Pregnancy comes with many new changes and women experience these changes differently. Are you pregnant and suffering from aches, soreness and swelling?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Pregnancy symptoms are common, about 60 percent of pregnant women experience them six weeks into the pregnancy and about 90 percent have these symptoms by two months.
Some pregnancy symptoms are mild and easily manageable while others are more serious and need special medical care.
In this Baby Care article, we’ll talk about the most common pregnancy symptoms and some of the natural ways to treat them.
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is one of the most common symptoms pregnant women experience. In fact, about three in four pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting.
The term morning sickness is quite misleading, though, because pregnant women may feel nauseous at any time of the day.
This pregnancy symptom may also be triggered by different things such as strong smells and food.
For instance, you might enjoy coffee before but find yourself repelled by its strong aroma now that you’re pregnant.
The exact cause of morning sickness is not yet known. Some attribute it to stress and fatigue but the most popular theory is that it is the result of the body’s reaction to pregnancy hormones.
One thing’s sure, though, morning sickness is uncomfortable and can interfere with daily activities. Fortunately, it usually becomes milder as the second trimester rolls in.
If you haven’t reached that point yet, consider following natural remedies to manage symptoms.
- Watch what you eat
Your food intake matters a lot especially now that your body is experiencing many changes. Be more mindful with what you eat as well as the time you eat. Make adjustments to your diet accordingly.
For instance, instead of eating heavy meals and snacks, consider breaking down your food intake to small, frequent meals. Additional tips include the following:
Avoid spicy and high fat food as these could trigger hyperacidity.
You could also instantly soothe your queasy tummy with crackers.
- Stay hydrated
Drinking water has always been essential to good health and even more so that you are pregnant. In fact, experts recommend increasing your daily water intake when you are pregnant.
The Institute of Medicine suggests drinking 12 or 13 glasses (eight ounce per glass) per day if you live in a country with temperate climate.
To avoid feeling uncomfortably full, distribute your drinks and take them before and after meals. Pale and colorless urine is a sign that you are properly hydrated.
- Take vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 has been seen to ease morning sickness in some pregnant women.
If you are already taking this vitamin as part of your prenatal care, consider asking your doctor if you can increase the dose or if you can take an additional B6 supplement.
- Use ginger
Ginger naturally contains anti-inflammatory properties that are useful for neutralizing stomach acids. Another good thing about ginger is that it comes in different products so you can take it in different ways.
The American Congress of Obstetricians suggests taking 250 mg of ginger in the morning and another 250 mg before bed to ease nausea.
Other options for taking ginger include brewing natural ginger tea, eating ginger candy or adding fresh ginger into your food.
Headaches during pregnancy are usually caused by changes in your hormones or shifts in blood sugar levels.
Pregnancy headaches may also be triggered by stress and fatigue. Consider these natural remedies to relieve headaches:
- Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation not only cause headaches, they can leave you stressed out and tired.
Unfortunately many pregnant struggle with sleeping because of some of the uncomfortable changes taking place in their bodies.
Follow these tips to improve the quality of your sleep at night:
- Avoid caffeine and sweets after noon.
- Do pregnancy-safe workouts to induce healthy fatigue.
- Get a relaxing warm bath before you sleep.
- Pregnancy can make cause your body’s temperature to elevate at night so wear light, comfortable clothes and underwear when you sleep.
- Eat a protein-rich snack before bed. Protein-rich food like eggs and peanut butter contains the amino acid tryptophan which acts a natural sleep aid.
- Make your bedroom comfortable and conducive for sleeping. Install low lights, play a white noise machine when you sleep and remove any objects that will distract you from sleeping like laptops and gadgets.
- Go to a prenatal acupuncture specialist
Acupuncture could give you some relief from pregnancy headaches. This form of alternative medicine is also used for treating back pains, stress and low energy.
Make sure to look for an acupuncturist who is specially trained in treating pregnant patients.
- Practice relaxation techniques
Being in a calmer, more relaxed state of mind could help you ease headaches or any other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine.
These can include breathing techniques and prenatal yoga. You can also put pregnancy-safe aromatherapy candles around the house in scents like ginger, lemon and mint.
Heartburn is another common and very uncomfortable pregnancy symptom. As the name suggests, heartburn feels like a painful, burning sensation in the chest area and it can last from a few minutes to several hours.
Other symptoms of heartburn include the following:
- Chest pains
- Difficulty swallowing
- Burning sensation in the throat
- Feeling like there is food “stuck”in your throat or chest
- Chronic sore throat or cough
You are more prone to heartburn when pregnant because your digestion slows down during this time. Slow digestion means food stays in the stomach longer which in turn causes the stomach to produce more acid.
