Dr Miriam: HEALTH FOCUS: TREATING PREGNANCY DISCOMFORT - Pick the Best Way to Bloom

The Mirror (London, England), November 25, 2004 | Go to article overview

Dr Miriam: HEALTH FOCUS: TREATING PREGNANCY DISCOMFORT - Pick the Best Way to Bloom


Byline: Dr Miriam Stoppard

A WOMAN'S health may bloom in pregnancy - as model Claudia Schiffer, pictured left, shows. Two weeks ago she gave birth to her second child, Clementine.

Other mums, like Radio 1 DJ Sarah Cox, right, looked less cool and comfortable when they were expecting.

But it's not surprising that many mums-to-be feel under the weather over nine months' labour.

Most problems arise from surging levels of pregnancy hormones. This week Dr Miriam advises on common complaints of pregnancy.

MORNING sickness is one of the best-known uncomfortable effects of pregnancy - and it defies its name as it can strike at any time of day.

The cause is almost always low levels of blood sugar, although pregnancy hormones can also directly irritate the stomach.

It's generally confined to the first three months. So:

Eat little and often so blood sugar remains fairly constant.

Make each small meal pay by eating complex carbohydrates like wholemeal bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and wholegrain cereals.

Avoid coffee and fried foods as these can trigger nausea. Have a glass of milk and a couple of biscuits by the bed for waking-up time, then remain in bed for another 15 minutes.

Keep up fluid intake and include skimmed milk and fruit juice if they can be kept down.

If vomiting happens more than twice a day over three days see the doctor, because depleted fluid level could lead to low blood pressure.

Constipation

CONSTIPATION is due to the relaxing effect of progesterone. Intestinal wall muscles contract less often so food stays in the intestine longer and more water is extracted from it. You should:

Drink lots of water; eat fresh vegetables and fruit, high-fibre cereals and wholemeal bread.

Walk briskly for 20 minutes a day. If you feel you must have a laxative, only take one prescribed by your doctor.

Heartburn

UNDER relaxing effects of high progesterone levels, the muscular stomach valve - which normally closes tightly to contain the stomach's contents - may allow a reflux of food into the oesophagus (food pipe). The stomach acid causes a burning sensation just behind the breastbone . So:

Ensure the stomach is never really full. Eat four or five small meals a day rather than three substantial ones.

If heartburn is a problem at night, sleep propped up by pillows, and drink a glass of milk before going to bed.

Milk helps to neutralise stomach acid. Don't take antacid medicines yourself. Your doctor may prescribe one but only in later stages of pregnancy.

Backache

ONE of progesterone's roles is to soften and stretch ligaments of pelvic joints to allow for passage of the baby at birth. This softening and stretching effect extends to ligaments of the spine, putting extra strain on joints of back and hips. So:

Avoid lifting heavy weights throughout pregnancy. …

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