How to Relieve Common Pregnancy Discomforts

How To Relieve Common Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy is an incredible time of change, both physically and emotionally. Many expectant individuals experience various discomforts that, while usually normal and temporary, can greatly affect their daily routines. As your body makes room for your growing little one, you might face numerous physical discomforts. These discomforts stem from the natural hormonal changes and adjustments your body goes through during pregnancy and are generally not harmful to your pregnancy’s progress. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to distinguish between typical pregnancy discomforts and symptoms that might signal more serious concerns, knowing when to consult your midwife or seek urgent care.

In this guide, we’ll delve into common pregnancy discomforts and offer useful advice, solutions, and resources to help you manage them more comfortably. Whether this is your first pregnancy or you’re seasoned in navigating pregnancy challenges, my goal is to provide you with strategies and insights to enhance your comfort throughout this special journey.

Understanding Common Discomforts of Pregnancy

Let’s walk through each indivudal discomfort, what might help alleviate it, and when it is important to seek help. Click the links below to learn more about each pregnancy discomfort and how to alleviate it.  

Description: Mild to moderate pain in the stomach/abdomen due to constipation, expanding uterus or ligament stretching, or trapped gas. 

Self-Care: Rest, change positions, apply heat, staying hydrated, eating a diet rich with fiber, getting enough daily magnesium

When to Call the Midwife: Persistent severe pain, bleeding, or signs of labor.

Learn More by reading my blog, Abdominal Pain In Pregnancy

Description: Common back and pelvic discomfort due to baby’s growing weight and posture changes.

Self-Care: Good posture, supportive footwear, gentle exercise, chiropractic care, yoga, acupuncture, and psychical therapy. 

When to Call the Midwife: Severe pain or if it interferes with daily activities.

Learn more by reading my blog post, How To Alleviate Back Pain In Pregnancy

Description: One of the earliest pregnancy symptoms, breast/chest sensitivity or pain is caused by pregnancy hormones surging throughout your body. 

Self-Care: Wearing supportive bras, using cool compress, gentle care, and avoiding stimulation can help alleviate breast/chest discomfort.

When to Call the Midwife: Contact your midwife if you experience unusually severe or persistent pain that doesn’t improve with self-care measures, signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or fever, any unusual discharge that is bloody or occurs before the 20th week of gestation, or a distinct lump that changes in size or becomes more painful over time.

Learn more by reading my blog, What You Can Do About Breast Tenderness In Pregnancy?

Description: Swollen, bleeding gums from hormonal changes.

Self-Care: Gentle brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups.

When to Call the Midwife: Persistent bleeding or pain.

Learn more by reading my blog post, Gingivitis And Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy

Description: Difficulty or infrequent bowel movements.

Self-Care: High-fiber diet, hydration, magnesium supplement, laxatives, and exercise.

When to Call the Midwife: Severe discomfort or no bowel movement for several days.

Learn more by reading my blog post, How To Relieve Constipation In Pregnancy

Description: Feeling lightheaded, particularly when standing quickly.

Self-Care: Slow position changes, stay hydrated and nourished.

When to Call the Midwife: Frequent episodes or loss of consciousness.

Learn more by reading my blog post, Navigating Dizziness And Fainting In Pregnancy

Description: Pain during intercourse.

Self-Care: Communicate with partner, use lubrication, and pelvic floor therapy.

When to Call the Midwife: Severe or persistent pain.

Read more by reading my blog, Pain During Intercourse In Pregnancy

Description: Edema can affect the hands and legs, often noticeable in the morning, and in severe cases, it can be generalized, including facial swelling. While usually just uncomfortable, causing feelings of heaviness, pain, or mobility issues, it’s important to monitor the severity of edema and be aware of any accompanying symptoms.

Self-Care: Compression stockings, exercise, water immersion, hydration, massage, and dietary adjustments. 

When to Call the Midwife: There are certain situations where swelling could signal more serious issues. Rapid Onset or sudden swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia or deep vein thrombosis, requiring immediate medical attention. If edema comes with blurred vision, high blood pressure, or proteinuria, it’s crucial to seek evaluation for conditions like preeclampsia.

Read more at my blog,  Swelling During Pregnancy: Understanding And Managing Edema

Description: Extreme tiredness common in early and late pregnancy.

Self-Care: Rest, nourish your body with a balanced diet, hydrate, maintain healthy blood, and moderate exercise.

When to Call the Midwife: Unrelieved by rest or accompanied by dizziness.

Learn more by reading my blog, Overcoming Pregnancy Fatigue

Description: Common due to hormonal changes and stress.

Self-Care: Adequate hydration, rest, and stress management.

