If you woke up today feeling like pregnancy is a little less than… amazing… then this post is for you. This is Part Two of our series identifying common pregnancy complaints, along with some possible relief! Be sure to check out Part One over at the Metro Detroit Doula Services blog, and Part 3 of this 4 part series for more relief.
Why it happens: During early pregnancy, your body experiences some hormonal shifts that cause your breasts to change and prepare for milk production.
What to do about it: A warm compress often feels nice to sooth sore and aching breasts. There are specific brands of reusable heat and cold packs for breasts, and these will come in handy during breastfeeding as well, so it may be a worthwhile investment! Also, make sure your bras are well-fitted and supportive, and avoid underwire to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your breasts.
Shortness of Breath
Why it happens: You might think that this is just about decreased space because of a growing baby in there, but it can actually even start to happen in the first trimester, well before things start to feel really crowded. The culprit? An increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes things, including your lungs, causing you to take more breaths per minute than you do when you aren’t pregnant. Also an increase in the circulation of oxygen in the blood can be to blame, and of course, you might start to notice it getting worse in the third trimester due to cramping of the lung space as the baby and uterus grows.
What to do about it: Practice slow, deep breathing, allowing your lungs to fully expand. Try some chest opening exercises and stretches (yoga, anyone?) to help expand and open space up there. Staying in upright seated or standing positions can help give your lungs more room to fully inflate, and you might find it helpful to sleep semi-propped up if lying down makes the problem worse.
Why it happens: Hi there, hormones. It’s you again. Progesterone is again to blame for relaxing things in your body, including your bowels and digestive tract. Also increased pressure in the bowel area as your baby grows means gas might be more likely to escape. Eep!
What to do about it: Identify and avoid offending foods that make you extra gassy, and also doing some light exercise and stretching can help stimulate the digestive tract to keep doing it’s job. Good food and exercise… that might be the answer to everything!
Why it happens: Ironically, the same thing that causes more gas to escape might also be the reason you are getting stopped up! Your digestive tract is feeling a little more sluggish and lazy (it might need an afternoon nap just like you do!) due to progesterone slowing things down again. That and iron supplements may also contribute to constipation, and your prenatal most likely has iron in it.
What to do about it: Eating foods that are higher in fiber while also being sure to stay well-hydrated may help to loosen things up, as can exercise (surprise!). Also, check with your doctor to see if taking some additional vitamin C is ok. Vitamin C paired with iron may help the iron to be better absorbed by your body. If nothing else works, your doctor or midwife may be able to recommend a different prenatal supplement with iron, or they may recommend an OTC remedy for helping getting things moving again.
Why it happens: Bleeding gums? Who knew, right? Hormonal shifts throughout your body can make your gums more sensitive, as well as more susceptible to plaque build-up on your teeth. Also increased circulation as your blood volume increases during pregnancy may lead to increased sensitivity of mucous membranes in your nose and mouth (nose bleeds sometimes happen more frequently too!)
What to do about it: See the dentist for a cleaning to remove plaque buildup, and try to be extra vigilant about brushing and flossing, and avoiding sugary drinks or foods. Also, talk to your doctor or midwife about increasing Vitamin C to see if that helps support strong teeth and gums to decrease bleeding.