the problem: hemorrhoids
when and why it happens: Any time during pregnancy, but usually toward the end of the second trimester. Hemorrhoids are painful varicose veins in the rectum. The pressure of the uterus, coupled with increased blood volume, can cause these normally internal veins to swell and bulge outward, especially during bowel movements.
remedies: Be vigilant about doing all of the same things you do to avoid constipation (see above). In addition, avoid sitting for long periods of time; do Kegel exercises, which promote healthy blood circulation to the area (see page 66 for more information); avoid straining during bowel movements and clean your bottom with warm water afterward; and gently wash the area when you bathe.
Here’s another trick: “Holding Tucks pads with witch hazel against the hemorrhoid several times a day will help relieve pain,” says Marilyn Laughead, M.D., chairwoman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Campus in Scottsdale, Ariz.
the problem: urine leakage
when and why it happens: Any time during pregnancy (but especially when you cough, sneeze, laugh or make any sudden movement). In the first trimester, leakage, or incontinence, is rarely a problem, but you may feel the need to urinate more frequently. In the last trimester, your bladder is compressed by the uterus and, often, the baby’s head. This may affect the bladder’s ability to fill with urine, giving the sensation that it’s fuller than it is. Actual leakage is most common in the third trimester.
remedies: Do Kegel exercises several times a day to help maintain strong pelvic-floor muscle tone. In addition, try to empty your bladder completely every time you urinate. Here’s a trick: When you’re on the toilet, place your hands under your belly and gently lift it to let the last drops of urine out. You can also rock slightly forward from your hips to help empty your bladder.
the problem: nasal stuffiness
when and why it happens: Throughout pregnancy. “Increased estrogen levels dry out mucous membranes and make them swell,” says Richard H. Schwarz, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University in New York.
remedies: Drink even more than the recommended eight glasses of water a day; use a humidifier to keep the air moist; stand in a steamy shower; or fill a bowl with very hot water, drape a towel over your head and the bowl and breathe in the steam. Saline drops also can help. “But avoid decongestants and medicated nasal sprays like Afrin, since they can make the dryness worse,” says Schwarz. If nosebleeds are a problem, avoid blowing your nose forcefully. If your stuffy nose is accompanied by a fever or persistent headache, call your doctor or midwife — you may have a sinus infection.