10 common pregnancy niggles And what to do about them
and how to cure them
From bloating to backache, pregnancy sure isn’t glamorous. Luckily, most of the common ailments can be resolved with a few lifestyle changes. Dr Renardo Lourens, an ob/gyn practising at Mediclinic Panorama, offers some tips, writes Melany Bendix
Almost all women will experience backache at some time during their pregnancy. Dr Lourens says this is because increases in the oestrogen hormone cause ligaments to become lax: “This causes the muscles to take over the action of the ligaments and therefore muscle spasms and backache are quite common.”
The saying “prevention is better than cure” applies here, and that means being fit, healthy and not overweight before pregnancy. “During your pregnancy, seeing a chiropractor or a physiotherapist will help quite a lot. Taking walks for 20 to 30 minutes at least three to four times a week is also a good habit,” Dr Lourens advises. It’s also a good idea to avoid lifting heavy weights, wearing high heels or standing for too long. If you still suffer from backache, try sleeping with a pillow between your legs; using a support cushion for sitting; applying a hot or cold pack to the area; or having a professional massage (always tell the therapist you’re pregnant).
ENSURING YOU DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND HAVE A FIBRE-RICH DIET CAN HELP PREVENT CONSTIPATION
Oestrogen is also to blame for this one. “Under the influence of oestrogen the gut relaxes and there is a build-up of gas and therefore bloating occurs,” explains Dr Lourens.
The good doc suggests avoiding fizzy drinks and food that causes gas, such as cabbage and peanuts.
The biggest culprit is – you guessed it – oestrogen! “The increase of this hormone makes the gut lazier, therefore the clearance of the gut is not so good,” explains Dr Lourens. “There is also an increased uptake of water out of the gut and that leads to constipation.”
Ensuring you drink plenty of water and have a fibre-rich diet can help prevent constipation. Otherwise, Dr Lourens recommends the bowel bulker and softener Movicol: “It is not absorbed systemically and therefore is absolutely safe to take during your pregnancy.”
Embarrassing, yes, but also totally normal. It’s usually due to the same reason as bloating and constipation – an increase in oestrogen levels decreasing bowel motion, causing a build-up of gas. “There is also more pressure on the bowel, which can make the passing of stool a little more difficult, leading to a build-up of gas.”
Take the same actions as you would for bloating and constipation.
5 HEARTBURN OR INDIGESTION
Aside from your diet, Dr Lourens says boy babies may be the cause of your indigestion – due to the influence of androgenic (male type) hormones. Another surprising reason may be that your baby’s hair is growing: “There is quite a good scientific relation between heartburn and the baby’s hair growth,” he notes.
Prevention is best. Eat small, frequent meals, avoid spicy and greasy foods, chocolate, alcohol and coffee, and don’t drink a lot of liquid before bedtime. If you still experience heartburn or indigestion, prop yourself up with a pillow, or Dr Lourens recommends managing heartburn or indigestion with pregnancy-safe medications such as Gaviscon or Gelusil.