Pregnancy can be a pain in the...back. Or the bosoms. Or the head. While the body is doing the amazing work of creating and nourishing a new life, it can go through a lot. And a mom-to-be feels all the terrible, weird pains that go along with it.
From the moment she gets the good news, a mom-to-be expects to feel nauseous. She knows she will go through cravings and weight gain, and that labor and delivery will hurt like a mother. But she can go through some unexpected and totally off-the-wall pains along the way as well.
From sharp pains in the pelvis every time she stands up too quick to the low, continual ache in her back, the baby bump can cause havoc in areas that aren't expected. Long before the baby is nursing — when soreness is assured — a woman's chest can feel the pains of pregnancy. She can wake up in the night to surprise excruciating knots of pain, and not the kind that come with labor. And the pain can radiate all over from the head to the feet.
Sometimes a woman hurts and she has no idea why. Most of the time, like everything in pregnancy, it can all be blamed on hormones. We've got a guide that can help a mom-to-be point to the culprit and maybe get a little relief. So here goes.
Here are 7 weird pregnancy pains and 7 explanations.
14 She's A Brick House
In the very first weeks of pregnancy, as a woman's body begins to prepare for a baby, her breasts can grow rapidly. And they can hurt like h---. It can be one of the first signs of pregnancy. Sometimes the dad-to-be will pick up on it first, enjoying the sight of them slightly spilling over and go to take a feel. That's when the mom-to-be yelps out in pain.
Pregnancy breasts can feel full even before the milk can come in. They can feel heavy and sensitive and instead of the soft orbs that enjoy a caress, they can feel like bricks that a woman has to lug around on her chest. A pregnant woman really is a brick house, but we don't think that the Commodores had any idea how much pain that could come with it. The nipples hurt; the bra strap is too tight; the cups are straining; and who ever felt sexy with a brick on their chest?
13 Trademark Breast Tenderness
According to What to Expect, breast tenderness is a common pregnancy symptom that can start as early as 4 weeks. It is worst in the first trimester but it can continue throughout the pregnancy — and it will return with a vengeance once the baby is born.
Pregnant women have their raging hormones to thank for the pain. The tenderness comes from the combination of estrogen and progesterone that increase dramatically in the first few weeks of pregnancy. They cause a flood of blood flow to the chest area, and excess fat will accumulate in the area as it prepares to make milk to nourish the newborn.
In addition to the aches and the heaviness, the areolas around the nipple will get darker, a phenomenon that helps the newborn see and therefore feed in the beginning. A good bra — and wearing a sleeping bra at night — will help, but be sure to warn your partner to be gentle.
12 Back Up
With a baby bump on the front, a pregnant woman can expect a backache. She can't stand without strain, especially toward the end. It hurts to stand for more than 20 minutes. It hurts to sit for just a little longer. It even hurts to lay down. The strain can be hard to find any position that is comfortable, especially in the third trimester.
The dull ache starts in the morning, and usually it sits on the lower back, right above the derriere. It can travel to the left or right, as the baby moves round in the womb. Sometimes it tingles up the spine and into the upper back — thank to the monster boulders that can develop where the breasts used to be. It's enough to send a mom-to-be to the chiropractor in hopes that an alignment will get give her some relief. Some days are worse than others, so after a big long day on her feet, she may need a good soak in the tub (not too hot, remember) to soothe her poor aching back.
11 Backache Briefing
The cause of a backache in pregnancy is pretty obvious, although there are some other reasons that can make things worse. Obviously a mom-to-be gains weight and because it is mostly in the belly, her center of gravity shifts. That can cause the back to work different muscles, but there are also nerves in the back and pelvis that are getting pressure on them. The muscles in the abdomen can separate, which can also cause the back to work harder, and a woman's posture may slip a bit in a way that causes more strain.
Back pain can also be exacerbated by the hormonal changes that loosen the joints as the body prepares for childbirth. And stress can also take a toll. Chiropractors often help pregnant women get through the hard part, and acupuncture can also help. Be careful about using a heating pad, but it can help.
