The Waddle's Not So Cute Anymore
It's the final countdown -- fast approaching single-digit weeks
-- before you get to meet your baby and coo over those tiny fingers and toes.
Unfortunately, tiny isn't the word that comes to mind these days.
The homestretch can be, well, a stretch. Itchy bellies, achy
backs, swollen ankles, hemorrhoids -- you name the annoyance, and some
expectant mom probably feels it.
The real remedy, of course, is childbirth. But since that
option is still a bit premature, we asked an obstetrician, a midwife, and a
family practitioner to share their best trade secrets for surviving the common
aches and pains of the third trimester.
Our experts: Owen Montgomery, MD, assistant professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in
Philadelphia; Stephanie Lowell, a certified nurse midwife in Phoenix, Ariz.;
and. Bruce Bagley, MD, a family-practice physician in Latham, N.Y., and former
president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Make sure to talk to your own provider about your discomforts,
especially before trying any over-the-counter treatments. "These remedies
are reasonable things that experienced practitioners have used for a long time,
but your doctor or midwife may have a different feeling about it," says
Tricks of the Trade
Itchy Skin: As your skin stretches, particularly over
your growing belly, it may feel dry and itchy.
Montgomery: If the itching is isolated, Caladryl or topical
steroids, such as hydrocortisone (over-the-counter products are available in 1%
or 0.5% strengths) may help. If itching is all over your body, Aveeno oatmeal
baths or Benadryl (oral or spray) can offer relief. Trim your fingernails to
reduce sleep-time scratches.
Lowell: Calamine lotions, such as Caladryl, are helpful.
"Keep it refrigerated because it seems to help the itching more if it's
Bagley: Soothing oatmeal or Alpha-Keri baths, moisturizing
lotions, or cocoa butter might offer temporary relief.
Hemorrhoids: These swollen veins in the rectal area are
caused by extra progesterone and increased blood flow and pressure on the veins
in the anus, similar to varicose veins in your legs.
Montgomery: "The best treatment is to avoid them,"
which means soft, regular bowel movements. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses
of water a day (refrigerate a 2-liter jug of water to use throughout the day).
If necessary, try stool softeners, such as Colace, along with extra fiber (such
as Metamucil or Citrucel); topical ointments, such as Preparation H or Anusol;
sitz baths; and witch-hazel pads.
Lowell: Caster-oil packs (a piece of cotton flannel soaked in
caster oil), plenty of water, and fiber-rich fruit, vegetables, grains, and
cereals (or supplements such as Metamucil, if necessary). If those remedies
don't work, try stool softeners or topical preparations, such as Preparation
Bagley: Keep stools soft by eating plenty of fiber, especially
fiber-rich cereals such as Bran or Fiber One. Keep hemorrhoids lubricated with
Vaseline or Preparation H.