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Patient Care

Pregnancy Woes

Congratulations to all expecting women! Your body undergoes changes as you go through nine months of pregnancy. During this period, some of the symptoms that you may experience include:

• Morning Sickness
Morning sickness usually occurs during the first few months of pregnancy and can take place any time of the day. Pregnant women can take small and frequent meals (such as 6-8 times in a day). You should avoid fried, spicy and greasy food as well as drink more water to prevent dehydration.

• Constipation
During pregnancy, the body produces more female hormones than normal. It is the job of these hormones to make sure that the baby develops normally. But they also automatically slow down the woman's intestinal movements. To prevent constipation, drink plenty of fluids (e.g. 8-10 glasses of water or juice). Eat food high in fibre such as salads, bran cereals, fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly as exercises can gently stimulate the bowel, which leads to improved digestion.

• Varicose veins
Veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Varicose veins occur when incompetent valves lead to the backflow of blood, thus leading to enlargement of the veins. To prevent the condition, sit with your legs and feet raised, avoid having constipation and take warm tub baths to soothe the affected areas.

• Backache and Leg Pains
During pregnancy, the growth of the uterus leads to the visible ‘waddling’ way of walking, especially during the last trimester. The development of the uterus also leads to an increased strain on the back muscles, thereby causing backache. To ease backache, wear flat shoes and sleep on firm mattress. When in a sitting position, use a straight back chair with a pillow placed behind the back. You may also consider taking calcium supplements, do gentle stretching exercises and getting body massages.

• Heartburn
Heartburn is a burning sensation that often extends from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat. Although it is common and harmless, it can be quite uncomfortable for expecting women. You should eat small but frequent meals, avoid hot and spicy food as well as coffee. Avoid lying down after a meal, but rather, elevate your upper body to keep your stomach acids where they should be to aid digestion.

Although much discomfort is experienced during pregnancy, expecting women can take proactive steps to reduce the level of discomfort and try making the experience the best that it can be for them.

By: Dr Goh Lay Hoon, Registrar, SingHealth Polyclinics

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