Here’s the next instalment as promised of some of the questions you may be wondering about as you continue on your journey through pregnancy, or things you may have heard but are not sure what they mean.
Heavy legs/Restless Legs Syndrome
The feeling of having ‘heavy’ legs, like they are weighed down with lead, is caused by slow circulation from, you’ve guessed it – hormones! Added blood volume in your system also contributes to this stubborn, annoying pain. Try and keep as active as you can as this will help improve your circulation. You can also try using a cooling leg gel, massaging your calf muscles, using a cold compress on your lower legs or resting with your legs higher than your hips, which eases water retention, improving your circulation.
Restless legs usually occur when you have been idle for a while, or are just about to go to sleep – cos you know, obviously we need further help with the lack of sleep during pregnancy! Symptoms typically peak when you’re 7 or 8 months pregnant and disappear altogether by the time you give birth. There’s no real reason why RLS peaks in pregnancy – some possibly reasons could be an Iron deficiency, folate deficiency, hormonal changes (specifically a rise in estrogen), or circulatory changes. The longer you lay still before going to sleep, the more likely you will get it at bedtime so if you suffer, try and get into bed just before you plan to go to sleep rather than watching a movie in bed for example.
This particular feeling is hugely contributing to my most common pregnancy symptom! I have been getting these every day from around 24 weeks, and some days I get them all day. I wrote about my personal experience of them here but to give you the formal definition these are ‘practice’ contractions that happen throughout the second half of pregnancy (earlier for some mums) They may be painless, but should not build in intensity or increasing in frequency- that’s more likely to be labour! Nothing to be concerned about, they are just your body’s way of preparing for labour and your uterus muscles strengthening – so with the amount I have been having every day, this should mean a couple of pushes and baby number 2 will be out!
I am experiencing this loads at the moment – it was actually Stuart who questioned if this is what was going on with me a couple of weeks ago and it hadn’t even occurred to me until then – but I really am! It’s like a sudden urge to decorate, sort out, clean and generally make their homes into a perfect newborn nest! I keep wanting to get everything in order and I am so pleased I now have some time on my hands to sort the baby’s room out and move Henry up to his new bedroom, and finally get around to getting some things for our imminent arrival!
I have taken some of this text directly from the NHS website because it is so important that the medical facts are shared as this is a really serious condition which if left undetected could have potentially fatal effects if it turns into full eclampsia. It’s a condition of pregnancy that is tested for every time you attend an antenatal check due to its seriousness. It is particularly prevalent amongst first-time mums.
Signs of pre-eclampsia your midwife or obstetrician will be looking for include:
- raised blood pressure.
- protein in your urine.
- excessive oedema (swelling due to water retention), particularly in the hands, face and ankles.
If left untreated, the following symptoms may develop:
- recurrent headache
- blurred vision
- nausea, with or without vomiting
- shortness of breath
- shoulder or abdominal pain
- vagueness or confusion.
In isolation, shortness of breath, nausea, headache and twinges in your abdomen are often quite normal and unthreatening, but they’re worth mentioning in any case, especially at this stage of pregnancy. If you feel you have any combination of the above symptoms, report them immediately to your midwife, who will probably invite you to come in for monitoring and complete rest until the symptoms abate. You may even be given blood pressure medication, although this isn’t inevitable.
Once diagnosed, you’ll be seen more often than other mums-to-be and may have extra scans of your placenta throughout the remainder of your pregnancy Although mums suffering from pre-eclampsia are sometimes delivered early, most still give birth to perfectly healthy babies.
If you feel any of these symptoms speak to your MW immediately!
Decoding your Midwife’s notes
- Height of fundus (FH): The fundus is the top of your uterus (womb). The midwife will measure how far the top of your uterus has grown away from your pelvic bone and record this in centimetres. This gives a good indication of your baby’s growth; in layman’s terms the amount of cm’s you measure should bear relation to your amount of weeks pregnant – however they are not taking into consideration more factors of the size/ethnicity of the patient rather than a one size fits all approach.
- The lie: The ‘lie’ refers to the position of the crown of your baby’s head within your pelvis:
- O (occiput) – this refers to the back of your baby’s head, which could be facing:
R – right or L – left
- A (anterior) – to the front
- P (posterior) – to the back
- L (lateral) or T (transverse) – to the side
- Presentation: The ‘presentation’ refers to which way up your baby is -C or Ceph (cephalic) or Vx (vertex) – head down into your pelvis
Br (breech) – feet or bottom first
I’d love to hear any questions you might have or what your most common pregnancy symptoms are!