Pregnancy and you blog

Late pregnancy symptoms: Toughing it out

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. October 18, 2011

The last few weeks of pregnancy can be downright miserable. Your feet and ankles might swell so much that your feet tingle. Your shoes probably won't fit. The pressure in your lower back might make you wonder if the baby is confused about the way out. A good night's sleep might be impossible if you have to sit up straight to relieve heartburn or you're traipsing to the bathroom countless times a night. I remember covering up the bedside clock during my own pregnancies because I just didn't want to know it had only been 30 minutes since the last trip to the bathroom.

The best way to relieve end-of-pregnancy misery is to have the baby. Until that happens, I have some suggestions that might help you feel more comfortable:

  • Don't restrict fluids in the hopes that you won't have to use the bathroom so much at night. It doesn't work. I learned to keep my eyes shut for the whole trip, waking up only as much as necessary.
  • Try heat and ice on your lower back, alternating about every 20 minutes. Counter pressure can help, too — even if it just relieves the ache for a little while. That's a great job for your partner or a supportive friend.
  • Take naps during the day, if you can. Rest with your feet elevated above the level of your heart.
  • Try small, frequent meals to prevent heartburn and indigestion — just not right before bedtime. End meals with milk to help decrease stomach acid. If that doesn't help, ask your health care provider about heartburn medications that can be taken during pregnancy.
  • If you have access to a swimming pool, take advantage of it. Don't worry about how you look in a bathing suit. Simply standing in the water helps take the baby's weight off your back. It might also help decrease the swelling in your legs and ankles.
  • Get a pregnancy massage. It can decrease your stress and increase blood flow throughout your body. Most importantly, it feels great!

Above all, remember that your discomfort is temporary — and soon to come to an end. Holding your newborn in your arms might be all it takes to dim the memory of your end-of-pregnancy misery.

Oct. 18, 2011