Pregnancy common symptoms and how to manage them
Meet Emilia Adamczyk, Midwife, sensory integration therapist, Buteyko instructor and baby sleep consultant. Emilia is the author of numerous parenting and scientific articles on breastfeeding, infant care and development. She shares with us her experience and answers all the question you might have about pregnancy symptoms.
What are the early signs of pregnancy?
The earliest signs of pregnancy may include feeling tired or exhausted more often than usual, darkening of the nipples, and an increase in breast size. If a woman's nipples are already sensitive, then she may be surprised to find that they become even more sensitive. These changes can prompt a woman to take a pregnancy test to confirm if she is pregnant. Before experiencing any other symptoms such as nausea or missing a period, these signs can be an indication that pregnancy has occurred.
What are the most common early symptoms of pregnancy?
The increase in progesterone levels throughout the body can cause swelling of the mucous membranes, leading to a wide range of symptoms such as bleeding gums. Women may also feel like their teeth have become a bit loose, due to the hormone's influence. Many reported symptoms are psychosomatic. In fact, fear and anxiety can intensify physical symptoms such as prolonged nausea and vomiting. Therefore, it is important for women to feel safe and secure during this time in order to minimize any negative emotional and physical symptoms.
Have you had women experiencing common symptoms that persists and what did you recommend?
Sure, one common symptom is itching on the belly during the second trimester. This is generally just due to the skin stretching and can be managed with adequate care. A more unusual case however, is if the itching continues. I then recommend visiting a physiotherapist or an osteopath for manual work to address the source of the problem and the tension.
How about strategies to manage later stage symptoms?
I would recommend that every pregnant woman starting from the 2nd pregnancy trimester, receives support from an osteopath. The osteopath's role is to work on soft tissues and nervous system. He or she can help by working on the vagus nerve to harmonize our organs' and systems' work. It's always a big plus for me to know that a pregnant woman is being taken care of by an osteopath.
Is exercising important to help manage these symptoms?
I advise pregnant women to continue exercising. Note that this should be in line with their pre-pregnancy activity levels. For instance, if the woman was not exercising before pregnancy, it is not the time to start intense activities such as crossfit, but if she was doing crossfit before pregnancy and has no contraindications, she should continue and it will help with persisting itching.
What are the do's and don't when it comes to manage symptoms?
I am willing to consider less traditional treatments, as long as they are safe. For example, if there are medications or other tools, such as acupressure bracelets that have been used for a while, they are acceptable. However, I do not advise a sudden and drastic change of lifestyle. This means that a woman who is usually active should not suddenly abandon her workout routine, quit her job, and become isolated from her friends and neglect her own needs. Therefore, it is important to not go to extremes.
Do you see herbal medicine as an effective option?
I sometimes suggest aromatherapy as a safe option for pregnant women, as it has been approved for use during this time. Additionally, I might choose to inform pregnant women about the potential benefits of ginger and homeopathy, but do not necessarily encourage them. The main risk associated with herbal medicine is the lack of accurate information available, as studies and guidelines can be old and outdated. A midwife might recommend nettle tea, another might expressly forbid it at the risk of flushing out vitamin A. If the latest research is followed, then these methods can be considered safe.