Let us mention one thing — back pain can be a sign of labor. Sometimes, the baby faces the wrong way and a woman can feel her contractions in the back, so pay attention if it comes in a regular pattern.
10 Call The Fire Department
The chest isn't just heavy during pregnancy; it can also burn. The terrible sensation that can start in the center of the chest or stay in the base of the throat can cause a woman to feel like jalapenos must have gotten into her pickle jar. It can burn with a vengeance at bed time, leading to many nights being propped up by pillows so much that the mom-to-be might as well be sitting.
Heartburn can cause terrible, embarrassing burps to escape and make a woman dread every moment that she has to bend over or lay down, anything that could make the heat rise out of her chest and into her throat. She will need cartons and cartons of ice cream to put out the fire and let her have a little bit of peace. It'll make the morning sickness worse, and make the mom-to-be want to call the fire department to take care of the burning in her chest.
9 Heartburn History
Long before the baby gets big enough to get involved in the way of the stomach doing it's job, it can interfere with digestion. Of course, that all goes back to the hormones. This time the culprit is progesterone, which causes muscles to relax, including the valve between the stomach and the esophagus that is supposed to keep the stomach acids down.
Heartburn can start early in pregnancy, but it gets worse in the third trimester, when the uterus puts pressure on the stomach and pushes the acids up and out into the esophagus. At that point, smaller meals are a good idea, and a mom-to-be should avoid spicy or greasy foods that can make things worse.
Some antacids are safe for pregnant women, but others contain sodium, which can contribute to swelling, so a woman should talk to her doctor before taking any. Luckily, dairy products like yogurt, ice cream or a glass of milk can help as well.
8 Charlie Horse From Hell
As if a pregnant woman doesn't have enough trouble getting to sleep — with her baby kicking throughout the night, the heartburn flaring up when she lays down and all the things on her to-do list — but having her few precious hours sleep interrupted by excruciating pain makes night time all the worse.
Anyone who has ever had a Charlie horse knows that it can leave you limping, but when it strikes in pregnancy, it can cause a woman to leap from bed yelling in pain. The terrible knot in the muscle can feel like the muscle is going to wrench itself in two and leave a mom-to-be writing and wondering how she will ever get through labor and delivery. The spasms can be sudden and shocking and a weird excruciating pain that you would never expect a baby to cause. They may be enough to cause you to cross Charlie right off your baby name list to spite them.
7 Leg Cramp Logistics
During pregnancy, the body is working overtime, and the legs are carrying a lot of extra weight. The problem, though, is the fact that the blood supply that has increased in pregnancy is giving some extra pressure to the legs. Doctors used to think that leg cramps were caused by the way the baby was taking calcium out of the mother to keep up its own growth, but now they believe it's more about the blood that can lead to varicose veins and other strange sensations during pregnancy.
The good news is that leg cramps are usually temporary. It helps to try to walk and release the tension on the legs by flexing the ankles and toes. Sometimes heating pads and massage can help, but don't use a muscle relaxer because that can be a problem in pregnancy.
It also helps to make sure that you are well-hydrated and in the worst cases support hose can help with the circulation issues. Stretches before bedtime are also a good idea.
By the way, sometimes leg cramps can actually be a sign that something is very wrong. Some women get blood clots in their legs during pregnancy, so get medical attention right away if the pain is combined with swelling or doesn't go away when you move around.
6 Mama Growing Pains
It may still be small, but that baby belly can pack a whallop at any stage of pregnancy. A woman can get up from bed and feel like she's been stabbed in the side. She can cough and feel like her uterus is going to fall out. Sometimes it's sharp and the pain is gone in an instant. At other times, it can stick around for hours, like a dull low pulled muscle in the stomach.
They are like cramps, but not exactly, not in the way that leads to labor or comes in waves. It's more like a tight, tense strain that can come and go or sit and dwell. It can hurt especially when a mom-to-be moves around. She won't want to stand up or even laugh for fear that another stabbing pain will happen. They call it the "growing pains" of the uterus, and it may be the bane of the second trimester.
