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What are Pregnancy Complications?
There are many complications that can occur during the different stages of pregnancy. Some minor or bothersome complications include:
- Nausea and Vomiting - Very often during the first trimester nausea and vomiting, commonly known as morning sickness occurs. This may begin as early as the first missed menstrual period, and last until later into the pregnancy. Morning sickness can happen throughout the day, not only mornings!
The main reason for the nausea and vomiting is the rising level of certain hormones in pregnancy, especially beta HCG. By the 14th week of pregnancy, the symptoms usually subside and do not need medical treatment.
To relieve the nausea and vomiting, most women find eating dry crackers or drinking ginger tea helpful. There are also many natural remedies which are useful. In rare cases where vomiting is severe, dehydration may occur and hospital treatment may be required.
- Heartburn - Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux is a burning sensation that often starts from the below the breastbone and extends up to the lower throat. It is caused by the stomach contents that reflux from the stomach.
Heartburn is quite common during pregnancy, with many expectant mothers experiencing it for the first time. During pregnancy, your hormonal levels are constantly changing, which may affect the digestive tract muscles and the way various foods are tolerated.
- Pregnancy hormones, especially progesterone, cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax which allows stomach acid to seep back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux. The growing baby also crowds the abdomen, pushing acids upwards.
This causes discomfort but is generally quite harmless and usually occurs around the last few months of pregnancy. You can relieve heartburn by eating smaller meals throughout the day and eating slowly. Once again, homeopathic and herbal remedies can be very beneficial in alleviating the problem safely.
- Fatigue - Many women experience fatigue during the first trimester because their bodies are under extra strain. Often you may find women taking more naps than usual so that their bodies can become accustomed to the idea of being pregnant. Generally, during the second trimester women experience an increase in energy levels.
During the third trimester, energy levels drop again as you are also carrying around more weight and your body prepares for labor and delivery. To combat fatigue during your pregnancy, rest as much as possible and avoid doing strenuous chores that may tire you. Take time out for a relaxing massage or soak in a warm tub. Foot soaks or rubs are great for relieving aching feet!
- Urinary symptoms - During the first three months of pregnancy women urinate frequently as a result of hormonal changes and the enlarging uterus pushing down on the bladder. There is also an increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection with symptoms of pain, burning, bleeding or pus in the urine.
To prevent urinary infections, women should drink plenty of water to clear the body’s system and detox. Remember to make trips to the bathroom as frequent as you need to rather than delay it. Biochemical tissue salts to treat urinary tract infection during pregnancy are also an option.
- Constipation - As your uterus expands, you may feel constipated. When a high amount of progesterone is released into the body, the muscles of the intestine lose some of their strength, slowing down the passage of food through the intestines. To prevent constipation eat foods rich in fiber such as fresh fruit, vegetables, bran or wholegrain bread and drink lots of water.
- Leg Cramps - At various stages of your pregnancy, leg cramps may occur. Leg cramps may be due to the changes in the blood circulation in the legs as well as the excess weight being carried. Relieve leg cramps by increasing your calcium and magnesium intake, stretching, walking, taking warm baths, through massage or applying a heating pad on the affected area.
- Breast soreness - During pregnancy, breasts are fuller, sensitive, swollen and tender. Other changes that may occur in the first trimester include darkening of the skin around the nipple (areola) and distinctive veins across both breasts. Wearing a comfortable, supportive maternity bra should relieve discomfort.
During the last trimester, begin to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. Herbal creams are useful and it is of great benefit to expose your nipples to sunlight for a short period, about 10 – 15 minutes every day if the weather allows but be sure not to overdo it!
- Itchy skin - Many pregnant women may experience some kind of skin itchiness due to the changing hormones within the body. Itchiness that occurs over the growing abdomen is caused by the stretching of the skin. It is also quite common to experience red, itchy hands and feet that are believed to be caused by increased estrogen levels. In some cases, there may also be itchiness around the vaginal area caused by a fungal infection such as, thrush.
Itchiness around the anus could be due to hemorrhoids. Moisturizer, aromatic oils or aqueous cream will help to relieve itchiness on the stomach, hands and feet. Consult your doctor if you have thrush or hemorrhoids.
- Piles - Pregnant women often develop piles, also referred to as hemorrhoids. They are caused by changes in the circulation of the blood around the pregnant woman’s body and may develop during pregnancy as well as during labor when pushing. Take fiber supplements and stool softeners to soften stools. Warm baths, apply ice -packs or a natural hemorrhoid cream will help to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Backache - Backache is very common during pregnancy. It occurs as a result of the extra weight and size of the uterus and breasts. Because of this the muscles in your back have to work extra hard to support your balance, causing lower back pain. To ease backache, rest as much as possible, take warm baths or massage the affected area.
- Swollen ankles - Swelling, also known as edema, occurs because you are retaining more water. It affects the extremities, particularly the ankles and toes during the third trimester. When the enlarged womb puts pressure on your pelvic veins, the pressure slows down the return of blood from the legs causing accumulation of water around the ankles. Swollen ankles may be relieved by elevating feet when sitting, exercising, massage or wearing supportive tights.
- Pins and needles - Pins and needles in the hands may also be experienced during pregnancy due to the build up of fluid around the wrists that compresses the nerves that run into the hand muscles – this condition is also known carpal tunnel syndrome. It may be accompanied by some pain and numbness. Wear a molded wrist splint to ease the discomfort of pins and needles.
- Varicose veins - Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are usually found in the legs. Women are often affected by varicose veins during pregnancy because the changing hormones cause the walls of the blood vessels to relax and the growing uterus places extra pressure on the veins in pelvis and legs. To prevent varicose veins from occurring, elevate your feet as much as possible, wear supportive tights and practice gentle exercises regularly. Regular use of biochemical tissue salts will also help to prevent this condition.
While the majority of women sail through pregnancy with only minor complications, certain women may experience more severe pregnancy complications that involve threatened miscarriage, miscarriage or stillbirth. There are a multitude of different factors which may cause this. Attending regular pre-natal check ups, eating healthy, managing stress levels and having sufficient exercise and sleep will go a long way to achieving a healthy pregnancy.
Other Complications Possible During Pregnancy
- Abnormalities in the uterus
- High blood pressure
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes
- Molar pregnancy
- Low amniotic fluid
- Placenta praevia
- Obstetric cholestasis