9 Common Discomforts of Pregnancy & How to Soothe Your Body
Pregnancy can be thrilling, but it’s not exactly easy on your body. An ever-expanding belly and surging hormones can trigger a slew of uncomfortable symptoms. Some people seem to have it easy with only minimal discomfort, but for others, pregnancy can be an arduous and challenging 40 weeks. While most discomforts of pregnancy are normal, even expected, some can be an indication that something more serious may be going on that needs medical attention. Let’s take a closer look at some common discomforts of pregnancy and relief measures that may help soothe your body.
1. Sore, Tender Breasts
Breast tenderness is one of the first signs of pregnancy for many people, noticeable as early as six weeks. This discomfort usually passes by the second trimester.
How to Cope: Invest in a comfortable, supportive bra. Select loose clothing that doesn’t restrict your breasts. Cold or warm compresses may also provide relief from soreness. Talk to your doctor about using safe pain relief options.
Nursing moms appreciate comfort while they sleep, yet still need support. The Medela Nursing Sleep Bra features a new racer-back design that gives plenty of both. The improved fabric blend has unique wicking properties to keep moms cool and comfortable all night long.
2. Vomiting and Nausea
More commonly referred to as morning sickness, vomiting and nausea are some of the most common discomforts of pregnancy in the first trimester. This is probably due to surging hormones, and despite its misnomer, morning sickness can occur any time of the day. For many, it ends early in the second trimester, but for some people, it last throughout the entire pregnancy.
How to Cope: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to avoid having an empty stomach. Carry snacks with you. Keep crackers or a snack by your bed and eat a few bites before you get up. Stay hydrated to replace any water you’re losing from vomiting. Try to avoid smells and tastes that make you feel nauseated. Consider wearing motion sickness bands on your wrists. Don’t use any medication without consulting your doctor (even over-the-counter medicine).
3. Needing to Pee All the Time
Your kidneys are working hard to circulate all the extra fluid in your body. Plus, as your baby gets bigger, you’ll start experiencing more pressure on your bladder.
How to Cope: Don’t try to hold it. Lean forward when you urinate to help fully drain your bladder. Avoid wearing clothing that puts extra pressure on your bladder. Above all, stay hydrated.
As your developing baby begins to take up more space inside your body, food can back up into your esophagus. This may lead to a sour taste in your mouth, coupled with pain and burning sensations.
How to Cope: Consume smaller, more frequent meals instead of eating a big meal all at once. Try to eat well ahead of bedtime or naps, and try to sleep propped up or on an incline. Stay hydrated and avoid anything spicy or foods that seem to make the heartburn worse. Your healthcare provider may recommend a pregnancy-safe antacid.
All those surging hormones, along with the extra weight you’re carrying, can make you feel warmer and sweatier. In fact, research has found that around 35% of women report hot flashes during pregnancy and the postpartum period. This is especially frustrating when it happens at night.
How to Cope: Sleep in lightweight, easy-to-remove pajamas. Try to keep your bedroom colder and layer blankets as you need them. Put towels over your sheets and pillows to soak up any night sweats. Avoid caffeine and spicy foods, and drink plenty of water to replace the fluid you’re losing through sweat.
Your body is manufacturing an entirely new human being. That’s hard work! Coupled with all the physical and emotional changes you’re experiencing, it’s no wonder you may be feeling a bit fatigued.
How to Cope: Rest as much as possible. Remember, it’s okay to limit your social engagements and ask for help when you need it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2 and a half hours of exercise each week for pregnant women to help reduce fatigue and improve circulation. (Avoid exercising late in the day, though, as exercise releases adrenaline into your body, which can keep you awake at night). Desperately need an energy boost? While you should try to limit caffeine as much as possible when pregnant, a small cup or two of coffee is okay for most people. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s safe for pregnant women to have up to 200 mg of caffeine per day.
Headaches during pregnancy happen for the same reasons they happen when you’re not pregnant. That said, pregnancy does throw in a few additional triggers, like stress, hormone and blood sugar changes, and reduced caffeine intake.
How to Cope: Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Eat small, frequent meals and snacks to prevent dips in blood sugar. Limit caffeine gradually instead of going cold turkey. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe pain relievers if you need them. Seek medical attention immediately if you have a severe headache that does not go away in a few hours or if you feel dizzy and faint.
8. Bloating and Constipation
Is stomach discomfort a sign of pregnancy? Absolutely! To maximize nutrient absorption, food moves through your system a little more slowly during pregnancy. Additionally, your growing baby will start putting more pressure on your intestines, making gas and constipation a common side effect during pregnancy.
How to Cope: Consume plenty of high-fiber vegetables and fruits, and drink lots of water. Exercise can also help get your bowels moving. Talk to your healthcare provider about using a pregnancy-safe stool softener. Avoid enemas or laxatives during pregnancy.
9. Pain in the Back and Round Ligaments
Your changing center of gravity and the strain on your joints, ligaments, and muscles from your expanding belly can lead to both upper and lower back pain. In addition, the round ligaments that help support your growing uterus can stretch and pull, resulting in sharp, stabbing pains in your lower abdomen.
How to Cope: Avoid lifting anything heavy, and try not to stand or sit in one spot for too long. Walk around and do some light stretches or exercises to relieve the aching. Consider using a pregnancy support belt to help support your uterus and ease back pain. Call the doctor or go to the hospital if the pain continues, gets worse, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as cramping, bleeding, or fever.
The Medela Maternity Support Belt is designed to provide excellent comfort and enhanced control to expectant moms, as their body changes throughout the trimesters. Medela belly support band gently lifts and supports the stomach to reduce added stress against the core and back, which can help to alleviate back pain and relieve frequent pressure on the bladder.
When to Seek Medical Attention
While many discomforts are a normal part of pregnancy, some symptoms may indicate a problem that needs medical attention. Contact your healthcare provider or head to the emergency room if you experience any of the following:
- Complete inability to keep food down
- Faintness or dizziness
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling in the feet, hands, or face
- Cramping or contractions
- Bleeding or a gush of fluid
- Difficulty breathing
- No movement or reduced movement from your baby
- A persistent, unrelenting headache
- Painful urination
- An overall sense that something simply isn’t right
Pregnancy is an exciting time for many people, but it does come with some discomforts. From your rapidly growing body to your constantly shifting hormones, it’s a nine-month period of some pretty significant changes! It makes sense that some of those changes will be a little uncomfortable.
While most of those discomforts fall within the “normal” range, it’s understandable you may feel a bit of anxiety. Talk to your doctor and try to learn more about what’s typical and when you may need to seek treatment. Remember, most pregnancies are healthy, and those common discomforts you’re feeling are typically just that – uncomfortable and quite common.
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