Congratulations! You are pregnancy and you are so excited! You already have an unbelievable amount of love and a growing pile of beyond adorable clothes for your soon-to-be little one, but what about the not so fun stuff. What about those inconvenient, down-right uncomfortable ailments that sneak up on you while you are contemplating stroller purchases?
Luckily, there are a few simple tricks to outsmart those pesky problems.
It is thought that the hormones released during pregnancy cause your digestion to slow down, perhaps so your body has the chance to absorbed every bit of nutrients from the food you eat. But when your digestion slows down, and all the liquid is absorbed, constipation can occur.
Real World Tip:
Eat more high fiber foods: I find that high fiber snacks are a good way to accomplish this. Try fruits such as apples and raw veggies. Also try probiotic yogurt and high fiber grains.
Drink more water: If you body is doing everything it can to absorb all the water you give it…give it more. My best water drinking tip (pregnant or not) is to stand at the kitchen sink first thing in the morning and finish a full glass of water. That way you are restocking your water stores from a night of not drinking and you are insuring you have had at least one glass before your morning gets busy
MOVE: Movement physically manipulates your bowels and helps move food through your digestive track. Staying active will keep constipation at bay, but if you are feeling particularly uncomfortable, try a series of modified yoga poses. Start from all-fours and sit back on your heals into a child’s pose position. Move back and forth from all fours to child’s pose or move forward into a modified cobra if it feels comfortable. Think of your movement as actually compressing your intestines and moving food along as you move between poses.
Swelling, or edema, is another common pregnancy condition. Early in pregnancy, your body is increasing it blood volume and it does so with the help of added cellular fluid, thus it needs to retain more water to increase that fluid level. Changes in blood chemistry can also shift fluid to the tissues and compression of the vena cava by a growing baby can make it more difficult to circulate blood, causing some to pool in the lower extremities.
Real World Tips
Drink more water: As counter productive as it seems, drinking more water actually reduces swelling. First, it keeps everything moving, the more you drink, the more you have to go to the bathroom and your body continues to flush out your system. I also think of it from a supply and demand standpoint. The more water coming in to your body, the less your body feels it needs to store to later use.
MOVE: Like with constipation above, movement physically helps the body push the fluid through the body. Your muscles contracting physically squeezes the fluid-filled tissue causing the swelling to move on. Take frequent movement breaks especially if you spend most of your day sitting. Go for brisk walks, or just stretch and move your legs under your desk.
Get in the water: It is no coincidence you have to pee when you get in a pool. The hydrostatic pressure of the water squeezes water out of your cells and encourages their removal. While just getting in the water (or soaking in a not-to-warm bath) will decrease swelling, combine getting in the water with exercise for double whammy edema-reducer! Swimming, water aerobics, or water walking is a sure fire way to decrease swelling not to mention other ailments like constipation, sciatica and low back pain.
*While most swelling is normal, if you have a rapid onset of swelling, especially in the face or hands, if the swelling is painful or there is more swelling in one leg than the other, these may be signs of a more serious condition (preeclampsia or a blood clot) and you should check with your doctor immediately
Hormones during pregnancy are responsible for loosening up many areas of your body to make more room for baby (and more room for baby to get out!), but those hormones also loosen up the “sphincters” that close off your esophagus from your stomach (keeping your food where it belongs). Without a tight seal, digestive juices can rise back up into the esophagus leaving a burning sensation behind the breastbone (feeling like it is your heart).
Real Work Tip:
Stand up: Use gravity to your advantage here and try to remain up-right after meals so your food stays down where it belongs.
Small Meals: Eating smaller meals more frequently may help as well as avoiding food that cause heartburn. Spicy, fatty, rich foods are harder to digest and cause more digestive juices to be released.
MOVE: (are we seeing a trend here?) Movement aids in digestion, but pick your exercise wisely if you are suffering from heartburn. Stay upright, like walking, and avoid anything that compresses your stomach further (like cycling) or causes you to invert your body (no downward dog here). Sitting in a chair and rotating from side to side can be a nice stretch if you are feeling very full or the onset of heartburn.
All of these ailments are a normal part of many pregnancies, but as with anything in your pregnancy, if you remain uncomfortable or something doesn’t seem right, check with your doctor.
AND as you can see, many common pregnancy ailments can be alleviated with exercise. If you are not sure what is safe during your pregnancy or what specific exercises will help, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.
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