Your body is continuing to grow and is preparing to give birth in future weeks. Pregnancy symptoms this week might include some not-so-fun stuff, like dizziness, cramps and body aches. However, there are some ways to help ease your discomfort this week. Here's a breakdown:
As your babies and your uterus grow, you will have an increased amount of blood going to your uterus. This may cause you to be dizzy, specifically when standing up or changing positions. When you stand immobile in one place, the weight of your uterus may cause blood to pool in your legs, which will also cause you to feel dizzy.
As you near the end of pregnancy, you’re probably feeling some aches and pains for a few different reasons and you may even be feeling some uterine cramps or contractions. If contractions are irregular and improve with rest, hydration, or a change in position, it’s likely false labor, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
You may also be feeling back and body aches as your stomach grows, and many women get leg cramps at the end of their pregnancy as well. These discomforts are likely due to the extra weight you’re carrying. For many pregnant women, leg cramps often strike at night, but you can try stretching and massaging to ease the symptoms.
Your breasts may begin to leak a yellowish substance called colostrum, which is a precursor to breast milk. Colostrum is rich in minerals and antibodies and a lot thicker than your breastmilk will be. Its full of all of the nutrients your newborn babies will need in their first days of life.
As your belly and other areas of skin stretch and grow, they might feel itchy. Use a gentle, unscented lotion on itchy skin and wear loose clothing that doesn’t irritate the area. If you have itchy feet or hands, let your provider know, as it could be a sign of cholestasis, which is a liver problem that needs to be treated.
As your uterus grows, it's starting to crowd other organs, including your lungs, and will probably make you feel short of breath. Take frequent breaks from activity and exercise to catch your breath and practice good posture so your lungs have room to expand.
Your uterus is also pushing on your bladder, making you feel like you need to pee all the time. It’s important to stay hydrated – you'll probably feel like you're constantly drinking water! Just be sure to plan out your activities so that you’re close to a toilet and can use it frequently.
Between back and body aches, leg cramps, discomfort, heartburn, and anxiety or worries about becoming a parent, many pregnant women experience pregnancy insomnia as the end of their pregnancy grows closer. Having a relaxing bedtime routine can help with insomnia. Try stretching before bed to relieve pains and cramps. Not eating any spicy or heartburn-inducing foods in the evening is a good idea, and propping your head up with pillows may help with heartburn as well.
During pregnancy, your blood volume will increase by 30-50%. This is partly why swelling occurs in pregnancy, especially at the end. Your growing uterus might also slow blood flow from your legs, causing your feet and legs to further swell. If you are struggling with uncomfortable swelling, walking and exercise can help. You can also try taking rests throughout the day to elevate your legs, wearing support hose, and lying on your left side at night.
Swelling in pregnancy is normal, but if you have excessive or sudden swelling, especially with headaches or blurry vision, contact your provider immediately as it could be a sign of preeclampsia. Swelling in one extremity (and not the other) accompanied by heat or redness could be a sign of a blood clot. If you experience any of those things, notify your provider.