For some lucky women pregnancy is a breeze and they wouldn’t even know they were pregnant if they didn’t have a cute little belly with a squirming baby kicking them from the inside. For most of us though, there are some discomforts along the way. Starting with fatigue and morning sickness and ending with heartburn and aching joints, the majority of women experience at least some uncomfortable times throughout pregnancy. Today we’ll talk about some of the more common discomforts and ways we can try to reduce or eliminate their effects on our bodies.
Morning Sickness -
Feeling queasy is one of the first signs of pregnancy for many women. Hormones are surging at this point to sustain the pregnancy and those raging hormones send many women running for the toilet, especially in the morning, but lasting all day and night for others. This is generally a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, albeit not very fun to deal with. Many women find that keeping crackers or some other bland snack next their bed and eating a little bit before getting up can help settle a queasy stomach. Eating as much protein as you can handle can help to keep blood sugars balanced which can also help with nausea. It’s important to eat, so if something sounds good, go for it, even if it’s not the most healthy. The baby will take everything it needs from you, so as long as you were healthy before getting pregnant you should have ample stores of nutrients available for your growing baby. If you are experiencing extreme morning sickness be sure to consult your doctor, there are some prescription anti-nausea medications that are considered safe in pregnancy and are necessary in extreme cases.
Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom. Again, your body is going through a lot of changes to sustain the pregnancy this can take a toll on your stamina. Eating lots of protein and fresh fruits and veggies, along with taking a good prenatal vitamin can help combat some of the fatigue. However, sleeping or resting whenever you can is going to be your best choice.
As you move later into pregnancy, digestion slows, hormones continue to wreak havoc, and space in your abdomen becomes a premium. For many women this can lead to heart burn or acid reflux. There are a few things you can do to help prevent heartburn including:
- Probiotics in the way of capsules, yogurt or kefir help some women with the pain of heartburn. Papaya enzyme is another effective heartburn remedy that is safe during pregnancy.
- Papaya contains digestive enzymes and can be taken in a variety of ways – fresh, dried, canned, juiced, or even in tablet form. Eat a small amount of it after meals to aid digestion and discourage heartburn.
- Drinking anise or fennel seed tea after meals will also aid digestion.
- Eating small meals frequently instead of your normal three meals a day routine.
- Chew lots and eat slowly.
- Don’t drink while eating (though it is important to then drink plenty between meals).
- Pay attention to which foods seem to produce heartburn and eliminate them from your diet. Common triggers include coffee, tea, spicy food, tomatoes, chocolate, etc.
- Also give yourself time to digest your food after eating before lying down – take a walk or play with your older children for a bit.
If you’re like me, even all these preventative methods may fail. A couple more pregnancy heartburn remedies to try if you still find yourself suffering from heartburn include eating raw almonds, chewed slowly and finally slippery elm. You can mix slippery elm powder with honey or take it in the form of throat lozenges that can be found in most health food stores. The slippery elm bark soothes the stomach, neutralizes stomach acids and helps absorb intestinal gas. Ultimately, at least for me, giving birth is the only thing that has been a long-term remedy for my heartburn, but hopefully one of these suggestions will help you!
Low Back Pain -
As our bellies get bigger and your center of gravity shifts forward, pressure is put on the lower back causing pain and discomfort. Chiropractic adjustments are my first suggestion as they generally seem to be the most effective and provide longer term relief than anything else. Stretching is always beneficial, whether you are in pain or not. Getting on your hands and knees and rocking your pelvis back and forth can help to relax the joints and is also good for getting and keeping the baby in a good anterior position. Many women find relief from pre-natal yoga which can have more benefits than just pain relief for both mother and baby. Sleep with a pillow between your legs can help to keep your hips aligned and take pressure off of your aching back. If none of these techniques are giving you any type of relief you may need to find a pregnancy belt to give your body some extra support until after delivery.
Thankfully all of these discomforts should resolve shortly after birth and seeing that sweet baby will make everything you go through so worth it!