Feeling comfortable during pregnancy is important for both you and your baby. It promotes relaxation, a good mood, and can help you stay active, which is also great for a healthy pregnancy. But hormonal changes and your growing baby may cause some discomforts. Whether you’re dealing with first-trimester nausea, sixth-month heartburn, or month-nine back aches, here are some tips to help you feel better.
One of the most talked about first-trimester pregnancy symptoms is morning sickness, a misnomer because it often lasts all day. To help manage the nausea and vomiting, try the following:
- Eat bland mini-meals throughout the day
- Skip spicy and greasy foods
- Sip on ginger tea or candy
- Snack on a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning
- Avoid foods with intense flavors and smells
- Let someone else do the cooking if odors bother you
- Wear acupressure wristbands, the kind used for motion sickness
While morning sickness is uncomfortable, take heart; many women begin to get some relief around the fourth month of pregnancy.
If you experience excessive vomiting and are losing weight, contact your doctor to see if you could have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiency, so your doctor will want to ensure you and your baby get the care you need.
Hormonal changes and your baby’s growing needs during the first trimester can cause fatigue. Listen to your body. Make sleep a priority, and try to take naps whenever possible.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends drinking 8 to 12 cups of water daily. Aside from being an essential part of supporting a healthy pregnancy, water can promote comfort by helping:
- Aid digestion
- Ease constipation and decrease the risk of hemorrhoids
- Reduce swelling in legs, ankles, feet, and fingers
- Regulate your body heat
- Relieve leg cramps
Breast soreness is often one of the first signs of pregnancy, and the discomfort can last the entire nine months. Your breasts are preparing for lactation and feeding your baby, so give them the extra love they deserve by getting a more supportive, full-coverage bra. Consider sizing up or wearing a sports bra. Some other tips that may help manage breast sensitivity include:
- Applying a cold compress
- Avoiding constricting clothes
- Wearing a bra at night
- Taking a warm shower
If your breasts are very sore, talk to your doctor.
Around your fifth month of pregnancy, your feet and ankles may begin to swell. You may also find that your shoes are a bit tighter as hormones relax your feet’s ligaments and tendons. Wearing compression stockings and supportive tights can help provide some relief. You may also want to:
- Avoid standing for long periods
- Elevate feet when resting
Contact your doctor if the swelling is severe and sudden to rule out preeclampsia, a serious condition that can affect some pregnant women.
By the time you’re six months pregnant, heartburn may become an issue as your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach. You may notice a burning sensation rising up your esophagus, which can trigger burping, nausea, and a sour taste in your mouth. Heartburn may last through the remainder of your pregnancy, but the following strategies may help prevent and manage this common concern:
- Cut out or limit your consumption of common heartburn culprits such as caffeinated beverages, fatty and greasy foods, and spicy dishes.
- Eat smaller meals more often, similar to how you may have managed morning sickness.
- Try eating yogurt, which may help soothe your stomach.
- Remain upright after eating or take a walk before lying down. Gravity is your friend when it comes to digestion and helping food stay in place.
Reaching for an antacid can be tempting, but don’t take anything without speaking to your doctor first. Some antacids are not pregnancy-safe.
Lower back pain is typical during pregnancy, especially around the halfway mark.
As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts forward, which can strain your lower back muscles. And those pregnancy hormones are at work again, this time relaxing your pelvic joints, which can make you more susceptible to joint pain. A belly band can help support your lower back and abdomen and reduce strain while also encouraging proper posture. Here are a couple of other things you can do that may help ease lower back pain:
- Use a lumbar pillow or rolled-up towel to support the curve of your lower back when sitting.
- Wear comfortable footwear. Opt for comfort over fashion. Avoid high heels and other shoes that lack good arch support.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, regular exercise can benefit both you and your baby. It may help:
- Reduce back pain
- Relieve constipation
- Decrease your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
- Strengthen your muscles and improve circulation
As long as you’re healthy and you get the green light from your OB-GYN, continuing or starting regular physical activity is generally safe. Walking, swimming, stationary bicycling, and modified yoga are some potential options. Check out if there is a prenatal yoga class in your area. These classes are specially designed for pregnant women and offer an opportunity to connect with other expectant moms.
If you’re an avid and experienced runner or racquet sports player, you may be able to continue doing what you do—just be sure to talk to your doctor.
If you experience any discomfort during pregnancy, your doctor is your best resource for guidance. They can offer additional tips to help you manage your unpleasant symptoms and stay healthy. And remember—you’re not alone, and there are many options that can help you feel better as you await your little one’s arrival.