Relief from Common Aches and Pains during Pregnancy

Aches and Pains during Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your body goes through many changes. Some of them are not comfortable. But most of them are normal. You do not need medicine or treatment. It’s also nice to know that not all women have ALL of the problems we talk about here.

Everyone expects pregnancy to bring an expanding waistline. But many women are surprised by the other body changes that pop up. Get the low-down on stretch marks, weight gain, heartburn, and other "joys" of pregnancy.

Pregnancy symptoms are different for everyone and can vary from month to month and even from pregnancy to pregnancy. Find out what to expect, from the earliest pregnancy symptoms to the wooziness of morning sickness to the aches and pains of your third trimester. We'll help you understand what's normal and what's not, and when you really should call your doctor.

In general, if you eat healthy food and stay active you will be more comfortable during these nine months.

Flatulence (Gas)


What causes it? You can have gas at any time while you are pregnant. It happens because your digestive system slows down when you are pregnant. This gives gas more time to form. It is also caused by the pressure of your uterus on your stomach and intestines.

What can I do about it?


• Notice which foods you ate just before you felt the gas pains. Try to eat only small amounts of foods that give you gas. Many kinds of food can cause gas. They are different for everyone.
• Try not to be constipated. Follow the advice in the section on constipation.
• Stay active.

What if it does not help?


• Gas may annoy you. In most cases, it is not a serious problem.
• If you have a lot of pain from gas, talk to your doctor.


Wetness in your vagina


What causes it? When you are pregnant, it is normal to have thinner, milky fluid coming out of your vagina. Sometimes there can be a lot of this wetness. As long as the fluid is thin and milky, it is normal and you do not need to worry. If the wetness makes you itchy, smells bad or feels like it is burning, you may have an infection. If this happens, contact your doctor.

What can I do about it?


• Keep the area clean and dry.
• If the wetness is heavy, try wearing a panty liner.
• Do not douche.

Breast Changes


What causes breasts to change? Most breasts start to change early in pregnancy and continue to change until the baby’s birth. Your breasts may get larger. You may be able to see the veins in your breasts, and you may notice a tingle in your nipples. The darker skin around your nipples (the areolas) may get larger and darker, and the little bumps on them stand up more. Later in your pregnancy, you may notice a sticky, yellow fluid leaking from your breasts. This is colostrum, the fluid your body makes before it starts to make breast milk. All of these changes are your body’s way to get ready to produce milk for breastfeeding.

What can I do about it?


Breast changes are a normal part of pregnancy. If your breasts are tender or uncomfortable, wearing a support bra can help. A good bra is also important when you are doing exercise or being active. Some women also wear a bra at night because it feels comfortable.

Pubic Pain 


As pregnancy advances, your body begins producing more hormones — specifically one called relaxin — to soften your ligaments and joints. This prepares your body for the hard work of giving birth, but it also leaves your pubic joint, which sits at the bottom of your pelvic bone, susceptible to soreness and tenderness.

It's more common in pregnant people who’ve had babies before or closely spaced pregnancies because those periods of body stress mean your body needs to repair itself.

What can I do about it?


If you’re experiencing pubic pain, Hernandez recommends regular low-impact exercise to strengthen the ligament. Physical therapy might also be particularly useful in this case; Oury says that pelvic pain is one of the most common pregnancy-related problems she sees in her work as a physical therapist (along with sciatica).

“Often, we go through the abdomen to access the front of the spine muscles, [but] clearly, we cannot do that for our pregnant patients,” Oury explains. “Our approach is to assess the pelvic, lumbar and hip bones and how they relate to one another statically. We look at these bones and muscles not just on the treatment table, but during real-life situations like sitting and standing.”

Ligament pain


These are common in the back, the navel area, groin, hip bones, pelvis, pubic bones and thighs.

It may feel like a stitch or a twinge, or as burning, pulling, tightening or simply aching – sometimes continuously; sometimes at intervals. Some experience discomfort in a particular spot, while others describe the pain as moving from place to place. Intense burning pain in the area of the ribs, aggravated by your baby’s kicking, may cause inflammation in the muscle fibres, which is called intercostal pain. Round ligament pain is a needling, specific sensation.

Self-help remedies:
  • Regular walking, swimming and dancing are excellent for overall strength and posture – do light sessions often.
  • Correct your posture by pulling in your tummy muscles and buttocks, keeping your shoulders back and down, and slightly tilting your chin upwards when walking.
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs to relieve hip pain.
  • For aching in the lower abdomen, cup your hands around the lower part of your “bump” and lift it up a little to instantly soothe the pressure.
  • To soothe pain in the pelvic area, go down on all fours, with your head on folded arms and your buttocks higher than your chest.
  • Massage painful areas with Arnica Oil.
  • Take the tissue salts Calc fluor and Ferrum phos to improve elasticity and strength of ligaments. Ferrum phos also helps for burning pain.
  • For a low pain threshold, take Rescue Emotion to improve anxiety and break the pain-tension cycle.
When to see the doctor: If there are any symptoms such as an abnormal vaginal discharge, fever or severe digestive discomfort (vomiting, diarrhoea, bad inexplicable constipation or bloating).

Backache


This is very common due to the effect of progesterone and an altered centre of gravity with poor posture. The sacro-iliac joints between the pelvis and hip bones take extra strain and can contribute a lot to lower backache.

This is experienced mostly from mid-pregnancy. Backache may be associated with bladder and kidney infections – be aware of other symptoms like burning and strong-smelling urine. Toward the end of pregnancy, backache may signify the start of labour if other symptoms are present too.

