PROBLEMS OCCURING DURING PREGNANCY: HEADACHES, FAINTING. VARICOSE VEINS
Headaches, palpitations and fainting
The fainting heroine (who also happened to be pregnant) has been the cliché of thousands of old-time novels and movies. (The other one used and reused with monotonous regularity was the doctor delivering the baby at home. He needed buckets and buckets and more buckets of boiling water. Generations of modern-day doctors are still asking what he did with all that boiling water!)
However, as many pregnant women know so well, it is not uncommon to develop sensations of feeling faint. Or there may be recurring bouts of head pain, often mild, and seldom really severe. An awareness of the heart beating in the chest, with or without actual exercise is also quite common.
None of these symptoms is serious. Indeed, they may occur to a certain extent in most pregnant women. It is merely due to the altered nature of the body's blood reservoirs.
With the advent of the pregnant womb, a large amount of blood is transferred from the usual body circulation to the pelvic regions where it is needed to succour the new, developing life.
For this reason, these other circulatory abnormalities tend to take place.
The symptoms are not serious. They are not dangerous. They do not indicate any sinister disease process. They are entirely self-limiting, and will phase out automatically in due course.
The development of prominent blood-vessels, particularly in the lower limbs, is common during pregnancy. Indeed, very few women manage to escape this to some degree. In some cases it is very marked, and unfortunately these may persist after the confinement.
Frequently the limbs will ache, and the more prominent the veins, the greater the discomfort. They are aggravated by long hours of standing, especially on hard surfaces such as concrete floors. Many women who continue working during pregnancy and have to stand all day may find the complaint quite distressing.
Varicose veins are often an inherited factor, so if your parents had them severely, then you are most probably headed in a similar direction.
They are produced by the increasing mass in the pelvis pressing on the great veins as they return blood from the lower limbs. With the increased stress, the valves in the vessels that help the return of blood frequently break down, and this often produces lumpy nodules so characteristic of varicose vessels.
Much can be done to assist, however. Keeping off hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time is important.
Wearing elasticized stockings can often be very helpful. Special maternity fashions are available in many areas which provide both for this type of hosiery, as well as adequate room for the expanding abdomen. They are highly successful.
Whenever possible, keep the lower limbs elevated, preferably at a level equal to or higher than the hips. This assists the blood flow back to the body with the help of gravity. Some women find it helpful to lie on their backs on the floor and place their limbs at right angles to their body up against the wall. This has a similar mechanical beneficial effect. It can add greatly to personal comfort. Simple massaging of the limbs, using a soft, sweeping movement from the feet upwards, can also help.
Sometimes doctors may inject some of the more prominent veins, but this is best left until after the confinement. Many vessels will disappear at this time, and then the most persistent problems may be dealt with. But other doctors feel that varicose veins should not be tampered with until after the reproductive days are over permanently.