Pregnancy – Things to Know |

9 drawings about 9 months of pregnancy

The changes that take place during the short span of human pregnancy are profound.  Many of these changes occur soon after fertilization and continue throughout the entire pregnancy.  Most of these incredible adaptations are in response to the growing fetus and the hormonal changes the fetus produces in its mother.

Changes…Start at 4-5 Weeks of Pregnancy

Most women will notice subtle changes as early as four to five weeks of pregnancy.

The first changes to be noticed are:

  • Breast tenderness (sometimes with nipple discharge);
  • Heightened sense of smell (your favorite food or perfume may be intolerable);
  • Nausea with or without vomiting (this is called morning sickness, but often this problem can occur throughout the day);
  • Increased frequency of headaches;
  • Increased frequency of heartburn; and
  • Pelvic cramping or tenderness.

Usually these conditions go away spontaneously at about 14 to 16 weeks.

Pregnant woman on exam table
Simple element illustration. Pregnant woman on table symbol design.

Should I listen to what my friends and family say?

Most pregnant women are given more information than they care to hear from family and friends during the entire course of the pregnancy.  Many statements often told are not true and only serve to heighten anxiety and stress.   Just because a family member has a bad story about a complication does not mean that it is going to happen to you.

Each Pregnancy Is Individual

Each pregnancy is individual.  Even if you have had a problem during a previous pregnancy that does not necessarily mean it will happen again.

Is it common to get sick?

During pregnancy, people get common colds, flus and are more prone to:

  • constipation,
  • heartburn
  • body aches and pains

What to do about Constipation

For constipation, most over-the-counter remedies are safe to use.

Examples of such products that can be used for constipation during pregnancy are:

  • Dulcolax
  • Correctol
  • Metamucil
  • Konisyl
  • Solace

Am I Eating For Two?

One of the most common statements heard is the need to eat for two.  This is not true.

During early pregnancy, many women find it difficult to eat or want to eat certain foods like salad or fruit.

There is no problem with light eating habits during pregnancy; and it is also okay if you lose a few pounds in the first trimester.

Pre-Pregnancy Nutritional Status is Important Factor

The important factor for maternal and fetal wellbeing is pre-pregnancy nutritional status.  The way you ensure that your body is prepared for pregnancy is to eat a well-balanced diet and take a multivitamin with folic acid.

Heartburn During Pregnancy

Large Fatty Meals Cause Heartburn

In addition, eating larger meals especially if the meal contains a lot of fat, such as fried foods may cause terrible heartburn and even pressure in the chest.  This happens because the hormones of pregnancy make the stomach empty its contents slower.  To prevent this problem, smaller meals are advised, along with more frequent meals and also to limit the amount of fatty foods and milk products.

What to do about Heartburn

Heartburn is very common during pregnancy.  Most over the counter medications are safe for heartburn relief.

Tums are a good first choice.  If these are not strong enough, liquid antacids are recommended such as Mylanta and Maalox.

Don’t Take Heartburn Medicine Containing Aspirin

It is important to note that some heartburn medications contain aspirin, which is not recommended during pregnancy.  Two common medications that contain aspirin and should NOT be taken during pregnancy are Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer.

Body Aches During Pregnancy

Back Pain 

Most people will experience some degree of low back pain during pregnancy.  Back pain usually starts after the fifth month and can be mild with minimal lifestyle changes needed to relieve the pain (exercise, decreased work hours, physical therapy).

What causes Back Pain?

Back pain is caused by the heavy uterus pulling the spine forward increasing the normal curvature of the spine which is called lumbar lordosis.

Can I do anything to prevent Back Pain?

The best way to prevent back pain is to begin strengthening and stretching the back muscles early in pregnancy and even prior to pregnancy.

Other causes of Back Pain

Other causes of back pain are:

  • Kidney stones,
  • Kidney infections, and
  • Muscle strain from activity.

Normal daily activities or bed rest for Back Pain?

Once back pain begins, most people feel like they should rest and lie down in bed.  While this can help in the short term, it has been shown that maintenance of normal daily activities and back exercises can keep the back muscles more limber than bed rest and inactivity.

Tylenol is effective and safe for low back pain during pregnancy.

Heating pads, warm baths and massage therapy can help.

Consider an orthopedic back support often called a maternity belt.

Sit on The Buttpillow-Prego™ to Minimize Back Pain

It is also beneficial to use devises that tilt the pelvis slightly backwards which aids in decreasing the extra curvature of the lumbar spine while sitting during pregnancy such as the Buttpillow-Prego™️.

Shoes for Back Pain during pregnancy

While standing during pregnancy, wearing shoes with a small heel can also help relieve and prevent back pain by changing a person’s center of gravity slightly.  Some people will find shoes with small heels more comfortable than sneakers.

Pregnant woman with hand on back and stomach indicating pain
Pregnant Woman Felling Back Pain, Discomfort

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain and cramping are two other common conditions during pregnancy.  The uterus places rapidly increasing weight on the bones and ligaments of the pelvis.  There are also parts of the pelvis that stretch to accommodate the growing fetus which can cause pain.

Cushion to Sit On for Pelvic Pain

Sitting devices, such as the Buttpillow-Prego™️, that tilt the pelvis slightly backwards may help relieve this pain by cradling the uterus and changing the weight distribution of the uterus.

Tylenol is effective and safe for pelvic pain during pregnancy.

Should I Tilt My Bed Backwards to Minimize Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?

Some experts recommend placing blocks or objects, such as wood or books, under the feet of the bed to tilt the head of the bed down a little bit to relieve pelvic pressure and pain during pregnancy.

Safety of Food Additives

There is much discussion about many food additives and their safety during pregnancy.  A common additive is artificial sugar.  These products with artificial sugar have been theorized to cause birth defects but medical literature has never proven this relationship.  Use these products in moderation.

Do Not Diet During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is not the time to begin a diet.  A good approach to this topic is to drink plenty of water instead of diet sodas.  Treat yourself with a regular soda or a beverage sweetened with real sugar as a treat.  The key is to make water your main drink and make everything else a treat.  There are people who do not tolerate water so drink sugar-free and caffeine-free beverages instead.

About Caffeine During Pregnancy

There is some theoretical risk of birth defects with caffeine.  It has been shown that coffee, sodas and other foods and drinks with caffeine in moderation present little risk.  As a general rule, during pregnancy do not drink more than two caffeinated beverages a day.

Take a Multivitamin Before and During Pregnancy

Sometimes people are told to avoid all medications during pregnancy.  A prenatal multivitamin is a good idea especially during the first 12 weeks (1st trimester) and also for at least three months before pregnancy.

Medications to Avoid during Pregnancy

The main group of medication to avoid while pregnant is aspirin and other aspirin-like products such as:  Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Aleve.

Can I take Tylenol during Pregnancy?

It is safe to use acetaminophen (Tylenol), regular or extra-strength, two pills every six hours with a maximum of eight pills in a 24 hour period.

Can I take Sudafed during Pregnancy?

Sudafed is safe for Nasal or Sinus Congestion.

Most cough medications are safe in pregnancy, such as:

  • Robitussin DM and
  • Vicks 44.

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