Coping with Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

Nose and eye trouble, overheating, urination, varicose veins

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:
  • Apply pressure—Lean your head forward (not backwards, because you could swallow and choke on your blood), and apply pressure to the bridge of your nose with your fingers for at least four minutes. Keep tissues handy on your desk to protect your clothing.
  • Try Vaseline—Apply Vaseline with a cotton-tip swab to each nostril to stop the bleeding.
  • Use a spray—If your nose feels uncomfortably full after a nosebleed, mix ½ teaspoon of salt with ½ cup of warm water, and spray each nostril with the mixture.
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:
  • Bathe daily—A daily bath is a must during pregnancy. Also use a good antiperspirant.
  • Dress in layers—As the office gets warmer, you can remove a layer at a time until you're down to a thin blouse.
  • Keep tissues nearby—Sometimes sweaty palms make it difficult to work. A box of tissues, a handkerchief, or even a towel are handy things to keep conveniently nearby.
  • Wear foot pads—If your feet become less tolerant to heat, use foot pads to keep perspiration under control.
  • Keep a fan in your office or at your workstation.
  • Schedule your time—Make sure you're not outside between 11:00 and 3:00 when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Try not to accept work assignments that could take too much of a physical toll—An all-day business conference is draining enough under any circumstances, but for mothers-to-be, such an event can be downright exhausting.
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:
  • Empty your bladder frequently throughout the day—You may have to explain to your boss that you need more frequent toilet breaks.
  • Wear a sanitary napkin—Be prepared in case you can't make it to the restroom in time.
  • Tell your doctor—Frequent urination may also be the result of an infection. If the problem increases, talk to your doctor.
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:
  • Move around often—Walking and exercising provide the best protection against varicose veins. Elevate your legs when you're sitting to hurry the return of blood from your legs.
  • Wear support hose—Especially if you stand for long periods, wear elastic support stockings or maternity pantyhose, which you should put on while lying on your back. Avoid tight clothing.
  • Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.
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:
  • Cleanse contact lenses often—Cloudy contact lenses interfere with your work. Keep a lens-cleaning kit at work and use it whenever necessary. If contacts don't fit as well as usual, wear eyeglasses instead.

  • Use eye drops—Ask your doctor to recommend a good brand of eye drops and use them several times during the workday.

  • Avoid eye strain—You may not be able to cut down on reading if your work responsibilities require it. But be sure to rest your eyes in the evening if they've been bothering you. Avoid watching TV.

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

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