Pregnancy Changes Within Your Body

Take Care of Yourself

During this time, your body is working very hard, and it is important that you take care of yourself. Here are some easy things to do:

  • Rest – try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night with a nap during the day, if possible.
  • Drink plenty of water – 8 to 10 cups a day.
  • Avoid anything with caffeine.
  • Eat a balanced diet – every day!
  • STOP any lifestyle habit that may harm your baby or affect his/her health.
  • Practice a mild to moderateexercise routine.*
*Check with your physician prior to beginning an exercise program.

Healthy Exercise Program

Here are some guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program for pregnant women:
Exercise at least 3 times a week for about 30 minutes each time.

  • Start and end exercise with a 5-minute warm-up and 5-minute cool-down with mild stretching.
  • Try to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute.
  • Avoid jerking, bouncing and lifting too much weight. Things like stationary bikes, swimming and walking are good.
  • Avoid exercise that might strain or hurt your stomach muscles.
  • Do not do exercises while lying flat on your back.
  • Women who are not exercising now should begin slowly with low intensity, gradually building up.
  • Stop exercise if you become tired or out of breath – talk to your doctor if you feel or see unusual symptoms.
  • If you are more hungry after exercise, increase your calorie intake. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after you exercise.

1.  Neck pain – caused from position changes and additional weight around your chest and rib cage.
Solution: Gently stretch your neck by rolling it slowly around, and you may use hot or cold packs if needed. 

2. Upper back and rib pain – caused by your rib cage increasing as much as 6 centimeters!

Solution: Exercises to strengthen your upper body will relieve some pain. The breasts increase in size to prepare for milk production and may cause some of the back pain. Wear a comfortable and supportive bra during and after your pregnancy.

3.  Carpal tunnel syndrome – numbness and tingling that may occur in one or both arms and wrists. This may be caused by extra fluid in the wrists and weight gain creating increased pressure in your wrists. This usually gets better after the baby is born.

Solution: Try to avoid activities of the wrist and hand that repeat, like clicking a computer mouse. Make sure you are sitting up straight and your body is supported when sitting at a computer or desk. Sometimes your doctor will talk about splinting. Ask your doctor if pain becomes a problem.

4. Stretch marks on your breasts and belly.

Use cocoa butter lotion or Vitamin E oil on these areas daily – this will soften your skin fibers, making them more likely to stretch. This may reduce the stretch marks.

5.  Front pelvic and belly pain when moving from sitting to standing and walking positions.

Solution: Wearing a pregnancy SI/abdominal brace or strap will help to support your back and pelvis, which may help to relieve some pain.

6.  Having to use the bathroom to void all the time and sometimes not making it to the bathroom.

Solution: Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles are called
                                                                 “Kegel Exercises,” and they may help.

7.  Your hips may be “sore” when you are sleeping at night.

olution: A mattress that is firm but not hard is best. You can use pillows between your knees, under your belly and at your breasts as well as under your head for support.

8. Nerve pain called “sciatica.” This pain runs down the back of your leg/legs to your thigh, knee or calf.

Solution: This pain may be relieved by kneeling down on your hands and knees; this positions your baby forward and takes the baby’s weight off your spine. Walking in a swimming pool may also help.

9.  Knee pain may occur if you are not wearing supportive shoes on your feet.

Solution: Wear good shoes, no flip-flops or sandals.

10.  Varicose veins and leg/foot swelling.

Solution: Wearing support or compression hose will give support to your aching legs. They also help with circulation that helps with the swelling that can cause varicose veins. When resting, put your feet up. 

11.  Leg cramps are muscle spasms in your legs and feet that usually happen at night. Leg cramps may happen because of the sudden change in how your body handles calcium, potassium and other “electrolytes.”  There is no clear cause of leg cramps, but they may be caused by a buildup of lactic acid, or by weight gain, muscle strain or circulatory changes.

Solution: Stretching the muscles in your legs and feet may help. 

12.  Swelling – The bones in your feet will spread, which may cause foot soreness, and your shoes may not fit as they used to.
A hormone called “Relaxin” may loosen the ligaments in your feet and other parts of your body.

Solution: You may have to wear a bigger shoe size.

13. You may have pain in your heels as your center of gravity is changing.

Solution: Wear good, supportive shoes with arch supports, such as tennis shoes with padded shoe inserts that fit your arch. Sandals and flip-flops are NOT supportive.