The 'ABC's' of Pregnancy
Each pregnancy is different because every woman’s experience is different. This means that while some women experience almost no difficulties at all, others might experience a lot more. We have alphabetized the most common ‘side effects’ and discomforts of pregnancy:
Pregnancy causes an extra strain on your vessels. Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels around the anus; varicose (spider) veins as it were. Make sure to adjust your diet for a smooth stool. It is perfectly ok to be using haemorrhoid cream during pregnancy.
Ligament pain (bandenpijn):
Whenever you make a sudden movement or quick turn, or following a sneeze or cough you can experience a stabbing, piercing pain in your lower abdomen especially in the groin area. This is caused by the expansion of the ligament supporting your uterus and can occur during the entire pregnancy. You can use a supporting band around your belly to alleviate the discomfort.
Pelvic pains (bekkenpijn):
The pelvis muscles and joints are softening and stretching up to prepare for the birth. However, this may cause pain and discomfort during the pregnancy. Be sure to rest up whenever you can and some pelvic floor exercises may diminish the discomfort. A pregnancy course or gym will offer these.
Urinary tract infection (blaasontsteking):
When you feel like you have to pee every five minutes and all that comes out are mere drops, this may indicate a urinary tract infection. A painful and nagging sensation in your lower abdomen can also indicate an infection. It is of great importance to notify your GP (General Practitioner) of your infection to get you started on antibiotics and to get your sample cultured to see which strain of bacteria is causing your infection. Once you are finished with the antibiotics please submit another urine sample for further testing.
Heartburn (brandend maagzuur):
While pregnant your body is experiencing pregnancy hormones which can/may cause certain muscles to change function resulting in discomfort in your abdomen and intestinal wall. Be aware of your coffee intake, fatty foods and herbs. With great discomfort you can take an antacid.
Hard belly (harde buiken):
Hard bellies are caused by contracting muscles in the uterus. When an activity demands a lot of effort from you this can cause a hard belly. We advise plenty of rest and relaxation.
During pregnancy your hormones are changing and this affects your body. Talcum powder or menthol gel can alleviate the discomfort of itching. Unscented products can also reduce itching. Once the baby is born the itching should disappear.
Nausea or morning sickness (misselijkheid):
Early on in the pregnancy (the first three to four months) you can experience morning sickness or nausea. Small, easy digestible meals will reduce the nausea. Start your day lying down in bed with a piece of gingerbread or rusk or whatever is easily digestible. Eat small amounts spread throughout the rest of the day.
The same hormone that causes nausea can also cause (extreme) fatigue. Take plenty of rest whenever your body needs this and go to bed early.
Pregnancy causes many women problems with their (daily) stool. Try preventing hard stool by drinking plenty of fluids (two litres a day), food with fibres (fruit, whole-wheats and salads) and plenty of exercise. It is also important to answer nature's call to use the bathroom and to not hold it in.
Pigmentation/ discoloration (pigmentvlekken):
The sun may cause discoloration in the face (known as pregnancy mask). Protect your skin with sunscreen of the highest factor. The discoloration will (usually) disappear after the baby is born.
Lower back pains (rugpijn):
The most common discomfort during pregnancy is lower back pains. Back exercises and swimming are good ways to strengthen the muscles in your (lower) back. Also, mind your posture while sitting and lying down and getting up. These movements cause extra strain on the back muscles.
Varicose veins (spataderen):
Varicose veins can be prevented by plenty of exercise and by not staying seated or standing for too long. Unfortunately, genetics will decide whether some women will get them and others won't. When seated or laying down, place a pillow under your legs to lift them up. Contact your GP with serious discomfort to get compression stockings.
Muscle cramps (spierkrampen):
During pregnancy the blood flow in your body changes. This can cause sudden and painful muscle cramps in your calves during the night. Try massaging your legs before bed or hot cold baths to alleviate discomfort. Or you can take some extra magnesium (Floradix Magnesium) to reduce cramping.
Vaginal secretion (vaginale afscheiding):
During pregnancy some women may experience an increase of (vaginal) secretion. When you are also experiencing a burning sensation, itching and/or notice a change in colour or scent (of the secretion) you might want to contact your GP. Your GP can prescribe you with an ointment or vaginal tablet.
Retaining fluids (vocht vasthouden):
This is perfectly normal during pregnancy. Try to stay moving regularly and elevate your legs whenever you can.
Stretch marks (zwangerschapsstrepen):
Stretch marks – or striae – is caused when the connective tissue under your skin does not stretch along enough when your belly protrudes. This causes the skin to 'tear' and stretch. The stretch marks can itch quite a bit. The fervour of the stretch marks will diminish over time. Be sure to keep lathering your stomach with lotion regularly. You may also experience a brown line from your pubic bone to your navel – this will slowly disappear after the delivery.
Last but not least: when in doubt, pick up the phone!