Pregnancy can be a wonderful, exciting experience. However, it can also bring with it a lot of unpleasant side effects.
While you may have expected morning sickness, tiredness and peculiar cravings, one thing you might not have expected is the pain and discomfort pregnancy can bring. From back pain to swollen ankles, pregnancy can cause all kinds of problems for the body. With most forms of pain relief unsafe to take during pregnancy, it’s difficult to find relief.
The good news is, there are ways to minimize and often eliminate pregnancy pains altogether. Below, you’ll discover some essential tips to help relieve pregnancy pain when you really need it.
Combatting Lower Back Pain
Back pain is extremely common in pregnancy and it can strike either in both the lower or upper back. For most women, the pain isn’t overly unbearable, it’s more of a discomfort. However, for others it can be debilitating, affecting their ability to carry out daily activities.
The reason back pain occurs is down to the extra weight your body has to carry, along with the fact the uterus expands by up to a staggering thousand times its original size. Together, these factors throw the body off-balance, leading to a change in posture, as well as contributing a lot of strain onto the back.
There are ways to try and prevent back pain from occurring, such as using a hot water bottle or heating pad to soothe the muscles and ensuring you don’t gain too much pregnancy weight. However, it’s not always possible to prevent it entirely. So, if it strikes, how should it be treated?
Sadly, there’s not much you can do, other than trying to make yourself more comfortable. However, there’s a few clever tips which may help. These include:
- Sleep on your side, placing a pillow between your legs
- Always sit in chairs which have good back support
- Keep the feet elevated as much as you can
- Avoid heavy lifting where possible
- Ensure you don’t wear heeled shoes
Of course, if the pain is really bad, it’s worth seeking alternative therapies or chatting to your doctor or pediatrician. They will be able to give you the best treatment advice. You may find prenatal yoga can relieve some of the pain, but talk to your doctor to double check exercise is safe for you and baby.
Reducing Swollen Hands And Ankles
Swollen ankles are often expected, but that still doesn’t make them easier to live with! Many pregnant women are also surprised to discover it’s not just their ankles which can swell up – it’s the hands too!
Also referred to as edema, swelling in the hands and feet is extremely common. It usually starts in the third trimester, which is good news as it means it won’t last throughout the entire pregnancy! It’s caused by a fluid build-up and it’s estimated around 75% of women will experience it.
While most of the time, swollen ankles and hands are a normal symptom of pregnancy, there are times when you may need to get it checked out. Experts recommend seeking medical advice if the hands do swell up, or if the swelling suddenly appears to get much worse. This is because it could point to a potentially serious underlying medical issue such as preeclampsia. This is basically hypertension brought on by the pregnancy and it could lead to severe complications. So, always get checked out by a doctor if you’re concerned.
If the swelling is normal, there are ways to relieve it. These include:
- Keep the feet elevated as much as possible
- Wear comfortable shoes and support stockings
- In warmer months, make use of air conditioning
- Drink plenty of water and avoid salty foods
- Enjoy a cool bath
Keeping the feet elevated will prevent fluid from building up in the first place. Comfortable shoes and support stockings can also help to maintain adequate circulation., reducing the swelling significantly.
If you’re pregnant during warmer months, air conditioning can keep you comfortable, while preventing the need to walk around outdoors. Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding salty foods can also prevent swelling, while a nice cool bath can also work wonders.
Reducing Leg Cramps
Leg cramps aren’t as long-lasting as swelling and lower back pain, but they can still prove particularly painful. They tend to crop up during the second and third trimester, usually at nighttime. The good news is, they largely only last for a few minutes at a time, but it can be tough dealing with them, especially if they cause you to wake up during the night.
The reason these cramps occur is because during pregnancy, there’s a lot of additional water and blood running throughout the veins. This is down to a hormone known as Progesterone, which causes the vascular system to relax, enabling fluid to collect within the vein, causing the cramps. So, what can you do to stop them? The good news is, there’s a few things you can try such as:
- Stretching the feet and leg muscles before bed
- Use a heat pad
- Massaging the leg
- Increasing calcium intake
- Deep breathing
Stretching the feet and leg muscles before bed can potentially prevent the cramps from occurring. A heat pad can also be used to ease the cramps if they do occur. Some women also find giving their legs a massage both before bed and if the cramps do occur, can quickly ease the pain.
More unique tips to relieve leg cramps is to increase your calcium intake and practice deep breathing. Low calcium levels have been known to lead to cramps, so increasing the amount you consume could naturally help. However, it is important to talk this through with your doctor beforehand to ensure it’s safe for you and baby. Deep breathing is another thing you can try.
Occasionally, cramps can be caused by a lack of oxygen within the veins. So, deep breathing can help deliver more oxygen throughout the body, reducing the risk of developing cramps in the first place.
Whatever pregnancy pain you’re experiencing, there are ways to relieve it. However, before trying any type of therapy or natural remedies, it’s important to seek medical advice. The main thing to remember is that these pains will reside in time.
Do you have any tips which worked to eliminate your pregnancy pains? Share them below!