Odds are you’re thrilled about being pregnant. But pregnancy can also be a pain—literally. In fact, on some days labor might sound more appealing than another bout of constipation, swollen ankles or back pain. Nevertheless, it’s all worth it in the end, and in the meantime there are lots of simple things you can do to relieve these common discomforts, says Marion McCartney, director of professional services at the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Of course, you may be one of the lucky ones who sails through the whole nine months with barely a gripe. But it won’t hurt to know how to get through some typical challenges—just in case.
When and why it happens: “Morning sickness” is typically worst in the first trimester, but some women experience it throughout their entire pregnancy and at any time of day. “It may be a protective measure to keep us from eating unhealthy foods, it may be related to changing hormones, or it may be both,” says McCartney.
Remedies: Snack on lemon drops and ginger products; avoid greasy and strong-smelling foods; and eat small, bland meals throughout the day. “Five or six mini-meals often go down better than three big ones,” McCartney says. Drinking sodas, ginger ale, carbonated water and chamomile tea may help (coffee, black tea, citrus drinks and milk often make nausea worse). Wearing a seasickness bracelet or pressing on the acupressure points on the insides of your wrists, about 2 inches up your arm, also may relieve nausea. Finally, be sure to get plenty of rest: Fatigue exacerbates the problem.
When and why it happens: Any time during pregnancy. Blame prenatal vitamins that contain iron, pregnancy hormones that slow the digestive process so your body can absorb more nutrients and water (this also makes your stool harder), and an ever-enlarging uterus that puts pressure on your intestinal tract.
Remedies: Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, as well as a glass or two of 100 percent fruit juice (prune and apricot juices are good choices); eat a high-fiber diet (bran and whole-wheat cereals, whole-grain breads, brown rice and raw fruits and vegetables, especially prunes, pears, figs, apricots, celery, carrots and zucchini, are a good way to increase your fiber intake); and try to exercise daily. “If diet and exercise don’t do the trick, ask your caregiver to recommend a safe stool softener, such as psyllium,” McCartney says.