What to expect in pregnancy
Concerning Your Health
By Dr. Shari Orser
Will I be more tired during pregnancy?
Some women feel constantly tired during pregnancy; others are hardly affected by fatigue. Overall, fatigue is common during the first trimester and in late pregnancy. Hormonal changes, such as the dramatic rise in progesterone, are partly to blame. Energy can be depleted by pregnancy-related changes, such as leg cramps, carrying more weight, going to the bathroom frequently at night and suffering from nausea and vomiting. Listen to your body’s signals; go to bed earlier, take a catnap during the day and adjust your schedule so you have more time to rest. Moderate activity, such as a brief walk can make you feel more energetic too. In some cases, fatigue may be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, which is not uncommon in pregnancy and can be easily treated.
Is there a way to avoid muscle cramps during pregnancy?
Cramps typically affect the calf, foot or both, and occur most often at night, during the second and third trimester. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes, walk and move those muscles each day and stay hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow, you may not be getting enough water. Some research indicates a magnesium supplement at night can relieve cramps. Hot showers or warm baths before bedtime can also relax muscles. Stretching out your calf muscles right before going to bed may also help. If a leg cramp strikes, stretch the calf muscle on the affected side. Walking and then elevating your legs might help keep the cramp from returning.
How common are blood clots and how can I avoid them?
Pregnancy increases the pressure in the veins in your pelvis and legs, which increases the risk of blood clots during pregnancy and up to six weeks after having the baby. Women with an inherited clotting disorder, smokers and overweight or obese women are at highest risk. When your legs remain still for long periods, your calf muscles don’t contract and that slows blood circulation. On long drives, airplane rides or any situation where you sit for long stretches, get up and move around periodically.
What is “pregnancy brain?”
Also frequently referred to as “momnesia,” pregnancy brain is a term that refers to pregnant mothers’ references to feeling like they are not as sharp as they were. Pregnant women’s surging hormones can affect neurons in the brain but there is no data that defines the reason for pregnancy brain. Poor memory or concentration can also be related to lack of sleep, multitasking and additional stress – which are also common during pregnancy. Take comfort in the fact that pregnancy brain disappears after the baby is born.
Shari Orser, MD, a board certified OB/GYN, sees patients at Sanford Obstetrics & Gynecology in Bismarck. She has special interests in high-risk pregnancies and infertility. Dr. Orser is a graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine.