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Don’t Be Alarmed: Common Aches, Pains and Ailments in Pregnancy

We list the pregnancy symptoms that generally are not cause for concern.

Woman holding her pregnant stomach
Credit: Unsplash.com

Becoming a mother is quite the journey. Although you’re (hopefully) excited by the experience of carrying a child, pregnancy can also be fraught with concerns about whether everything’s developing as it should. As the CDC notes, there are some potential pregnancy complications, moms-to-be should be aware of, such as anemia, urinary tract infections, even diabetes. While those complications require medical attention (always consult your doctor), there are some aches and pains that are actually quite common — and typically not cause for concern. You might feel slight discomfort as your body undergoes changes in order to accommodate the baby. While not every woman experiences pregnancy the same way, below are a few symptoms you can expect per trimester:

First trimester

The first trimester is often the most exhausting. This is because the body is undergoing rapid physical changes to support critical fetal growth, so you’ll need to take it easy.

“Morning” sickness is not enjoyable, but also generally not cause for concern.

Nausea

Nausea is also called “morning sickness,” but it can happen at any time of the day. This is caused by hormone changes, especially an increase in progesterone, as this particular hormone increases sharply during the first trimester. For some people, the nausea they experience is manageable, feeling more like queasiness. However, some can find it debilitating. Fortunately, nausea decreases in frequency and severity as the pregnancy progresses.

Fatigue

Pregnancy fatigue is first felt in the first trimester, but it usually subsides by the second trimester and returns in the third. Aside from hormonal changes, some physical and emotional changes from growing a baby can also make you feel the most tired you’ve ever been — you might feel tired even if you’ve already had a lot of sleep.

Second trimester

The second trimester is the smoothest part of pregnancy for many women. This is because many first trimester symptoms have subsided, a second wind has kicked in, and the baby is not yet big enough to cause constant discomfort.

Pregnant woman in second trimester doing yoga.
Prenatal yoga can help minimize aches and pains.

Lower back pain

Your growing uterus shifts your center of gravity, which also weakens your abdominal muscles. This can affect your posture and strain your back. The extra weight you’re carrying also means your muscles and joints will need to work harder, and this can increase back pain at the end of the day. Hormonal changes also play a role in back pain as it loosens joints and relaxes ligaments that connect your pelvic bone to the spine.

Indigestion and heartburn

Hormones and the pressure of your growing baby can cause these conditions. Pregnancy hormones, especially progesterone, can slow down the digestive tract, meaning food moves more slowly. According to SymptomFind, a website dedicated to understanding health symptoms and ailments such as prenatal heartburn, progesterone also relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle. And when you’re further along, the growth of your baby pushes out stomach acid, which can make heartburn a common occurrence among mothers-to-be.

Third trimester

The good news: you’re finally nearing the baby’s due date. The not-so-good news: fatigue and discomfort are common in the third trimester due to the baby’s increased weight and size. Maternity belts can provide you the much-needed support that you require during this time.

Pregnant woman falls asleep while reading.
This poor woman is even too tired to read.

Shortness of breath

Hormones tell your brain to take deeper breaths so you can get more oxygen for your growing baby. Another reason for a shortness of breath is your uterus pushing up against your diaphragm, compressing your lungs. These factors together limit your lungs’ ability to fully expand while still needing enough air for the baby.

Leg cramps

Leg cramps happen often at night. There’s no sure answer as to why they happen — though speculation suggest it may be because of the changes in blood circulation and stress on the leg muscles due to the extra weight. The growing baby also puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that pass through your legs.

While these aches and pains may be unpleasant, try to keep in mind that they assist with the growth of your baby. To help you get through it, be sure to check out our Pregnancy Humor section, which will at least give you some much-needed laughs!

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