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Common Pregnancy Pains and Their Causes

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Pregnancy Nasal Congestion

You may have a stuffy nose or feel like you have a cold. Pregnancy hormones sometimes dry out the nose's lining, making it inflamed and swollen.

Recommendations:

  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth to your cheeks, eyes, and nose to reduce congestion.
  • Don't use nose sprays; they can aggravate your symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (at least 6-8 glasses of fluids a day) to thin mucus.
  • Elevate your head with an extra pillow while sleeping to prevent mucus from blocking your throat.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air.
  • Take a warm shower or bath.

Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy

Shortness of breath can happen due to increased upward pressure from the uterus.

Recommendations:

  • When walking, slow down and rest a few moments.
  • Raise your arms over your head (this lifts your rib cage and allows you to breathe in more air).
  • Avoid lying flat on your back, and try sleeping with your head elevated.
  • If prolonged shortness of breathing continues or you experience sharp pain when inhaling, contact your health care provider. You could have a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).

Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a type of scar tissue that forms when the skin's normal elasticity is not enough for the stretching that occurs during pregnancy. They usually appear on the abdomen and can also appear on the breasts, buttocks or thighs. 

Though they won't disappear completely, stretch marks will fade after delivery. Stretch marks affect the surface under the skin and are not preventable.

Recommendations:

  • Be sure that your diet contains enough sources of the nutrients needed for healthy skin (especially vitamins C and E).
  • Apply lotion to your skin to keep it soft and reduce dryness.
  • Exercise daily.

Swelling in the Feet and Legs During Pregnancy

Pressure from your growing uterus on the blood vessels carrying blood from the lower body causes fluid retention. The result is swelling (edema) in the legs and feet.

Recommendations:

  • Try not to stay on your feet for long periods of time. Avoid standing in one place.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (at least 6-8 glasses of fluids a day).
  • Avoid foods high in salt (sodium).
  • Elevate your legs and feet while sitting. Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing; tight clothing can slow circulation and increase fluid retention.
  • Don't wear tight shoes; choose supportive shoes with low, wide heels.
  • Keep your diet rich in protein; too little protein can cause fluid retention.
  • Notify your health care provider if your hands or face swell. This may be a warning sign of preeclampsia.
  • Rest on your side during the day to help increase blood flow to your kidneys.

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

Normal vaginal secretions increase during pregnancy due to greater blood supply and hormones. Normal vaginal discharge is white or clear, isn't irritating, is odorless, and may look yellow when dry on your underwear or panty liners.

Recommendations:

  • Choose cotton underwear or brands made from natural fibers.
  • Avoid tight-fitting jeans or pants.
  • Do not douche. Douching can introduce air into your circulatory system or break your bag of waters in later pregnancy.
  • Clean the vaginal area often with soap and water.
  • Wipe yourself from front to back.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have burning, itching, irritation or swelling, bad odor, bloody discharge, or bright yellow or green discharge (these symptoms could be a sign of infection).

WebMD Medical Reference

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