Side effects of pregnancy
Growing a baby is the most wondrous thing your body can do, but the process can also bring on some sobering conditions, from an excitable bladder to feet comparable to big foot’s, Cathy Winston charts the top offenders
Been there, survived that: ‘I was working as a lecturer and, towards the end of my pregnancy, every 15 minutes I’d have to leave a classroom full of sniggering students and waddle off to the loo,’ recalls Gemma, 32, mum to Sonny, two. ‘I lost the respect of all the males, but the girls thought it terribly exciting and hoped I’d go into labour in class.’
Keeping some dignity: Show me a pregnant woman, and I’ll show you someone who knows exactly where the nearest toilet is. ‘In the early weeks, it’s due to the bladder and the growing uterus competing for room and can become more of a problem in the later weeks as the baby’s head engages,’ says Gurgle midwife Alison Brown. ‘Avoid holding on, though, as this could lead to a urine infection.’
Heartburn and Indigestion
Been there, survived that: ‘I never used to leave the house without keys, phone and purse, but as soon as I became pregnant I didn’t care, as long as I had Rennies,’ says Jodie, 41, author of Womb with a View (£6.99, jodienewman.co.uk). ‘Everything gave me indigestion and every room of the house was strewn with Rennie wrappers – my husband could track me down following the trail of litter. When the baby popped out, I swear the amniotic fluid smelled minty.’
Keeping some dignity: ‘During early pregnancy, progesterone causes all the smooth muscle tissue to relax, including the digestive system,’ says Sarah Bolitho, co-author of The Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Fitness (£19.99, Bloomsbury Sport). ‘Later, the baby takes up a lot of room so the stomach is squashed, with less room for food. This can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Try sleeping on raised pillows, or drinking herbal teas such as peppermint, ginger and lemon to help.’
Been there, survived that: ‘I’ve become one of those weird people who obsess over the last time they “went”,’ confesses newly-pregnant Helen, 36, mum to Sebastian, seven, and Luke, six. ‘My record is six days. I’m drinking obscene amounts of water, then frantically dashing for a wee at inopportune moments. And I’m munching on fibre like it’s going out of fashion.’
Keeping some dignity: Blame progesterone again. You can kick-start your digestion with exercise as well as high-fibre foods. ‘Sit on a Swiss ball for some pelvic circles,’ says pregnancy Pilates specialist Caron Bosler (caronboslerpilates.com). ‘Roll your pelvis backwards and forwards, then circle and do figures of eight to get the whole area moving and help shift the constipation.’
Been there, survived that: ‘It was mildly alarming to suddenly get heavy nosebleeds mid-pregnancy,’ remembers Olivia, 34, mum to Humphrey, two. ‘Even a tiny knock could set one off and it was a total pain to have to sit still, my nose covered with toilet roll waiting for the bleeding to stop.
Unfortunately, it’s one of those harmless, but annoying, symptoms you have to live with if it happens.’
Keeping some dignity: ‘Hormone changes can make you more prone to nosebleeds because tiny veins on the nostril lining swell,’ explains Dr Sarah Brewer. ‘As long as it settles quickly, usually within ten minutes, there’s rarely any need to worry. Firmly pinch the soft part of your nostrils behind the tip and apply pressure for at least ten minutes. Sit upright with your head slightly forward and breathe through your mouth, to help the blood drain down your nose rather than your throat. Afterwards, avoid blowing your nose for at least 12 hours.’
Aches and Cramps
Been there, survived that: ‘I suffered from agonising leg cramps in the second trimester,’ says 33-year-old blogger Gill (ababyonboard.com) and mum to 11-month-old Eliza. ‘One night my entire calf seized up and the pain was so bad I leapt out of bed. My husband awoke to see me hopping round the bedroom shouting, “ow...ow...OW!’ He found it hilarious. I was told to drink more water which seemed to help.’
Keeping some dignity: ‘The hormone relaxin softens connective tissue for birth but affects all the body’s joints,’ explains Sarah. ‘With 33 vertebrae, a growing bump causing a curve in the lower back and overworked muscles, backache is the result. ‘Calf stretches are great for leg cramps,’ adds Caron. ‘Stand with one foot forward and one back, bend the front leg and stretch the back. Rest your hands on a wall so you’re not worried about toppling over.’
This is an extract from Cathy Winston's feature on the 10 Indiginities of Pregnancy. See the full article in the April/May 2013 edition of Gurgle magazine.