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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Aches and pains in pregnancy

braxton_hicksTum2Mom has compiled a list of the most common pregnancy discomforts, aches and pains that some expectant moms experience, especially towards the end of pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks Contractions: These episodes of usually painless hardening and tightening of the uterus become more noticeable in the last months of pregnancy. These contractions play a role in increasing circulation to the baby and are often triggered by activity of some kind by the mother or baby. A change in activity, like standing up if you have been sitting, or lying down if you have been standing for an extended period, will often cause them to stop and this is one way of distinguishing them from true labour contractions.
Less noticeable fetal movements: As the baby occupies almost all the available space in the uterus, its movements become more subtle. Sometimes a whole day can pass and you may not remember feeling the baby move. Take a moment to pause and focus on the baby to become aware of its movement. It may be necessary to have something like a sweet cup of tea to jolt the baby into activity. If you are concerned, seek medical advice.

Backache: During pregnancy ligaments become softer and stretch to prepare you for labour. This can put strain on the joints of the lower back and pelvis, resulting in backache. Gentle pelvic tilting exercises are helpful and sitting up straight with a cushion in your lower back can offer extra support. Swimming can also help as it is a non-weight bearing exercise that allows you to move the muscles without added strain.

Muscle cramping and nerve twinges: The added weight of the baby that the pelvis is now supporting as well as poorer circulation can often result in aching thighs and tired legs. Sudden sharp pains in the calves and feet commonly occur at night but the reason why is not really understood. Regular gentle exercise, particularly rotating the ankles and gentle stretching of the calf muscles in particular will improve the circulation and reduce the occurrence of cramps. Taking a magnesium supplement can also help as it is known to reduce muscle spasms.

Indigestion and Heartburn: This is partly caused by hormonal changes as well as pressure from the uterus pushing up and onto the stomach. To prevent indigestion try eating smaller more frequent meals and sitting as straight as possible whilst eating. Heartburn is more serious than indigestion. It is a strong burning pain in the chest area due to the valve between the oesophagus and stomach relaxing and allowing the acidic gastric juices to "burn" the oesophagus. Check with your Dr, Midwife or Pharmacist before taking any antacid medication to ensure safety in pregnancy.

Haemorrhoids or Piles: These are swollen veins around the rectum, which may itch, ache or be very painful. They occur in pregnancy because the veins relax under the influence of progesterone and are aggravated by constipation. Rubbing the area with an ice cube can temporarily ease the ache and reduce the swelling. Specific creams, ointments or suppositories are available to reduce the piles.

Insomnia: Late in pregnancy it can be very difficult to get a good night's sleep. One is physically uncomfortable, maybe needing help just to turn from one side to another. Pillows placed strategically behind the hips or between the knees can make a big difference to comfort levels. Some women have strange dreams or nightmares about the birth for which there is no known cause. A warm milky drink, a relaxing bath and restful music may help.

Vaginal Discharge: Normal white, slightly thick, vaginal discharge often increases towards the end of pregnancy due to increasing levels of progesterone. If the discharge is very thick, curdy or yellowish, if it has an offensive smell, or if it is combined with itching or irritation it could be an infection. Treatment would be required.

Emotionally: This is a very exciting, uncertain time as thoughts focus on the birth. Rising levels of endorphins to help you cope with labour, make it hard to concentrate, think straight and sleep. Take time to relax both physically and mentally before entering the exciting world of parenthood.

Aches and pains in the last trimester are fairly common but if you are concerned or in a lot of pain, do go and see your Doctor.