WOMEN’S BODIES: PREGNANCY. DISCOMFORTS OF LAST WEEKS

Most women remain well until delivery, but some discomforts can appear during the last 10 weeks.

Contractions

Our uteri contract and relax all the time, whether we’re pregnant or not. We’re not usually aware of these contractions, but as pregnancy advances they become stronger and are felt as tightenings in the abdomen, called Braxton-Hicks contractions. They’re often more noticeable when you’re under the shower, or sitting or lying quietly.

Braxton-Hicks contractions differ from those of labour in that they don’t follow a regular pattern and are usually painless. If they do become regular and you suspect the beginning of labour (even if it’s weeks before your EDD), don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or hospital. It’s better to have a false alarm than to leave things too late, especially if labour is early.

Heartburn

Our stomachs produce acid all the time. This is necessary for proper digestion. The stomach has a special lining that protects it from the effect of acid, and there is a ring of muscle at the lower end of the esophagus (gullet) that closes tightly we swallow each mouthful to pr stomach acid from regurgitating into oesophagus (which doesn’t have an protective lining).

The hormones of pregnancy relax oesophagus, allowing acid to run b from the stomach. An enlarging uterus pushing upwards on the stomach doesn’t help. Acid irritates the lining of the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn burning sensation behind the lower of the breastbone) and often an acidic in the mouth.

Heartburn can be relieved in several ways.

• Neutralize the acid with milk or acids – your doctor or pharmacist suggest suitable preparations.

• Eat smaller meals more often. A foods that aggravate the problem, don’t drink with meals or for had hour or so before and after.

• Use gravity to counter these effects. Keep the lower end of your breastbone higher than your abdomen, especially’ during and soon after eating or drinking. If heartburn bothers you in use extra pillows or raise the head the bed on bricks to keep your
oesophagus above your stomach.

Constipation

Pregnancy hormones also relax the muscles of the intestine. Most pregnant women suffer from constipation and wind time to time. Taking iron tablets m some women more constipated. Drinking plenty of fluid and increasing the amount of fibre in your diet usually solves these problems. Your doctor may advise stopping or taking less iron.

Haemorrhoids (piles)

These are varicose veins of the anal canal, which appear as small lumps around the anus. They may itch or bleed, especially after a constipated bowel movement. Haemorrhoids often appear in the later week due to pressure of the uterus on the veins draining the lower bowel. Your doctor may suggest creams to relieve the itch or suppositories to reduce the size of haemorrhoids.

Varicose veins in the legs

Pregnancy hormones also relax and soften vein walls. When the uterus presses against the large veins that drain blood from the legs, pressure within the veins increases and their walls can stretch. Wearing support stockings can help reduce the risk of varicose veins in the legs, but women with an inherited tendency to develop them rarely get to the end of pregnancy without a few appearing.

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