5 Round Ligament Pain
Those terrible aches and pains are called round ligament pain, and they are related to the ligaments that hold the uterus in place. Remember, before pregnancy the uterus is the size of an orange and it sits in the bottom of the pelvis. But by 12 weeks it's the size of a grapefruit. The real stretching begins at this point, and it ends up the size of a watermelon and it goes from the ribcage to the pelvis. The ligaments have to stretch a lot to keep the uterus in place, and that is what causes the sharp and strange growing pains.
Round ligament pains tend to show up around 14 weeks, and they plague pregnant women through the second trimester and into the third. Sometimes a belly band or belt can ease the tension, and a woman should be careful during workouts in case she makes them worse. Other than that, all a woman can do is to try to take is slow and avoid movements.
In case it is the real thing, pay attention to any pains that come regularly, and if you have more than four contractions in an hour, especially before 37 weeks, call the doctor right away.
4 Dental Emergency
There is nothing like brushing your teeth and finding blood in the sink when you spit. It happens a lot for pregnant women, who can count bleeding and sensitive gums as a big symptom of pregnancy. The worst, though, is when the pain takes hold. A major toothache can make the entire head feel like its pulsing, and it can make it impossible to get through the day.
Women expect to have pains in their midsection and even their backs during pregnancy, but when they wake up to a monster toothache, they learn that pregnancy is a whole body situation. Pregnancy toothaches can range from dull aches to fully involved disasters, and both can be terrible distractions from the other pains of pregnancy. The gum can throb so much that eating is a nightmare — and eating is a pretty big part of a pregnant woman's life. When your tooth hurts, everything is worse.
3 Toothache Truths
The hormones and increase in blood flow are to blame for tooth troubles during pregnancy. The hormone levels make gums more sensitive, and they are actually more porous as well, which can lead to irritations and other problems. Some women aren't bothered at all, but others can feel pain in their jaws and teeth throughout their pregnancy.
Women are more susceptible to all kinds of infections during pregnancy, and the mouth isn't immune to that. Infections in the gums are fairly common, and they can get into the bloodstream and cross the placenta to the baby. So it is important that any woman who experiences extreme dental pain during pregnancy sees a dentist immediately. There are some procedures that the dentist may try to avoid during certain stages of the pregnancy, but there is a risk of miscarriage or preterm labor if the infection spreads, so moms-to-be should talk to the dentist about their options.
2 Hammer Head
The pounding begins early and it can stop and start again for a full nine months. During pregnancy, some women feel like their head is being squeezed in a vice. It can be a dull ache that starts in the back or a stabbing sensation right over the eyes. Sometimes it can get so bad that a woman can measure her pulse — and maybe even her baby's, as well — by the sound the blood makes when it rushes through her swollen head.
A woman who has migraines may have thought she knew her triggers, but pregnancy can through it all out of whack and make her start over again. Some moms-to-be may get the joy of experience her first ever eye-splitting, hear-hurting full-on migraine. For others, it may just be a series of stress headaches — enough for them to want to stay home and crawl in bed with the lights low until it goes away. But that may not come until the baby is out. Pregnancy headaches can feel like the baby is taking a hammer to the brain, and very few women can avoid the madness.
1 The Many Reasons For Pregnancy Headaches
While the entire body is going crazy during pregnancy, it's no surprise that women feel more than a little stress — and more than one stress headache. The pounding can begin from the first trimester, when the hormones are surging. Then, after the pregnancy test comes up positive, a new mom-to-be will cut down on the caffeine, which goes right to the head as well.
The growing baby keeps taking all the nutrients from her mom, and that means that her blood sugar keeps dropping, causing yet another headache. Then there is the dehydration that can come if she isn't careful, and the lack of sleep that rounds out the third trimester. As soon as the body adjusts to one change, there is another around the corner to set off another stress headache.
Headaches can be a sign of illness — from a cold to sinusitis to toxoplasmosis, to which pregnant women are susceptible. They can also be a sign that something is really wrong with the pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or the more severe version known as HELLP syndrome. Let your doctor know right away if the headache is severe and accompanied by swelling, fever, vision changes or numbness.