Pregnancy Aches and Pains


Pregnancy is such an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can have a profound and lasting effect on your body. Everyone experiences different levels of discomfort during the different stages of pregnancy. For some it can be slight and for others quite painful. Today, as we are continuing our ‘Pain Management’ theme with our physiotherapist Diaan Jooste, we will be taking a look at how to prevent and manage some of this discomfort and pain during pregnancy.

Back and Pelvis

Many women experience back and pelvic pain and discomfort during their pregnancy. The activities you do during your day, and how safely you do these activities, can have a significant effect on your level of discomfort. Remember that during pregnancy your hormone levels change and that leads to many other changes in your body.   Especially at the end stages of your pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles get thinner and ligaments get more elastic in preparation for the birth process.

To manage these changes with less discomfort:

  • Be aware of your posture when you sit, stand and go about your daily routine.  If you don’t take care, poor posture can cause a lot of unnecessary discomfort.
  • Sleep on your side, with pillows under your belly and between your knees for support.
  • Avoid heavy lifting during pregnancy. If you must lift, make sure you bend your knees, keep your back straight and brace your pelvic floor and deep tummy muscles.
  • Keep the object you are lifting as close as possible to your body and avoid twisting movements of your back when you are lifting.
  • Join up with an anti natal class during pregnancy as it can be of great benefit to keep your muscles strong in this time.

Varicose Veins and Leg Cramps

Varicose veins and leg cramps commonly occur in pregnancy due to the increased weight and pressure on your blood vessels, which can also lead to a lot of discomfort.

To manage these changes with less discomfort:

  • You should avoid standing still for long periods.
  • Wear flat, supportive shoes and support stockings if your legs ache.
  • Ensure you are drinking enough fluids to minimise the cramps. Aim for 1.5–2 litres per day – water is best.
  • Exercise gently as that can help with cramps, along with stretching or just walking.

Stress and Tension

We all experience stress and tension in our every day lives to differing degrees. Being able to relax and reduce the effects of stress can be of huge benefit to all aspects of your life. Relaxation can also be extremely useful in labour as being relaxed causes your uterus to contract more efficiently, your pain levels are reduced, you will have more energy for labour. There are many ways to relax, but here is one method that you might like to try.

  • Make sure you are comfortable, and your body feels well supported.
  • Slow your breathing down a little. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, exhale completely through your mouth. Imagine tension flowing out of your body with each outward breath.
  • allow your jaw to soften and your mouth to open slightly
  • let you shoulders drop and feel your neck lengthen
  • keep your fingers open and long
  • notice how your thighs may start to feel heavy
  • focus on your body tension flowing out through your feet
  • notice how your body relaxes and feels heavy
  • Continue to focus on your breathing.
  • You might also like to imagine something that you generally enjoy doing, walking on the beach feeling the sunshine and hearing the sound of the waves.
  • Stay in this position for 5–10 minutes before slowly allowing your mind and body to return to an alert state.
  • Open your eyes, wriggle your toes/fingers and slowly stand up.

After trying this, you should feel refreshed and revitalised. Practice this technique often during the day. It can also be useful to practice this before you go to bed at night to help you sleep. Be aware of tension in your body during the day, such as jaw clenching or pulling fists, and learn to release this tension throughout the day, so that it doesn’t all crop up.

These are all helpful tips to deal with discomfort or pain during your pregnancy, but please not that if you experience any abnormal pains or discomfort you need to contact your doctor immediately, just to be safe.

Diaan Jooste is a registered physiotherapist in Nelson Mandela Bay. Her practice is in 339 Cape road, on the corner of fifth ave and cape road in Newton park. If you have any questions or would like to make her appointment, you can contact her at

Tune into Kingfisher FM every Friday throughout the month of May between 11:00 and 11:30 to find out more about pain management with Diaan.