You may only be pregnant over a period of around nine months, but your body goes through an awful lot of changes during this time. So, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with different conditions and health concerns that could affect you during this time and in the period following giving birth. Here are just a few common issues that people tend to experience and a little advice regarding each!
And don’t forget to get together with other moms, pregnant women and friends. Build a mom tribe and get support from others.
Constipation and Hemorrhoids
Constipation and hemorrhoids can be a problem for anyone. But while you are pregnant it is quite common to become constipated and to then develop hemorrhoids from straining. Seeing as hemorrhoids are generally a direct result of constipation, it is generally a good idea to tackle the problem at its source. But how can you tackle constipation?
- Eat more fiber. This can be sourced from whole grain breads and cereals, whole meal rice, vegetables, nuts, cooked beans, dried beans, and lentils.
- Keep hydrated. You should aim to drink between six and eight glasses of water on a daily basis.
- Request help from your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to prescribe bulk-forming laxatives. These contain psyllium, which can be used during pregnancy.
If you do manage to develop hemorrhoids, remember that there are forms of treatment out there that can offer comfort and relief. You could use hemorrhoid creams and wipes – just make sure to check with a pharmacist before choosing some. You could also apply a cold pack or a wrapped ice cube to the area to cool the area and reduce swelling and irritation.
Varicose veins can affect anyone. But they do tend to be commonly associated with pregnancy. They are swollen veins that can have a knotted or deep blue appearance. It is important to remember that they are not generally dangerous. They can, however, prove to be uncomfortable. Some steps that you can take to minimise discomfort include:
- Resting rather than standing for long periods of time
- Resting with your feet elevated
- Avoiding crossing your legs
- Doing a little gentle exercise, such as swimming
- Wearing compression tights or other supportive stockings
Incontinence can feel like a relatively embarrassing or sensitive topic to talk about. But it needn’t be. It is extremely common amongst pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. You may find that you leak a little urine from time to time, particularly if you cough or laugh. If this is something that concerns you, ask a physiotherapist for help with guiding you through pelvic floor exercises which can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This should help a lot!
At some point during your pregnancy, or even following your pregnancy, you may find that you experience abdominal separation. All of us have six pack muscles (whether they are visible and defined or not). While they are not connected in a sense of all being one solid mass of muscle, the gap between them shouldn’t usually be more than one or two finger widths apart. When you are pregnant, your abdominal muscles have to stretch to accommodate your little one’s growth, and they may begin to separate further, causing abdominal separation. There are exercises that you can carry out to encourage them to draw closer together following giving birth, but it is generally recommended that you ask your GP for advice regarding this.
Cramping is extremely common during pregnancy – particularly at night throughout the third trimester. But not to worry. By staying hydrated, drinking tonic water, and carrying out a few stretches, you should be able to avoid being affected by cramp!
Heartburn and Indigestion
Chances are that you’ve experienced indigestion or “heartburn” at some point or another in your life already. This is because it is relatively common. It is essentially a burning feeling in your chest that can work its way up to your throat. It can prove common during pregnancy and you may experience it on a regular basis. But don’t feel that you simply have to put up with it. There are solutions and remedies out there. You can generally relieve heartburn with over-the-counter antacid solutions or tablets. However, it is important that you request your pharmacist or doctor’s advice before taking them. You should request a product that is suitable during pregnancy. Another tip that could help to minimise the regularity of heartburn is to eat several small meals throughout the day rather than two or three large meals. Also avoid lying down immediately after consuming a large meal.
It’s important to remember that problems you experience post-pregnancy don’t necessarily need to be physical or tangible. There are mental illnesses or emotional conditions that can have an equally detrimental impact on your overall health and wellbeing too. So, it’s important that you are entirely aware of their existence, their symptoms, and how to best deal with them. For now, let’s focus on postnatal depression, as this is a relatively common condition affecting women who have recently given birth. You may have also heard of post natal depression referred to as the “baby blues”.
Symptoms include a persistent feeling of sadness following birth or a general low mood following birth. You might feel excessively tired all of the time, despite getting sufficient rest. You might experience a major lack of energy. You could experience social withdrawal. You may even experience difficulties bonding with your baby, or feel that you lack intimate ties or closeness with your child. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, try not to worry. Instead, reach out to a doctor or other healthcare professional and express your concerns. They will be able to offer a diagnosis and get the ball rolling in the right direction from that point onwards.
This may all sound rather daunting. But don’t worry. Not everyone will experience these conditions and very few people will experience all of them. This is just a run through of a few common issues and how to tackle them effectively!
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