Common Pregnancy Related Symptoms & How To Overcome Them!
I will 100% disclose that I was incredibly lucky to have had an easy pregnancy thus far. I sit here writing for you at 36 weeks pregnant, and I am starting to reflect on the good and bad parts of my pregnancy, and thought ‘what the hell!’; I can at least tell you what I did deal with, and how I got over some of those not so fun parts of being pregnant. Again, I had no severe complications, just the run of the mill pregnancy, but I do also firmly believe that your attitude towards the pregnancy in general can make or break the way you feel. Mind over matter ladies! Anywho, we can jump on in! I’m going to try to do these chronologically, as I can remember them occurring in my pregnancy.
Breast Tenderness - This was one of the very first signs for me. Even before I’d taken my first test, my girls were hurtin’. For the most part, I advise you to wear a bra, even if just a loose, ratty ‘ol sports bra, at all times, including bedtime. I felt like if my boobs were strapped down, there was less motion to disturb them. Later in pregnancy, as your breasts increase in size, don’t bother buying new bras. Buy either bra extenders like these or stick with nursing bras. Nursing bras are suuuuper comfy, and allow plenty of room in case your colostrum comes in early, or if you just have some serious growth, like I did. Plus, once baby arrives, you won’t have to invest in a thousand new nursing bras. Of all the ones I purchased, I stick with my nude or black Medela ones. They’re not the sexiest, but they are non restricting and convertible so you can still wear cute tops without your straps showing.
Nausea / Morning Sickness - Rule number one, get plenty of rest. Rule number two, carry around ready to go snacks. The only times I felt sick I was either tired or hungry. Obviously, I didn’t have any serious complications and I only yakked twice, and felt nauseous a handful of times. I was a lucky one, but my sickies started right around 8 weeks and lasted for about a month. If you are not so lucky, know that the morning sickness phase usually dulls down by your second trimester! Make sure to chat with your boss about what you’re going through, if you feel comfortable. Some may let you change your schedule or take extra breaks, etc. (or at least they should). It never hurts to ask!
Sciatic Nerve Pain - This will feel like a pulling or achy sensation in your upper booty. It can quickly onset (like when you tweak your back), or get worse over the course of a few days. I started experiencing this pain right around 10 weeks and it came and went throughout my pregnancy. I found that stretching, using a foam roller, and sleeping with a pillow between my legs helped a ton! Thankfully, a friend showed me some tricks she learned in physical therapy to help relieve the pain as well, and I still do these to this day! One is basically butterfly stretches. Sit on the floor and but your feet together with your knees out. Push down gently on your knees, guiding them closer to the floor until you feel a pull. Gentle begin to try to bring your knees together while you are pushing down on them (kind of like the hip abduction machine at the gym / ‘yes nos’ as Nik calls them. You can also lay on your back (unless this causes you discomfort) with your feet flat on the ground and knees up, and have your spouse, or friend, or stranger (you don’t care who when you’re in pain) wrap their arms and lock their hands around your knees. Again, gently flex your legs against their arms, and if you feel or hear a ‘pop!’ don’t be alarmed. I added in a heating pad for a while and took some warm baths in Epsom salt as well.
Round Ligament Pain - Well thank god I’d just read about this one the night before I felt a sharp pain radiating up the sides of my belly, or this would have been really alarming! In the middle of the night I got out of bed to use the restroom, probably around 20 or so weeks, and I heaved myself up using only ab strength. I quickly laid back down when I felt the stabbing pain up both sides of my belly and of course, my mind went to the worst, until I realized I had JUST heard of RL pain. Your round ligament basically connects your uterine muscles tot he rest of your innards (I am an English major, not a scientist, so here are the laymen’s terms). When your uterus begins to grow as your pregnancy progresses, the ligaments must stretch to keep up with the growth and to continue tacking your uterus in place. Basically at a certain point, you may feel some pain if you’re heaving around your belly, even if it still seems small to you, those little ligaments are stretched out, and they want you to cool it. It’s a sharp, unmistakable pain on either side, or both sides of your belly, and mine were about where my front abs meet my obliques. The pain should subside within seconds of resting, and to save yourself further pain, start rolling to your side and assisting yourself out of a laying position using your arms.
