Pregnancy is filled with all kinds of physical and emotional peaks and valleys. Your body is literally taken over by another human being, so you can expect some dramatic changes. Some of these changes are uncomfortable, and even painful. Learning what to expect can help you figure out what’s normal and what should send you to the doctor.
While new sensations are normal, particularly if this is your first pregnancy, always call the doctor when you’re in doubt. If there’s any question, err on the side of caution.
Mild cramping is normal throughout pregnancy. In the first trimester, these cramps could resemble menstrual cramps, as your uterus expands to allow for the new passenger. Try a warm bath, light stretching, or relaxation exercises.
If the cramping is severe, long-lasting, or accompanied by bleeding or fever, contact your doctor right away.
Your hormones are in upheaval during pregnancy, and are often the cause of pregnancy headaches. Generally, doctors allow pregnant women to take acetaminophen for headache pain, though you’ll want to still double check with your provider.
In rare cases, a headache can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition involving high blood pressure. If your headaches don’t improve, talk to your doctor about pre-eclampsia as a potential cause.
Gas and bloating are common with pregnancy, and can be extremely uncomfortable. Lessen the discomfort associated with these digestive ailments by drinking plenty of water and minimizing any foods you suspect are causing gas. Taking over-the-counter anti-gas remedies is another option, but you must discuss it with your doctor first.
While we normally think of backaches as a late pregnancy issue (and they are), back pain can also hit you during the first and second trimesters. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend stretching and staying active. Avoid lifting heavy objects, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
Constipation is another common pregnancy complaint, and one that could be the source of cramping and pain. Stool softeners like Colace are generally considered safe for pregnant women and their babies, but still run it by your doctor first. You can also prevent constipation by drinking plenty of water, staying active, and eating high-fiber foods.
Most common later in pregnancy, tingling and numbness are usually caused by your growing uterus compressing the nerves that lead to your extremities. This condition is referred to as sciatica. Though unpleasant, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it, aside from eventually having your baby. Stretching may relieve the compression temporarily, however. During your pregnancy, you’ll experience a multitude of changes. Any time you feel pain that isn’t temporary or harmless, err on the side of safety and discuss the symptoms with your healthcare provider.