Being pregnant is both exhilarating and exhausting. As a mom-to-be, you may enjoy a radiant glow, but you may also endure a pregnancy pain that presents both physically and emotionally.
The health-focused professionals at Science of Pain Management are committed to the well-being of you and your child, and we strive to provide accurate, accessible information about a wide range of conditions.
We know that pregnancy can be frightening as well as exciting, so we strive to offer up-to-date, reliable information about solutions to help you through this time.
What Pain Can You Expect During Pregnancy?
Although the changes that you undergo as a soon-to-be-mom are typically unique to you in severity or intensity, in general, you can expect an array of aches, pains, and other issues that all women feel. Pregnancy pain can take on a variety of forms, and moms will often experience different pains with each of their pregnancies. The most common pains are abdominal aches and cramps, as well as joint and ligament pain.
Abdominal Aches and Cramps
Experiencing the occasional cramp or pain in your abdominal area is entirely natural and is generally harmless. If you notice an occasional cramp in the absence of bleeding, especially later in your pregnancy, you probably don’t need to worry. Many cramps might be Braxton Hicks or round ligament pain.
However, if the pain is severe or lasting, or if you rest or lay down and the pain persists, be sure to call your doctor. There are several things to be wary of if they happen in conjunction with pain or cramping.
- Bleeding or spotting
- Discharge that is more or different colored than normal
- Feeling chilled or feverish
- Feeling lightheaded
- Feeling nauseous
A variety of other things can cause abdominal pain, including gas, bloating, and constipation. Because your body is going through so many changes, including pressure on your stomach and intestines, it is ubiquitous to feel discomfort in your abdominal region throughout pregnancy.
Round Ligament and Joint Pain
Round ligament pain is a sharp, often stabbing pain that you feel lower in your abdomen and into your groin. This pain is not normal in your first trimester; it is usually first noticed in the second trimester.
There are a couple of thick ligaments that cross your lower abdomen to support your uterus while you are pregnant. Your ligaments will stretch and change to adjust to your expanding belly, which often causes pain.
You might notice round ligament pain when you move quickly, like standing or sitting up, when you get out of bed or the bath, or even when you cough. If you have an unusually active day, you could feel dull pains, as well. Of course, if rest does not alleviate this pain, call your doctor.
It is also typical to experience pain in other joints in your body, especially along your back, knees, and ankles. All of your joints can hurt because relaxin, a protein hormone responsible for softening your cervix as well as loosening ligaments in preparation for childbirth, does not only affect the designated areas.
Gaining weight throughout your pregnancy also places more stress on your joints, causing pain. As your body grows and changes, you might find yourself slumping more, or altering your posture to compensate for your changing body. These alterations can leave you stiff and achy. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor. However, general pain is typical in pregnancy.
When to Be Concerned
There are times to be concerned with pregnancy pain. Not all pain is equal. If something feels off, or you are nervous, call your doctor. They will advise you whether you should come in or not. When in doubt, or if you can’t get in touch with your doctor, it won’t hurt to go in.
If you are experiencing severe pain in your abdomen or shoulder, it could be an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when an egg that has been fertilized implants outside the uterus in the fallopian tube. Ignoring this condition could be fatal.
Other risks from pain include miscarriage, placental abruption, or preeclampsia. A urinary tract infection, though less severe than the previously mentioned issues, can cause pain and needs to be addressed.
8 Ways to Deal with Pregnancy Pain
Typically, doctors recommend a multi-faceted approach to alleviate physical discomfort during a painful pregnancy. You want to be careful not to put too much stress on your body, but there are several things you can do.
- Exercise: Gentle exercises like walking and swimming can do a lot to relieve pain and stiffness. Generally, maintaining whatever level of activity you had before pregnancy is ok, but check with your doctor first.
- Hydration: Keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water and other fluids will help your body. Plus, it is essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- Vitamins: Prenatal vitamins with calcium, magnesium, and potassium will help relieve pain.
- Massage: Muscle and tissue massage by a professional who has experience offering prenatal services will help with the pain, and should be relaxing. Find a massage therapist with the proper equipment, either a support pillow, as you will be laying on your side, or a bed with a cutout for your stomach.
- Heat: Applying heat with a heating pad should relieve discomfort. Try 15 minutes of heat at a time.
- Bath: A warm bath with Epsom salt is both relaxing and comforting. Make sure your bath water is not too hot. A good rule of thumb is your skin should not be red or flushed while in the tub.
- Cold: Ice packs can reduce pain, primarily when used in conjunction with heat.
- Medication: Category B medications like Tylenol are generally safe to use during pregnancy. Never take medicines without speaking to your doctor, as many are unsafe for the baby.
We know you’re overjoyed at the impending arrival of your baby, and we specialize in keeping you informed about how to deal with the concerns of a painful pregnancy as well as other pregnancy- and health-related topics.