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    Understanding Pregnancy Discomforts -- Treatment

    What Are the Treatments for Pregnancy Discomforts?

    Here are some tips on what you can do for some of the common health problems you may face during your pregnancy, along with alternative therapies that may help.

    Abdominal Pain

    To relieve sharp pains or cramps from stretched abdominal muscles and ligaments, rest or take a warm bath or shower. Regular exercise will strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles. Take care to avoid exercises while lying on your back for more than a few minutes at a time after the first trimester, since this may decrease blood flow to your developing baby.

    Backache

    Keep your weight gain under control with proper diet and exercise. Avoid taking pain relievers unless necessary; instead, use a heating pad on your back to relieve pain. Special exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles can also help reduce backache. Try a pregnancy girdle or elastic sling to support your abdomen. Wear shoes or shoe inserts designed for pregnant women, and avoid high heels.

    Don't stand for long periods. Sit straight. Sleep on a firm mattress. Lying on your side with a pillow between your legs may provide some relief.

    Be careful when lifting heavy loads -- especially children. Bend at the knees, keep your back as straight as possible, hold the object or child close to your body, and raise yourself slowly.

    Try a chair massage: Sit on a straight chair, facing the back. Lean forward, over the back of the chair, with your head resting on your crossed arms. Have the massager use long strokes, working upward and outward from the lower back, avoiding pressure on the spine.

    Breast Discomfort

    Wear a bra that gives enlarged breasts proper support. If your breasts leak, use nursing pads in your bra. Avoid stimulating your breasts.

    Breathlessness

    Some breathlessness is common and normal. Keep your weight gain within the recommended limits and maintain good posture, especially when you are sitting. Sleep on your side -- preferably your left side -- not on your back.

    Constipation

    To keep stools soft and bowel movements regular, get plenty of dietary fiber from fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and breads, and dried fruit. Avoid using over-the-counter laxatives. Fiber or stool softener agents may be helpful. Try psyllium (Plantago psyllium), an herbal bulk-forming agent. Drink lots of water and exercise regularly.

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