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Balancing Acts

In addition to being spacey, you can expect to be clumsy. Your uterus has grown to the point where you can't see the tips of your toes if you're standing up straight, so it's hard to notice curbs and rumpled throw rugs.

Pregnancy also changes your center of gravity. Center of gravity is the average location of the weight of an object. Before pregnancy, your weight was pretty solidly above your feet; now a fair amount of it is in front of you. A change in your center of gravity shakes up your sense of balance because you now have to balance your body's weight in a different way than you did before. As your belly grows you may find yourself tripping or dropping things like never before.

Hormones are making your hands, feet, and legs feel heavy and waterlogged. As if that weren't enough, your ligaments are continuing to stretch and soften in preparation for childbirth, and you might suffer from a numbness and tingling sensation in your fingers. It's a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when that extra fluid causes swelling in your wrist and hand, pinching the nerve beneath the ligament and leading to pain that can radiate from your fingers to your shoulders. This usually is a temporary condition during pregnancy and goes away after childbirth.

The reality is that you really can't do as much now as you could before pregnancy, so you might as well accept that and slow down a bit. When you do exercise, maintain good posture and place your hands and feet carefully in the correct positions to keep your balance. Spend a few minutes with your feet up every day to reduce the ankle and foot swelling that makes you feel as if you're wearing gravity boots. Take extra care when climbing stairs or walking on unfamiliar sidewalks.

Now is also the time to keep both feet planted solidly on the ground. Stand up slowly or you're likely to feel dizzy. Leave the ladder ascents and step-stool climbs to someone else. If there's something in a high cabinet that you use regularly, ask someone to move it down to an easier-to-reach location. Keep floors clear of toys, shoes, boots, and area rugs that can slip out from under you. Get a good grip on small objects before carrying them; otherwise you'll fumble them to the floor. And given your slippery fingers, let someone else do the dishes.

This all may make it seem as if you're living life in slow motion. But it will soon pass, and you might as well enjoy the chance to cruise in low gear while the house is still relatively peaceful and your time is still more your own.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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