When to Call the Midwife: Severe or frequent headaches, especially with vision changes.

Learn more by reading my blog post, Managing Headaches In Pregnancy

Description: Burning sensation due to hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach.

Self-Care: Eat small, frequent meals; avoid spicy foods.

When to Call the Midwife: Persistent or severe discomfort.

Learn more by reading my blog, Soothing The Burn: Managing Pregnancy Heartburn

Description: Swollen blood vessels in the rectal or vaginal area that cause discomfort on and off the toilet. 

Self-Care: High-fiber diet, magnesium, hydration, Supportive garments, warm baths, and Topical Hydrocortisone Cream or Rectal Suppositories.

When to Call the Midwife: Severe pain or bleeding.

Learn more by reading my blog, Easing The Discomfort: Managing Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy

Description: Difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Self-Care: Relaxation techniques, comfortable sleeping environment, magnesium, avoid screen time before bed, and nighttime relaxation yoga.

When to Call The Midwife: Persistent, affecting your well-being.

Learn more by reading my blog, Sleepless And Expecting: Tips To Tackle Pregnancy Insomnia

Description: Dry, itchy skin especially on the abdomen, hands, and feet.

Self-Care:

To alleviate itchy skin during pregnancy, adopting simple self-care practices can make a significant difference. First, ensure you stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, as this helps maintain skin hydration from the inside out. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps and moisturizers to avoid further skin irritation. Applying a moisturizer immediately after taking a short, lukewarm shower or bath can help lock in moisture. Wearing loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton can also reduce skin irritation and prevent overheating. 

When to Call the Midwife:

While most cases of pruritus are harmless and merely uncomfortable, there are times when itching can be a sign of a more significant health concern that requires professional attention. You should reach out to your midwife about itchy skin if  you find that the itching is constant, severe, and not relieved by standard remedies like moisturizing or avoiding irritants, if you’re experiencing intense itching without any visible rash, especially if it’s worse at night or if your itching is accompanied by other symptoms such as jaundice, dark urine, light-colored stool, or general feelings of unwellness, these could be signs of liver issues or other pregnancy-related conditions that require immediate evaluation.

Learn more by reading my blog, Itchy Skin In Pregnancy

Description: Sudden, sharp muscle pains in the legs.

Self-Care: Stretching, massage, adequate hydration, mineral supplements, magnesium, epsom salt baths, exercise. 

When to Call the Midwife: Persistent cramps or associated with swelling.

Learn more by reading my blog, Kicking Out The Cramps: Managing Leg Cramps In Pregnancy

Description: Morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), affects 50-80% of pregnant individuals, with symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to significant impact on daily life. This common early pregnancy symptom, peaking around 9-11 weeks and often subsiding by the second trimester, is linked to hormonal changes, including increased levels of human chorionic gonadotropin and estrogen, as well as factors like Helicobacter pylori infection and personal or family history of NVP.

Self-Care: Prenatal Vitamins, Nourishing your body and keeping you blood sugar steady, Hydration, Ginger, Acupressure, and smelling Mint or Grapefruit Essential Oils.

When to Call the Midwife: Immediate medical attention is necessary if you experience Signs of Dehydration such as dark urine, dizziness, or fainting, Inability to Keep Food Down for more than 24 hours, indicating the need for possible intravenous (IV) rehydration and hospitalization, or Severe and Unrelenting NVP which might require further evaluation for conditions like hyperemesis gravidarum.

Learn more by reading my blog, A Guide To Managing Nausea During Pregnancy

Description: Sharp pain radiating from the back down the leg.

Self Care: Warm compresses, pregnancy-safe stretching, prenatal yoga, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. 

When to Call the Midwife: Severe pain affecting mobility.

Description: Feeling breathless due to the growing uterus.

Self-Care: Good posture, rest, and avoid overexertion.

When to Call the Midwife: If you are experiencing rapid breathing that doesn’t improve with rest, Constant Coughing especially if accompanied by mucus or blood, an irregular or fast heartbeat, any sharp or persistent chest pain, Fever or Chills, or any feelings of Faintness or Dizziness you should contact your midwife. 

Learn more by reading my blog, Catching Your Breath: Shortness Of Breath During Pregnancy

Description: Skin streaks from stretching.

Self-Care: Hydration, nourishing your body, moisturizing your skin, and gentle massage.

When to Call the Midwife:

While stretch marks are generally a cosmetic issue, it’s important to communicate any significant skin changes or concerns with your midwife, especially if you experience severe itching or skin irritation that doesn’t improve with lotion or body oil.

Learn more by reading my blog, Navigating Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Description: Numbness or tingling, often due to fluid retention.

