Chapter 6: Common body changes in pregnancy
Body changes and discomforts
A woman’s breasts get bigger during
pregnancy because they are getting ready
to make milk for the baby. Sometimes the
breasts are also itchy or sore.
getting so big...
During the last months of pregnancy, a watery, yellowish
fluid may leak out of the nipples. This is normal. The fluid is
colostrum — the first milk for the baby.
Swelling of the feet is very common, especially in the afternoon or in hot weather.
Swelling of the feet is usually not dangerous, but severe swelling when the mother
wakes up in the morning, or swelling of the hands and face anytime, can be signs
of pre-eclampsia (see page 125).
Swelling in the feet may improve if the woman puts her feet up for a few
minutes at least 2 or 3 times a day, eats fewer packaged foods that are
very salty, and drinks more water or fruit juices.
Swollen veins (varicose veins)
Swollen blue veins that appear in the legs or on the woman’s
genitals are called varicose veins. Sometimes these veins
hurt. If the swollen veins are in the legs, they may feel
better if the mother puts her feet up often. Strong
stockings or elastic bandages may also help.
If the swollen veins are around the genitals,
they can cause bleeding problems if they tear
during birth. Putting a cool cabbage leaf on the
genitals may help.
Constipation (difficulty passing stool)
Some pregnant women have difficulty passing stool. This is called constipation.
To prevent or treat constipation, a woman should:
• eat more vegetables and fruits.
• eat whole grains (brown rice and whole wheat
instead of white rice or white flour).
• drink at least 8 cups of clean water a day.
• walk, move, and exercise every day.
Home or plant remedies that soften the stool or make it slippery (like remedies
made from psillium seed or certain fruits or fiber plants) may also help.
A Book for Midwives (2010)