Pregnancy is an interesting time for women–arguably the most interesting time in her entire life. Over the course of nine months you’ll be dealing with drastic body changes, hormonal changes, and everything in between. Of those myriad of “things in between” is a wide variety of aches and pains that are usually nothing to worry about. However, most women tend to worry about these aches and pains a little too much simply because they’re not in the know about what they’re dealing with!
It’s a good strategy to be conscientious of everything going on with your body when you’ve got a baby in the oven, but wouldn’t it be nice to learn a bit about which aches and pains are totally normal?
Moms-to-be, sit back, relax and take a look at these common, yet weird, aches and pains that you’ll experience while pregnant and why you needn’t sound the alarm when you encounter them!
1. Groin Pains
The two ligaments that stretch down from your uterus to your groin can sometimes hurt when you’re pregnant. This round ligament pain can feel like a sharp, stabbing sensation. Often this pain comes when you stand up quickly, or change positions.
What to do: Sandi Hoover, mother of three and co-owner of The Family Tree Yoga and Massage, recommends the half bow yoga pose to help assuage any discomfort. “Lie down on the bed, couch, or floor on your unaffected side, supporting your head with your hand,” she suggests. “Use your other hand to pull your foot of the side where you are feeling the ligament pain towards your backside and press both hips way forward for gentle stretch. Hold this stretch for three breaths in and three breaths out.”
2. Upper GI pain
An increase in progesterone levels can cause gas build up in a pregnant woman’s system. Food takes longer to travel through the GI tract which can cause a lot of pain for expecting mummies.
What to do: “Gentle spinal twists are very good for digestion and relieving abdominal discomfort from gas or constipation,” Hoover claims. “Sitting cross legged on the floor, bring your right hand across your body to your left thigh and slowly move torso into a twist while gazing over your back shoulder. Hold for three breaths in and out, then repeat on second side, making sure to allow space for the baby and to not hold the twist for too long.” She also recommends a mug of hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon to help alleviate constipation.
3. Irregular contractions
Braxton Hicks, or practice contractions, are tightening sensations of the uterus that are not associated with dilation. They cause discomfort in many women, but it’s important to think of these as a warm-up or rehearsal for the real contractions.
What to do: Anne Margolis, a certified nurse midwife with Home Sweet Homebirth says, “If there’s no pattern, they aren’t lasting longer or coming closer together, and they go away with rest and hydration, they are a good sign. If they are coming in continually rhythmic pattern and they are intense, that’s a potential labor situation.”
4. Breast sensitivity
Breast sensitivity or tenderness (and breast enlargement) is often an early sign of pregnancy. It’s a common sign that the hormones needed to grow a baby are increasing in your body.
What to do: Treat yourself to supportive bras, both for daily use and workouts, since you will likely need to go up a few sizes.
5. First trimester abdominal pain
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants in a place other than the uterus, like in the fallopian tubes. It’s more common in women who have had an one previously, or in those who have had endometriosis, an IUD in place during conception, or who have had a previous abdominal surgery.
What to do: “The uterus is a muscle and it’s very normal for a mom to have menstrual-type irregular cramping,” claims Margolis. “Without bleeding, that’s usually nothing to worry about, but if she has one-sided pain in the lower abdomen in the first trimester and spotting, we want to make sure that it’s not an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage,” she says. Definitely call your healthcare provider.
6. Severe and increasing abdominal pain in third trimester
Severe pain always merits a call to your doctor or specialist. When you’re pregnant that need to call only doubles! In some cases, the placenta—the source of oxygen and nutrients for your baby—can detach from the uterine wall and cause extreme pain in pregnant women.
What to do: “An abruption is usually it’s associated with other things, like high blood pressure or drug use,” Margolis warns. “It’s just not common for a mom to have intense abdominal pain.” But if you feel constant, worsening pain, and a very hard abdomen, call your care provider immediately. “A lot of women feel pain as the uterus is growing, but it could be gas pain, heartburn, or another sort of pain that is not related to the uterus.”
7. Pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
Preeclampsia, for those who don’t know, is a dangerous condition often associated with high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. Another common symptom of preeclampsia is pain in the upper abdomen. The condition should be watched and monitored closely since it often leads to preterm labor.
What to do: “Swelling by itself is not a problem, but it can be along with high blood pressure, especially if there’s unusual swelling or rapid weight gain,” Margolis says. Other warning signs of preeclampsia include vision changes, such as seeing spots, and/or headaches towards the back of the head. Call your doctor. (She may also want to rule out gallstones, which can cause a similar type of abdominal pain.)
pregnant woman suffer from back pain, cramp, discomfort
As your belly grows and your center of gravity shifts. As a result, you may find that your back is constantly strained which leads to chronic backaches and pain.
What to do: Certain stretches and positions can often alleviate pain without causing too much stress. “Sitting, standing, or on hands and knees, round your mid back (think: bra strap area), tuck your nose towards your tailbone, and take a few breaths,” Hoover recommends. “Standing or seated pelvic tilts are also wonderful for bringing movement and relief to the low spine were so many changes are taking place.”
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One of the most common pregnancy complaints is chronic headaches, which is understandable. There are dozens of contributing factors that lead to pregnant women experiencing headaches. Luckily, they aren’t typically sever and can be addressed accordingly.
What to do: “Gentle neck circles and shoulder rolls—shrug your shoulders up to your ears and roll them gently down and towards wall behind you—can often help relieve tension,” Hoover suggests. Repeat as often as needed and feels good. Also, don’t quit caffeine cold turkey. Talk to your doctor about the safest way to cut back.
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