Pregnancy Aches & Pains
PREGNANCY HEALTH: Women can suffer from pregnancy aches and pains in various parts of their body (including the ribs, back area, pelvic region, abdomen, buttocks and legs).
These may be due to hormone effects, which can lead to increased blood flow, and the softening and relaxation of ligaments and joints. Pregnancy aches and pains may also be caused by your developing baby increasing in size, which can put strain on your body and affect your posture.
Aches and pains tend to ease off later in pregnancy or after delivery but, in the meantime, it’s important to recognise your limits when undertaking certain tasks to avoid accidents and further complications. You may find the following tips helpful if you suffer from aches and pains:
- Try exercises to strengthen your back and spine as a remedy for backache. Stretching exercises will also help sciatica (pain in the buttocks and legs). Avoid strenuous activity, though.
- Try to avoid standing for too long.
- Modify or improve your posture when undertaking simple activities such as walking, sitting, bending or lifting/carrying objects (though, it’s best to avoid lifting and carrying heavy items when you are pregnant). Keep your back straight and avoid slouching or slumping. When sitting, use a hard chair with your back straight and well supported.
- Avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. This could put added strain on your muscles and joints.
- Wear sensible, low-heeled footwear to allow even distribution of your weight, as well as loose clothing that doesn’t put pressure on your ribs. Supportive underwear or a “belly bra” may be helpful if you suffer from back problems.
- Find a comfortable sleeping position. Sleeping on a firm mattress, on your side, and supporting yourself with pillows between your knees and under your baby can help if you experience backache; supporting yourself with pillows when you lie down may also help to prevent rib pain.
- Relax in a warm bath.
- Use hot (such as a hot water bottle) and cold compresses.
- Massage the affected area or have it massaged by your partner.
Severe or persistent pain should be reported to your healthcare professional immediately because it can be a sign of a more serious problem such as kidney infection.
Severe pain in the abdominal area in the first two months of pregnancy may be an indication of an ectopic pregnancy, while later on it could be due to high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or placental problems.