Before I got pregnant, I didn’t realize how many kinds of aches and pains were common. I expected that the third trimester would eventually get uncomfortable, but it turns out that pregnancy achiness can strike at any time! Here’s what I learned about easing discomfort, head to toe.
First trimester is an especially common time for tension headaches. These usually feel like squeezing or a dull ache. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what causes these headaches, but hormonal changes, a sudden drop in caffeine consumption, sinus congestion, and dehydration can all play a part.
Soothe a headache with these pregnancy-safe options:
- Acetaminophen is the only common headache medication considered safe during pregnancy.
- Splash cold water on your face or apply a cool compress.
- Drink water! Your changing body needs a lot of hydration, and forgetting to sip can trigger a headache.
- Avoid headache triggers. Some people are sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds, or even certain foods (unfortunately, nitrate-heavy bacon is a top offender).
Severe headaches, especially in later trimesters, can be a symptom of a more serious issue, so don’t hesitate to check in with your doctor.
As your ligaments loosen and your belly swells, your lower back takes some strain. Pressure-relieving options include:
- Sleep with pillows between your legs and/or tucked against your belly and back.
- Try a belly band for added support.
- Exercise! Strengthening your core helps your abs take some of the work off your back.
- Keep good posture. Some swayback is unavoidable, but the straighter you keep your spine, the less strain on your muscles.
- Eat healthy. Keeping weight gain in check means less for your body to carry.
Your blood volume increases by about 50% during pregnancy. As if that wasn’t enough extra work for your circulatory system, your growing uterus can sometimes slow blood flow from your legs back to your heart. This, along with other common fluid swelling (pregnancy edema) and extra weight, can cause a nasty leg cramp.
- Stretch it out. Stretch your calves during the day. If a sudden cramp keeps you up at night, straighten your leg, then flex your toes toward you. Don’t point your toes, as that can make the cramp worse.
- Get a massage. Roll a hot water bottle or foam roller over your lower leg after working out a cramp. Better yet, have your partner rub your feet and calves while you relax together in the evening.
- Walk it off. Unless your doctor advises against it, walking is a great pregnancy exercise. A few minutes spent moving around after a cramp can also help your muscle work things out.
Doctors recommend most normal-weight women with single babies to gain 25-35 pounds, and some women gain more. Meanwhile, your ligaments loosen all over. It’s no wonder that it’s common for your feet to flatten, widen, or even grow a full size during pregnancy! As you may have guessed, it’s not always a pain-free process, but you’ve got options to stay more comfortable:
- Put away your high heels. Maybe Beyoncé can rock stilettos while pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Opt for shoes with a flatter profile and good arch support.
- Kick your feet up. Keeping a stool under your desk to elevate your feet can reduce swelling and pain.
- Drink water. It seems a little counterintuitive to reach for water when the problem is your feet swelling with fluid, but staying hydrated really does help. Think of it this way: Your body’s holding onto water because it thinks there’s a shortage. Drinking plenty of water is a sign that your body can release the built-up fluid, because there’s enough access to fresh water supply.
- Get a foot rub. You deserve a little luxurious treatment for the work you’re doing to grow a baby!