Self-Help: Coping with Pregnancy

It is normal to experience a variety of complaints during pregnancy. These are usually caused by hormonal changes within the body and by the increasing weight of the fetus. Although such complaints may cause discomfort, they are usually not serious. Many symptoms can be relieved by self-help measures, but you should consult your pharmacist, doctor, or midwife before using any over-the-counter drugs or complementary remedies and see your doctor if symptoms are severe.

Digestive complaints

A healthy diet is important throughout pregnancy. It not only provides the fetus with the correct nutrients for growth but also helps to prevent you having digestive problems associated with pregnancy, such as nausea, heartburn, and constipation. Avoid spicy foods because they can cause heartburn, and always have something plain available to eat in case you feel hungry.

Eating during pregnancy

Small, frequent meals may help to reduce nausea, and milky drinks may ease heartburn. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, and other fibre-rich foods in your diet should help to reduce constipation.

Circulatory complaints

Increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis may lead to varicose veins, swollen ankles, and feeling faint in late pregnancy. To relieve symptoms, avoid standing still for long periods of time and sit or lie down whenever you feel faint. Support tights may help to relieve varicose veins.

Sitting comfortably

Try to rest and put your feet up whenever possible. Support your back and always try to elevate your feet above the level of your hips.

Backache and sciatica

Backache is an increasingly common problem as pregnancy progresses, and poor posture may place pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing a shooting pain from the buttock down one leg (sciatica). Both of these problems may be eased by adopting good posture when standing, using a chair with good back support, sleeping on a firm mattress, and wearing flat shoes.

Standing correctly

Stand with your feet apart and your weight equally balanced on each foot. Hold your back straight and your shoulders back. Tuck in your buttocks and abdomen and relax your knees.

Tiredness and difficulty sleeping

You will probably feel tired from early pregnancy onwards. As your pregnancy progresses and your abdomen enlarges, you may also find it more difficult to get into a comfortable position in which to sleep. Before going to bed, try to relax, have a warm bath and a milky drink, and watch television, listen to the radio, or read until you feel sleepy.

Sleeping comfortably

Try to sleep on your side, with a pillow between your legs. You may feel more comfortable if you place another pillow under your abdomen.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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