Aches and pains during pregnancy
Growing a baby is hard work. Your body will go through a lot of changes as your baby grows and your hormones change. Along with the other common symptoms during pregnancy, you will often notice new aches and pains.
Headaches are common during pregnancy. Before you take medicine, ask your health care provider if it is safe to take. Other than medicine, relaxation techniques may help.
Headaches can be a sign of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). If your headaches get worse, and they don’t go away easily when you take Tylenol and rest, especially toward the end of your pregnancy, tell your doctor.
Pain in Your Lower Abdomen (Belly) or Groin
You may feel stretching or pain in your lower belly during pregnancy, usually on one side or the other. This happens when ligaments and muscles around your uterus start to stretch.
Most often, it happens between 18 and 24 weeks. When you feel stretching or pain, move slowly or change positions.
Numbness and Tingling
As your uterus grows, it may press on the nerves in your legs. This may cause some numbness and tingling (feeling of pins and needles) in your legs and toes. This is normal and will go away after you give birth (it may take a few weeks to months).
You may also have numbness or tingling in your fingers and hands. You may notice it more often when you wake up in the morning. This also goes away after you give birth, though, again, not always right away.
If it is uncomfortable, you can wear a brace at night. Ask your health care provider where to get one.
Pregnancy strains your back and posture. To avoid or reduce backaches, you can:
- Wear low-heeled shoes.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Sit in a chair with good back support.
- Don’t stand for too long.
- Bend your knees when picking things up. Don’t bend at the waist.
- Don’t lift heavy objects.
- Use heat or cold on the sore part of your back.
- Have someone massage or rub the sore part of your back. If you go to a professional massage therapist, let him or her know you are pregnant.
- Do back exercises that your doctor suggests.
Leg Aches and Pains
The extra weight you carry when you are pregnant can make your legs and back hurt.
Your body will also make a hormone that loosens ligaments throughout your body to prepare it for childbirth. However, these looser ligaments are more easily injured, most often in your back, so be careful when you lift and exercise.
Leg cramps are common in the last months of pregnancy. Sometimes stretching your legs before bed will reduce the cramps. Your doctor can show you how to safely stretch.
Watch for pain and swelling in one leg, but not the other. This can be a sign of a blood clot. Let your health care provider know if this happens.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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