Pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful phases in a woman’s life. But it’s not all a bed of roses – it often comes with its own set of challenges. After all, nurturing a whole new life inside your womb is not an easy task.
Leaving aside any complications, most of the pregnancy discomforts are caused by hormonal changes. Let’s have a look at some of the common health problems during pregnancy:
1. Nausea and vomiting
Fifty per cent of pregnant women complain of nausea and vomiting as the first sign of pregnancy. Morning sickness usually begins in the sixth week of pregnancy and continues until the 12th week.
Though morning sickness (or nausea) is not harmful to you or the baby, excessive vomiting should never be ignored. It can be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum, a medical condition which can be harmful to you and the baby.
Things you should do to reduce nausea and vomiting:
- Instead of eating three full meals, eat six small meals in a day.
- Satisfy your tastebuds, eat whatever they demand and whenever they demand.
- Take plenty of rest and avoid staying in warm places.
- Stroll for at least 10-15 minutes after meals.
- Stay away from spices as much as you can.
2. Gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn
A valve between the stomach and the food pipe (oesophagus) restricts the stomach acid from coming back up to the food pipe. During pregnancy, the body releases progesterone hormone which relaxes this valve. This allows the stomach acid to reach the food pipe and cause heartburn – which is harmless but painful.
Pregnant women mostly complain of heartburn during the third trimester of their pregnancy. This is because the growing foetus puts pressure on the stomach and intestine. This pressure pushes some of the contents of the stomach back into the food pipe and causes an uneasy burning sensation in the middle of the chest.
Things you should do to reduce heartburn:
- Eat light and healthy foods, stay away from spicy and heavy foods.
- Eat small meals at short intervals.
- Don’t go to bed immediately after having your meals; go for a walk instead.
Most pregnant women complain of constipation in the last trimester of the pregnancy, though it can happen at any stage. Change in hormone levels is the most common reason for constipation during pregnancy. Increased levels of progesterone, the relaxing hormone, slows down the regular functioning of the intestine. As a result, food stays in the intestine for a longer time and the colon absorbs most of the water from the stool in the bowel. This makes the stool harder and more difficult to pass.
The iron in prenatal vitamins and the increasing pressure from the uterus in the last trimester are two other causes of constipation during pregnancy.
Things you should do to reduce constipation:
- Keep yourself hydrated; drink at least 8-10 glasses of water in a day.
- Add high fibre foods such as whole grains, raw vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Stay active and exercise daily.
- Consult your doctor for a pregnancy-safe probiotic.
4. Fatigue and lethargy
Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. You feel tired because your body is working hard to prepare itself for nurturing a new life inside itself. This is the time when the vital organs of your baby are formed. From hormone levels to metabolism and from blood pressure to blood sugar levels – everything changes according to the need of the hour.
Anaemia and depression can also cause fatigue and tiredness during pregnancy.
Things you should do to reduce fatigue and lethargy:
- Eat well and eat healthily.
- Listen to your body, don’t ignore its demand for rest.
- Take short naps whenever possible.
- Don’t stress about the little things, it is okay to ignore them sometimes. Try staying relaxed.
- Do some gentle exercises and practice relaxing yoga asanas under proper guidance.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but make sure not to have them right before, during or right after meals.
These discomforts are mostly harmless and you will forget all these pains and problems after the birth of your baby. However, you can save yourself from lots of discomforts by educating yourself about your body during pregnancy.