Expectant Moms Experience More Than Just Morning Sickness

Smiling pregnant woman Nausea, vomiting, back pain, fatigue.


They're not exactly the stuff of which expectant mothers dream, but those unpleasant realities are part of many pregnancies.


Dr. Sumona Saha, a gastroenterologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, operates a clinic that specifically focuses on pregnant women with gastrointestinal problems, such as heartburn, constipation, acid reflux, and gallstones. Nausea and vomiting are the most common problems she sees in expectant mothers.


Patients with severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, also termed hyperemesis gravidarum, need to be treated aggressively, or there may be complications such as pre-term birth, low-birth-weight, and even fetal loss," she says. "These arise because the pregnant woman is not taking in enough fluids or consuming enough calories. She is often also very psychologically distressed."


Saha often sees these patients on a weekly basis and may prescribe medications safe for the fetus, especially if the expectant mother is losing weight or dehydrated.


"We attack the disorder from both a nutritional and psychological standpoint to get these women eating again and feeling good about their pregnancies," she says.


Dr. Joel Henry, an obstetrician/gynecologist and clinical associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says back pain is the most common complaint he hears from pregnant women.


"This is due to changes in posture that occur in the middle to latter part of the pregnancy when the fetus gets larger and pulls on the ligaments in the lower part of the spine," he says. "I tell these patients to try and maintain good posture, because slouching forward due to the weight of the pregnancy will put added pressure on the sciatic nerve."


Henry tells his patients to use a lumbar support belt and wear well-fitting shoes with arch support to relieve the pain.


He also says expectant moms may experience "the mask of pregnancy" which consists of blotches, blemishes, and other skin discolorations caused by hormonal changes.


"This may include dark spots on the face, cheeks and breasts and a dark line extending to the belly button," says Henry, who adds expectant mothers may also experience acne on the face, back and underarms.


"It's sort of like going through puberty again," he says. "I recommend good hygiene, and use of topical antibiotics or astringent washes."


Henry says pregnancy may also include other common maladies such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Faintness
  • Swelling
  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Joint pain

He says women who want to have a baby should be aware of these impending physical changes.


"Most women will say, 'If I get pregnant and I get morning sickness, I know that comes with the territory' and they think nothing else will happen," he says. "There are a lot of things that change throughout your whole body until the baby is born."


Date Published: 05/04/2010

News tag(s):  ouruwhealthgiobgynsumona sahajoel henry

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