Despite pregnancy undoubtedly being an exciting period in waiting for your new arrival, it also comes with things that are less than pleasant. Pregnancy discomfort is inevitable and differs in its severity from person to person, but avoiding it completely is impossible.
Aches, pains and upset tummies appear to be more difficult to deal with when pregnant as there are very few over-the-counter drugs that are safe for expecting women. Herbal remedies also require extra caution. But don’t worry – there are ways of making the symptoms milder naturally and we are here to walk you through them.
Probably the best-known pregnancy discomfort is morning sickness. Not only will it make your morning unpleasant, but can also affect your noon and night just as much. Although there is no actual proof of it, it is suspected to be caused by high levels of HCG and oestrogen that both raise significantly within your body in the first trimester. While it usually subsides around week 14-16, some women experience morning sickness even after the baby is born.
A good source of relief would be either snacking on ginger products or drinking ginger tea. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that will neutralise and keep intact stomach acids that are the cause of morning sickness.
Additionally, consuming protein-rich foods like milk or yoghurt also helps. Other known, tested and tried remedies would include drinking peppermint tea, eating salted crackers, chewing mint gum, sniffing a cut lemon, or having a glass of ice-cold water.
We recommend you keep salted crackers and a glass of water by your bedside. It is important to stay hydrated at all the times and having a small snack before you get up is likely to prevent the sickness. Speaking of foods, you should avoid spicy and fatty foods.
Sometimes morning sickness can be triggered by odors; and it gets so bad certain smells will make you gag. Acupuncture is said to help to cope with it, but if you are worried that nausea will catch you off guard, we recommend wearing a travel-sickness band on your wrist.
Another pregnancy discomfort many experience is a back ache, which especially affects the lower back. The cause behind it is that the weight you put on during pregnancy is distributed around your belly, and thus tilts your center of gravity. The abnormal motion becomes easy as the pregnancy hormone relaxin soften the ligaments throughout the body.
Maintaining good posture can help you a lot. Make sure to stand straight and when you sit, keep a lumbar support pillow in a space between yourself and the chair. Additionally, join a prenatal yoga class to learn a couple of exercises to do at home.
If nothing helps, you can use a maternity support belt or apply heating pads or ice packs to your back. Or, you can always release the pain by using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, also known as TENS. Our Perfect mamaTENS unit is great to help with this pregnancy discomfort, labour pain and even some of the postpartum effects. However, do not use it during the first three months of pregnancy.
Growing a little human within is a tough job that requires a lot of energy. The first three months when placenta is being built it is very common to be extremely tired. Even if you do not do a lot of manual work, your body runs tons of processes within.
The solution is easy – sleep. Go to bed whenever your body demands rest, which means retiring a little earlier in the evening. Also, little naps throughout the day are your saving grace. If you suffer from sleeping difficulties, try relaxation techniques such as medication – in the case its physical discomfort keeping you up, put a pillow between your legs and at your lower back.
Once you’re pregnant, caffeine is no longer a solution, nor are sugary foods as both can harm you and the baby. Focus on complex carbohydrates and proteins instead. Your go-to foods should be eggs, salmon, pumpkin, peanuts, hummus, oatmeal and apples. Once you enter the second trimester, add more leafy greens and red meat to your diet.
Unfortunately, headache will follow you through the pregnancy too. All these hormonal changes and blood pressure can result in your head pounding. This pregnancy discomfort can be solved by controlling sugar, resting enough and exercising regularly. Some claim reflexology is a good solution, but hot or cold compresses work just as well.
Sometimes headaches can be caused by illnesses that surface during pregnancy, such as sinus problems or rhinitis. If you are suffering headaches caused by these conditions or pain behind the eyes, you need to make sure your environment is well ventilated. Use saline solution or steaming showers to relief your nose and talk to your midwife. It is said dairy foods make these illnesses worse, but since you need copious amounts of calcium during pregnancy, you should not cut diary off without a prior consultation.
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
An increase of progesterone hormone is not your friend. It will make the smooth muscles in your body relax which includes the digestive tract, and so the food will pass through the intestines slower than before.
Once again, it can be solved through adjusting your diet – it needs to include more fibre and tons of water. To fight this pregnancy discomfort, we recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. As for fibre, the best source of it is fruits and veggies, as well as beans and whole grains. If dietary changes still don’t speed up your bowel movements, a glass of good quality prune juice should do the trick. Or, if you’re not a fan, have a kiwi fruit – they are full of fibre.
If you have never suffered from varicose veins before, you will most likely be introduced do them during pregnancy. This is the period most women develop them for the first time as the growing uterus pressures the large vein on the right side of the body. And this vein, also called inferior vena cava, puts pressure on the leg veins.
No dietary changes are required to fight this pregnancy discomfort. Instead, you should focus on your physical activity habits. Exercising daily will help blood circulation and thus relief the unsightly effects of varicose veins. Also, try sleeping on the left side to relieve the inferior vena cava from pressure.
When possible, keep your feet and legs elevated. Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting, also avoid high heels.
Indigestion and bloating
Again, you have progesterone to blame. It relaxes the muscle on the top of your stomach that prevents digestive acids, and as a result burns and bloating happen. Growing uterus also puts some pressure on your stomach, making it feel more full than usual.
Avoiding indigestion completely throughout the pregnancy is basically impossible. However, you can minimize the chance of it by avoiding greasy and spicy food, caffeine, tomato products, chocolate, onion, alcohol, and soft drinks.
When eating, take your time. Same with liquids – avoid gulping them down. Additionally, wear loose, comfortable clothing and don’t lie down right after you’ve eaten. Instead of big meals three times a day, opt for more frequent but little ones.
The hormonal changes your body goes through in the nine months of pregnancy take a toll on your immune system too. Your body is trying to protect the baby with all it has and in turn you can become more susceptible to colds or even something as serious as a flu. A balanced, nutritious diet is the way to avoid it, but don’t worry if you’ve caught something.
To soothe a sore throat, gargle some water with salt; nasal cavities can be dealt with using Neti pot. Hot drinks like ginger and lemon tea or chicken broth will help you recover faster, and in case you experience breathing difficulties, spread Vapo-rub on your chest. If the temperature does not subside, however, you need to contact a doctor.
Finally, although pregnancy brings many discomforts, the best way to fight them is to relax and take care of yourself. After all, once the little one is born, you won’t even remember little nuisances you’ve experienced while waiting for them to arrive.