With sickness on its way out and a pregnancy glow emerging, the second trimester can be hugely enjoyable. However, be mindful that your body is undergoing a huge amount of physical changes too—with your bump beginning to reveal itself towards the middle of this trimester.
The bump is getting bigger!
Once the excitement of bump selfies has worn off a little, some women might find that this development puts a little additional pressure on joints. Regardless of your arthritis, it’s common for some pregnant women to notice more pains at this point. For example, it’s incredibly common to suffer with round ligament pain: a short, sharp pain in the sides of your bump and groin that’s caused by your bump and baby growing. Find out more here. Luckily, this type of pain is usually short-lived but some women report that wearing a pregnancy support belt can ease this.
As well as the usual aches and pains, some women might find pelvic pain particularly difficult at this point. “Pelvic girdle pain is quite common in pregnancy,” explains midwife Lauren Kearney.
However, there are plenty of things that can be done to help keep it at bay. “We often refer to physiotherapy services and recommend self-help techniques, such as warm or cold packs and warm baths, gentle exercise such as swimming, but working within your limits to not cause greater pain, asking for help from others to not strain yourself, and resting when you can, not just when the pain is at its worst,” suggests Lauren.
“When doing tasks that usually involve widely opening the legs, such as getting in and out of the car or turning over in bed, we recommend trying to keep your knees together and moving in one motion. Climbing the stairs can often be difficult with pelvic pain, too, so doing them one at a time can sometimes help.”
Chat to your GP or midwife, who may be able to refer you to your local physiotherapy services. A physio will assess you and may recommend further treatments, such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture and support belts.
Now is the time to catch up on your sleep, but with a growing bump it can be a little trickier to get comfortable! Take the time to relax and unwind before bed by soaking in the tub or switching off electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Now could also be time to invest in a pregnancy pillow. These specially shaped pillows provide additional support for achy hips, legs, bump and back and help you get comfortable in an evening. You might find that a normal pillow positioned in the right place will give support and relief, so experiment a bit before spending.
Diet and exercise
With all of these changes, Consultant Rheumatologist Dr. Rod Hughes of St Peter’s and The Runnymede hospitals in Chertsey, Surrey, advises keeping on top of your diet and exercise in this trimester if you can. “Physical activity helps synovial fluid circulate in the joint, increases the oxygen and nutrient flow to the joint and strengthens our muscles,” he explains. “Gentle activities such as walking and swimming is beneficial, as is making sure you tuck into foods rich in Vitamin C, D and Calcium—all of which are key nutrients for joint health.”
Managing aches and pains
As your second trimester progresses, it’s a good time to investigate safe forms of pain relief; which could be a godsend for the rest of your pregnancy and labour itself. Options to look into could be TENS machines and natural therapies, such as pregnancy-safe massage, reflexology and acupuncture.
“I had reflexology in my first pregnancy, which did help to a degree, and also used a TENS machine regularly. I also used a heated pad and an ice pack depending on the symptoms,” explains Jessica Taylor, a mum of two with ankylosing spondylitis. “For my second pregnancy, I also listened to my body a bit more and slowed down. I swam regularly throughout my second and third trimester, which helped keep me relaxed and mobile,” she adds.
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