Coping with Common Discomforts During Pregnancy


Stomach trouble, hemorroids, cramps

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:
  • Eliminate certain foods—Stop drinking citrus fruit juices or beverages made from them. Eliminate rich, greasy, and spicy foods from your diet. Instead, take snacks to work, such as yogurt and honey, papaya, apples, or toast. Also stay away from caffeine-filled drinks.
  • Eat small amounts regularly rather than a few big meals—Avoid eating too much, too quickly.
  • Drink water—A glass of water will wash away the acid. Then drink a little milk, buttermilk, or cream to coat your stomach. Or try some peppermint tea.
  • Chew gum—Chew a stick of gum after meals or sip a carbonated drink.
  • Try a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk.
  • Use antacids—Ask your physician about using Maalox or Gelusil to relieve the discomfort. These are products you can keep in your desk drawer and use whenever necessary without disrupting your work. Liquid antacids are more effective than tablets.
  • Change your position—Try sitting or standing. Avoid lying down; it may only worsen the condition. Sleep propped up with extra pillows an elevated head may help.
  • Remain upright after eating.
  • Try some herbal and homeopathic remedies.
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:
  • If you sit for long hours, use a pillow or a rubber doughnut-shaped cushion to relieve the discomfort. Apply ice packs or pads soaked in witch hazel or Annusol. Drugstores sell Tucks, which work well too.
  • If you stand for long hours at work, take sitting breaks whenever your supervisor gives you the okay.
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:
  • Change your position by sitting in another position for a few minutes.
  • If you're standing when the cramp occurs, keep your weight evenly distributed and flex your knees. Avoid pointing your toes. Instead, bring your toes upward, pushing out with your heel.
  • Place a hot-water bag or heating pad directly on the cramped muscle.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Place two tablespoons of honey in a glass of warm water to help your muscles relax.
  • Wear support hose to help relive leg cramps. A well-fitting maternity girdle and low-heeled shoes will relieve the strain on your muscles as well.
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:
  • Eat little but frequently—Get plenty of protein. Keep high carb foods like dry crackers, pretzels, popcorn, and toast at your desk. Bananas are nutritious and kind to queasy stomachs.
  • Stay away from coffee and spicy, sweet, or greasy foods—Add a drop of peppermint oil directly on the tongue or mix with honey. Papaya enzyme and ginger capsules (found in health foods stores) are also helpful.
  • Drink carefully—Drink fruit juices or carbonated drinks at the end of, rather than during, meals. Find out whether very hot or very cold drinks (like ice water) are best for you. Sip on some clove, Raspberry, or ginger tea.
  • Try acupuncture—Wear an acupuncture bracelet found at most stores (e.g., Sea Bands) or apply pressure on your wrist yourself. Gently press on a spot at the center of the underside of your wrist, about three finger-widths below your balm.
  • Use ice—Bring an ice pack to work. If nausea strikes, fill it with ice and hold it against your forehead or stomach. When an ice bag is not handy, use a cold, moist towel instead.
  • Breathe deeply.


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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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