Heartburn - Ouch! This was my big one. So big that Tums, Mylanta, and all the Papaya Enzymes in the world couldn’t save me! Around 22 weeks through today (literally last night) I started having intense heartburn when I ate certain foods. I eventually figured out that tomatoes were killing me, among other things, and tried to eliminate them from my diet, but the real lifesaver was yogurt. Let me explain. I hate, no, DESPISE yogurt. But I try to eat at least a half a cup about an hour before bed and my heartburn issues literally disappear overnight. I now swear by this!
Number 2 Complications - I didn’t have really any issues here until late in my 3rd trimester, around 33+ weeks. I would previously sometimes get diarrhea that coincided with my heartburn above, but then around 33 weeks, every other day was constipation. I found that my hydration levels and diet had, of course, a ton to do with this. If I was eating crap food, I was not having a pleasant potty experience. Clean up your diet and stay hydrated. It helps to be active as well (gravity in general can shake things up), or have some coffee… if that does ‘it’ for ya.
General Tiredness / Fatigue - I was a busy BUSY prego my entire pregnancy. I had my bouts of fatigue, and I’d either give in to them, or get active if I had been inactive all day to try to counteract the fatigue. Again, try to listen to your body. If it’s telling you to get more rest, try to go to bed earlier. If you’re still feeling overly pooped, or you’ve quickly gone from high energy to NO energy, make sure to mention this to your doctor. This can be a sign of iron deficiency. Make sure your prenatal vitamin has iron in it as well (gummies usually don’t FYI). If your blood shows that your iron is normal, and all else is healthy, try to push past your tiredness and see if you get a jolt of energy from being active. I found that the times that I was feeling most tired, I was actually just being lazy (ooops!) so if you laid around all day, go for a walk and see how you feel. Eat well, drink water, and get some steps in, even if that’s just walking. Up and down aisles. At Target. It’s for the baby ok?! Ok!
Leg Cramps / Charlie Horses - This one’s pretty easy. If you get a leg cramp in your calf in the middle of the night: 1) you may not be drinking enough water, but that’s not going to save you now, 2) immediately push your heel down to reverse flex your calf, if that makes sense. Under NO circumstances should you EVER point your toes when trying to relieve the pain. If you stretch first thing in the morning, get out of the habit of pointing your toes. Ouchy. I had a few of these in my first and second trimesters, but Ho-Lee-CRAP they got worse in my third.
Braxton Hicks Contractions - These are a trip. I didn’t have ANY contractions or cramps my entire pregnancy that I considered to be abnormal until this week (36 weeks). Abnormal isn’t really the right word here, it is normal. BH contractions are suuuper common, but should never be painful. They may result in pressure and tightening of the stomach, (that can be confused with pain) but never any kind of jolting pain. If the tightness or pressure intensifies and you think you’re going into labor, start timing them. If they’re erratic, or non-regular, or they change with your position/sitting/standing/activity, you may be experiencing normal BH contractions that are basically your uterus just getting a practice run in. These can be more common when you’re dehydrated (the uterus is a muscle and it will cramp like everything else), or if you’re active. Drink water, time them, and call your doctor or visit the ER if you think you’ve got something more serious going on. If at any time you feel sharp pain, go directly to the ER. Do not pass ‘Go”, do not collect $200. Get. To. The. Hospital. If it’s nothing, you’ll feel silly, they’ll send you home, and you’ll have no regrets making sure you and baby are healthy.
Pelvic Pressure - This is my most recent gripe, but it’s not even thaaaat bad. Many women confuse pressure with pain. Get out of your head! When my boy dropped a couple weeks ago (34-35 ish weeks), I started getting a little pressure in my lower belly. If my bladder is full, the pressure can be uncomfortable or even what I would call painful because it creates a very ‘full’ feeling down there, so definitely pee as often as possible. If I’m on my feet to long, this pressure can cause my back to ache as my belly pulls my spine forward, so rest when you need to! Baths really help me here (I take a bath almost every other if not every day), and making sure to sleep in a comfy position with lots of pillows. Don’t be alarmed if you notice the drop and feel some unusual pressure on your lower belly, or even on your cervix, which can feel like there’s pressure in your vagina too. Gravity will work in your favor these last few weeks, so just remember that the more pressure on your cervix, and the more contractions you have, the less work your body will have to do on your Birth-Day!
