One of the wonders of pregnancy, aside from sleepless nights and morning sickness, is the profound inability to get a freaking grip. After dropping your car keys for the hundredth time and retrieving them from the floor with the grace of water buffalo, you might be wondering why you keep dropping things while pregnant. General clumsiness is just a part of being pregnant, and according to obstetrician Dr. Christine Greves, who works in Orlando's Winnie Palmer Hospital, it's not usually a big deal and will pass after delivery.
"Just realize one of the beauties of pregnancy is that it’s not permanent," she says in an interview with Romper. "When pregnancy’s over, it should get better, [and] you should be able to get back to your beautiful self." But why? Why are you dropping things all the time and having to mop up another cup of coffee?
First, Greves says, you get larger as the baby grows. That means you are unaccustomed to navigating your temporarily ungainly self through the world as it is, and the extra fluid your body is carrying can inhibit movement as well and result in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which can make gripping objects difficult or painful. "Our fluid starts to increase and the swelling of our bodies can cause pressure on your nerves and can produce carpal tunnel. Your ability to grip things is compromised and it can be harder to do."
Symptoms of carpal tunnel include burning or tingling in the palm or fingers, usually preceded by the feeling that your hand is falling asleep. Excess fluid can narrow the carpal tunnel, a small bony passage in the wrist, and result in pressure on the median nerve that travels down the arm into the wrist. In severe cases, pregnant women can lose their grip, but unlike other people who suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, their cases usually resolve themselves upon delivery.
Fatigue, Greves continues, can also be a culprit when it comes to keeping your fingers firmly wrapped around objects. There are several things you can do if you're experiencing so much fatigue that it's affecting your coordination — namely sleeping. But What To Expect also advised staying at home in the evenings and enlisting help from your partner or children so you can reserve your energy for yourself and your growing baby. Once you get enough rest, your coordination may improve enough to alleviate a case of the dropsies.
To ward off injuries — or tears when you break something you love — Greves suggests moms-to-be take some safety precautions until their balance and coordination return. "Make sure the floor is clear, don’t walk on slippery surfaces, grab rails when your balance is needed, and don’t carry heavy things," she says.
Also, What To Expect suggested that you don't pick up what you don't want to drop, a directive that can easily be turned to your advantage when it comes to household chores or caring for small children.
Pregnant women dealing with this inconvenient symptom shouldn't hesitate to bring it up with their obstetrician, Greves continues, because while clumsiness or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most likely harmless, some of the symptoms can also hint at preeclampsia. "We need to make sure that you don’t have anything harmful that can be contributing to it," she says. "Is your vision blurry? Have you had unexpected weight gain we can attribute to fluid? We’d want to check your blood pressure to be sure you don't have preeclampsia."
Once you get the all clear, a sense of humor might go a long way when you drop a favorite keepsake or make another mess in the kitchen. This phase will pass, and sooner than later you'll have a precious little baby that will make the inconvenience feel totally worth it.