Pregnancy is typically pretty uncomfortable and depending on where you’re at in your pregnancy you may be facing nausea, leg cramps, or an annoyingly itchy belly. In our childbirth education series we discuss many of these common “pregnancy complaints”. We also talk about when to expect them, why they happen, and what you can do about them. For now, let’s look at each trimester and three things you can try to ease pregnancy discomforts.
Trimester One: 1-12 weeks
Common challenges: fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, constipation, frequent urination, breast soreness
Survival Tip: Slow down. If your body is telling you it needs rest, do your best to give it what it needs. Of course, that may be difficult if you have other children, a job, a house, and so on, but try to cut yourself some slack. Screen time is OK; takeout is OK; letting laundry and dishes pile up for a bit is OK. If you have a partner, older child or friend around who can fetch and carry for you, put them to work!
Survival Tip: Fight the nausea with frequent small snacks instead of big meals. If you’re one of the many people who struggle with morning sickness during early pregnancy (not limited to mornings, of course) try cutting out fatty and spicy foods for awhile and focusing on whatever snacks you can stomach. Saltines are a classic; nibble a few before getting up for the day. Ginger can also help, whether in tea, soda, or candy.
Survival Tip: Consider telling some close friends and family about your pregnancy earlier than others. Although it’s common practice to keep pregnancy secret in the early weeks when the chance of miscarriage is higher, it might be helpful to you to share your news with a few friends who would support you through difficult news and good. It’s never too early to start building a support system.
Trimester Two: 13-27 weeks
Common challenges: leg cramps, heartburn, back aches, difficulty sleeping
Survival Tip: Get moving! A lot of people find a bit more energy in the second trimester. It’s a great time to find a type of exercise that you enjoy, whether that’s walking, yoga, aerobics, or dancing. With the occasional modification (and your doctor’s OK) most exercise is fine during pregnancy and it can help keep your energy up.
Survival Tip: See what education and support exists in your area and make a plan to attend a class or two on a topic you’re interested in. The second trimester is the perfect time to plan. Ideally, you don’t want to begin learning about the birth process and comfort measures while in labor. And you don’t want to start learning about infant feeding as you’re recovering from giving birth. This isn’t something to leave to the last minute!
Survival Tip: Dress comfy! It’s never too early to wear maternity clothes if you want, or just find the right combination of stretchy and flowy. If the price tag of new maternity clothes gives you pause, check your local resale sites!
Trimester Three: 28 weeks – birth
Common challenges: heartburn, night sweats, itchy belly, swelling, difficulty sleeping, general discomfort
Survival Tip: To relieve swelling, stay hydrated and keep as much pressure off your feet as possible. If you need to spend a lot of time sitting, prop up your feet. When you can, spend a little time with your feet up on the wall. A cool foot bath or chilled socks can help too. Some swelling is normal and common as you approach your due date, but if it is painful or you are concerned, speak to your provider.
Survival Tip: If you are having trouble sleeping, try getting creative with pillows. Some find a dedicated pregnancy pillow helpful; others pile up a lot of regular pillows or find a couch or recliner more comfortable. Your insurance may cover certain pregnancy pillows, ask your provider for a prescription.
Survival Tip: If you’re experiencing heartburn, try smaller, more frequent meals, eaten slowly. Try staying upright after meals, and pinpointing the foods that trigger heartburn so you can avoid them. Common foods that trigger heartburn: orange juice, tomato products, chocolate, spicy foods (all the good stuff!). Talk to your provider about medications or supplements that can help such as papaya enzyme, Tums, or apple cider vinegar.
Although there are many more discomforts associated with growing a little human for 9 months, these are some of the more common issues our clients ask questions about. And remember, each pregnancy is unique! Keep this list handy for the next one 😉