Oh my aching….

You can fill in the blank. It’s amazing to me how differently some women handle the aches and pains of pregnancy (and child birth for that matter) so differently, and how different the discomforts of becoming a mother vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. With my first child, I could have run a marathon, and I would have if someone had asked.  In fact, three weeks from my due date, someone dared me to channel my old cheer leading vibes and do the splits–which I did, belly and all. I was an unstoppable force, and I loved the way I felt.

And then, just two and half short years later I decided to repeat yet another pregnancy. Well, that’s what I thought. Instead of having the pregnancy high I had expected as before, I was thrown an entirely different set of feelings.  I ached–seemingly everywhere, but my hips and back were the worst.  When I had been able to do the splits previously, I couldn’t roll over in bed without moaning and groaning.  So where does all this pain come from?  Mostly, you can blame hormones and a growing baby on changes to the supporting structures of the pelvis and back.

Part of delivering a healthy baby is having a body that is ready to conform to the shape of a 7 or 8 pounder–and pass them through the birth canal without getting stuck.  In order to do so, the hips, pelvis and spine must be prepared to spread open, and the body makes sure it happens by sending out hormones to relax and loosen these structures.  This is also why some women have a noticeable “pregnancy waddle”–their bones have truly loosened..think about it like backing out several bolts on…oh…that crib you just put together.  You back them out, but don’t take them completely apart and the crib will hold together, but it just moves and rocks more easily. Same thing with mama’s hips.

But it can really hurt. I see more women in our triage area in labor hall for complaints of abdominal pain that are just what we call “round ligament” pains.  Usually worse with subsequent pregnancies, round ligament pain can feel like pinching, pulling or burning.  Many women fear that there’s something wrong with baby, but as the body stretches to accommodate a growing uterus and its passenger, it can certainly cause some discomfort.

A warm bath, and doctor-approved pain medications (always ask before you take ANYTHING) can help with the discomfort. As can light exercise, walking, yoga and stretching exercises.  Massage may also be helpful, but use caution with vigorous massage and/or the table with the belly hole in the middle.  A dangling belly can cause more pain of its own…

Headaches, back pain, leg cramps (my personal favorite, also known as a charlie horse in this house), belly aches and everything in between are more inconvenient than anything else. And besides, you’ll look around all too soon and your “belly pain maker” will be off to kindergarten, or heck–maybe even college. So take it with a great attitude, and know it will all be over soon. I wish you a happy, pain-free pregnancy.