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Common Pregnancy Pains and Their Causes

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Difficulty Sleeping During Pregnancy

Finding a comfortable resting position can become difficult later in pregnancy. 

Recommendations:

  • Don't take sleep medication.
  • Try drinking warm milk at bedtime.
  • Try taking a warm shower or bath before bedtime.
  • Use extra pillows for support while sleeping. Lying on your side, place a pillow under your head, abdomen, behind your back and between your knees to prevent muscle strain and help you get the rest you need.
  • You will probably feel better lying on your left side; this improves circulation of blood throughout your body.

Pregnancy Heartburn or Indigestion

Heartburn is a burning feeling that starts in the stomach and seems to rise up to the throat. During pregnancy, changing hormone levels slow down your digestive system and your uterus can crowd your stomach, pushing stomach acids upward.

Recommendations:

  • Eat several small meals each day instead of three large meals.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Avoid fried, spicy, or rich foods, or any foods that seem to give you indigestion.
  • Don't lie down right after eating.
  • Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed. Or, place pillows under your shoulders to prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
  • Don't mix fatty foods with sweets in one meal, and try to separate liquids and solids at meals.
  • Try heartburn relievers such as Tums, Maalox, Titralac, Mylanta, Riopan, or Gaviscon.

Pregnancy Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that appear as painful lumps on the anus. During pregnancy, they may form as a result of increased circulation and pressure on the rectum and vagina from your growing baby.

Recommendations:

  • Try to avoid constipation, Constipation can cause hemorrhoids and will make them more painful.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time; change your position frequently.
  • Don't strain during a bowel movement.
  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses to the area or take a warm bath a few times a day to provide relief.
  • Avoid tight-fitting underwear, pants, or pantyhose.
  • If you still need more help, consult your health care provider.

Pregnancy Varicose Veins

Pregnancy may affect your circulation, which can enlarge or swell your legs' veins.

Recommendations:

Although varicose veins are usually hereditary, here are some preventive tips:

  • Avoid standing or sitting in one place for long periods. It's important to get up and move around often.
  • Avoid remaining in any position that might restrict the circulation in your legs (such as crossing your legs while sitting).
  • Elevate your legs and feet while sitting.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wear support hose but avoid any leg wear that is too tight or constraining.

Pregnancy Leg Cramps

Pressure from your growing uterus can cause leg cramps or sharp pains down your legs.

Recommendations:

  • Be sure to eat and drink foods that are rich in calcium (such as milk, broccoli or cheese).
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Try wearing support hose, but avoid any leg wear that is too tight.
  • Elevate your legs when possible; avoid crossing your legs.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Stretch your legs before going to bed.
  • Avoid lying on your back, since the weight of your body and the pressure of your enlarged uterus can slow the circulation in your legs, causing cramps.
  • Gently stretch any muscle that becomes cramped by straightening your leg, flexing your foot, and pulling your toes toward you.
  • Massage the cramp or apply heat or a hot water bottle to the sore area.

WebMD Medical Reference

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