Managing discomforts of pregnancy

The following advice may help you to manage or lessen some of these common discomforts of pregnancy.

Bladder and bowel issues

During pregnancy it is not unusual to experience:

  • constipation (difficulty passing a bowel movement)
  • increased urination (weeing) or a burning sensation when weeing
  • haemorrhoids (enlarged veins located at and around the rectum (last portion of large intestine) and anus that become swollen due to increased pressure within them.

Read how you can reduce the risk of these conditions through good bladder and bowel habits during pregnancy.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

During pregnancy, increase fluid levels in your body can extra pressure on the median nerve that supplies your wrist and fingers. This is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • tingling in your fingers
  • a weak grip (difficulty carrying bags and holding things).
  • pain in hand or wrist.

Treatments for carpal tunnel include:

  • splints
  • resting and avoiding wrist movements
  • alternating hot and cold packs on the wrist and hand
  • icing and elevating the wrist and fingers
  • muscle pump exercises and stretches
  • cortisone injection
  • surgery (although this unlikely in pregnancy).

Median nerve and tendon stretches as illustrated below may help reduce discomfort. Gently move through the positions 5–10 times. Do not hold the stretch.

Median nerve stretches

Tendon stretches

If you experience any problems, please contact your physiotherapist.

Managing pelvic girdle pain

Your pelvic girdle is the ring of bones at the base of your spine. These bones and nearby ligaments and muscles support your torso (from your neck to the groin) and link your spine and legs.

Read how you can help minimise pain from your pelvis during daily activities while you are pregnant.

Muscle cramps in your calves

The following may assist in managing muscle cramps in your calves.

  • Stretch your calves during the day and twice each side before bed. While keeping your knee straight, flex your foot so your toes point towards your nose and hold for 20-60 seconds.
  • Wear support stockings.
  • Seek medical advice for calcium or magnesium sources.
  • Massage your calves gently.
  • Avoid extreme toe pointing.
  • Stretch and massage when you feel a cramp beginning.
Sex during pregnancy

Usually it is quite safe to have sexual intercourse during your pregnancy and not harm your baby. If you think you have any medical conditions that may affect intercourse, please seek advice from your doctor or midwife.

If everything is going well, it is safe to continue sexual intercourse right up until labour. Orgasms cannot start labour, however post intercourse you may feel some uterine tightening. If these persist, please seek medical advice.

Certain positioning may not be comfortable or practical during pregnancy (lying on your back). More comfortable positioning options for intercourse are side lying (with your partner in front or behind you) or on your hands and knees.

Learn more about physiotherapy during pregnancy

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