clear it up quickly. Avoid tight underpants
Tiredness All three trimesters Tension, insomnia, poor nutrition and the sheer burden of carrying your baby plus taking care of both of you. Desire to sleep at odd times, in need of more rest in the nights. Leg pain in the later part of pregnancy Avoid overactivity. Sleep and rest wherever possible. Eat nutritious meals frequently and in small portions to keep your energy levels up
UTI All three trimesters High level of progesterone causes muscles to slacken and relax, predisposing the bladder to infection Frequent urge to pee accompanied by pain and discomfort. Dull discomfort at the lower abdomen; blood in the urine Drink plenty of water. Your doctor will prescribe anti-infective to cure you of this infection.
Vaginal dischargeAll three trimesters Increased blood supply; softening and thickening of the mucous membranes result in a normal increase of discharge. Brown or yellow discharge could be cervical erosion. Heavy or smelly discharge could be caused by an STD. Slight increase over normal of the clear white discharge with no soreness, pain or irritation. Discolored or smelly discharge. If discharge is above normal mucous, don't worry. Don't douche or use deodorant; wear cotton underwear and change it often. If it is smelly, discolored or has blood spots inform your doctor.
Varicose veins All three trimesters Family history may mean you develop them too. Baby's head pressing down on pelvic veins, standing for long periods, sitting with tightly crossed legs, excess weight gain all contribute to this problem. Skin becomes irritated or itchy followed by dull aching pain. Veins start to appear as dark purplish lines on the legs. Avoid standing too long. Wear support stockings. Lie down with your feet raised; sleep with your feet on pillow. Exercise for circulation in your legs and feet.
Visual disturbances All three trimesters Fluid retention; if contact lenses feel different, this is due to change in eyeball shape Long or short sightedness may develop, contact lenses may be uncomfortable to wear Visit an optician if you feel different; you may have to discontinue using contact lenses

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