Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience for a woman, but it can also be uncomfortable and troublesome at times. Some of this discomfort is just part of being pregnant, but if the issues are especially bothersome, it’s good to have some strategies and advice to cope.
Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on your body and make for an uncomfortable experience. Every pregnancy is different, but you can do certain things to help if you experience these issues throughout the pregnancy.
Common Pregnancy Complaints and Solutions
Some discomfort during pregnancy is natural because of how many changes happen in your body and hormones. The most common complaints of pregnancy include:
Bloating is one of the most common problems pregnant women have. Your fluctuating hormones could be the cause. Hormonal changes during pregnancy relax your womb and digestive muscles, leading to uncomfortable bloating.
Supporting drainage can help keep excess fluids moving through the system, making you much more comfortable. Also, drink plenty of water, opt for smaller meals, slow down when you eat, cut back on beans and cruciferous vegetables, and take a walk after meals. These suggestions can help move fluids and recently consumed food through your system, reducing the chance of bloating. (1)
Constipation is another common complaint during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you probably don't want to use laxatives due to the risk of dehydration. Instead, increasing your fruit, fiber, fluid, and probiotic intake can help prevent or reduce the chances of constipation. (2, 3)
You may feel fatigued during your pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimester when your hormones and body go through the biggest changes. Because you have another person growing inside you, your body uses most of its energy to sustain that life. So your energy levels can become depleted, leading to exhaustion. Making sleep a priority is helpful, as is supporting your mitochondria, because they generate energy for your body and your developing fetus. Taking naps can be helpful, as can performing light exercise and avoiding caffeine. (4)
If you find yourself having more frequent headaches during your pregnancy, increasing your water intake can help. Water hydrates the mitochondria, which helps them carry out their tasks, providing your body the energy it needs throughout your pregnancy. If you experience new or worsening headaches, or have a fever, dizziness, seizures, or elevated blood pressure, contact your healthcare provider immediately. (5)
Studies show that heartburn can affect up to 80% of pregnant women. Heartburn symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest, feeling full or bloated, burping, and bringing up food.
It can be helpful to eat smaller and more-frequent meals, avoid eating near bedtime, and elevate the head of your bed. You should, however, avoid antacids during pregnancy, as they could hurt both you and your developing baby. (6)
The body changes you experience while pregnant can influence the structure and function of your skin. A condition known as pruritus is itching with no underlying cause, which makes you want to scratch. If this occurs, oatmeal baths, hydrating your skin with natural skin lotion (no perfumes or dyes), and increasing water intake can give some relief. (7)
Many women are affected by nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Morning sickness can be your body’s way of protecting the fetus by causing you to expel or avoid unhealthy or chemical-laden foods. The most common aversions are meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, but all women are different, so what triggers morning sickness isn’t limited to those foods.
If you experience morning sickness, limit your consumption of animal products and incorporate ginger, mint, saltine crackers, toast, and plenty of fresh water into your diet. They can help ease the symptoms and get you through that difficult period. (8)
During pregnancy, your total-body water retention increases by six to eight liters. Eight out of 10 pregnant women have clinical edema (swelling) from excess sodium and fluid. To reduce swelling during your pregnancy, limit your intake of sodium and processed foods, and sit with your feet elevated above your heart many times throughout the day. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. (9)
In pregnancy, candidiasis, commonly known as yeast infection, is common. As your hormones change throughout your pregnancy, your vaginal region can become a favorable environment for yeast to grow. The signs of a yeast infection are a cheese-like vaginal discharge, burning during urination, and pain or soreness around the vagina.
To reduce the risk of getting a yeast infection, keep your vaginal area clean and dry, avoid bubble baths and feminine hygiene sprays, and wear breathable cotton underwear. If you suspect you may have a yeast infection, contact your doctor. (10)
Supporting Your Body During Pregnancy
Your body changes a great deal during pregnancy. Some of those changes can be uncomfortable and troublesome, and your body could benefit from some extra support.
Pregnancy can alter your gut function, and pregnancy hormones can cause changes in the intestinal tract, leading to gastric problems. Proper nutrition can help during these changes, and supplementation can improve gut health and drainage. If the drainage pathways in the body aren’t working well, it can lead to some of the issues mentioned above. (11)
Nutritional support during pregnancy
B12 — A lack of vitamin B12 during pregnancy can lead to severe and long-lasting damage to the unborn childʼs nervous system as well as blood and neurological problems for the mother. Wild salmon, shrimp, yogurt, and fortified cereals are foods rich in B12 that are safe for the mother and fetus. (12)
Folate — Folate is important for cell division and growth in the developing fetus. The mother’s consumption of folate-rich plant nutrients such as greens, cabbages, wholegrain products, tomatoes, or oranges can help support the development of the fetus. (13)
Iodine — Iodine is an important nutrient your body needs during fetal development. Because your body doesn’t make iodine, you must get it from food. Severe iodine deficiency can damage the fetal brain, resulting in mental retardation, cretinism, and many other issues. (14)
Peppermint — Peppermint is safe to use during pregnancy in moderation to alleviate flu symptoms, heartburn, headaches, stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. Peppermint essential oil and tea are widely available. (15)
Giving your body support can help you experience a smooth, healthy pregnancy free of the issues that can make for an uncomfortable and difficult nine months.