Some of the pains we experience during pregnancy can be quite painful, indeed and very worrying, too. We look at some of the discomforts you may experience and explain if they are a normal part of pregnancy.
Splitting, tearing belly pains
It is very common to experience sensations of superficial tenderness, 'tearing' or 'splitting' down the centre of the belly, mainly during the last few months of the pregnancy. This sensation is generally due to the two large abdominal muscles stretching and 'splitting' in late pregnancy.
Abdominal muscle separation is a normal part of late pregnancy. There are two large abdominal muscle sheets (known as 'Recti muscles') that cover and support the internal organs . These muscles run from the rib cage, down to the pubic bone. They meet in a line, down the middle of the abdomen, above and below the belly button (this is the line where some women find their skin darkens during pregnancy, called the 'linea nigra' or 'black line'). Towards the end of the pregnancy, the abdominal muscles separate, to allow your belly to accommodate your growing baby. Some women are unaware of this separation happening, although many will feel discomfort along this area.
This is normal but can be quite uncomfortable, usually easing within a few days. Massaging the area, using a heat pack and supporting the belly with a pillow while sleeping, may help.
Tender, sore belly button or navel
Many women find that their belly button (or navel) becomes quite sore and tender in the last few months of pregnancy. For women with an 'inny' belly button, it may be the first time this part of your body has seen the light of day! The previously 'protected' skin of the navel, can rub frequently on clothing, making it feel a little raw and tender. Along with this, you may also experience a stretching or splitting sensation, that comes with the normal separation of the abdominal muscles behind it, make this area particularly uncomfortable.
Wearing underwear that goes 'over the belly' ('grandma undies') may help protect the tender skin of the navel, and reduce other clothes from rubbing on it. Massaging creams or oils in may also be soothing. If you have not already done so, removing your belly ring is probably advisable now (if you have one). If you have difficulty seeing this part of your body, ask your partner to or look at the skin (or you can use a mirror). This is to make sure you have not injured your belly while ironing, or scraping up against something (easily done!).
Bruised sensations or sore spots
Many women complain of tender or 'bruised' spots on their belly, although there are no obvious marks to be seen. This is often due to the baby continually pressing on one spot of the uterus, possibly making the abdominal muscle over it feel sore and tender. It is more common during late pregnancy as the baby is more restricted for space.
Gently pushing the baby off this spot with your hand at times can give you temporary relief. Pelvic rocking (similar to belly dancing) on the hands and knees can move the baby's back more around to the front of the mother's belly, and possibly off the 'bruised spot'. Arnica, a homoeopathic remedy for bruising may be beneficial.
Low, heavy dragging aches and pains
If this is not your first baby then this may be the story of your pregnancy. So many women in subsequent pregnancies describe the whole experience as being one of discomfort, feeling heavier, bigger, lower, aching and dragging. It can be quite unexpected if your first pregnancy was a relatively easy experience with little discomfort.
The ligaments that act like a 'hammock' supporting the uterus are usually stretched and tend to hold the uterus lower. Often the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles are weakened from a previous pregnancy. Doing your pelvic floor exercises and some back pain exercises may help as well as yoga, swimming or belly dancing. Some women have acupuncture or take homoeopathic remedies.
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