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Aches and Pains of Pregnancy

Just as the pain of childbirth doesn't end with the final push, it doesn't start with labor. Here are some painful problems you may experience before having your first contraction.

Scrapes and bruises

Early in pregnancy, your body begins to prepare for all the energy and stretching it requires to grow and deliver a baby. Your joints begin to loosen as the body prepares for delivery. You may be feeling sleepy, nauseated, distracted, and overwhelmed. All of this can lead to more slips, falls, scrapes, or bruises. Treat these events just as you would if you were not pregnant.

Clean minor cuts or scrapes with soap and water or an over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptic wash, and cover the wound with a bandage. Ask your doctor before using antibiotic or hydrocortisone ointment. If you notice unexplained bruising, talk to your doctor immediately.

Aching feet and blisters

During pregnancy your feet and ankles may swell. This typically occurs in the third trimester and is caused by several things. As your uterus grows, it begins to exert pressure on the veins in the lower body, and this slows the rate blood is circulated back to your heart. Also, the hormonal changes occurring inside your body can cause you to retain fluid. This extra fluid tends to collect in the feet and ankles. After you have your baby, the swelling should subside.

There are several things you can do to minimize the discomfort that comes with swelling:

  • Drink plenty of water. If you drink enough water, your body will not retain as much fluid.
  • Avoid salty foods. Junk food and salty foods cause the body to retain fluids.
  • Change positions every hour or so. If you are standing, try to sit for a few minutes. If you sit for a long period of time, stand and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Avoid crossing your legs. Crossing your legs can slow the blood flow.
  • Elevate your feet. Keep a stool, box, or stack of books under your desk so you can prop up your feet.
  • Wear maternity support stockings. Waist-high maternity hose may help prevent fluid from collecting in your feet and ankles. Put them on early in the morning.
  • Lie on your left side. If swelling persists, find a safe place and lie on your left side for a bit.

When feet are swollen, forcing them into pre-pregnancy shoes (or sometimes any shoes) can cause friction that leads to blisters. If you develop blisters or sores on your feet because of the swelling, these suggestions may help:

  • Leave the blister undisturbed if possible. Do not pop or puncture the blister. The fluid inside is generally not infected and helps protect the skin beneath.
  • If the blister pops, leave the top skin in place. The top skin of a blister helps protect the skin beneath. It will eventually dry out and fall off on its own.
  • Apply a bandage. A bandage, sometimes called moleskin, may be cut to resemble a doughnut the size of your blister. This type of bandage protects the blister from contact and helps it heal faster. They are available at most drug stores and pharmacies.

It’s best to try to prevent blisters from forming in the first place. Try these ideas for avoiding blisters and foot sores:

  • Wear shoes that are large enough or that stretch to accommodate swollen feet. Shoes should be supportive and comfortable.
  • When possible, wear socks that are soft and absorbent.
  • Try rubbing petroleum jelly such as Vaseline on areas of the foot that seem to blister more often.