It is common for women to feel different aches and pains during pregnancy. There is no reason to fear them because, in most cases, they are normal.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
About 80% of pregnant women suffer from back pain, a localized pain that rarely extends over a very long period of time.
During the third semester of gestation, almost 50% of women feel back pain, and 9% feel it during the postpartum period. This pain can be felt in the lumbosacral, the lumbar, the cervical-thoracic and other areas. The weight the woman carries in her abdomen during the later months of pregnancy can also affect her balance and posture, creating tension in the lower back.
It is best to wear low heel shoes, place a pillow in the lower back when sitting down to relieve pain and relax for as long as possible.
Cramps and swollen ankles
This type of pain is usually felt in the calf muscles and is, normally, caused by a lack of calcium and magnesium. The vast majority of pregnant women suffer from leg swelling due to the extra blood in their bodies, that provides circulation to the placenta and baby.
The uterus also puts pressure on the blood vessels that supply blood to the lower half of the body, leading to the accumulation of fluids in the legs. For this reason, it is important to drink a lot of water every day, limit the ingestion of salty food, rest the feet by placing them in a pillow, wear comfortable clothes and sleep lying on the left side.
Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
Varicose veins usually appear in the legs. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins also appear in the rectum due to the increase in the volume of the blood. To prevent these veins and hemorrhoids, the pregnant woman should have a diet high in fibre (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), drink plenty of fluids and avoid standing for long periods of time.
Cramps and abdominal pain
Throughout the pregnancy, is common to feel pain or discomfort in the belly. This pain is normal and usually only lasts for a short time.
If the pain is severe, or if the woman suffers from colic, a medical professional should be consulted, especially if the colic is accompanied by some kind of vaginal bleeding, chills, dizziness, fever or fainting. Mild aches and pains accompany the different stages of pregnancy and can have various causes.
When, during early pregnancy, the embryo is adhering to the womb, the woman can feel some pain similar to that felt during menstruation and that can last for a few days.
It can occur between the second and third semester when contractions, or the tightening of the muscles of the uterus, can be felt. This is called Braxton-Hicks contractions. These contractions are irregular, whereas labour contractions are regular and occur in intervals of 5 to 10 minutes.
It may be caused by the growing pressure of the uterus, constipation or heartburn. When these pains appear, it is best to sit down, elevate your legs and try to relax your body. You should not change position abruptly. Walking for a while might also help relieve the pain and tension.
It is also normal to have headaches during the first and third semester of gestation. It is thought that these pains are caused by changes in hormone levels, so they tend to disappear in the second semester when the body is already accustomed to the changes.
In all cases of pain, pregnant women should never take medication without prescription because this can affect the baby. The woman should always consult her doctors because there are some natural remedies that can relieve the headaches. If the woman needs to take medication, the specialist will recommend drugs that will not affect the baby.
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