Self-Care: Avoid tight wristbands, hand stretching exercises.

When to Call the Midwife: Persistent or interferes with daily activities.

Description: Involuntary leakage of urine.

Self-Care: Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), frequent bathroom breaks, and pelvic floor therapy. 

When to Call the Midwife: Severe incontinence or accompanied by pain.

Learn more by reading my blog, Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy

Description: Needing to urinate more often.

Self-Care: Reduce caffeine, empty bladder fully, and pelvic floor threapy.

When to Call the Midwife: Pain or burning sensation when urinating.

Description: Increase in normal vaginal secretions.

Self-Care: Wear cotton underwear, be vigilant about toilet and intimacy hygiene, and wear a light panty-liner. 

When to Call the Midwife: While leukorrhea is a normal part of pregnancy, certain symptoms accompanying the discharge may indicate an infection or other condition that requires professional evaluation. If you are experienecing discharge accompanied by itching, burning, or pain, there could be a sign of a yeast infection or another type of infection. Also, a strong, unpleasant odor or a Change in Color or Consistency can also indicate an infection that needs to be treated.

Learn more by reading my blog post, Leukorrhea: Understanding Increased Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

Description: Swollen blood vessels in the vaginal, thighs, or leg area.

Self-Care: High-fiber diet, hydration, warm baths, magnesium, supportive garments, avoid standing too long, gentle exercise, and herbal supplements like horse chestnut and bilberry. 

When to Call the Midwife: Severe pain or bleeding.

Learn more by reading my blog, Varicose Veins In Pregnancy

  1. Bleeding gums in pregnancy from the UK National Health Service
  2. Bleeding Gums in Pregnancy from The Cleveland Clinic
  3. Pregnancy and Oral Health from the CDC
  4. How to Handle Dizziness During Pregnancy From Nationwide Children’s Hospital 

  5. Dizziness during pregnancy: When is it a concern? from The American Heart Association 

  6. Dizziness During Pregnancy from the American Pregnancy Association 

  7. Treating constipation during pregnancy from the UK NHS

  8. What can help with constipation during pregnancy? from ACOG

  9. Why Breast Pain Is Common During Pregnancy and How to Find Relief From Parents.com
  10. Incidence of pregnancy-related discomforts and management approaches to relieve them among pregnant women
  11. Natural Relief for Sore Breasts in Pregnancy from Mama Natural
  12. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2024). Back Pain in Pregnancy

  13. National Health Service. (2024). Back pain in pregnancy. 

  14.  Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy from The UK NHS
  15. Swelling During Pregnancy from The American Pregnancy Association
  16. Swelling During Pregnancy? What’s Normal and What’s Not from Parents Magazine. 
  17. When Sex Is Painful from ACOG
  18. Women’s sexual health: When being intimate hurts from the Mayo Clinic
  19. Why does sex hurt? from the UK National Health Service 
  20. First Trimester Fatigue from Johns Hopkins Medicine
  21. Fatigue During Pregnancy from The American Pregnancy Association
  22. Fatigue and sleep quality in different trimesters of pregnancy
  23. How To Relieve Constipation In Pregnancy
  24. Hemorrhoids in pregnancy from Staroselsky, A., Nava-Ocampo, A. A., Vohra, S., & Koren, G.
  25. Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy from The Cleveland Clinic
  26. Insomnia during pregnancy: Diagnosis and Rational Interventions
  27. Pregnancy Insomnia from the Cleveland Clinic 
  28. Pregnancy Insomnia: Causes & Treatment
  29. Pruritus in Pregnancy from the National Library of Medicine 
  30. Pruritic Rash in Pregnancy from the American Family Physician 
  31. Assessment and management of itchy skin in pregnancy from the Australian Journal of General Practice
  32. Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy from the Cochrane Database
  33. Leg Cramps from the UK National Health Institute 
  34. Leg Cramps from The Cleveland Clinic
  35. Stretch marks in pregnancy from The National Health Service 
  36. Risk factors for the development of striae gravidarum 
  37. What causes stretch marks during pregnancy? from ACOG
  38. Varicose Veins While Pregnant from the Cleveland Clinic
  39. MANAGEMENT OF VARICOSE VEINS DURING PREGNANCY
  40. Hemorrhoids and Varicose Veins in Pregnancy

Learn more about how Pregnancy effects your body

Jenni Jenkins Sekine Student Midwife

Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma Student Midwife, Midwives Assistant, Birth & Postpartum Doula, and Child Birth Educator who serves her Central Oklahoma  community. She began her journey as a student midwife in 2022 at the Midwives College of Utah.

To learn more about Jenni, please click here.

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