Comfort Measures During Pregnancy

During the last few months of pregnancy, earlier discomforts may become more noticeable or new ones may occur. This information may help you to be more comfortable, and sometimes safer, during this final phase of your pregnancy.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a common occurrence of pregnancy, usually more noticeable in the third trimester, and they tend to become more pronounced with each pregnancy. You are more likely to develop varicose veins if other members of your family had them during their pregnancies.

Your uterus pressing against the large blood vessels in your abdomen and pelvis causes varicose veins. These blood vessels carry blood from your legs back up to your heart. This pressure results in the blood flowing more slowly and overfilling the veins in your legs.

To help relieve some of your discomfort from varicose veins and prevent them from worsening:

  • Wear support hosiery
  • Avoid wearing clothing that constricts blood vessels in your legs (knee highs)
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting
  • Elevate your legs when possible

Swelling of Your Feet, Ankles, and Lower Legs (Edema)

Edema is another common problem in pregnancy that is a result of your uterus pressing on the blood vessels in your abdomen and pelvis. The swelling is caused by fluid that is forced out of your blood vessels and into the tissues of your legs.

Relieve your discomfort from edema and prevent it from worsening by:

  • Avoiding prolonged periods of sitting and standing.
  • Resting with your legs elevated frequently throughout the day.
  • Avoiding tight fitting shoes. You may need a larger shoe size because the ligaments of your feet relax and stretch during pregnancy, causing your feet to flatten and spread. Select good support shoes with wide heels, no higher than 1 ½ inches.
  • If you experience swelling in your ankles and feet that does not go away after rest, or swelling of your face or fingers, notify your doctor or midwife.

Sleeping and Resting

Lying in the side relaxation position: As your pregnancy progresses, lying on your side, especially your left side, is more comfortable than lying on your back. This position also provides maximum blood flow to your baby. Lie on the side that feels more comfortable. Tilt slightly forward, placing a pillow diagonally under your head, breast, and shoulder. The arm and leg against the bed should be behind you, with your top arm and leg slightly in front of you.

Let your abdomen rest on the bed or, if necessary, place a small pillow under it for support. Another pillow placed between your legs from knee to ankle will increase abdominal and back support. Alternate sides as needed.

Alternate position for lying on your side Support your head, but not your shoulders, with one or two pillows, keeping your head in line with your spine. Flex your knees, and place a pillow between them. You may use a small pillow to support your abdomen. Alternate sides as needed.

Special support items There are a wide variety of body support items that may help you be more comfortable when resting or sleeping. Ask at specialty shop, general merchandise, and fabric stores about:

  • Pregnancy wedges.
  • Body bolster pillows.
  • Foam mattress topper and pillows.

Nasal Discomfort

Nasal stuffiness is a common discomfort of pregnancy, caused by increased estrogen levels. Humidifier or cool mist vaporizer (without any medication added) may relieve some of your symptoms. Avoid the use of nasal decongestants and sprays because they may raise your blood pressure and cause changes in the flow of blood to your placenta.

Reprinted with permission from Her Healthcare.