Self-help remedies:
  • For instant – if not permanent – relief, go down on all fours.
  • If you’re at a desk all day, try sitting on a big “birth ball” which automatically corrects posture.
  • Alternate periods of rest and movement.
  • Exercise regularly and concentrate on back-strengthening exercises.
  • For relief, cross your hands in the small of your back and press up firmly against a wall.
  • Correct posture as for ligament pain.
  • A back massage with Arnica oil is very soothing.
  • Take the tissue salts Calc fluor and Ferrum phos to promote elasticity and strength of back ligaments.
When to see the doctor: If you have backache in early pregnancy associated with pelvic cramping or any abnormal vaginal discharge; if you feel feverish or your urine smells strongly; if you have any symptoms that make you suspect you might be in labour before your due date.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


This is the sensation of numbness, a feeling of clumsiness, or severe pain in the fingers, hand and/or arm, which is quite common in pregnancy.

The small bony canal in the wrist through which nerves and blood vessels pass to and from the hand, doesn’t allow much room for swelling. Fluid retention is quite common in pregnancy and doesn’t have to be severe to cause pressure on these nerves and blood vessels. Symptoms sometimes only occur at night due to pressure at the shoulder joint when lying prone. It seldom resolves on its own and mostly continues for some months after birth.

Self-help remedies:
  • A wrist splint helps some.
  • Try a different sleeping position.
  • Take the tissue salts Nat mur and Nat sulph to help reduce swelling in the area.
  • Apply cool poultices over the area to reduce pain and swelling.
  • The tissue salt Ferrum phos will help for burning pain along the nerve pathway.
  • The tissue salt Kali phos helps regenerate and heal nerve injury in chronic carpal tunnel syndrome.
When to see the doctor: If symptoms are not relieved by these tips and remedies, or if symptoms persist or become worse, you might need a minor operation, which is very successful and not harmful to your baby.

Cramps in your feet and legs


This is quite common due to the extra magnesium requirements of pregnancy as well as the increased demands on the circulatory system.

It may be accompanied by a heavy, dull ache in the legs. It occurs most frequently in the last trimester, but can occur at any time, and is usually most severe at night.

Self-help remedies:
  • Increase foods rich in magnesium like nuts, seeds, bananas and green, leafy vegetables.
  • Pull the toes on the foot of the affected side up towards your knee during cramping.
  • Take the tissue salt Mag phos to improve the assimilation of magnesium from food and supplements, and to provide rapid relief during cramping.
  • Massage cramping muscles with Arnica Oil for rapid relief.
When to see the doctor: Consult your doctor urgently if you develop varicose veins, shortness of breath, or pain in your leg muscles between cramping sessions.

Sciatica


This is a pinched nerve in the lower back, which is quite common in pregnancy, and is mostly due to postural changes.

Symptoms include:
  • A numb ache in one buttock
  • Burning pain down sections of the leg and foot of the affected side
  • A lame feeling in parts of the leg and possibly burning or tingling in the toes.

Self-help remedies:
  • Alternate rest and activity.
  • Make sure that you correct your posture when walking.
  • Try not to slouch when sitting.
  • Wear an abdominal maternity band which is used to aid ligament control in the back, but it can also have a positive effect on sciatica.
  • Take the tissue salt remedies Ferrum phos, Kali phos and Nat Phos twice a day throughout pregnancy, as this chronic condition is very difficult to relieve otherwise. • Massage the affected foot, leg and buttock to reduce the burning ache.
  • The tissue salt Mag phos helps relieve cramps which often accompany sciatica.

When to see the doctor: If you have pronounced varicose veins in the affected leg; if your leg feels hot to the touch; or if you feel unwell.

Stiff, painful joints


These are often due to extra weight, especially in the hip, knee and foot joints. It may also be related to a more serious auto-immune condition.

Water retention may decrease the mobility of joints. Stretched, softened ligaments add to symptoms too.

The pain is usually worse on rising in the morning, and improves once the day has warmed up and you’ve moved around a bit. Joint pain is mostly worse in the second half of pregnancy.

Self-help remedies:
  • Avoid foods that are acidic or cause acidity (like too much red meat, cheese, pickles and alcohol).
  • Do moderate exercise that doesn’t stress your body.
  • Alternate rest and movement.
  • Take the tissue salt Nat phos to help balance the body’s pH, and Ferrum phos for burning or throbbing pain and inflamed joints.
  • Apply warmth to the affected joints.

When to see the doctor: If pain persists or becomes worse.

WHAT TO REMEMBER


Unfortunately, very few people make it through nine months of pregnancy without experiencing at least a little bit of pain. (And even if you do, you’ve likely got a world of hurt waiting for you in the delivery room... sorry). But the sources of those aches and pains may even have been there before you got pregnant — perhaps you just didn’t realize it.

“Physical therapy can resolve issues that were present prior to the pregnancy but went unnoticed in the business of life,” says Oury. “With postural changes, weight gain, fluid retention and a change in the way the body carries weight, the unnoticed problems are now detected, [but can be] easily treated.”

So it’s not all bad news about pain during pregnancy, and you should always talk to your doctor or midwife about your concerns (it’s what they’re there for!). Every provider has a different opinion on massage, chiropractic care and prenatal yoga, but many will give you the green light for these alternative treatments. And don’t forget that the pain you’re experiencing during pregnancy might be a sign to listen more closely to your body.

“It’s simple body mechanics — the elements of how your body changes during pregnancy,” says Hernandez. “There’s a reason you’re body is telling you to slow down. It takes energy to grow a human being. That’s why you’re so fatigued in early pregnancy. You have to learn to use your body in a different way, and that might mean getting more support.”

Bottom line: Even though pregnancy pain is pretty common, there’s no reason to suffer. Your body is working around the clock for nine months, so don’t be afraid to get professional help with those growing pains if you need it.
On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional.
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