October 11, 2016
We believe that pregnancy and birth are incredible. The feats that the female body is capable of to create and then birth another human being are nothing short of amazing. However, we also know that with all of that amazing-ness can come some discomfort, and sometimes even downright pain that leave you feeling a little less than incredible about pregnancy.
This is Part 3 of a 4 Part series on Common Pregnancy Complaints, why they happen, and what to do about them. As your doulas we are here for you not only during the birth but during your pregnancy too. If you are experiencing any of these or other aches and pains with pregnancy, let us know! We would be happy to help give you some tips, tricks, and ideas to get through. And at the very least, we can validate those feelings: sometimes pregnancy just plain sucks!
Why It Happens: You may not always notice them, but your uterus may start to do these mild practice contractions as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. The purpose of these contractions, which do not cause any cervical change to lead to the birth of the baby, are your body’s way of warming up and toning the uterus for the hard work of labor down the road. Other causes for these pesky contractions, which often just feel like a tightening in your lower abdomen, include increased blood flow to the uterus and baby, increased activity, dehydration, activities that promote oxytocin production (sex, breastfeeding, etc), or a full bladder.
What to Do About It: Try to stay well-hydrated, and be sure to keep your bladder empty (especially as pregnancy progresses). When the Braxton Hicks kick in, take a rest if you have been particularly active. Sometimes a warm and soothing Epsom salt bath helps to calm you and your uterus down as well. Be sure that you know the signs of a progressing labor as well so that you can distinguish between just regular old Braxton Hicks, and what might warrant a trip to the L&D!
Why It Happens: Hormonal changes and changes in blood volume are often to blame for pregnancy induced headaches!
What to Do About It: When you start to notice a headache coming on take a drink of water, and if you are able to take even a brief rest in a dark space, do so! A warm cloth over the eyes and face, or a cold cloth at the neck may also help bring some relief, along with gentle massage of the temples. As your doulas we can also teach you how to do a simple head press technique to relieve headaches. You can also ask your doctor or midwife about taking Tylenol if you need some immediate relief and nothing else is cutting it.
Also, be sure to call your doctor if you notice a sudden headache or very intense headache, or if you notice other signs and symptoms such as blurry vision or spots as those could be a sign of something more serious like pre-eclampsia, and would be a red flag to get checked out.
Why It Happens: Let’s be honest. Some fatigue is probably to be expected considering your body is working in overdrive to create another human being! However, some fatigue can be overcome by checking to see if you are dehydrated or even anemic.
What to Do About It: Like many other pregnancy complaints, keeping well-hydrated may be your first line of defense. If you haven’t been sleeping as well recently, try to squeeze in a 20 minute nap in the afternoon, or figure out a way to go to bed just a bit earlier or stay in bed just a bit later. And although it may sound counterintuitive, sometimes getting some exercise in during the day will help you rest better at night. Finally, check with your healthcare provider to make sure that you are not anemic.
Why It Happens: As your belly grows, your skin stretches, and sometimes that makes you feel a little itchy!
What to Do About It: Lotions can help, and some are specially formulated to sooth itching. You will also want to avoid very hot baths or showers and anything that has a drying effect on your skin. Of course, severe itching should be checked with your doctor or midwife, especially if it comes on suddenly.
Why It Happens: Hormones are probably to blame for this one, as are restless and sleepless nights.
What to Do About It: While some moodiness may be par for the course, you can try some relaxation or meditation to help calm and center your mood, or at the least help you control it a little bit more. As your doulas, we have a few apps we can recommend for learning or practicing meditation. A few other things to try include getting out for some fresh air, sunshine, and a brisk walk, or squeezing in a quick catnap, as well as finding ways to get a little more shut-eye at night.