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Coping with Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

The following are the most common pregnancy concerns and the strategies to deal with them while you are on the job:

Backache
Backaches are common during pregnancy because of the increased weight you're carrying, especially if your baby is resting on your spine. Neck and shoulder aches can be due to tension and/or the increased weight of your growing breasts. Lower back pain that extends or shoots down one buttock and into one leg is probably sciatica, caused when the baby's head compresses the sciatic nerve. The tips that follow will help to relieve the discomfort of backaches or avoid them altogether:

Edema (Swelling)
More than 70 percent of pregnant women experience some fluid accumulation in their feet, legs, face, and hands. This condition is related to hormone buildup in your system, which results in the kidneys collecting more water and salt than normal. If your job keeps you on your feet, you are also more likely to experience edema.

If you experience sudden, extreme swelling, you should immediately alert your physician. This could be a warning sign of preclampsia or toxemia. Mild swelling, which is considered normal and beneficial, can bee relieved by these methods.

Fatigue
During your first trimester, you may experience extreme fatigue. By the second trimester, your body will probably have adjusted, and you may feel full of energy. By the third trimester, however, you may feel exhausted again and need more rest. There's no cure for this; your body is just reflecting the strains being put on it. These are things you can do to help combat work fatigue: Headaches
Headaches are extremely common during pregnancy. They may be caused by hormonal changes over which you have little control. But you may alleviate the problem by doing the following: Heartburn and Indigestion
The heart has nothing to do with this problem, which was named long before it was understood. Heartburn involves regurgitation of stomach acid back into the throat or esophagus. It's a mild form of indigestion that, once again, is caused by your hormonal changes. You may experience a burning sensation in your upper abdomen or lower chest, a bitter taste in your mouth, and belching. Here are ways to relieve this problem: Hemorrhoids
Constipation and straining to move your bowels may cause hemorrhoids (varicose veins of the rectum caused by pressure). While hemorrhoids are common in pregnancy, they shrink right after delivery. If they cause you pain at work, try the following aids: Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps in the back, groin, and legs caused by slow blood circulation and pressure on certain nerves are common occurrences. If you cramp up at work, give these ideas a try: Nausea, Vomiting, and Morning Sickness
Many women suffer from occasional nausea because of the pressure on organs and the high levels of estrogen in the body, especially in early pregnancy. If you are prone to vomiting, keep towels, a trash can, and mouthwash or breath mints at your desk, and figure out the quickest way to the bathroom. If you are driving, have a big bottle of ice water handy and drive with the window down or with cool air on your face. Keep plastic grocery bags ready. There are steps you can take to fend off nausea, among them: Nosebleeds
The tiny blood vessels of the nose become more congested during pregnancy and break open easily. That's why nosebleeds are so common. Dry air tends to worsen the problem. You might try these techniques: Overheating
Your basal metabolic rate (the rate at which you spend energy) increases by 20 percent during pregnancy. This causes sweat glands to work overtime and the blood flow to your skin to increase. You're likely to feel uncomfortable in both warm weather and cold. It will take a little extra effort to keep yourself cool, so try to do the following: Frequent Urination
Your uterus is placing pressure on your bladder, that's true, but also you're drinking more water to relieve constipation, dehydration, and possibly to treat a urinary-tract infection. To be on the safe side, do the following: Varicose Veins
When veins become weakened and enlarged because they've had to work harder to circulate the blood, they are called varicose veins. Heredity also plays a part in their development. Pregnant women will often develop them in their legs, and less often, in their genital area. You can expect them to fade dramatically after birth. While you're still pregnant, however, there are efforts you can make to reduce the threat, such as: Vision Changes
Increased water retention and elevated hormone levels may cause vision disturbances. The difficulty is only temporary; just take these precautions while waiting for it to pass:

© 2005 by Marla Schram Schwartz. Excerpted from The Working Woman's Baby Planner with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

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