Back Pain – the physical growth of your uterus and hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause a strain on your back muscles causing back discomfort in pregnancy. In addition to carrying an increased weight in the font of your body, the hormones of pregnancy relax the ligaments of our joints and pelvis, making them more flexible, which can contribute to back pain. ACOG recommends getting regular exercise to strengthen your back and stretch the muscles that support your back. Watch your posture when you are standing or walking and be sure to wear supportive shoes. Applying heat or cold therapy to your back is okay – we recommend trying both and to do what feels best.
Heart Burn and Indigestion – During pregnancy, our bodies create a hormone called progesterone that causes the valve between the stomach and esophagus to relax, preventing stomach acid to pass back into the esophagus, causing irritation and the feeling of heartburn. Many women experience heart burn in their third trimester, when the uterus has grown significantly larger and applies more pressure on the intestines and stomach, pushing what we eat back up into the esophagus. To minimize heartburn, eat smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals. Try to avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods as these can contribute to heartburn. Wait an hour to lie flat, so the food you have eaten is well digested and prop yourself up with extra pillows when sleeping. Some women find yogurt or a glass of milk to be a natural way to relieve symptoms of heartburn. Always speak with your healthcare provider regarding over the counter medications that you might want to try to relieve heartburn.
Nausea and Vomiting – Anywhere between weeks 5 to 18 of pregnancy, some women may experience nausea, with or without vomiting. It is often referred to as “morning sickness” as this is a common time of day that most women experience the symptoms. It is thought that the increased hormone levels of pregnancy and slowed movements of the stomach contents contribute to these feelings. To help with morning sickness, eat small snacks and avoid an empty stomach. We recommend carrying crackers or nuts in your bag, so you always have something to snack on throughout the day. It is important to stay well hydrated, and helpful to drink cold fluids throughout the day. Try sipping on something carbonated or sour in small amounts to see if that helps your symptoms. Find a hard, sour candy to keep on hand to suck on throughout the day as well. Always call your health care provider if you are unable to keep fluids down, or if you are showing signs of dehydration such as dark colored urine or dizziness.
Fatigue – while everyone is different when they are pregnant, many women describe a feeling of exhaustion, especially in their first trimester. As our bodies create more nutrients to carry to our growing baby, and hormonal levels alter, in additional to the physical and emotional changes our bodies are going through, many women will have decreased levels of energy as a result. This is a normal part of pregnancy, and we recommend to get extra rest during times where you may feel an increase in fatigue. Try getting in bed an hour earlier at night, and squeeze a nap in during the day if you feel your body needs it. You may need to adjust your current schedule or routine, to accommodate some extra sleep in your first trimester, so be kind to yourself and know that that is okay!
Constipation & Hemorrhoids – During pregnancy, the bowels are often move slower and in addition, the iron in prenatal vitamins many contribute to constipation. Sometimes, as the uterus grows and puts pressure on a woman’s bottom, hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins may appear. If you experience these symptoms, always let your provider know, so they can guide you for over the counter treatment options. In addition, to avoid constipation, or improve symptoms, drink plenty of fluids. We recommend 2-3 liters of water per day. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes high-fiber food choices such as fruits and vegetables will help as well. For hemorrhoids, many women find a sitz bath, which is soaking your bottom in warm water will help relieve the discomfort that they are feeling and it also helps to shrink the size of hemorrhoids. Make sure you are moving around during the day and avoiding sitting for long periods of time on a hard surface.
About the author:
Emily Silver is the co-founder of Boston NAPS, LLC. After graduating from Boston College, Emily began working on a medical floor for a few years before transferring over to labor and delivery. During her eight years working as an RN on these floors, she obtained her Master of Science in Nursing and her Family Nurse Practitioner license.
Emily currently works in a private practice in Brookline seeing OB/GYN patients. Her passion lies in education and she works as a maternity clinical instructor for undergraduate nursing students for both Boston College and Northeastern University.
Emily utilizes her Nurse Practitioner license and Certified Lactation Counselor license to spend time during the week doing in home breastfeeding visits for both new and experienced breastfeeding mothers. One of Emily's favorite part of Boston NAPS is visiting new mothers during their first few days home from the hospital. She spends time helping them adjust to life at home with a newborn through educating parents and providing support during this new milestone in their lives.
Emily lives in Charlestown with her husband and two daughters (Grace and Madelyn). When she isn't working, she enjoys going on walks with her family and sweet yellow lab, Maisey, around town. She also enjoys beach trips and traveling.
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From our friends at Boston Naps: We have found that almost every mother wishes she was better prepared for breastfeeding. Not only did we experience this feeling ourselves as new mothers, but we’ve found it to be true in our daily work as nurses and lactation specialists supporting breastfeeding women.
And we’re not just talking about taking a breastfeeding class. We are talking about the opportunity for women to have more open and honest conversations about breastfeeding and their experiences.