When Pregnancy Is a Pain in the Neck … and Other Places
Got baby (in belly)? If so, congratulations! Pregnancy is truly a joy in its own way for every mother. It brings with it all sorts of ups and downs throughout each trimester. That’s right; there are downs. It’s not just about the cute, round belly and fashionable maternity clothes. Pregnancy can be a pain—literally.
“You experience a whole new kind of tired, and many new pains as your body gets used to being pregnant,” Kansas City mom Anne Miller says.
Feeling a little queasy lately? Studies have shown that morning sickness affects more than half of all pregnant women. Some things you can try include eating frequent, small meals instead of three big meals. Eat a lot of protein and complex carbohydrates, and avoid too many sweets and fatty foods. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important, as well as eating your fruits and veggies and getting enough sleep and physical activity.
Ginger, as studies have shown, may help relieve nausea symptoms. Try sipping cold ginger ale, warm ginger tea, or adding a slice of raw ginger to water to soothe your stomach. Snacks such as gingerbread or ginger cookies can also help prevent nausea.
Do certain odors make you uneasy? Because morning sickness can be smell-based, it can help to sniff fresh scents, such as rosemary or lemon extract. Fresh rosemary is a very effective scent for morning sickness, so you might want to keep some handy!
Are you experiencing pain in your upper or lower back? If so, you’re not alone. Lugging around a larger uterus (which can expand up to 1,000 times its prepregnancy size) plus carrying those extra pounds can really throw your body off balance. This change in posture can put strain on your back. To remedy the discomfort, use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or soak in a warm tub to help soothe muscles. Also, doctors recommend that you try to keep your weight gain within the recommended range (25-35 pounds), and if you’re still sporting your high heels, put them away (and flat shoes, too)! Instead, bring out the comfy shoes with good arch support, and avoid heavy lifting.
“I suffered a pinched nerve in my lower back during my third pregnancy,” Independence mom Brice Zuba says. “It got so bad at one point that I wouldn’t even leave the house. I went to a chiropractor and a massage therapist several times, but nothing helped. What helped was childbirth. After I had my baby girl, it went away.”
Heartburn is another infamous woe of pregnancy and one that Miller says she most definitely suffered with.
“Having heartburn can be miserable. I carefully watched the foods I ate and made sure I didn't overeat or eat within a couple hours of bedtime,” she says.
If you’ve been feeling the burn, avoid heavy meals and steer clear of spicy, greasy, sugary and acidic foods. Instead, stick to a bland, high-fiber diet and drink lots of fluids. You should also avoid eating right before bedtime or lying down immediately following a meal.
Pregnancy also brings with it swelling in the hands or ankles, especially in the last trimester. The remedy? Childbirth. Swelling typically goes down two weeks postpartum.
Another common nuisance is painful leg cramps, especially at night. To soothe the pain, stretch. Straighten your leg and slowly flex your ankle and toes upwards while massaging your calf. You can also try soaking your leg in hot water or using a heating pad.
“For sore, restless legs, I made it a point to stretch at least two times a day, especially before bed,” Miller says.
Varicose veins can also wreak havoc, and not only in your legs.
“When I was about 3 to 4 months pregnant, I had vulvar varicose veins. It was very painful,” Zuba says. “I tried different remedies to put pressure on the area, but nothing really worked. I couldn’t stand for long periods of time or I’d feel like passing out. The doctors told me to rest and put my feet up more. It went away after my baby was born.”
And so it is. When Baby finally enters the world, all of the pains of pregnancy soon subside. So, enjoy your pregnancy while it lasts. If something along the way concerns you and doesn’t seem right, contact your doctor.
Liberty mom Gina Klein is an author/writer who will never forget the awful leg cramps she experienced during her two pregnancies. What worked for her? Drinking Gatorade, stretching and putting a foam egg crate on top of her mattress.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.