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Common Pregnancy Pains and Their Causes

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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.

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).
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