In a strange coincidence of biology, pregnant women think about visiting the bathroom roughly as often as the average man thinks about sex.
Pregnancy increases your body’s fluid volume, and often your system can’t keep up with it; edema — bloating and puffiness — is the swell result. To keep yourself flush:
- Though it may sound contradictory, keep drinking plenty of liquids. Water is always best.
- Avoid prolonged standing.
- Don’t wear tight shoes and stockings — and no thigh-highs or knee-highs. Do try maternity support stockings, and put them on before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Cut down on salty foods.
- Lie on your side and elevate your legs. But don’t put your legs up while sitting; Thurston says you’ll compress the veins in your groin and make matters worse.
- Alert your doctor if swelling becomes bothersome. It may be a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension.
7. Leg cramps
You’ve finally positioned each of the 52 pillows you need to get comfortable, and you’ve drifted off. Suddenly, your calf seizes up and you yelp out in pain. Weight gain and impaired circulation might be to blame. Follow these steps:
To prevent leg cramps, Thurston suggests a regular calf-stretching routine: Facing a wall, stand about a foot away and lean against it with your feet flat on the floor for 15 seconds.
To relieve a cramp while it’s happening, flex your foot upward, or have your partner firmly massage the calf.
Check your calcium intake; deficiency may be a contributing factor. Berk recommends cutting back on soft drinks, as the phosphorous in soda may affect the body’s phosphorous-calcium balance.
Keep circulation going with regular cardiovascular exercise.
8. Carpal tunnel syndrome
If your palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, half your ring finger — but not your pinkie — feel numb, tingly or painful, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a common side effect of the swelling and postural changes of pregnancy. Relief is at hand:
- The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that yoga can help alleviate CTS. “Yoga may counteract some of the postural changes in your shoulders and upper back that contribute to nerve compression,” Berk says. “It also improves flexibility and helps you relax.”
- Buy carpal-tunnel splints, available at any pharmacy, to wear at night. “If you put them on before going to bed, a lot of the pain and inflammation will be gone by morning,” says Thurston. “You may look like a lobster, but you’ll feel better.”
9. Varicose veins
During pregnancy, your veins carry a double load, contending with increased blood volume and decreased or sluggish venous circulation. For women who inherit the propensity, varicose veins in the legs, vulva or rectum are the result. Fight back with these strategies: