Treat your Worst Pregnancy Symptoms Naturally
If I took a poll of the worst pregnancy symptoms, the list would look something like this:
- Morning sickness/all day nausea
- Back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramping and aches
- Stretch marks
- Gestational Diabetes
- “Pregnancy brain”
Our developing baby will take everything it needs to grow from us and sometimes that leaves us with a less than adequate supply of an essential vitamin or mineral. This will inevitably lead to deficiencies and trigger some of the above symptoms.
I’ve personally experienced all of these during my pregnancies (except Gestational Diabetes). I’ve helped women through these unpleasant side effects of pregnancy throughout my time in private practice and there’s a few simple, straight forward strategies that you can use at home to relieve and treat these unwanted bumps in the road to motherhood.
Simple ways to treat the most common pregnancy side effects
Morning sickness or all day nausea
Pregnancy nausea is primarily caused by our hormones – the higher your hormone levels, the more disruptive the nausea. You’ve heard the “eat a dry biscuit before getting out of bed” (this actually does work) and I know you know about ginger tea and its anti-nausea properties. So what else is there? A good quality natal multivitamin can help. I’ve found it reduces nausea best when taken 1-2 months prior to falling pregnant so you have a chance to build up your levels of the essential vitamins and minerals for infant development.
Less than 3% of women experience extreme nausea (Hyperemesis gravidarum) which is a really awful condition that often leads to hospitalisation due to dehydration and weight loss. Kate Middleton had suffered this with both her pregnancies and unfortunately there’s not much natural medicine can do – it’s definitely a situation for western medicine.
Muscle cramps, spasms and pains
This is common even when you’re not pregnant but can be especially painful or frequent during pregnancy. Some simple and fast acting strategies to relieve muscular cramps and spasms are:
- Epsom salt baths – the magnesium in the Epsom salts readily absorbs into your muscles as it soaks through the skin and the warmth of the water helps relieve muscle strains and aches.
- Magnesium supplement – if you have frequent cramping that wakes you up at night regularly or stops you during the day, it would be wise to take a magnesium supplement to replenish your magnesium levels. Magnesium is vital for muscle relaxation and a deficiency will result in cramping, spasms, headaches and eye twitching.
- Coconut water – I’m beginning to prefer this as a treatment over electrolyte water mixes. Coconut water naturally contains many of the electrolytes needed to relieve cramping and muscle pain and it also contains magnesium. You can add it to smoothies, drink it straight or enjoy it with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
I had a tough time with pelvic pain during my second pregnancy. When I began talking about it, nearly everyone I spoke with had experienced it or knew someone who had suffered through it too. Often women experience pubic pain at the front, mine was across my sacral plate and into my hip bones… unpleasant. After some trial and error I found a combination of treatment that worked for me: chiropractic, yoga, high strength fish oil and magnesium. My suggestions to help relieve your pelvic pain:
- Bodywork – whether it’s Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Massage therapy, Myotherapy, Dry Needling, Acupuncture or something else you need to ensure the muscles do not continue to tighten up! They are trying in vain to support your pelvic joints and much of the pain comes from muscles. There is some bone on bone pain where the joints butt up against each other and grate – bodywork can help relieve this too.
- Fish Oil – a good quality, high strength fish oil is an absolute must for those suffering with pelvic pain. When you have bone on bone grating and all the inflammation and pain that comes with that you really need something strong and fast acting. It’s a safe and effective alternative to panadol.
- Yoga or swimming – I loved yoga to stretch out my muscles and relieve the joints but many women find swimming helps just as much. Don’t be tempted to walk or try resistance exercise to improve it, it will simply make it worse in many cases by placing too much pressure on the already strained pelvic and hip joints.
- Be careful with using magnesium to relax the muscles, they are trying to support the joints and hold them in place! If you relax these muscles too much you’ll likely see in increase in bone on bone/joint pain.
- Also be careful with using heat packs to relieve the pain. Although it feels so good at the time, it is promoting inflammation which is contributing to the problem.
Ahhh the dreaded stretch marks. It’s a sinking feeling when you see the first one, even after lathering yourself with vitamin E lotion and essential oils to prevent them :(. I’ve tried to increase vitamin C and silica as they promote collagen and lessen the “risk” of stretch marks but these didn’t work for me. What did was… Weleda Stretch Mark Oil – love love love this product. It’s easily absorbed into the skin and helped prevent new stretch marks and faded the ones that had already appeared.
For good measure, take some extra Vitamin C and use a good quality moisturiser daily!
A few of my patients experienced severe headaches nearly every day during their pregnancies. These types of pregnancy headaches are caused by high levels of progesterone. You can’t change your progesterone level but regular remedial massage therapy, osteopathy or myotherapy will relieve the severity of the headaches and help reduce their frequency in some women. Combining this regular bodywork (that could mean monthly or fortnightly appointments) with a good quality magnesium supplement and exercise is a guaranteed way to know you’re doing all you can to reduce the impact of these headaches on your life.
Share these simple natural remedies with someone you know who’s expecting
With side effects of pregnancy difficult to control with medications (due to interactions and unwanted consequences for the developing baby) it’s best to use these natural remedies instead to relieve your unwanted pregnancy symptoms. Each of them are tried and tested by my patients and myself!
Next week we’ll be discussing gestational diabetes – its health implications for both mother and baby, how to avoid it and what to do if you’re diagnosed.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Image credit: iStock photos