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Befriending aches and pains

I did not expect pregnancy to bring along so much of bodily discomfort.

“What bliss do people hope for while asking for so much of pain…”

If translated into English,a line from a Bangla poem depicting love,by Rabindranath Tagore,would read somewhat like this. I had been humming the original for the last few days and realised the words actually depict my situation. Though I know what eternal bliss I am hoping for,I did not expect it to bring along so much of bodily discomfort.

And there is no remedy,because aches and pains are part and parcel of pregnancy and “it’s all so very normal”,as everybody likes to put it,including my doctor. Along with the advice to endure the pains,I am swarmed with all the preachings on the significance of motherhood and the pains associated with it.

Getting up with heavily swollen palms,so much so that even holding the toothbrush is painful,I go on discovering different sore parts of the body as the day progresses,ending with severe leg cramps when it’s time to sleep. When I complained about the swellings to the doctor,her reply was rather scary. Instead of offering any solution,she told me to remove my ring and bangle,saying “these will get stuck later”.

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Numbness of the fingers and toes is another problem faced by many women,like I do. This could be because the swelling tissues put pressure on the nerves. According to experts,this is due to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Though CTS is mainly seen in people whose work involves repetitive movements of the hand,such as typing or playing the piano,the problem is quite common in pregnant women too. Like many other tissues,the carpal tunnel in the wrist swells during this time,and the pressure causes the numbness,and also the pain,which strikes mostly after you lie down.

Medicines used to treat CTS are not recommended for pregnant women. For us,it is advised to shake off the problem,literally. Yes,shaking your hand helps. You can also soak them in cold water for relief. And if you are working on computers,take regular breaks from typing. Also,check your sitting posture — the wrists should be straight as you type. Holding the phone to the ear for a long time should also be avoided. Use speakerphone or a hands-free set,instead,if you can’t do without your cell.

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I had seen my mother’s swollen feet before my brother’s birth. Hence,I had known since the age of 10 that this happens when you are expecting. Maybe it was because of this conditioning that I am not much bothered about my own swollen ankles,though they really hurt when I walk.

I started my sixth month with a feeling of butterflies in my stomach — the initial foetal movements. It also feels like gas,and believe me,it is difficult to differentiate the two,for pregnancy and gas troubles go hand in hand. Along with that has come an increased pain in the lower abdomen. As the size of the uterus grows,the ligaments supporting it stretches,resulting in this kind of pain,and yes,this is normal too. No medication is required,which means you have to put up with the discomfort. But in case the pain is acute,call your doctor immediately.

Back takes the cake when it comes to pains during pregnancy. I had forgotten this during the holidays. But within a week of joining back office,my back pain is back with a bang. Coupled with sopndylitis,it made a deadly combo and I almost fainted the other day when got up from my chair after more than two hours without a stretch break. My husband and other colleagues had to chip in to finish my work. The remedy,again,lies not in medication,but in certain precautions. Don’t sit at one place for too long. And use chairs — both in office and at home — that gives good support to your back. Use a cushion. Don’t keep standing either. Regular exercise,wearing the right shoes and keeping weight gain under check are a few other things that you can do to lessen the pain,though this is most likely to stay with you till the delivery.

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Talking about aches and pains,how do I forget the leg cramps,which have been denying me a good night’s sleep? I haven’t been able to find out yet as to what causes this,but read somewhere recently that certain stretching exercises before sleeping can help keep this pain at bay. I am yet to ask my doctor about this,and haven’t therefore started trying it out. But straightening the legs and flexing the ankles and toes do help when the pain strikes,mostly waking me up from sleep. Again,as experts say,there is nothing to worry even if the pain is more than what you can tolerate. Drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet with adequate calcium and magnesium,says a book I am reading these days. Also,try and keep your feet up for as long as you can,whenever you are sitting or lying down.

There are many other things that make you uncomfortable during pregnancy — heat,dizziness,clumsiness,forgetfulness,fatigue and drowsiness. As I write this,my eyes refuse to stay open,though it is only 1.30 pm and I woke up only two hours ago.

These conditions are not painful and I would have dismissed them had I not been so full of myself these days,with the pregnancy raising the level of self-importance. I am super sleepy now. It’s time to switch on the AC and take a nap before I get ready for office.

First published on: 08-05-2011 at 08:59 IST
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