Pregnancy should be one of the happiest times of a woman’s life. For some women, however, the uncomfortable symptoms and side effects of pregnancy can make nine months feel like an eternity. The following is an in-depth look at some of those effects as well as information on causes and treatments.
1. Unhealthy Food Cravings
Nearly all expectant moms experience cravings at some point during pregnancy. Seemingly harmless, studies suggest that cravings are more than just a hankering for junk food; rather, they are often the result of vitamin or nutrient deficiencies that can occur during pregnancy.
Since cravings signify that the body is lacking in certain nutrients, getting the proper nutrition can help. For example, an ice cream craving can simply mean that calcium levels are sub-par, and can be calmed through increased intake of calcium-rich foods like skim milk, yogurt, etc. Likewise, cheeseburger cravings can be quelled by fish or beans, while a sweet tooth can be calmed by eating naturally-sweet fruits. Plus, a daily prenatal vitamin can help supplement nutrition and put cravings in their place!
Swelling during pregnancy, especially in the ankles and feet, is extremely common. Caused by factors such as fluid retention and uterine pressure, this symptom can be uncomfortable, to say the least. However, there are plenty of ways expectant mommies can reduce swelling and minimize pain and discomfort. Tips like the following have proven effective in cases of pregnancy-related swelling:
- Increasing fluid intake.
- The use of compression socks or hosiery.
- Elevating the legs.
- Staying off the feet as much as possible.
- Mild exercise.
3. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness and all-day nausea are most common in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Various factors play a role in this symptom, including increased hormone levels and heightened senses of taste and smell. While severe symptoms should be reported to a doctor, the following tips have shown to reduce morning sickness, vomiting and dizziness:
- Eating several small meals throughout the day as opposed to two or three large meals.
- Eating salty snacks, such as pretzels or crackers, before getting out of bed.
- Avoiding fatty foods.
- Sipping carbonated beverages.
- Consuming sports drinks to replace sodium, potassium and electrolytes lost due to vomiting.
Chronic fatigue is one of the most common signs of early pregnancy. The energy required by the body to support a healthy pregnancy can often leave expectant moms exhausted, both mentally and physically. Thankfully, there are several healthy ways to combat fatigue, some of which include the following:
- Getting enough sleep. One surefire way to beat fatigue during the day is to get a restful night’s sleep.
- Getting the proper nutrition. A healthy, balanced diet can send energy levels skyrocketing. For a midday boost, protein-rich snacks like nuts and seeds are great options.
- Drinking lots of water. Even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue. Expectant moms should drink eight to ten glasses of water a day, minimum.
5. Mood Swings
Psychological and emotional distress occur in a large percentage of pregnant women. Due to fluctuating hormone levels and typical anxieties regarding pregnancy and parenthood, these symptoms can often be severe in nature. For women experiencing depression, anxiety or mood swings during pregnancy, the following remedies can help:
- Avoiding stressful situations.
- Relaxation techniques like deep-breathing exercises or prenatal yoga.
- Participating in enjoyable activities.
- Speaking with a counselor.
6. Excess Weight Gain.
For most women, 20-30 pounds is the recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy. However, some women gain double, and even triple, that amount, which increases risks associated with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. And although dieting during pregnancy isn’t recommended, sticking to a nutritious meal plan, drinking plenty of water and avoiding processed, fatty or otherwise unhealthy foods can prevent unnecessary weight gain. Plus, mild or moderate exercise is safe in most cases: walking, swimming and other light exercise can keep weight at healthy levels.
While pregnancy can come with some undesirable effects, the tips listed here will help expectant mommies make the most of this joyous time!