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Nine Months : Common Concerns in Pregnancy


Most people are addicted to a strong cup of tea or coffee in the morning to start their day. Unfortunately, for pregnant women, if that addiction exists, it either has to be changed to decaffeinated varieties or none at all. Caffeine (contained in tea, coffee, colas) is harmful to your unborn baby. The very fact that many pregnant women develop a strong dislike to tea and coffee in the first few months of pregnancy is Mother Nature's way of telling us that caffeine is unsuitable for the unborn baby growing inside you.

* It is generally accepted that caffeine is harmful for you as well as for your developing foetus:

* If you're experiencing frequent urination (as majority of women do), caffeine will only add to the problem

* Caffeine interferes with the absorption of iron in your body which is important for both you and the baby

* It can cause increased mood swings

* Caffeine can cause temporary abnormal heartbeat, accelerated respiration in the newborn. It also increases the chances of the baby developing diabetes later in life

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is it? Carpal Tunnel is a tunnel in the wrist through which a nerve to the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of ring finger runs. In the carpal tunnel syndrome, this tunnel becomes swollen which puts pressure on the nerve leading to characteristic symptoms of the problem. It is commonly seen in pregnant women because of the general tendency of tissues to swell during pregnancy.


* Numbness, pain or tingling of the above mentioned fingers.

* The sensations can also radiate up the arm.

* Symptoms tend to be severe at night.

What to do? Avoid sleeping on your hand at night as this increases the pressure and worsens the symptoms. When numb, try hanging the affected hand over the end of the bed and shake it vigorously. Acupuncture may help relieve symptoms. It is a good idea to go to a doctor if symptoms persist and interfere with your routine tasks.


Risk: The risk of your unborn baby being affected by chickenpox if you catch the infection or are exposed to it is very small. Even if you come in contact with the infection before 12 weeks of pregnancy (when the embryo is most vulnerable), chances of your baby being affected are very small (about 2%). If the infection occurs later in pregnancy, the chances of risk to the developing foetus are greatly reduced. If, however, the mother gets the infection very close to term (about 4-5 days before delivery), chances are that the baby may be born with the infection, a condition called neonatal varicella, which can be serious for the baby. It is, therefore very important that all instances of exposure to the infection be reported to the doctor immediately.

Varicella zoster or shingles which is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus, is not harmful to the developing baby as mother and baby already have antibodies for it.

Treatment: If you are exposed to or have an infection in pregnancy, you will be injected with immunoglobins to reduce any risk. If there are any chances of your baby being born with neonatal varicella, your baby will be injected with the immunoglobin after birth.

Computer Exposure

The most recent research has shown that there is no risk to the developing baby from the VDU (visual display unit) if the mother works on a computer terminal.


Cause: Constipation in pregnancy is the condition caused by the relaxation of the intestinal muscles by the pregnancy hormone, progesterone. This slows down the bowel movements. This movement is further restricted by the growing pressure from the enlarging uterus. Sometimes iron supplements may not agree with your system and cause constipation.

Symptoms: Change in bowel habits and passing hard and dry stools at less frequent intervals than you usually do.


* Include plenty of fibre in your diet (include wholemeal breads, wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables, pulses etc.) .

* Regular exercise to stimulate the digestive tract.

* Drink plenty of fluids (at least 6-8 glasses of water daily).

* Take any iron tablets on a full stomach with plenty of fluid or change type of iron tablets (on doctor's advice) if they are the cause for your constipation.

* Empty your bowels whenever you need to.


What is it? Cramp is a sudden, sharp pain associated with contractions of muscles (spasm), particularly of the calf muscles or feet.

Cause: The cause for cramp is unknown but may be attributed to a calcium deficiency.

Symptoms: It may be initiated with a leg stretch with toes pointed down.

* Excruciating pain in the calf muscles

* Cramps are commonly seen in the third trimester of pregnancy, often at night

What to do?

* Try extending the affected leg and point your toes towards your body.

* Massage the affected calf or foot.

* Walk around after the pain has eased to improve ciculation.

* Drinking a glass of milk may have a beneficial affect as it contains calcium.

* Gentle and regular exercise during pregnancy may help to prevent cramps.

* Tell your doctor or midwife at your next visit. You may be prescribed calcium supplements.


It is common in pregnancy to suddenly develop a strong liking for certain foods, as strange as a medley of pickled onions and ice-cream.

Is it okay? It is great if you develop a craving for nutritious food!! However, if the craving is for something fattening and not easily digestible, you may want to eat it within control. Remember not to give in to your craving at the expense of a nutritious diet. A condition in which you crave for inedible stuff like coal, soap etc. is called pica and may be due to a nutritional deficiency. It needs to be reported to the doctor or midwife just in case the substance you are craving for is poisonous.

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