Expecting a baby is one of the most joyful times in many women’s lives. But that joy may also come with some physical discomfort as your body changes to help your baby grow and thrive. Discover ways to help alleviate some of the more common ones below.
It’s called morning sickness because the symptoms often strike early in the day. However, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can happen at any time. The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but a woman’s changing hormones and an increased sensitivity to smell may be contributing factors. Whatever the cause, here are some solutions to help to reduce morning sickness:1
- Snack on dry, bland foods before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Eat foods high in protein and carbohydrates.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and salt.
- Have smaller meals more frequently throughout the day so you don’t get too full or too hungry.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but try to drink between meals rather than with them so your stomach doesn’t get too full.
- Avoid strong aromas, which may cause nausea. Open windows to let fresh air in and dissipate odours. Weather-permitting, take a daily walk outside.
- Take your prenatal vitamins at night or with a snack. Or, try cutting them in half and taking half in the morning and half at night.
If your morning sickness is persistent and/or severe, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional.
An increase in blood volume and fluid retention during pregnancy may cause swollen feet, ankles and legs, also known as oedema. Elevating your feet and limiting your salt intake may help relieve the swelling.2 If it comes on suddenly or is persistent be sure to talk to your healthcare professional
During pregnancy, hormones can relax the valve between your stomach and oesophagus, which allows stomach acid to leak into your oesophagus causing a burning pain in your chest known as heartburn. Your growing baby putting pressure on your stomach can also lead to heartburn during pregnancy. To help relieve the symptoms, try these lifestyle changes:3
- Know which foods and drinks trigger your heartburn and avoid them. Some common triggers include citrus, spicy, fried and fatty foods, as well as carbonated and caffeinated beverages.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently, rather than three larger meals each day.
- Wait three hours after eating before lying down.
- Prop your head and shoulders up while you sleep to help prevent stomach acid from moving into your oesophagus. You can do this with a couple of pillows (be sure both your head and shoulders are raised) or by putting something underneath the mattress to raise the head of your bed a few inches.
Pregnancy hormones relax the muscles in your digestive tract, which slows down the movement of food and can cause constipation. As your baby grows larger and pushes against your bowel, constipation may get worse. But you don’t have to suffer through it. To help reduce constipation, try drinking more fluids, exercising regularly and eating foods rich in dietary fibre, such as fruits, whole grains and pulses.2
During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases. This can dilute your red blood cells and cause anaemia. If left untreated, anaemia may leave you feeling tired, dizzy, irritable or short of breath. Insufficient iron stores and/or inadequate iron intake may lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, which requires immediate medical attention. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your healthcare professional about ways to manage anaemia.2, 4
WORKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Remember, every woman’s pregnancy and the symptoms she experiences are different. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with your healthcare professional to find the best ways to help relieve discomfort during your pregnancy.
Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or advice from a qualified healthcare professional.