1. Morning sickness: This might as well be called all-day-long sickness for some. As unfortunate as it may be, morning sickness affects over 70 percent of all pregnant women and typically begins around week six and usually disappears by week sixteen. (For an unfortunate small minority, it may not disappear at all.) Strategy: Try to eat small nibbles often. You may not be able to stomach a full meal, that’s okay. Try sipping ginger or mint decaf teas, eating ginger candies, sipping ginger ale and eating carbohydrates like toast or crackers before you get out of bed. This is also a time to stay clear of the office kitchen and all strong smells and have packages of crackers in your desk drawers as well.
2. Constipation: People rarely talk about this, but pregnant women are constipated. Due to progesterone relaxing the muscles of the small intestine, bowel movements are slowed down. Strategy: Exercise regularly to get those bowels moving! Even light swimming and walking can help. To accompany this, drink lots of filtered water and eat fiber-rich foods such as apricots, prunes, non-peeled fruits, and vegetables. Discuss your exercise schedule with your physician and never exercise more rigorously than you did before becoming pregnant.
3. Itchy Skin: Do you feel like a snake molting? The good news is it’s normal. As you expand, your skin stretches and you can feel itchy. Strategy: Find a good type of “belly jelly”–many creams are sold at drug stores and high-end body shops to ease your itchy skin. Look for those containing almond oil or shea butter and massage into the area regularly. This is also the time to avoid tight clothing which can irritate your skin further. Finally, if you are itching on your palms and the soles of your feet, this can indicate a rare, but serious liver condition called obstetric cholestasis. See your doctor immediately.
4. Water Retention: Fluid accumulates in the tissues making your feet, ankles, legs, and hands swell. This is normal in pregnancy. However, if you are noticing that the swelling is sudden or excessive, see your doctor immediately as it could be a sign of preeclampsia. Strategy: Put your feet up as much as you can! This is your time to be pampered! So don’t stand in the kitchen for hours at a time cooking after a long day at the office – enlist your partner to help. Find comfortable shoes–even for work. (They are out there.) Salty foods exacerbate swelling, so cut out soft drinks and canned or frozen foods and no fast food. Cut down your caffeine intake, if you haven’t already, and drink lots of filtered water.
5. Heartburn: Progesterone is at it again. Not only is it making you constipated, but it is also relaxing the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, which can allow stomach acids to leak through. Strategy: Keep up with the small meals as you did to deal with morning sickness. If you eat smaller amounts more frequently, you’ll be able to better digest the food, and you’re likely to add more variety to your diet. Avoid greasy foods and if spicy foods bother you, cut them out as well. Gentle pregnancy-yoga can sometimes help with excess gas. Consult your doctor before taking an antacid.
6. Varicose Veins: Varicose veins can form due to the increased blood volume and the excess weight you are carrying around. Strategy: Putting up your feet when you get home is important, but ironically, exercise helps too. While your feet may be tired, light exercise gets the circulation flowing. Wear support stockings when appropriate (obviously not in August) and avoid sitting with you legs crossed or wearing uncomfortable shoes.