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Pregnancy Basics – Body Changes

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 07-11-2006

Aches, pains, and backaches

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, pains in the back, abdomen, groin area, and thighs often appear as your spouse’s uterus expands. Many women also known to have backaches and aching near the pelvic bone due the pressure of the baby’s head, increased weight, and loosening joints.


To ease some of these aches and pains try:

  • Getting her to lie down
  • Getting her to Rest
  • Applying heat

If your partner is worried or the pains do not get better, call the doctor.

Breast Changes

A woman’s breasts increase in size and fullness during pregnancy. As the due date approaches, hormone changes will cause your partner’s breasts to get even bigger in preparation for breastfeeding. Her breasts may feel full and heavy, and they might be tender or uncomfortable. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, in the third trimester, some pregnant women begin to leak colostrum from their breasts. Colostrum is the first milk that your breasts produce for the baby. It is a thick, yellowish fluid containing antibodies that protect newborns from infection. If leaking becomes embarrassing, suggest putting nursing pads inside her bra.


Try to these tips to stay comfortable:

  • Make sure she wears a soft, comfortable maternity or nursing bra with extra support.
  • Get her to wash her nipples with water instead of soap. Soap can dry and irritate nipples. If she has cracked nipples, use a heavy moisturizing cream that contains lanolin.

 

Dizziness

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, many pregnant women complain of dizziness and lightheadedness throughout their pregnancies. Fainting is rare but does happen even in some healthy pregnant women. There are many reasons for these symptoms. The growth of more blood vessels in early pregnancy, the pressure of the expanding uterus on blood vessels and the body’s increased need for food all can make a pregnant woman feel lightheaded and dizzy.

To make your spouse feel better follow these tips:

  • Help her stand up slowly
  • When she is feeling lightheaded, lay her down on her left side
  • Make sure she avoids sitting or standing in one position for a long time
  •  Take care she eats healthy snacks or small meals frequently.
  • Protect her from getting overheated.

Call your doctor as soon as possible if she faints. Dizziness or lightheadedness can be discussed at regular prenatal visits.

 

Hemorrhoids

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, up to 50% of pregnant women get hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen and bulging veins in the rectum. They can cause itching, pain and bleeding. Hemorrhoids are more common during pregnancy for many reasons. During pregnancy there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins in the rectum. Plus, constipation can make hemorrhoids worse. Hemorrhoids usually improve after delivery.


Follow these tips to help your partner prevent and relieve hemorrhoids:

  • Make sure she drinks lots of fluids
  • Make sure she eats plenty of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, raw or cooked leafy green vegetables, and fruits
  • Tell her to try not to strain for bowel movements
  • Talk with your doctor before she starts taking any laxative
  • Talk to your doctor about using witch hazel or ice packs to soothe her hemorrhoids.

Leg Cramps

At different times during your pregnancy, your spouse might have cramps in your legs or feet. They usually happen at night. This is due to a change in the way her body processes, or metabolizes, calcium.

Try these tips to help her prevent and ease leg cramps:

  • Make sure she eats lots of low-fat calcium-rich foods
  • Make sure she gets regular mild exercise, like walking
  • Ask your doctor if she should be taking a prenatal vitamin containing calcium
  • Gently stretch her muscle to relieve leg and foot cramps. If she has a sudden leg cramp, flex her foot towards her body
  • Make sure she uses heating pads or warm, moist towels to help relax the muscles and ease leg and foot cramp.

Nasal Problems

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, nosebleeds and nasal stuffiness are common during pregnancy. They are caused by the increased amount of blood in her body and hormones acting on the tissues of her nose. To ease nosebleeds, ask her to blow gently when she blows her nose. You can stop her nosebleeds by squeezing her nose between your thumb and finger for a few minutes.

If she has nosebleeds that do not stop in a few minutes or happen often, see your doctor. Drinking extra water and using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom may help relieve nasal stuffiness. Talk with your doctor before your spouse takes any over-the-counter or prescription medicines for colds or nasal stuffiness.

Shortness of Breath

As the baby grows, your spouse’s expanding uterus will put pressure on all of her organs, including her lungs. You may notice that she is short of breath or might not be able to catch her breath.

Tips to ease breathing include:

  • Tell her to take deep, long breaths
  • Take care that she maintains good posture so her lungs have room to expand
  • Get her to use an extra pillow and try to get her to sleep on her side to breathe easier at night.

Swelling

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, most women develop mild swelling in the face, hands, or ankles at some point in their pregnancies. As the due date approaches, swelling often becomes more noticeable. If she has rapid, significant weight gain or her hands or feet suddenly get very puffy, call your doctor as soon as possible. It could be a sign of high blood pressure called preeclampsia or toxemia.

To keep swelling to a minimum:

  • Make sure she drinks 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluids (water is best) daily
  • Get her to avoid caffeine
  • Try to avoid very salty foods in her diet
  • Make sure she rests when she can with her feet elevated
  • Ask your doctor about using support hose.

Teeth and Gums Problems

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, a pregnant woman’s teeth and gums need special care. Pregnant women with gum disease are much more likely to have premature babies with low-birth weight. This may result from the transfer of bacteria in the mother’s mouth to the baby during pregnancy.


The microbes can reach the baby through the placenta (a temporary organ joining the mother and fetus which supplies the fetus with blood and nutrients), through the amniotic fluid (fluid around the fetus), and through the layer of tissues in the mother’s stomach.

 

Every expectant mother should have a complete oral exam prior to or very early in pregnancy. All needed dental work should be managed early, because having urgent treatment during pregnancy can present risks. Interventions can be started to control risks for gum inflammation and disease. This also is the best time to change habits that may affect the health of teeth and gums, and the health of the baby. Remember to tell your dentist that your spouse is pregnant! She can ease bleeding gums by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing at least twice a day. Get more details on taking care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy. Varicose Veins During pregnancy there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. Plus, pressure on the large veins behind the uterus causes the blood to slow in its return to the heart. For these reasons, varicose veins in the legs and anus (hemorrhoids) are more common in pregnancy. Varicose veins look like swollen veins raised above the surface of the skin. They can be twisted or bulging, and are dark purple or blue in color. They are found most often on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg.


According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, you can try these tips to reduce the chances of varicose veins:

  • Get her to avoid tight knee-highs or garters
  • Take care she sits with her legs and feet raised when possible.

Also See:

·        Digestive Difficulties

·        Stretch Marks and Other Skin Changes

·        Sleeping Troubles

·        Weight Gain

·        Is it Safe to have Sex?

·        When to Call the Doctor