Keep on a generally healthy eating train. Please refer to My Pregnancy Nutrition post! I can assure you that I was no where near perfect, but I did my absolute best to stick to a healthy diet as often as possible.
Stick with exercise. ANY exercise! I was originally going to the gym a few times a week, but started to feel self conscious wearing my gym clothes, and truthfully I was burning up and really uncomfortable in my pre-pregnancy clothes. I started playing Just Dance at home on our Playstation in my skivvies and I was so much happier! I made a lineup of 10 or so songs that got my heart pumping and I can still do this cardio to this day! I also do squats, pelvic rocks, and tons of stretching to get the blood flowing for at least 30-45 minutes 3 to 5 times a week.
Take your prenatal vitamins. The baby doesn’t just “take” from you what it needs. If you aren’t ingesting the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to grow, it can’t just find or make them. You need to provide the right stuff for your growing baby.
Take vitamin C supplements or eat/drink a crap ton of citrus. I have not been sick (knock on wood) other than a quick 24 hour bug (I think it was food related) during my pregnancy and I have ALWAYS taken a vitamin C supplement. I use the Costco brand and cleared it with my doc. Vitamin C also helps with Iron absorption which can in turn make you feel less fatigued. BOOM. Knowledge.
Don’t start or stop anything crazy. If you’re on prescribed meds, talk to your doc before you discontinue them. If you want to start taking a supplement, take it to your next visit. Who cares if you look crazy? You’ll be healthy and that’s what actually matters. Please note that I am also referring to holistic care practices. You crunchy ladies need to get your teas and herbal capsules checked just like you medically based chicks.
Have a specified date night. Once a week go to dinner without your phones, or do something that makes you feel connected to your partner. Do the ‘deed’. You’re about to lose some one-on-one time for a while, take advantage of the time you have right now, so long as your doc says it’s okay! This was seriously good for my mental health because when you don’t feel desirable, or you’re worried, or stressed, this is the time to open up about that stuff. Let your partner know and ask how they feel too!
Don’t stress when you go full-blown psycho. Your hormones may wax and wane faster than the moon. That’s totally normal. Try your best to realize when you’re being overly dramatic, and take it easy on your guy. He’s adjusting to the idea of parenthood just like you, and he may need a pep talk! On the days (or weeks) when your hormones throw you into a downward spiral, apologize when you’ve been nasty. It’s normal, but it’s not an excuse. Try to be self aware and vent to your partner, or other moms when you feel alone. There is always someone there for you, you just have to be in the proper head space to stop feeling sorry for yourself (I say this with all the love and understanding in the world, but it’s true!).
Obvi, don’t drink in excess, smoke, or use drugs. I feeeeel like this is a no brainer, but I threw it in here just in case…
Listen to your body! As with every other post, I’ll close this one by reminding you to listen to your body. If you want to take a bath, take a bath. Just keep an eye on the time in there and the temperature. If you want lunch meat, eat it. If you’d feel more comfortable warming it up, do that. If you want to take a day off, do it. If you want to work until you go into labor, you JUST DO IT! People will tell you what to do, and what not to do 100% of the time, and it won’t stop when you’re not pregnant, it just evolves into parenting critiques. Do yourself a favor and grow a thick skin. Smile, and nod, and do whatever YOU think it right. I fully trust a mother’s instinct with her body, and if you do have concerns, discuss them with your partner, a fellow mom who has been through it, or your midwife or doctor. I’m a WAY overly informed prego, for sure, but I’d rather be over-informed any day than wondering what I should do, or relying on others to tell me their interpretation of what is ‘best’.
I’m a true believer that the body doesn’t do anything without cause. If you’re tired, sleep or rest. If you’re hungry but you think you’ve gone over in calories today, WHO CARES?! Eat a healthy snack! If you’re peeing like a racehorse every hour, totes normal. And if you’re feeling fatigued, swollen, or flat out BLAHHH, take a relaxing bath, get a massage or pedicure, and just take it a day at a time. I found that none of my symptoms lasted long if I gave into where they what they were urging me to do. Your life must change, sometimes effective immediately. Don’t fight the change. Work with your baby and body to have the most relaxed, comfortable pregnancy possible. That in no way means you WILL have a comfortable pregnancy. Pregnancy is swollen, sweaty, heavy breathing, heartburning, body aching work… and it’s worth every symptom when you feel that first kick.