Understanding Pregnancy Discomforts -- Treatment
What Are the Treatments for Pregnancy Discomforts? continued...
You may find some foods unappealing and develop a craving for others, especially sweets. Iron supplements may leave a bad taste in your mouth; talk to your practitioner if this is a problem. Use mouthwash often. Chewing gum, mints, or hard candies can also chase away unpleasant tastes.
Kegel exercises can help you control stress incontinence -- losing a small amount of urine when you sneeze, cough, or laugh. You can also use a sanitary pad. Leaning forward while urinating helps to empty your bladder completely.
Vaginal Discharge or Itching
A thin, mild-smelling discharge is normal in pregnancy. Use sanitary pads, if necessary. Don't douche. Any red or brown discharge is a signal to call your doctor immediately.
Vaginal itching and soreness may indicate an infection, which requires treatment by your doctor. Vaginal yeast infections can be common in pregnancy and may disappear without treatment after the baby is born.
Pregnancy puts extra strain on the blood vessels in your legs. Support stockings or pantyhose can help relieve the discomfort. Exercise regularly, but don't stand for long periods. Raise your legs above hip level when sitting, if possible. Lie on your left side in bed, or put a pillow under your feet. Ask your doctor or a nutritionist about taking vitamin C supplements to strengthen blood vessels.
If your eyes swell from fluid retention and hard contact lenses become uncomfortable, switch to soft lenses or glasses.
Special Warnings: Caring for Two
Aside from relieving common pregnancy discomforts, there are cautions that are important to remember while you are pregnant. Keep in mind:
- The most dangerous time to take any medication is during the first trimester, when the fetus is developing rapidly and is more vulnerable to injury. Always check with your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, including drugs that were prescribed before you became pregnant.
- Several diseases pose special hazards to pregnant women and an unborn child, such as rubella, chickenpox, "fifth disease" (erythema infectiosum), mumps, cytomegalovirus, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, genital warts, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. Call your doctor immediately if you think you have been exposed to any of these. If possible, get vaccinated against rubella, chickenpox, mumps and pertussis before pregnancy, unless you've had those diseases or their vaccines already. Ask your doctor about performing a blood test for chickenpox and rubella if you can't remember if you've had these conditions as a child, and try to get the vaccines at least four weeks before pregnancy (or afterward) if you need them.
- Don't smoke. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and other problems. Second-hand smoke, car exhaust, and industrial fumes can also be hazardous to pregnant women. Avoid prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants as best you can.
- Avoid breathing in or touching chemical household cleaners, paints, and insecticides.
- Be careful walking and getting out of the shower or tub to prevent falls.
- Check with your doctor about safe exercises. Certain activities should not be undertaken during pregnancy.
- Most couples are able to have sexual intercourse until near the time of birth. Check with your doctor about the advisability of intercourse if you have a history of miscarriage or preterm birth, any infection or bleeding, if the placenta is in an abnormal position (known as placenta previa), or during the last trimester if you're carrying multiple babies. Avoid sex after the amniotic sac has broken or fluids leak. If you develop pain or abdominal cramps that continue or worsen for more than an hour after having intercourse, call your doctor, because your cervix could be dilating.
- Avoid having unnecessary X-rays. If you must get an X-ray, be sure to tell the doctor or the technician that you are pregnant.
- Don't get overheated, avoid exercising in hot and humid weather, and stay out of hot tubs, saunas, and whirlpool baths.
- If you develop a fever or infection, call your health care provider before treating yourself. Tylenol is generally safe to take during pregnancy.