Over the course of a nine-month pregnancy the body will undergo a number of changes. Apart from the weight gain, swollen feet and acid reflux, pain may also play a prominent role. Pain comes in many different forms and can range from slight stomach discomfort to a sharp, dull pain that requires medical attention. But Being able to tell the difference between the two can be difficult at times. Especially if you’re a first time mom. The following can be used as a general guideline for pain in pregnancy:
Mild aches and pains that are expected during pregnancy
Some of the following pains may be experienced by women during their pregnancy:
- Cramping: A feeling of pressure, stretching, or pulling in the stomach. It is sometimes similar to menstrual cramps
- Ligament pain: Often called “growing pains,” this occurs as the ligaments stretch to support your growing baby. Women can feel a pulling sensation, usually around the hip bones.
- Leg pain: The excess swelling and edema of the legs can bring with it discomfort, because of this, some women may experience swelling and pressure in the legs.
- Lower back pain: Along with temporary changes in the spinal curvature, weight shifts can cause muscle spasms and soreness in the lower back.
- Breast pain: This is due to hormones like oxytocin, progesterone, and prolactin, which help the breasts prepare to swell with milk.
- Gas and bloating: A general feeling of discomfort within the tummy. It may last for minutes to hours.
- Braxton hicks contractions: A special mention is reserved for Braxton hicks’ contractions. These are known as false labor contractions. Doctors are not precisely sure why they happen but a popular theory is that Braxton Hicks contractions are your body putting you through a practice trial for real labor. Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and usually don’t hurt. Though uncomfortable, they should subside within a short period of time.
None of the conditions mentioned above should cause a pain that is sharp or stabbing in nature. Although bothersome and mildly painful, they should all lessen with appropriate treatment. For example, using laxatives to treat constipation or modifying your diet to ease gas and bloating.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, other possible treatment options for these types of pain includes:
- Pregnancy safe stretches
- Breathing exercises/controlled breathing
- Experimenting with different sleeping positions or changing positions
- Going for a short walk
- Use of a hot water bottle (the bottle should not be placed directly on the tummy. Any hot water bottle that is used should be first wrapped within a thick towel)
- Pregnancy support belts for lower back pain
- Warm baths
Types of pain that require urgent medical attention
The following are signs that an episode of pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional immediately:
- Pain that is associated with vaginal bleeding or change in vaginal discharge
- Pain that is associated with nausea or vomiting
- Sharp pain that radiates to the back
- Sharp pain that is localized to one part of the stomach (this may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy)
- Pain that makes it difficult to breathe, walk or speak
- In later trimesters, pain that is associated with a reduced number of fetal movements
In general, pain that happens alongside other factors such as a raised temperature, a headache or visual changes should always be seen to by a medical professional.
If ever it doubt about the nature of your pain, seek help from a your obstetrician right away.
1) American Pregnancy Association. Sharp Pain During Pregnancy