the problem: swollen hands & feet
when and why it happens: In the third trimester. Pregnancy hormones slow circulation, allowing fluid to settle in your hands, feet and ankles. “The enlarging uterus puts pressure on veins in your legs, which also contributes to swelling,” says Schwarz, who advises calling your doctor or midwife immediately if you have any of these possible signs of preeclampsia: a swollen face; sudden swelling in any part of your body; swelling in your feet that doesn’t subside after elevating them for an hour; or swelling that is accompanied by sudden weight gain or a persistent headache.
remedies: Avoid prolonged standing; elevate your feet frequently; soak your feet in cool water in the evening; wear properly fitting, low-heeled shoes; drink all the fluid you can (drinking less will not reduce swelling); and avoid salty foods, which can cause water retention.
the problem: back pain
when and why it happens: As your pregnancy progresses, the baby’s weight and your shifting center of gravity can cause back pain, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Weakened abdominal muscles also can contribute to backaches. If the pain becomes severe, call your doctor.
remedies: Stretch frequently; do abdominal exercises (strong abs help support your spine; see moves on page 69); do not lift heavy objects; wear comfortable, low-heeled, supportive shoes; avoid standing for too long in one spot (if you do have to stay on your feet, rest one foot on a footstool or a shoebox); sleep on your side with a pillow placed between your knees; apply a heating pad or ice packs; and get massages.
the problem: leg cramps
when and why it happens: In the second and third trimesters. The exact cause is uncertain, but they may be due to fatigue, pressure from carrying extra weight, or an inadequate calcium intake.
remedies: Avoid pointing or curling your toes; stretch your legs frequently; get foot and calf massages before bed; sleep with your feet elevated and don’t place heavy blankets on them; get up and walk around or flex your toes upward at the first sign of a cramp; take calcium supplements (check with your doctor first). If cramps are frequent, wearing support hose can help.
the problem: heartburn
when and why it happens: Occurs throughout pregnancy but is most common in the third trimester. It’s caused by an increase in stomach acid and the pressure that your growing uterus puts on your abdominal organs.