Common ailments

Extracts from PregnancyFit 250

The path to becoming a new mum is not always a smooth one. Most women will have a ‘low risk’ pregnancy, but this does not mean that you will not experience discomforts, pains and niggles. Hopefully these won’t stop you from exercising, but you may need to adapt your activity levels at different times. Below are a few things you may experience and some advice. It’s not all glamour ladies!

SICK AS A PIG – Morning (or all day!) sickness can be really horrible, but regular exercise and fresh air can help ease it. Try to eat little and often; something plain like crackers. Ginger, peppermint and sniffing lemon are also worth a try. Drink plenty of water and hope it doesn’t last long! See you doctor if it becomes severe.

BACK WAY – Many women get an achy lower back during pregnancy. Staying active can help prevent this. Also, look into a bump support and do regular back stretches (see page xx) to keep your muscles supple. If the pain becomes more severe in your back or pelvis then see your doctor.

BLESS YOU! – Its horrible when you are pregnant and have a cough or cold, even more than normal! Talk to a Pharmacist about what medication is safe for you to take, drink plenty of water and eat well. Get plenty of rest and only do some gentle exercise if you feel up to it.

PILE HIGH – Piles are common in pregnancy due to increased blood volume and relaxed blood vessels in your back bottom area. You can prevent them with good diet and hydration and exercise. If you do get them avoid itching and getting constipated by upping your fibre intake. They’ll probably shrink when you have had your baby. The joys!

SKIN DEEP – Your skin undergoes all sorts of changes during pregnancy in terms of colour, itchiness, rashes, chaffing, stretch marks and veins – the glamour! Keep hydrated and moisturise and gently exfoliate regularly. Exercise and eating healthily will help minimise some of these effects, in part by contributing to a sensible weight gain.

BLEEDING – Don’t panic if you get some bleeding during pregnancy. This is actually pretty common and there are lots of harmless reasons for it. However, if it is heavy or you are at all worried then get checked out. Go to a doctor immediately if the bleeding is a result of physical activity (this is highly unlikely).

WRIST ACTION – The increase in blood volume can cause wrists to swell and become painful, stiff, numb and tingly. This is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you suffer avoid exercise that puts pressure on your wrists, use correct hand positions and see your doctor for advice.

PLACENTA PREVIA – Is a low-lying placenta. The placenta can sit low early in pregnancy then gradually move round, but if you are diagnosed with placenta previa after 26 weeks then you may have to hold off on the exercise after this. Your pregnancy will be carefully managed so talk to your doctor and midwife.

DON’T SCRATCH! – Thrush is common in pregnancy, but easily treatable and won’t affect your baby. You can use a pessary with care (without the applicator) and apply cream, but don’t take the oral capsules. Try to stay dry and cool down there! Chilled yoghurt applied directly is soothing too. See your doctor for advice on treatment.

CRAMP YOUR STYLE – it is not unusual to get tummy pains during pregnancy – there’s a lot going on in there! They will come and go, but if the pain is severe or sustained or accompanied by bleeding or weird discharge, then see your doctor.

HEARTACHE – As your bump grows you may suffer from heartburn and indigestion which can be very painful. Try to eat little and often and avoid very spicy and rich foods. Drink water with your meal and have a little walk afterwards if you can.

DOWN UNDER – Cystitis and urinary tract infections are common in pregnancy due to the pressure of your growing uterus. They can be very painful. Drink plenty of water, take warm baths to ease the discomfort and drink cranberry juice to help prevent future bouts. If you are suffering see you doctor.

STITCH IN TIME – Stitches are common as your bump grows. These can occur in your tummy or chest. To ease a stitch take a short rest from exercise to stretch (reach up and over), take deep breaths, drink water, and start again slowly. Sometimes they go; sometimes you just have to take a proper break.

TRIAL RUN – Later on in your pregnancy you may notice Braxton Hicks (practice contractions). This is when your womb tightens and your tum may go hard. Don’t worry they are completely normal (you are getting warmed up!), but if they are painful or you have discharge or blood then see your doctor.

CRAMP YOUR STYLE – The dreaded cramp can be SO painful- many swear words have been shouted due to night cramps! Exercise and stretching can prevent cramp, but if you do suffer then massage the area (usually your foot or leg), point and flex your foot, walk around or elevate it. Calcium in your diet may help too. All part of the fun!

HERPES RISK – If you suffer from herpes then you will need to discuss this with your doctor, especially if you get it for the first time while you are pregnant. This may also affect whether you can have a natural delivery as herpes can be passed on to your baby.

WEE-TASTIC – Your growing bump will be putting more pressure on your bladder, making you want to wee more. This is perfectly normal, but make sure, particularly if you are exercising, that you don’t drink less. Stay well hydrated.

LADY LUMPS – Cellulite affects most women, particularly as we get older. What can you do about it? Have a good diet, exercise and drink lots of water – you should be doing this anyway! As for body brushing every day – fab if you have the time, but the best advice would be don’t worry about a few bumpy bits!

LOCH NESS – Lochia is your womb lining coming out after you have your baby (vaginally or by c-section). This bleeding varies from woman to woman but may last a few weeks. If it doesn’t taper off or is an odd colour (i.e. very dark) see your doctor. Time to stock up on sanny pads!

PUFFBALL – Swollen ankles and feet are very common and caused by the extra blood you have during pregnancy. To help put your feet up, get someone to rub them, drink plenty (yes!), keep up your exercise and keep away from the heels!

MILKY MILKY – You may start to leak some pre-milk (colustrum) in the third trimester. Now is the time to invest in some breast pads to put inside your bra, especially if exercising. BTW – The old wives tale of cooled cabbage leaves in your bra to aid painful breasts later on really works!

LIGHTENING STRIKES – When your baby engages, the head is dropping down into your pelvis ready to come out. This can happen a few weeks or days before labour. Once this happens your bump may change shape, pressure eases on your diaphragm and you can breathe a bit more easily.

LINERS – You may experience a bit of wee wee leakage after you have your baby, particularly when you exercise, sneeze, or laugh so start by wearing a panty liner (when the bleeding stops) and keep up those ever important pelvic floors (I know- broken record!) If it affects your lifestyle don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor.

More serious stuff…

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? – If you have high blood pressure then consult your doctor before starting any programme of exercise. It may be ok depending on your circumstances, but you need to check as severe high blood pressure can cause serious problems in pregnancy if left unchecked.

DIABETES – Exercise lowers your risk of gestational diabetes which is caused by a rise in insulin during pregnancy. Another big plus! However, if you find yourself weeing all the time and always thirsty, it is best to talk to your doctor just to make sure.

PRE-ECLAMPSIA – You’ll need to have regular blood pressure checks as pre-eclampsia can develop after 20 weeks. This s severe high blood pressure (and protein in your wee) and can cause complications for you and your baby if not managed carefully.

OUCH! – Some women suffer very severe pelvic pain as their ligaments relax and the pelvis enlarges. This may be Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SFD). This can also be felt in the back. It can be agonising and needs medical attention. You will not be able to do regular exercise with SPD.