Pregnancy is a very special time for a woman and it is a life changing journey however pregnancy can be overwhelming and discomforting as a result of lowering of the immune system, hence most pregnant woman are susceptible to illnesses during this period. There is however no cause for alarm because most of these illnesses are treatable with modification of lifestyle, diet or even home remedies. About 9 out of every 10 women would get sick in pregnancy because of this reduced immunity. This is a guide to help you through this period for most common illness and discomfort and help you have a pregnancy you would enjoy, however be sure to consult your doctor, if symptoms are severe or are getting worse.
Nausea and vomiting
This is very common especially early in pregnancy (the first trimester), it usually occurs because of hormonal changes in pregnancy, commonly called morning sickness, it could be more severe in some women known as hyperemesis gravidarum and requiring hospital admission.
Home remedies include:
- Having a plain biscuit and a cup of tea in the morning, because it is usually worse on an empty stomach.
- Ginger supplements have been known to be helpful
- Dietary modifications such as eating small quantities of high carbohydrate meals such as bread, pasta and potatoes
- Drink plenty of fluid
- Get adequate rest
- Try distracting yourself as much as you can by watching some movies, going shopping for baby clothing or have a friend visit
- Ensure to avoid fatty meals
- Avoid cold drinks and foods that make you sick
Flu in pregnancy
This presents with fever, aches, running and stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, chills.
- Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizers to prevent re -infection
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
- If you are having a temperature take acetaminophen (Tynelol)
- Steam inhalation, menthol sweets to help clear congestion
- Take antioxidants like vitamin c
- Eat well, especially fruits containing antioxidants such as oranges and lemon juice
- Taking medications not presented by your doctors such as antihistamines, ibuprofen, aspirin.
- Most herbal drinks and teas except lemongrass or one cup of chamomile tea a day (without caffeine).
This is usually common in pregnancy and most of the times harmless, caused by an increase in blood volume and a hormonal surge in pregnancy
- Place a cool compress over your head
- Get adequate rest and sleep
- Drink lots of fluid especially water
- Take your prenatal vitamins
- Include physical activities to your routine such as daily walks
- You can take acetaminophen (paracetamol/tynelol) occasionally to treat your headache.
- Herbal medications
- Taking medications not prescribed by your doctor
Indigestion and heartburn
commonly called dyspepsia, 8 out of 10 women would experience this as the growing uterus presses on the stomach, symptoms include bloating, regurgitation, belching, feeling of fullness, and is usually worse after eating.
- Eat small quantities of food frequently
- Sit up straight while eating
- Avoid going to bed immediately after eating, delay about 2-3 hours
- Drink a glass of milk
- Avoid triggers like bending over, eating chocolate
- Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- Eat less spicy food and fatty foods
As your bump gets bigger it becomes more difficult to get a good sleep, especially since you have limited sleeping positions (lying on both sides) as advised from 16 weeks to prevent compression of major blood vessels from the growing uterus.
- Get all the nap you can during the day
- Use some relaxation techniques taught in antenatal classes before bedtime
- Include some activities such as walking, swimming into your routine
- Teas and coffee
This occurs due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy which relax the intestinal muscles hence reducing intestinal motility
- Eat foods which are high in fiber content such as cereals, wholemeal bread, vegetables and fruits
- Drinking plenty of water
- Maintain regular exercise
- Iron supplements they are known to worsen constipation, except they are recommended by your healthcare provider
Occurs usually at night mostly involving the calf muscles and feet
- Regular gentle exercise to improve circulation
- Gentle massage of the legs, and calf muscles
- Pain medications except prescribed by your health care provider
Swelling of the fingers, ankles and feet
occurs due to the extra fluid accumulation in the body tissues, because the body is retaining more water and also the growing womb puts pressures on the large veins especially the inferior vene cava which returns blood to the heart from the lower extremities causing pooling of blood and hence force fluid into the tissues of your lower limbs hence the swelling, however if you notice swelling on our face and facial puffiness be sure to call your healthcare provider to rule out serious conditions such as pre-eclampsia
- Foot exercises to improve circulation
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Rest your feet on a cushion as you lie down
- Standing for long
- Wearing tight shoes
This usually occurs if the brain is not getting enough blood and oxygen
- Get up slowly from a sitting or lying down position
- If in a standing position, sit down and lower your head to your knees
- If it occurs while lying on your back turn to the other sides
- Getting up too quickly from a sitting or a lying down position
Incontinence in pregnancy
It is common because of the relaxation urethra and pelvic floor muscles caused by pregnancy hormones and virtually all pregnant women experience varying degree of incontinence
- Plan to use the bathroom at least every two hours, so as to empty the bladder
- Try to control weight gain in pregnancy
- Do pelvic floor exercise such as Kegels exercise
Urinary Tract Infections
Common symptoms include pain or burning sensation when you wee, feeling generally sick, cramps in your lower tummy or back, dark colored urine
Remedies to prevent UTI
- Always use the toilet as soon as you have the urge to wee
- Drink plenty fluids
- Always wipe yourself from front to back to reduce the spread of bacteria
However report to your doctors for any of the symptoms to receive appropriate treatment.
Also known as vagina candidiasis, caused by a fungi called candida albicans, it is common in pregnancy because of higher estrogen levels which makes the vagina produce more glycogen and thus encourage the growth yeast,it presents with symptoms such as whitish vaginal discharge, though sometimes can be creamy or cottage cheese in color, orderless, itchiness, irritation, soreness, discomfort during sex, and burning sensation while urinating
To soothe the itchiness you can use an ice pack or soak in a cool bath for about 10-15 minutes
.consult your health care provider, so a sample can be taken to confirm the diagnosis and prescribe over the counter anti fungi suppository or cream that are safe in pregnancy
- Douching in pregnancy or at any other time
- Don’t use bubble baths, scented and perfumed soaps or feminine hygiene sprays because this could further worsen irritation
- Avoid tight pants and pantyhose
it’s not fun being sick especially while you are pregnant, most infections also are worse in pregnancy because of the general low immunity, since you can’t avoid all sources of infection while pregnant it is important to get prenatal and antenatal cares,and practicing good personal hygiene such as regular washing of hands,not sharing cups and utensils,protect your hands while gardening, drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, ensure your meals are well cooked, stay away from anyone who has a contagious illness, and practice safe sex to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.