Below is a list of all the myriad fun I’ve been having with my pregnancy, and some things that I’ve found useful. I have sadly found some GPs and midwives not to be very helpful in diagnosing exactly what’s wrong and trying to work out solutions that actually attack the cause rather than just the symptoms (one female GP pretty much told me that pregnancy sucks – deal with it which was lovely), so I’ve had to self-diagnose and try a few different things:
1. Nipples – my god where do I start? Cracked, sore, red, flakey. There’s a red ring around the nipple now. They are itchy and quite frankly revolting. And I’m supposed to be maintaining a normal sex life?! Hmmm. The normal nipple creams are Lanisoh (Vasoline-like) and Kamilosan (more of a soothing cream) but thesehaven’t really worked for me. I’m now trying to use a mild steroid cream (hydrocortisone + 1%) which I’m hoping works. Alternatively I’ve self diagnosed that it might be nipple thrush (lovely!) which likes warm moist environments (and therefore using a nipple cream might not be a great idea after all) so I’ve booked a GP appointment to get a thrush cream – miconazole seems to be the one most people refer to. I’ve also bought really comfy soft disposable nipple pads from Lanisoh to put under my bra and protect clothes and some cotton nipple pads and breast shields. The latter two aren’t very comfy though and hard to use. I’ve also heard its good to walk around topless to get air to them – but its a little hard to do that in a cool October night!
2. Hives – luckily after one female GP just told me I had to live with this, another GP diagnosed this properly although I’d self-diagnosed in the meantime. It’s when your body is either allergic to the pregnancy hormones or when the preggie hormones make you allergic to something you were previously OK with. It shows up in dry red or white blotches all over your skin – for me my chest, neck and face, for others it can be on legs and belly. They are itchy and can join into one big blotch – attractive! Sadly it is hard to treat but I visited my GP and got anti-histimines including Piriton which is a drowsy one for night to help you sleep. He also gave me antibiotics but this sadly didn’t clear this up. Again a mild steroid cream helps, as does being relaxed and getting loads of sleep. You could also try cutting out the usual baddies from your food – glutens, sugars, dairy – to see if this helps. Also look out for what you put on your skin – you might need to change to a lighter less chemical range during your pregnancy – I’ve found Liz Earle pretty good or some people swear by Avene products.
Obviously I don’t like taking anti-histimes or steroid creams when pregnant, and worry it could harm the baby (even though there is no proof that it does and the doctor prescribed them) but I have come to believe that stress is the worst thing for the baby and it is much more important that mum is healthy, happy and relaxed, so its worth it in the end. I now need something for the horrible niggle that its not great for baby though!
3. Pelvis / joints – In your first trimester and then towards the end, your body is pumped full of relaxin which helpfully expands your pelvis to allow baby room, but rather unhelpfully makes your joints less stable and often they can ping out at great pain and make you feel like a granny. For me, I felt a painful ache in my right buttock which turned out to be because my glutes were tighening round my right pelvis bone which had slipped out of place. Some people swear by osteopaths (I saw Finn Thomas at Barnes osteopath) but I’m also having great results from a physio (Helen at the White Hart phsyio clinic) who is giving me gentle pelvis strengthening exercises. Preggie yoga is a great help too. It’s best to see someone when you get pain – unlike what the GP told me this isn’t the sort of thing you should be putting up with!
4. Exzcema – If you had it before pregnancy, it will either go away or become even stronger. Guess what happened to me?! Yes of course, even worse. Unlike what panic-ridden mums on forums say, taking piriton or other anti-histimines, and using steroid creams where necessary is fine. Better for mum to be happy and not stressed and itchy, which is of greater harm to the baby. Best to go to the GP first to check they are happy with it and to check it isn’t actually something else (like hives or acne!).
5. Smelly pee / discharge / sweat – Yes how lovely. I started finding my pee started smelling pretty strong / funky and hadn’t a clue what it was. Mums on my baby forum said this was normal (phew) and that you should carry round baby wipes to freshen up all day but in fact I worked out what it was by mistake. Due to my hives, I stopped taking the preggie vitamins for a bit and lo and behold, all smelly pee stopped. So my theory (based on no science whatseover) is that the preggie vitamins have just such high concentrations of vitamins that your body has to discharge it somehow and it must pump through your pee and sweat etc. So it is totally normal and controllable but I haven’t had any problems with this since I stopped taking the preggie vits. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend you try this before speaking to your GP / midwife first, although I understand the vitamins are only really need in the first 12 weeks anyway.