Pregnancy

Physical Changes During Pregnancy

A woman’s overall health and well-being will affect her ability to deal with the physical changes during pregnancy. Women can ensure a rapid physical recovery from pregnancy if they receive regular prenatal medical care, have a healthy diet and exercise during pregnancy and even afterwards.

The physical changes that occur during pregnancy affect every woman differently. When you think of the best approach to deal with the physical toll of pregnancy and delivery, it is important for you to consider your personal situation.

There is no absolute method for dealing with the changes that occur. But there are many things women can do to improve the experience and enjoy their pregnancies.

Pregnancy Changes
Physical changes that are normal among pregnant women include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Physical discomfort
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes

Here are some tips to get relief from these changes:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Do some form of exercise throughout pregnancy
  • Maintain good posture and consider using a maternity support belt during pregnancy
  • Get regular prenatal care and describe any worrisome changes to your physician
  • Get lots of rest and avoid stress if possible

Exercise during pregnancy is particularly important.  It helps deal with fatigue and weight loss in the postpartum period [six weeks after childbirth].

Postpartum
Women that take better care of themselves during pregnancy will likely recover faster from the physical effects of pregnancy and delivery. If you have a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy, doing regular exercise during and after your pregnancy will help you recover quicker. A number of specific physical events may occur in the postpartum period. They may require specific treatment and the treatment options are described below.

Episiotomy and Tears
You may tear or have an episiotomy during labor and delivery. A tear or episiotomy can be repaired with stitches.

Recovering from either of these injuries to the perineum is usually uncomfortable or even painful, depending on the severity of the tear and the length of the incision. The pain may make it difficult for you to sit, walk comfortably and use the toilet for one to two weeks after delivery. You can do the following things to reduce the discomfort:

  • Apply an ice pack directly to the perineal area
  • Use Sitz baths
  • Use an anesthetic spray on the affected area
  • Use stool softeners
  • Apply witch hazel pads to the incision area

Common Postpartum Changes
A woman can also experience the following physical changes in the postpartum period:

Separated pubic symphysis
This is when a narrow section of cartilage and ligament in the pelvic girdle separate. It is not a dangerous condition but it may be painful. Take advice from your doctor on what exercises can help you recover from this condition.

Breast engorgement and mastitis
This is a common physical complaint among new mothers. You can alleviate the discomfort by warming your breasts prior to feeding to help milk let down, pumping a bit to relieve pressure and soften your nipple, and wearing a strong support bra. Mastitis is an infection caused by clogged milk ducts and it can be treated by antibiotics.  Seek medical attention if you think you have mastitis.

After pains
This problem occurs as your uterus shrinks back to normal in postpartum period. They may feel like menstrual cramps. This problem can be treated by over the counter medications like Tylenol.

Fatigue and exhaustion
Recovering from fatigue and exhaustion takes time. Sleeping as much as possible in the postpartum period is the best remedy for this problem. Remember to rest when your body needs it. A good rule is to sleep when your baby does!

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