Beat your pregnancy niggles without traditional medicine
Unfortunately, pregnancy isn't without its niggling discomforts. Common complaints include backache, morning sickness and water retention. The good news is there is plenty you can do if and when these discomforts strike.
The extra weight you are carrying combined with the effects of the hormone relaxin (which softens muscles and ligaments in preparation for the birth) spells backache for many during pregnancy. First, really think about your posture - try to stand straight and not to give in to the temptation to let your bump exaggerate the curve of your lower spine. Try drawing in your lower abdomen gently, tightening your pelvic floor muscles and holding your shoulders back. In the last weeks of your pregnancy, you can ease the ache by adding four drops of ylang-ylang or lavender essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil to your bath. Roman chamomile may also be beneficial. If the pain becomes chronic, seek professional help. Osteopaths, physiotherapists and Alexander Technique practitioners will all be able to help you with posture to make you feel better.
It's important to get enough rest, especially in the last trimester. If you find it difficult to sleep at night try to relax or have a catnap during the day.
Dr Miriam Stoppard
Around one in five women suffers from constipation during pregnancy, as the hormones that prepare the pelvic muscles for labour slow down the digestive process. Try drinking more fluid and increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you are eating. Cut back on wheat, as the gluten can slow things down even more. Add pumpkin and sunflower seeds to home-made muesli for extra roughage. For mild constipation, the homeopathic remedies bryonia, nux vomica or sepia may prove helpful. And carry on exercising - swimming, walking and yoga will keep everything moving in the right direction.
This is common in later pregnancy when your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, forcing stomach acids up into the oesophagus which causes a burning sensation. To minimise the chances of this happening in the first place, avoid spicy, fried, rich or yeasty foods. Try alkaline foods, such as yoghurt and milk and fruits like pineapple and papaya, which contain helpful digestive enzymes. The homeopathic remedies pulsatilla, kali mur or nux vomica which may help, but if there is no improvement, see a homeopath. Some herbs and spices such as anise, caraway or dill can also help digestion, so use them in cooking or try drinking a cup of soothing fennel tea.
Up to 80% of women suffer from nausea and morning sickness to some degree. Symptoms range from mild queasiness to full-blown nausea and vomiting, and can happen at any time during the day. Eat little and often, because low blood sugar can make you feel worse, but avoid fatty foods. Find the anti-nausea pressure point, three finger-widths from the wrist crease on the inside of your arms, and gently press. Do this four times a day for ten minutes at a time, or try wearing Sea-Band wrist bands. Boost levels of vitamin B6 by eating more cereals, lentils and fish. Try taking a 6C potency of the homeopathic remedies sepia, pulsatilla, nux vomica or ipecac every two hours. If you see no difference within 24 hours, the one you are trying probably isn't working. Do rest and review any supplements you are taking which could exacerbate nausea in the first trimester.
It's quite normal to worry - your changing body, fear of the birth and impending parenthood are all valid reasons for anxiety.
Make time for whatever relaxes you - listening to music, having a massage, taking a walk in the park or watching your favourite film. To overcome fears, try the homeopathic remedies aconite or pulsatilla. For a relaxing bath, add three drops of chamomile and a couple of mandarin to an egg cup full of milk, and swish in warm water. If you feel panicky, slide the thumb of one hand between the middle and ring fingers of the other until you reach the centre of your palm. Breathe in and out slowly, pressing the point gently with your thumb. Press and hold several times with each hand. Finally, make sure you share your worries with someone whom you love and trust.
Swollen legs and ankles in late pregnancy are caused by water retention, which is quite normal unless accompanied by high blood pressure and protein in your urine. Try drinking some nettle tea because, as well as being rich in iron, nettles are good for reducing fluid retention. Another great way to deflate swollen legs is with massage. Add two drops each of chamomile, geranium, neroli and lavender oil to a tepid footbath and soak for 10 minutes. Follow with a cooler footbath to improve circulation, then pat dry and use a decongestant foot cream to massage with firm strokes upwards toward the heart. Make time to rest with your feet up every day.
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