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Coping with Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

This article offers some tips for coping with the various ailments associated with pregnancy while at work.
Dealing with Pregnancy Ailments at Work

Backache, edema

Coping with Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

The following are the most common pregnancy concerns and the strategies to deal with them while you are on the job:

Backaches are common during pregnancy because of the increased weight you're carrying, especially if your baby is resting on your spine. Neck and shoulder aches can be due to tension and/or the increased weight of your growing breasts. Lower back pain that extends or shoots down one buttock and into one leg is probably sciatica, caused when the baby's head compresses the sciatic nerve. The tips that follow will help to relieve the discomfort of backaches or avoid them altogether:

  • Drive comfortably—Move your car seat forward to keep your knees bent and higher than your hips. Use a small pillow to support your lower back area.
  • Lift correctly—Stabilize your body first by assuming a wide stance and tucking in your buttocks. Bend at the knees, not at the waist, and lift with your arms and legs, which will take the stress off your back. Lift objects only chest high. If your job demands frequent heavy lifting, ask to be assigned to less taxing duties.
  • Limit your standing—Try not to stand in one place or one position for too long. If your job requires long periods of standing, keep one foot on a raised surface, such as a step or a box, to prevent your lower back from curving inward; or stand on a small, skid-proof rug. When standing at a table, lean forward with your knees slightly bent, and support your weight with your hands or elbows.
  • Use ice or a cold pack—Place a bag with ice, wrapped in a towel, against the small of your back when you're sitting down.
  • Relieve strain—When seated at your desk, prop up one leg on a footstool, stack of files, trash can, or anything else available. When walking, sitting, or lying down, avoid putting stress on your back muscles by tucking in your buttocks. Keep your back from arching forward when you stand or lie on your side. At work or at home, you can also lean forward in a chair and lower your head to your knees for thirty seconds. Rise and repeat six times, up to six times a day.
  • Stretch daily—Try setting the clock on your computer to beep at you every thirty minutes to remind you to stretch.
  • Avoid wearing high heels to work—Wear sturdy shoes, with a heel no higher than one inch. Save higher heels for special meetings and appointments with clients, and place thin, foam-rubber inserts in the toes to reduce pressure.
  • Wear a maternity belt—A wide, soft, supportive elastic band that wraps around your lower back and under your belly can take over part of the job of tired, stretched abdominal and back muscles as it cradles the weight of your growing belly.
  • Poor posture can also cause your back to ache—Try to keep your shoulders and hips in line as you walk, and keep your back straight by tucking a pillow behind you when you're seated.
Edema (Swelling)
More than 70 percent of pregnant women experience some fluid accumulation in their feet, legs, face, and hands. This condition is related to hormone buildup in your system, which results in the kidneys collecting more water and salt than normal. If your job keeps you on your feet, you are also more likely to experience edema.

If you experience sudden, extreme swelling, you should immediately alert your physician. This could be a warning sign of preclampsia or toxemia. Mild swelling, which is considered normal and beneficial, can bee relieved by these methods.

  • Raise your legs—Prop up your legs at work on anything available: a stack of papers, books, or a box. Also, elevate your feet and hands above your heart to reduce swelling by gravity. If possible, lie down during the day on your left (heart) side, not on your back. This position prevents your uterus from compressing major arteries and lets your system reabsorb the fluid. Also try walking around the block on your lunch hour.
  • Soak your feet—Tired, burning feet should be soaked at the end of a workday. Rotate your ankles to reduce swelling.
  • Keep water at your desk—Consuming extra water will help to draw fluid from puffy tissues back into your bloodstream to be excreted by your kidneys later. Have a glass or a squeeze bottle of water nearby throughout the day.
  • Wear loose clothing—Although you always want to look well dressed at work, choose looser clothes for maternity wear. Wear elastic support hose, too, and remove tight-fitting rings and other jewelry. Keep an extra, larger pair of shoes in your office to wear when your feet swell.
  • Watch your diet—Stay away from fatty foods, eat plenty of protein, and cut down on salt, which causes fluid retention.
  • Avoid chemicals—Chemical diuretics have been found to be harmful to a pregnant woman. Try taking a couple of spoonfuls of apple-cider vinegar, a natural diuretic, before each meal. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can help.

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