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Pregnancy Week by Week

LegCramp-main_Full

You wake in the middle of the night with incredible cramping pain in your legs.  Ugh, leg cramps.

Pregnant women are very susceptible to leg cramps, particularly during their second and third trimesters.  Leg cramps are a sudden tighten of the muscles that can cause intense pain.  When you are awoken in the middle of the night by this intense pain it can quickly make leg cramps one of the most aggravating complaints during pregnancy.  There are several things that cause leg cramps including:

  • A lack of fluids
  • Staying in the same position for too long
  • Blood not circulating properly in the area
  • An injury to the muscle, such as a muscle strain

Doctors are unsure what the exact cause of increased leg cramps during pregnancy, however, it is thought to be caused by a combination of the following:

  • Changes in blood circulation during pregnancy
  • Additional stress on the leg muscles from carrying the extra weight caused by the pregnancy
  • The pressure of the growing baby and uterus on the nerves and blood vessels leading to the legs

Whatever the exact cause of leg cramps in pregnancy there are several things you can do in order to help prevent leg cramps and alleviate those that do occur.

To help prevent leg cramps pregnant women are encouraged to:

  • Stretch.  Including stretching before, during and after exercising, stretching before bed or if you have been sitting in one position for long periods of time.  When stretching your legs you should avoid pointing your toes and stretch heal first.
  • Exercise. Keeping your muscles moving and in shape helps with the blood circulation.  Always be sure to consult your doctor and get the okay before exercising during pregnancy.
  • Change position frequently.  Don’t sit or stand still for too long.  Staying in the same position, be it sitting or standing, increases the likelihood of leg cramps.  Every so often get up and move around, stretch, take a little walk.
  • Stay hydrated.    When your body is lacking fluids your muscles are more likely to cramp.  Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

If leg cramps do occur there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the cramp, including; massaging the affected muscle, stretching the muscle by pushing your heal down (do not point your toes as this causes further cramping), and applying heat to the affected muscle.

Leg cramps are no fun, but when added to all the other common complaints of pregnancy they become that much more annoying.  I was lucky enough to avoid leg cramps during my pregnancy (I count my lucky stars).  During my pregnancy I tried to exercise everyday and stretched my muscles often and I also drank plenty of fluids.  Taking care of yourself during your pregnancy is a great way to avoid many of the common complaints of pregnancy, including leg cramps.

If you suffer from leg cramps and they are being too bothersome or affecting your sleep too much be sure to talk to your doctor to see if there is anything you can do to alleviate your leg cramps.

Did you suffer from leg cramps during your pregnancy?  What helped you alleviate your leg cramps?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) also commonly referred to as a bladder infection is a bacterial infection along the urinary tract.  It can affect the urethra, bladder or kidneys.  Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing a UTI, particularly between the 6th and 24th weeks.

Due to your ever growing uterus your urinary tract changes during pregnancy.  The uterus sits right on top of the bladder and the added pressure can cause a blockage not allowing all the urine to drain from your bladder and thus causing a urinary tract infection.

UTIs can become very painful and can pose a risk to the baby so you should be aware of your body and be able to recognize the symptoms early on.  Treatment for urinary tract infections is usually a round of antibiotics.  If you suspect you may have a UTI you should call your doctor right away.  Here are the symptoms to watch out for.

  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • The need to go more often.
  • Signs of blood or mucus in your urine.
  • Cramps or pain in your lower abdomen.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Chills, sweats or fever.
  • Changes in the amount of urine (either more or less).
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine.
  • Pain, pressure or tenderness in the area of your bladder.
  • If the infection has spread to your kidneys you may experience pain in your back, vomiting, fever, and chills.

Urinary tract infections are easily treated with antibiotics so be sure to contact your doctor right away if you suspect that you may have a UTI so you can begin treatment right away.

There are things you can do to avoid getting a urinary tract infection, they include:

  • Drinking plenty of water.  6-8 glasses per day is recommended.
  • Avoid refined foods, caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid “holding it”.  Urinate as soon as you feel the urge.
  • Urinate before and after sex.
  • Take a vitamin supplement that includes Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, and Zinc.
  • Avoid using strong soaps.
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting pants.
  • Keep your soaks in the bathtub to no more than 30 minutes and avoid using strong bubble baths or bath oils.

Talk to your doctor if you are have questions or concerns.

