ANNOYING PROBLEMS OCCURING DURING PREGNANCY
For most women, the days of pregnancy are happy and relatively free from discomfort and trouble. However, it is inevitable that a few abnormalities occur from time to time. After all, major changes are taking place in the lower pelvic area. A rapidly growing mass is developing there, and with the passage of time, gradually pushes up into the abdominal region. When this happens, organs are forced to move to make way. In addition, certain unusual pressures and stresses are produced.
Besides this, the massive production of extra chemicals by the pelvic organs often has a profound effect on the entire system. Although women automatically adjust to these altered circumstances in a very remarkable manner, some produce symptoms which tend to cause them some worry. The majority are self-limiting, and are cured without interference. But some suggestions can assist in alleviating other symptoms.
Here are the main symptoms that may produce some temporary discomfort, together with some recommendations as to how they can be overcome.
The small valve at the lower end of the food passage (the oesophagus) leading to the stomach tends to become lax. For this reason acids from the stomach can readily regurgitate or "reflux" into the lower end of the oesophagus.
This produces a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. It is merely a name, and has nothing to do with the heart muscle itself. It has no sinister connotation, and is not indicative of disease.
A sensible approach to eating often brings relief. Avoiding stimulants can do much to help. Ceasing the intake of spices, condiments, sauces and pickles, and reducing the intake of strong tea or coffee will minimize the problem. Small, frequent meals of a bland, non-stimulating nature assist. An increase in the intake of milk and milk products is often useful.
Sometimes the use of antacid mixtures and tablets can bring relief if distress is severe. Alginic acid compound in the form of granules seems to assist some. These are innocuous preparations.
Extra pillows permitting sleep in a semi-upright position help to keep the acid in the stomach where it belongs. Some have found placing a brick under the head of the bed (producing a similar sleeping position) a good idea. However, others find this uncomfortable, and there is a tendency to slip down toward the foot of the bed. (Husbands often complain loudly and most bitterly about this!)
Constipation is common during pregnancy, particularly in the latter stages. The intestinal system has a lowered "tone," and tends to become lax. Later on, the added pressure of the large womb also aggravates the situation.
An increased fluid intake helps (preferably by the use of fruit juices or plain water, not increased amounts of tea, coffee or sugary aerated beverages or alcohol-laced drinks).
Endeavour to re-establish normal bowel movements. The usual time for these is after a meal. Set a time each day, say after breakfast, and concentrate on this, and results are often successful.
In recent times the increasing value of adding bulk to the bowel has become well recognized. Adding one to three tablespoonful of simple unprocessed bran to the food at each meal can produce excellent results. Bran absorbs fluid. This increases bowel bulk, and greatly reduces ' 'transit time," the length of time material stays in the bowel.
Bran can conveniently be taken with other foods high in natural fibre. Breakfast foods such as muesli may have bran added. It is also a good idea to add chopped-up dates, dried figs, sultanas and raisins. Add a little milk, or water, and honey if desired.
Muesli is composed of natural grains. The total picture is a meal of relatively high nutritional value. At the same time, it is almost a written guarantee of normal bowel actions.
Using this simple system, the need for laxatives and cleansing enemas - the alternative -is usually quite unnecessary.