Maryville Obstetrics at Women’s Care Group gives tips for coping with aches and pain of pregnancy.
The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy is different for every woman. They are often accompanied by physical discomfort and even intense pain. Sometimes we have a good explanation for the symptoms and sometimes we don’t.
Here is a guide to the most common aches and pains, and when you should call your doctor.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, many women experience diffuse cramping. Cramps can feels like the beginning of a menstrual period. There is no need to worry about this discomfort or to call your doctor. Do call if there is bleeding associated with it or if the pain is sharp and persistent on one side or the other. This normal cramping is likely a result of early growth of the uterus. Spotting and one-sided pain can result from normal physiological changes. These symptoms could also be signs of an ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
If you have a positive pregnancy test and are having pain on one side or the other, you should call your doctor.
Second-Trimester Ligament Pain
During the second trimester, you could experience pain on one or both sides of the lower abdomen. These are pains that radiate to the groin. They are likely from the stretching of ligaments that support the uterus in the pelvis. Stretching of these round ligaments can be quite intense. These pains are especially intense when caused by such sudden movements as a cough or a sneeze. Getting up immediately or turning over in bed can stretch these ligaments and cause pain. Keep your abdominal muscles strong and avoiding sudden movements. This will help take away some discomfort from round ligament pain.
Pain on the right side with such symptoms as nausea, vomiting or fever could be appendicitis. Report these pains to your doctor.
Third-Trimester Nerve Pain
The compression of nerves can cause several types of pain during pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal Tunnel is the result of the swelling of tissues around the nerves that enter the hand. This can cause numbness and tingling in one or both hands, especially in the morning. This symptom usually persists throughout pregnancy. It can take some time for the symptoms to resolve after delivery.
This pain radiates from the buttocks down the back of the leg. It is another common pain caused by nerve compression during pregnancy. It is most common toward the end of pregnancy and can be intermittent. Doctors believe it is because the baby’s head is pressing on nerves in this area. This pain can be debilitating and, in severe cases, can cause a loss of mobility. There are many stretches that can be helpful and, for many women, physical therapy is very useful.
Another common third-trimester nerve pain occurs on the abdominal wall.
Usually in the right or left upper parts of the abdomen below the ribs, and feels like burning or pin pricks. This pain usually results from the growing uterus compressing the nerves to the skin. Some positions make it better and some make it worse, but, unfortunately, nothing is able to help it. If the pain feels deeper and more severe, it could be a problem with your liver or gallbladder. Report these pains to your doctor.
Some women also experience the same tingling or burning pain in a small patch of skin. This pain occurs on the front or inner upper thigh. This occurs from compression of a cutaneous nerve, and it usually only happens on one side. While it’s not dangerous, it can be very bothersome. Although there’s no way to fix it, you can find positions that ease the discomfort.
Most everyone knows that heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. Many men and non-pregnant women suffer from heartburn. Heatburn is stomach acid coming up into the lower esophagus, or re-flux.
The pregnancy hormones make the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus loose. This allows acid to re-flux into the lower esophagus. As pregnancy progresses, pressure from the uterus on the stomach exacerbates this problem. Adding to pain, some women have vomiting associated with re-flux. This is often confused with a return of morning sickness.
It may help to not lie completely flat at night and to prop up the head of the bed. Using an antacid like Tums may be all you need to combat heartburn. Tums provides calcium, which is important in pregnancy. Using something like Pepcid or Zantac will also be helpful. They decrease acid production in the stomach. Watch for constant pain in the upper abdomen below the sternum or on the right side. If the pain does not improve with antacids, that can be a sign of serious liver problems. Especially in the third trimester. If this is happening to you, contact your doctor.