Additionally, your growing tummy is exerting extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter causing acids to rise up to your esophagus.
Here are some of the ways that can help you deal with heartburn naturally:
- Adjust your eating habits
Making adjustments to your eating habits can go a long way in managing heartburn.
Eating heavy meals can trigger or worsen heartburn especially because your stomach has less room to expand when pregnant.
Because of this, it might be more sensible to eat smaller meals throughout the day than eating heavy meals three times a day.
Consult a dietitian or nutritionist to help you set up a healthy meal plan.
- Avoid trigger foods and beverages
Certain foods and beverages can trigger heartburn. Although there is no universal list of foods and beverages you should avoid, the following are some of the common ones that cause acid reflux:
- Spicy food
- Black pepper, garlic and raw onions
- Greasy, fatty and fried foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Coffee and caffeinated drinks
Triggers differ from person to person so it’s important to be observant with what you eat or drink.
Take note of the things that trigger your heartburn and eliminate these from your diet. Keeping a list of triggers could be useful.
- Watch your sleeping habits
Heartburn can happen at night when your digestion is slow so avoid eating heavy meals or fatty food late at night.
Additionally, don’t lie down right away after eating. It’s generally advisable to not eat anything for at least three hours before going to bed to give your stomach enough time to digest food.
Your sleeping position could also cause heartburn. Doctors suggest elevating your head when you sleep with pillows or lying on your left side.
Many women experience constipation when pregnant. About three out of four pregnant are said to experience constipation or other bowel issues some time during their pregnancy according to a study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.
There are many possible causes of constipation during pregnancy. The following are some of them:
- An increase in the progesterone hormone which relaxes the digestive tract. This in turn slows down the movement of food through the digestive organs.
- Iron supplements or multivitamins with large doses of iron can worsen constipation
- Your growing uterus can add pressure on your pelvis
Here are some of the natural ways to deal with constipation:
- Eat lots of fiber
Fiber is well known for helping regulate bowel movement so make sure to include fiber into your diet.
Experts recommend that pregnant women eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day.
Some foods rich in fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and breads, brown rice, beans, lentils, prunes and peas.
If you are not used to a fiber-rich diet, consider making changes slowly. Add one fiber-rich food into your meal and gradually increase it over time.
Drinking lots of fluids helps to make maintain good digestion. Make sure to have at least 12 to 13 glasses of water every day. Fresh fruit juices are also a great way of hydrating and getting additional vitamins and minerals.
- Get regular exercise
Regular physical activity can boost metabolism which stimulates better digestion. Consider enrolling at a gym or prenatal yoga.
If you would rather work out at home you can browse the internet for workouts designed for pregnant women, there are plenty of these which you can incorporate into your daily schedule.
Before starting any exercise, make sure to consult your doctor to know which exercises are safe and best for you and your baby.
- Pay attention to your body
Take note of the patterns of your bowel movement and make time for it. For instance, if you find that your bowels are more active after meals, stay near the bathroom during this time so you don’t have to rush when you get the urge.
Don’t try to put off going to the rest room.
- Change your multivitamins
Iron taken in doses higher than the recommended dosage can cause constipation.
If you are not anemic and are taking multivitamins with a high dose of iron, ask your doctor if you can switch to another supplement.
Constipation is generally not serious but in some cases it can be a symptom of another health condition. Consult your doctor if you notice the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Severe constipation followed by diarrhea
- Passing mucus or blood
Important Reminder: Natural Isn’t Always Safe
Just because a product or practice is natural doesn’t always mean it is safe to use during pregnancy.
Certain herbs found in products and supplements may be harmful to you and your unborn child.
Always consult your doctor when thinking of making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
The following are some herbs that are potentially dangerous when taken by pregnant women:
- Black walnut
- Black cohosh
- Blue cohosh
- Cascara Sagrada
- Comfrey echinacia
- Pau d’arco
- Saw Palmetto
- Shepherd’s purse
- St. John’s wort
- Uva ursi
Note that natural supplements and treatments are not reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness.
Take time to learn more about any new and natural products that you are planning to use when pregnant. The following are some tips for becoming a smart shopper:
- When doing online searches of products and supplements, use non-profit websites as references as these are more likely to contain unbiased information. These websites include the NIH, FDA and USDA
- Be wary of marketing pitches that seem too good to be true. For example: “Works better than (prescription drug),” “Has no side effects,” “Totally safe”
- Always consult your healthcare provider when you are unsure about a product or treatment
Pregnancy symptoms may make your journey into motherhood challenging but remember that this phase is temporary! Focus on the bright side until your little bundle of joy arrives!