Advertising
Advertising

Stomach Pain During Pregnancy: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Stomach Pain During Pregnancy: What’s Normal, What’s Not
Pregnancy meditation
    Meditation can alleviate stress and help you stay mindful

    Stomach pain during pregnancy can cause anxiety and fear, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. There are so many changes happening in your body, to your emotions and your mind; you are at your most hormonal. Like most women you will become hyper vigilant in order to make sure you have the healthiest gestation and deliver a safe, healthy and happy baby so you will notice every little niggle and wonder if it is just a part of the process or something more serious.

    Advertising

    Experiencing stomach pain during pregnancy is almost guaranteed.

    Your uterus has to grow and stretch to accommodate the baby, or multiple babies. You will experience round ligament pain and possibly have false labor contractions called Braxton Hicks towards the end of your pregnancy. You may become full much sooner as your stomach and digestive organs compete for room and you may become sensitive to some foods, which may cause you to have gas or indigestion. You will become less agile as you grow, preventing you from being as active as you were before, which means you will have to endure some discomfort when you walk, sit and lie down. Every day activities like short car trips and sleeping will become a little more complicated as you become accustomed to your expanding girth.

    Advertising

    Most instances of pain or discomfort are to be expected and are rarely cause for alarm, particularly in isolation, when they are not coupled with other symptoms or signs such as bleeding.

    Should pain in your stomach become unbearable or constant and be coupled with other events such as bleeding, clotting, severe vomiting, fever or headache; it may be an indication that there is something wrong. Unfortunately pregnancy doesn’t always go according to our desires. Problems like pre term labour, ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage can occur. It happens to many women who go on to have successful pregnancies and healthy babies and it is vital to understand that you are not alone if something goes wrong.

    Advertising

    It is important to seek professional advice if you have pain coupled with other symptoms and to talk about your experiences with other women and health professionals.

    In fact having a good relationship with your obstetrician/gynecologist, your midwives/doulas and other women in your life will help to alleviate unnecessary worry and address serious issues quickly should they arise. Your support networks are your sanity, strength and stability.

    Advertising

    There are many ways to nurture yourself when you are pregnant to help ease some of the discomfort associated with the intense changes that your body will experience.

    Taking things slow and looking after yourself is imperative and although you can continue to do most of your day to day activities, including more vigorous ones like exercising or sexual intercourse, you just have to be mindful of your condition and pay attention to your movement and exertion.

    • Take warm baths; not too hot, just comfortable. Being in water is one of the most comforting and therapeutic ways to restore the strain of day to day life on your body; it is working very hard to grow this baby.
    • Eat well, drink plenty of water and stay active by doing some light yoga or going for comfortable strolls in the fresh air. Keeping your body healthy and limber will eliminate most of your discomfort or at least equip you with mechanisms to cope with physical strain.
    • Book yourself in for a massage by a certified pregnancy technician; your body will thank you for it. Meditation is another effective way to strengthen your mind and keep you focused. These skills will come in handy during the birth of your baby too.

    Above all, enjoy the ups and downs of your pregnancy and keep yourself informed. It’s an exhilarating experience and one you will withstand far more positively if you are mindful and educated.

    Featured photo credit: Pregnancy meditation.jpg via yogsadhana.com

    More by this author

    Diane Koopman

    Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

    How Mental Fatigue Eats You Slowly (And Ways to Regain Mental Energy) 10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath 20 Dalai Lama Quotes To Change The Way You Think Small Things Parents Can Do to Effectively Reduce Sibling Jealousy Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication

    Trending in Parenting

    1 Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes 2 How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids) 3 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 4 What Happened to Family Dinners? Why We Should Bring Them Back 5 The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Published on November 30, 2018

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

    The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

    Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

    Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

    • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
    • Weight loss or decreased appetite
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Feelings of restlessness
    • Loss of energy
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
    • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
    • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
    • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
    • Low libido
    • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
    • Poor self-care
    • Social withdrawal
    • Insomnia or excessive sleep
    • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
    • Lack of concentration and poor memory
    • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
    • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

    Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

    Causes of Post Natal Depression

    It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

    Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

    It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

    • Prenatal depression or anxiety
    • A personal or family history of depression
    • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
    • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
    • Maternity blues
    • Birth-related psychological trauma
    • Birth-related physical trauma
    • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
    • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
    • Cigarette smoking
    • Low self-esteem
    • Childcare or life stress
    • Low social support
    • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
    • Low socioeconomic status
    • Infant temperament problems/colic
    • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
    • Elevated prolactin levels
    • Oxytocin depletion

    One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

    Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

    1. Seek Medical Help

    As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

    Advertising

    If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

    If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

    2. Therapy

    This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

    You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

    Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

    3. Medication

    There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

    Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

    However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

    There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

    Advertising

    4. Communication with Partner

    Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

    ‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

    By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

    Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

    5. Self Care and Rest

    Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

    Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

    Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

    6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

    St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

    One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

    Advertising

    It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

    7. Movement

    Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

    Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

    The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

    8. Socializing and Support Groups

    Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

    See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

    9. Accept Help

    Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

    Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

    10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

    Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

    Advertising

    Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

    Final Thoughts

    Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

    PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

    PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

    Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

    It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

    Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next