All The Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy – Part 2
In Part 1 I started discussing the fun symptoms I am having with my second pregnancy. I am finding, not many women discuss these pregnancy symptoms when asked “how your pregnancy is going?”, so I thought I would share.
Do you wake up covered in sweat? Do you find yourself standing in front of a fan, and you’re still hot? Sometimes I feel like I am sweating more than a child at confession.
Believe it or not, hot flashes are quite common when you’re pregnant. Many expectant mothers suffer from hot flashes and night sweats. The changes in hormone levels, especially the drop in estrogen, are to blame. (Low estrogen levels are the same reason menopausal women experience hot flashes.)
This weird pregnancy “glow” symptom typically strikes in the second and third trimester, and it can last even after your baby is born. But hey, sometimes you gotta sweat like a pig, to look like a fox right?! Postpartum hot flashes are normal for nursing mothers too, since your hormones stay lower if you’re breastfeeding. One perk of having hot flashes in pregnancy – you’ll know what to expect when you’re going through menopause!
2. Seriously? MORE stuff in that area? (Let’s talk about hemorrhoids)
Although it may seem like your body is dropping out of your anus, hemorrhoids are actually veins in and around your rectum becoming swollen and can affect up to 50% of pregnant women. Lucky! Lucky! You may notice bright red blood with wiping, feeling itchy after bowel movements and/or all day and or pain.
The increased blood flow with pregnancy and growing uterus usually cause the lovely hemorrhoids to appear, but both constipation and delivery can affect them as well.
Sitting may make hemorrhoids feel worse. Straining with bowel movements also increases risks for hemorrhoids, so don’t let constipation get ahead of you. Check our Poop Blog for tips!
Lying on your side helps keep the pressure off that area so take time off your feet. And guess what? Drinking plenty of water and increasing your fiber intake helps. Who knew?!
When I am pregnant, I am already getting up 3-4 times a night because I can’t get comfortable, or I’m congested or I have to pee. Then these silly Charlie horses come back to haunt me from my teen years and wake me up a few more times a night. Not happy.
No one really knows what causes them. One thought is compressed blood vessels or nerves, or just the pressure of carrying around more weight or lying in one position all night. Either way, muscle cramps are painful and wake me up from my wonderful sleep like an air horn. One trick to relieve them is to flex your foot upwards and straighten your leg like you’re going to touch your shin with your big toe. And if that doesn’t work, I end up squeezing (or beating) my husband’s arm to relieve the pain, haha!
4. I could say the Itsy, Bitsy Spider up my legs (Varicose veins)
Pregnancy is a risk factor for developing varicose veins. With pregnancy, your blood flow increases by 30-50% to transport nutrients to the placenta and blood flow slows down on return from legs to pelvis. This increases the pressure on the veins and they can stretch out, especially with the increase of the hormone, progestin.
The resulting varicose veins can feel tender and sore and leave your legs feeling heavy and achy. Some lucky women also get them on the vulva and labia and inside the vagina. They can be small and barely noticeable or large, uncomfortable and make you feel unattractive. Your vulva can feel swollen and sore, and it can be uncomfortable to sit. To me, it feels like sitting on catamarans. But the good news is if you have varicose veins in this area, they are likely to return to normal a few months after the baby’s arrival.
If you are suffering from varicose veins, you can try the following:
Elevate your legs for about 15-20 minutes at a time. This is hard for me, as I am a “get-stuff-done” kind of girl. Raising your legs higher than the level of your heart can help promote circulation. When there’s a chance to rest with your feet up, take it. You will feel so much better and the pressure will lessen in your pelvis and thighs. You might even place a firm pillow under your feet to raise your legs while you sleep.
Change position. If you tend to stand for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to sit. If you tend to sit a lot, take frequent breaks to walk around. This helps a lot! You can also try Kegels while in these positions to improve circulation “down there”. Do Lots of Belly Breathing (diaphragm breathing) if you don’t know how check out our blog, just breathe.
Monitor your weight. Gaining a large amount of weight in a short period of time is especially hard on your veins.
Get support. Try support from compress socks (I like Medi Socks and Juzo), compression shorts/ thigh highs that also go over belly, and support garment for varicose veins in the vulvar area (I like the V2 supporter).
Avoid constipation. Drink plenty of water, to prevent hemorrhoids (which are varicose veins in the rectum), add extra fiber to your diet and, no straining when having a bowel movement.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Amanda Fisher, DPT
This blog is here for your help. It is the opinion of a Licensed Physical Therapist. If you experience the symptoms addressed you should seek the help of a medical professional who can diagnose and develop a treatment plan that is individualized for you. If you enjoyed this blog, check out our website at foundationalconcepts.net for more blog entries and to learn more about our specialty PT practice, Foundational Concepts. Follow us on Twitter @SarahpelvicPT or @Jenn_pelvic_PT or @AmandaFisherPT and like us on Facebook/Foundational Concepts for updates.