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