Pregnancy brings with it a whole lot of changes for the mother-to-be, such as emotional, psychological, social and of course physical. The body goes through many changes and there are some side effects that are typical of pregnancy, the most common ones are listed below.
- Morning sickness: Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day. It can start as early as the 4th week of pregnancy and continue until the first trimester. The altered level of hormones are believed to be the cause of this.
- Anemia: The increased demand for the woman’s body for iron leads to anemia in a majority of people. This is more common in the third trimester and increases fatigue and tiredness. A good amount of iron in the food and supplements need to be included as iron is also required in the breastfeeding phase.
- Backache: With the baby’s growth, there is extra pressure on the spine and the low back, thereby causing low back pain. There is also an increase progesterone level which stretches the spinal ligaments to expand to accommodate the baby. This is increased with standing for prolonged periods and sleeping in awkward positions.
- Constipation: The increased levels of progesterone relax the body and thereby making digestion sluggish and more reabsorption of water. This leads to dry, hard feces. Many women take iron supplements which also increases constipation. Drinking plenty of water helps manage this.
- Heartburn/reflux: The relaxed stomach muscles cause regurgitation of acid into the esophagus. The pressure of the growing fetus also adds to this acid movement. This can be managed with small, frequent meals; low-fat diet; and avoiding spicy foods.
- Leg cramps: The calves, thighs and feet may experience a sharp pain followed by a constant ache. They are more common at night, usually in the third trimester. This is due to decreased levels of calcium and magnesium in the mother, which the baby needs in significant amounts after 20 weeks. A good massage, sleeping with legs elevated, calcium supplements, and mild exercise can all help with these cramps.
- Dizziness/faintness: When standing up suddenly after prolonged periods, there could be reduced blood supply to the brain leading to dizzy sensation. This pooling of blood in the legs can be avoided by avoiding standing for long periods, sufficient hydration, and adequate rest and sleep.
- Breathlessness: As the weight of the growing baby increases, breathlessness sets in, especially in the second trimester onwards. The progesterone also plays a role in this, by relaxing the body. Mild exercise can be useful.
Other common side effects are fluid retention, hemorrhoids/piles, insomnia, tender/sore breasts, and vaginal yeast infections.
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