Some of the most common complaints that women face during their pregnancy are excess gas, bloating, heartburn and leakage. While all of these are common issues, they can also seem embarrassing, especially when they come unexpectedly! Occasionally they will signify something more serious but it’s always a good idea to bring them up to your doctor or midwife.
Gas and bloating: Gas is produced by 2 methods swallowing air, and food that is not completely digested by the enzymes you produce. During pregnancy, our body’s metabolism slows down, and this in turn allows the bacteria in your stomach to ferment the undigested food, thus increasing gas production. This isn’t dangerous, but can be annoying (and sometimes cause painful bloating!). Some foods will increase the amount of gas we produce, namely carbohydrates. As well, people who have lactose sensitivities or allergies will produce more gas since they are unable to produce enough enzymes (called lactase) to break down the lactose.
How do you spell relief? R-E-D-U-C-E the amount of gas producing products from your diet if possible. Some of the biggest offenders are beans (the magical fruit!), broccoli, cauliflower, dairy and some starches. Also, try to eat several smaller meals during the day rather than 3 squares. This will also help with heartburn. Avoid carbonated beverages and try to drink from a glass to consume less air. Wearing loose fitting clothes will also help, and take some of the pressure from excess bloating.
If you find that none of the above helps with the gas or bloating, talk to your doctor or midwife. They can give you some over the counter remedies and in extreme cases, some prescriptions that will help alleviate the problem.
Heartburn: There is an old wives tale that says if you have heartburn throughout your pregnancy, you will have a baby with a full head of hair. Whether this is true or not, I took enough Tums to buy stock in it, and both my children were born looking almost 3 months old. Heartburn tends to get worse the further along you are during your pregnancy, although many women say they were at their worst point in the later half of their second trimester, long before the baby drops. Like above, if you limit the amount of carbonated beverages, eat several small meals, and drink plenty of water, you can help minimize the amount of heartburn you suffer from. There are many OTC remedies and a few prescription ones that you can take, talk to your doctor or midwife for their preferred method.
Incontinence: Many women find that during pregnancy, they tend to leak urin when coughing or sneezing. This is due to the ligaments and muscles in the lower abdomen stretching (along with all of the others!) to make room for baby. Many women find pelvic floor muscle exercises (also known as Kegels) decrease this significantly. It is, however, best to consult your doctor before you start, to verify they are safe for you to perform.
Vaginal discharge: During pregnancy, especially the closer you get to your due date; you may find that you have an abundance of a thin, milky-white discharge. It’s perfectly normal and safe, as long as there is no odor (which can signify an infection), pain or color. As usual, consult your doctor or midwife if there are any concerns. If you notice a significant increase before you reach 37 weeks or it looks watery or has blood in it, contact your doctor or midwife immediately.