The first three months of pregnancy are often the most stressful. Not only is your body changing , your world is about to change too. You have to start considering the baby’s well-being in every decision that you make. It can be easy to spend the first few months terrified that you will do something wrong or afraid that you have already made a harmful mistake before discovering your pregnancy. All of these worries can result in a stressed out and over -anxious mom-to-be.
Your pregnancy isn’t as fragile as it seems, however. Your body is designed to protect the baby from harm and Dr. Adelaide Nardone, OB/GYN and Medical Advisor to the Vagisil Women’s Health Center, offers some advice and reassurance about some of the most common concerns of early pregnancy.
Abdominal Pain – These pains are one of the most upsetting parts of early pregnancy because of the fear of impending miscarriage. In most cases the pain is experienced as mild cramping and is completely normal. “This is associated with implantation of the embryo, placentation, and the enlarging uterus.” explains Dr. Nardone.
Toward the beginning of the second trimester many women begin to experience pain in the lower part of the uterus, as the body begins to make room for the rapidly growing fetus. “This is often from the stretching of the round ligaments.” Dr. Nardone says. These are the structures that attach your uterus to the abdominal walls.
In most cases these aches and pains are nothing to worry about, but if you have severe, persistent or sudden pain that is accompanied by a fever or bleeding you should see your doctor right away. It could be a sign of kidney problems, urinary tract infection, or even preterm labor.
Back Pain – Back pain can also be a cause for worry since it is sometimes associated with miscarriage, but it’s a natural part of pregnancy and can be caused by many things. These include changes in posture due to the growing uterus and strain from carrying the extra weight. The weakening of abdominal muscles and decreased support for the spine can also result in back pain.
“Women should attempt to wear sensible shoes when they are pregnant and get off their feet when possible.“ advises Dr. Nardone. She also stresses the importance of avoiding heavy lifting and straining. Sitting in comfortable chairs and sleeping on a comfortable mattress will also go a long way in easing backaches.
Nausea and Vomiting – Occasional nausea and vomiting are almost inescapable during pregnancy. But sometimes vomiting can be so severe that keeping food down is next to impossible. It’s natural to worry that the baby isn’t getting everything it needs to develop. “Fortunately, mother nature provides well for the growing fetus even in times when the mother of the baby is lacking nourishment. Maternal stores are often recruited to provide the baby with sufficient nutrients.” says Dr. Nardone .
Its extremely important that you get plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration. Take small sips all through the day to avoid upsetting your stomach. You should also try to eat a little of whatever food you can tolerate, even if that means several nibbles instead of a meal. Always take the prenatal vitamin prescribed by your doctor, it was designed to help your body provide for the baby in times like these.
Caffeine – If you are among the millions who begin the day with a caffeine fix you may be concerned that you drank too much coffee before discovering your pregnancy. Caffeine hasn’t been proven to increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects, although large amounts of caffeine may raise the heart rate of both mom and baby. Dr. Nardone’s advice is, “If a pregnant woman needs her caffeine fix in the morning she can allow herself a cup of coffee. If she wants more it is advisable to switch to decaf.”
Hot Baths – It is always recommended that using hot tubs or taking hot baths be avoided during pregnancy, but what if you have already indulged? You can relax, there is very little chance that you did any harm. The water would have to be 102 degrees and you would have to stay in for 20 minutes. It’s very unlikely that you would be able to stand the water for that length of time.
A warm bath is a great way to relax during pregnancy and is perfectly safe. You don’t have to obsess about the perfect temperature, Dr. Nardone offers a simple, common sense guide, “If you are sweating in the bathtub, chances are the water is too hot.”
Stress and Anxiety – Many expectant moms feel guilty when they allow the pressures of daily life to upset them. The fact is that some anxiety and stress is unavoidable, and Dr. Nardone suggests, can even be helpful. “Some degree of stress in pregnancy is probably not harmful and may help to make the woman more determined and focused throughout her pregnancy.”
Too much stress or anxiety can be harmful however, and may put you at risk for pre-term labor, a low birth weight baby, or even miscarriage. The poor nutrition and insomnia that can result from excess stress isn’t healthy for you or your baby. Make sure that you take time to relax and try not to let the pressures of daily life overwhelm you. Dr. Nardone offers these suggestions for reducing stress:
- Don’t over commit or overextend yourself.
- Learn to relax and take control.
- Take time out to “distress.”
- Occasional take-out dinners can free up much time and energy.
- A relaxing warm bath or foot massage can do wonders.
- Allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying the life growing inside of you.
Being pregnant is a wonderful, exciting, and sometimes stressful experience. Remember, your body is doing what it was designed to do. Take care of yourself, relax and your pregnancy can be one of the happiest times in your life!