9+ Pregnancy Aches and Pains: Why and What to Do

Pregnancy is an exciting period in a woman’s life. Those nine months of incubating a little human being inside your womb carry a fair share of thrills and discomforts. Some pains such as heartburn and headaches are common among many pregnant women. This article explores causes of pregnancy pains and what you can do to make your life easier.

Pregnancy Aches and Pains: Why and What to Do

1.    Heartburn

Getting heartburns during pregnancy is a common occurrence for most women. Some women experience it more often than others. Heartburns are a result of the gastric acids being forced up the esophagus due to pressure on the stomach caused by your growing child.

What to Do

  • Because heartburns mostly strike at night, make sure you sleep at an position to discourage any flow of gastric acids up your esophagus.
  • Eat small frequent meals rather than three large meals.
  • Avoid foods that trigger heartburns, such as fizzy drinks, spicy foods, and caffeinated beverages.
  • You can take over-the-counter antacids but make sure that you talk to your doctor first.

2.    Headaches

Headaches are common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester due to hormonal changes and changes in the volume of blood in your body.

What to Do

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat regularly and eat what is healthy for you and your baby.
  • Try stress reducing exercises such as meditation or yoga.
  • Take painkillers that are safe for pregnancy.

3.    Backache

Lower backaches are common pregnancy aches and pains during the third trimester.

What to Do

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Make use of pregnancy pillows at night.
  • Avoid high heels during this period.
  • Sit in a chair that offers you good back support.
  • Bend only from your knees down and not from your waist.
  • Watch the rate of your weight gain.
  • Do not strain your back by lifting heavy objects.
  • Get a gentle massage from a trained therapist.

4.    Round Ligament Pain

This pain is common during the second trimester. It is characterized by a sharp painful jab on your belly or groin region, on both or either sides of your belly. It is caused by a strain on the thick round ligaments that support the uterus as the baby is growing. A sudden movement by your child also causes a quick, painful jab feeling on either side of your belly.

What to Do

  • Take plenty of fluids and keep changing your position or lie down. You may find this helpful in relieving the pain.
  • Also, try some relaxation exercises such as meditation or breathing exercises.
  • You may also find that taking a warm bath can be relaxing.

Call your doctor immediately if the cramping is severe and you are bleeding and experiencing lower back pain. Severe cramping on one side of your belly is also a cause for concern, and you should notify your doctor immediately.

5.    Sciatic Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve running from your lower back, down your buttocks and down to your legs. When you are pregnant, your pelvic joints and the growing uterus may put pressure on the nerve, leading to sciatic nerve pain. Movements such as lifting, bending or walking may cause the pain to increase.

What to Do

  • Rest in a comfortable position for you.
  • Use pregnancy pillows when you sleep so that the pelvis can be aligned, relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • You can also try swimming and Kegel exercises which will help to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve and strengthen the pelvic muscles.
  • Sleep on one side that is not feeling pain.

Consult your doctor immediately if the pain persists and hinders your mobility.

6.    Leg Cramps

Leg cramps occur mostly at night and are common pregnancy aches and pains in the second and third trimesters. The pain usually radiating around the calves, can be painful and uncomfortable. Leg cramps are mostly caused by pressure from the growing baby and the weight gain that comes with it. They are also caused by changes in the body’s normal circulation due to pregnancy.

What to Do

  • Gently massage your legs and stretch them to relieve tension on the calf muscles.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Do not stand or sit in the same position for a long time. Keep changing your position now and then.

Seek immediate medical attention if your legs become painful, swollen, red, and tender.

7.    Braxton Hicks Contractions

These contractions are also known as false labor and serve as practice contractions for the real labor. They usually start toward the end of the second trimester and are characterized by tightening of the uterus muscles for 30 seconds or sometimes up to two minutes. The contractions vary in rhythm and intensity, and are irregular.

What to Do

This is the perfect time to practice your breathing exercise for the real thing. Braxton Hicks contractions are more of discomfort than pain, so don’t worry about them.

Consult your doctor if your contractions are excruciating and they have been consistent within an hour. Maybe up to six contractions in one hour! This could be a sign of preterm labor and not just another common pregnancy discomfort.

8.    Rib Pain

Some pregnant women experience rib pain because the baby is growing and forces the rib cage to expand to accommodate it. There are also babies who just push the rib cage during movement, causing pain to the mother.

What to Do

  • Lean backward when you sit to alleviate the pressure, instead of leaning forward.
  • If your baby has his/her feet on your rib cage, just try and gently nudge the feet from your ribs. It is harmless for both you and baby.

9.    Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)

It is a common complaint among many pregnant women. Symphysis pubis dysfunction is its scientific name and is characterized by the pain felt in the pelvic and groin region. Due to the nature of the pain and where it affects the body (mainly the buttocks down to the limbs), PGP is usually confused with sciatica (sciatic nerve pain).

What to Do

  • A pelvic support belt gives you instant relief.
  • Abdominal and Kegel exercises will help reduce pressure in the pelvis and groin.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities.
  • Acupuncture, swimming or water aerobics will prove to be helpful in relieving PGP.
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid lying on your back.

10.    Other Pains

Other common pregnancy aches and pains include sharp jabbing pains, shoulder pains and pain and irritation during urination. These pains and any other severe ones need medical attention.

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