Finding out you are pregnant and can now “eat for two” may sending you flying to the cupboard to eat a few extra cookies or enjoy that bag of chips you have been avoiding, or send you out the door to McDonald’s for a Big Mac and extra large fries!  However, you may want to give your food choices a little more thought.   Although you are eating for two it is important to make healthy food choices during pregnancy.  A pregnancy that includes a healthy diet is a benefit to both mother and baby.

Healthy eating habits developed during pregnancy mean it will probably be easier for you to lose the baby weight after your little one arrives.  You are also less likely to gain too much weight during pregnancy, which can lead to complications.  Plus, that growing life inside of you needs all those good nutrients to grow big and strong.

Eating for Two Do’s:

  • Eat a variety of foods at meal and snack times including: fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Take a daily prenatal vitamin.  Talk to your doctor about which one he or she recommends for you.
  • Watch your calorie intake.  It is recommended that pregnant women consume an additional 300 calories per day during pregnancy.
  • Limit the portion size and amount of high fat foods and sweets you consume.  Indulge a little but be mindful of how much you are eating.
  • Add a little extra fiber to your diet to help prevent constipation (a common problem during pregnancy).
  • Drink plenty of fluids (especially water).  It is very important to stay hydrated.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any special needs you may have with your pregnancy diet.  He or she will be able to advice you on what foods are OK for you to eat, how much weight you should gain during pregnancy, and any other special instructions.

One thing I did during my pregnancy was to make sure I had plenty of healthy snacks at work with me, things like fruit, crackers, granola bars, cut up fresh veggies.  I was able to avoid eating a lot of high fat, high calorie snacks by planning ahead :)

For many people celebrating New Year’s Eve involves getting together with friends, enjoying a few drinks, a little champagne, some great food and staying up late to ring in the New Year. Being pregnant at this time of year does not mean that you have to give up on all the festive fun. You can still enjoy those New Year’s Eve parties, you just need to make a few adjustments.  So go ahead and celebrate New Year’s Eve, pregnant style :)

  • Obviously drinking alcohol is out of the question. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a few drinks with friends. Yours will just need to be of the “virgin” variety. If you are going to a house party ask your friend to buy a few bottles of sparkling cider or grape juice to give you a little something to toast the New Year with (a bar or restaurant should already have some).
  • Keep your food limits in mind when enjoying all the yummy festive treats. If you know somethings bother your stomach or give you heartburn steer clear of them.
  • With pregnancy often comes aches, pains and tiredness. If you know you can’t last the whole night consider taking a nap part way through so you can stay up to ring in the New Year. Or, just tell your friends you can’t stay all night, but want to join them for a few hours.  No one will mind if the pregnant one has to go home early!
  • You may want to leave the high heels at home! There are tons of beautiful maternity clothes you can find so getting all dolled up shouldn’t be a problem, but if you are going to be on your feet all night you may want to go with a pair of flats instead of those heels. Your back and legs will thank you later!

Just think, not only will you be celebrating with friends and ringing in a brand new year, but you have something extra to celebrate; the new year is going to bring a new baby into your life. Enjoy yourself, be safe, and Happy New Year.

In The Womb: Identical Twins Preview

National Geographic is back with another episode in their fascinating series, In The Womb: Identical Twins. The show will premiere on Sunday, December 21 at 9pm on National Geographic, check local listings for details.

I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of the show to view and write about for my site. Being a huge fan of the previous installments of the series, I was very excited to see what this episode had to offer. I was not disappointed, the show was amazing and fascinating providing a look into one of natures great mysteries.

In The Womb: Identical Twins, again provides amazing imagery obtained through 4-D ultrasounds. The show follows the development of twins from conception through birth (and beyond), including detailed looks at the moment when the blastocyst splits into two, the impact of where the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, and how the genes each is born with impacts the similarities in their appearance, personality and sexual preferences.

A couple of the twins followed that I found particularly fascinating were a 40 year old female identical twins who were separated at birth and raised by different families, their similarities were astounding, also a set of identical twin boys who didn’t seem so identical, one seems to have been born with a growth disorder. It was neat to see where the differences come in with twins and where their similarities lie. It really makes you wonder a little about nature.

Visit the In The Womb website for more details, and be sure to tune in Sunday, December 21st at 9pm ET/PT to check out this amazing new installment in the series.