By Ash Stevens
Pregnancy is wonderful, magical, amazing, and more. As it turns out, more includes things like aches and pains, strange body changes, and everyday hassles. These things put a major damper on prenatal quality-of-life, but yet they’re accepted as a normal part of pregnancy. Well, I’m here to tell you that physical and mental pains do not have to be a symptom of pregnancy. There’s a huge list of remedies and options for all sorts of prenatal complaints. Remedies that have actually been tested on these very issues! So before you pick up a prescription for some funky pharmaceutical drug, see what your prenatal provider thinks of the remedies below...
When you’re eating for two, you end up producing body fluid for two. Since all of baby’s nutrients and wastes are transported via the bloodstream, pregnancy can cause blood volume to increase as much as 50%. That’s a great thing for both mom and baby, but as that growing baby puts pressure on the ole circulatory system, it puts prego legs in a horrendous situation. The last trimester of pregnancy comes with enough challenges, so mamas should seriously consider natural remedies for swollen feet and aching legs.
As mentioned above, compromised circulation is an underlying cause of swelling. Promoting proper blood floor with regular exercise and massage will reduce fluid retention by getting the blood flowing. Drinking plenty of water and reducing sodium intake is another natural remedy for swelling (but don’t drink too much water since these excess fluids can cause retention by diluting sodium levels). Another amazing remedy that I swear by is the diuretic-like essential oil cypress. After experiencing two pregnancies with horrible swelling, I had two pregnancies where I used cypress. The results? Zero swelling. Absolutely none! I can’t even express what a difference this made in my energy and mood. Cypress is also one of many essential oils safe for use in pregnancy.
The body changes of pregnancy can leave a woman with many “souvenirs” to remember her pregnancy by. One of the least nostalgic of souvenirs are varicose veins. There are a list of factors that can cause varicose veins in men and women of all types, but expectant mamas have a higher risk because pregnancy causes an increase in blood volume, relaxed (weakened) blood vessels, and a baby-packin’ uterus that putting sorts of pressure on the inferior vena cava. If there’s a time for a woman to get varicose veins, it’s pregnancy. Lucky for us, there are plenty of things we can do to avoid them.
Exercise is one of the best things we can do to keep varicose veins from bulging into existence. Activities that boost leg circulation while reducing gravity’s pressure are the biggest help, so make time for exercise with walking, swimming, yoga, calf raises, and bicycling. Follow up that workout with a massage, and you can give veins a little extra circulation boost while also reducing muscle tension. If you have essential oils, you can create a massage oil blend using vein-friendly essential oils like cypress, rosemary, peppermint, grapefruit, and frankincense. If you don’t have essential oils, then get them! Companies like Plant Therapy, Rocky Mountain Oils, doTerra, and Young Living all sell high-quality oils that will deliver high-quality results.
As we all know by now, pregnancy challenges virtually every function of the body. Eating is not spared from this. Simply finding food that seems edible can be a pain because of super-smelling powers and particular palettes of pregnancy. Then, once you actually find something you can actually stand to taste, you have to get that food to stay down so it can be digested and pushed out in a reasonable period of time. Eating is one of the best parts of life, so moms need to know about the natural remedies that will keep them from missing out on the magic of food.
When it comes to digestive problems, peppermint is an herbal star. Peppermint oil has been studied as a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, proving that it can be used to soothe indigestion, gas, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Moms struggling with heartburn can find natural relief in ginger, fermented cabbage, apple cider vinegar, and demulcent herbs. All of these remedies are known to improve digestion and reduce heartburn and acid reflux (perhaps by reducing bacteria that would emit gas and cause stomach acid to rise). Another plus, I know from personal experience that ginger, fermented cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are AMAZING against morning sickness. I started my morning with a dose of apple cider vinegar and then used all the remedies as needed and as often as needed. The difference they had on my nausea was night and day.
As exhausting as the third trimester can be, a good night’s sleep is a rarity. Because when you’re dealing with things like bladder pressure, achy feet, back pain, a compressed sciatic nerve, restless legs, anxiety over parenthood, and a giant belly with a living and kicking human being — if one thing isn’t keeping you awake, then two other things are. Instead of letting yourself suffer, try out some tricks that moms swear their lives by.
If there’s only one thing you’re willing to blow money on, them make it pillows, and lots of ‘em! You can find special body pillows for pregnant women, but every pregnant mama needs small pillows she can tuck under her hips, belly, and shoulders. Another zzz-worthy lies in chiropractic adjustments. Pregnancy causes our body to produce relaxin, which causes our bones and joints to loosen up to prepare for birth. Rocky hips, a strained back, and a high-pressure pelvis stand to reap big benefits from a little handy work. These days, there are actually chiropractors that specialize in prenatal work. So, you can get your bones aligned without that new mom anxiety. Follow up your adjustment with a quality vitamin and a night of sleep-enhancing delta brainwaves tunes and you may end up sleeping more soundly than the baby in your own womb.
Sleepless nights, crap circulation, and on-the-hour bathroom trips are sure to put anyone in a state of exhaustion. Expectant moms are even more fatigued because pregnancy causes an increase in blood volume. This increase is great because it gives Mamas extra fluid to transport goods and wastes to and from baby. It’s also not so great because this increase in fluid doesn’t automatically come with an increase in red blood cells. Our red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen so, and as you can guess, a lack of oxygen can have a major impact on energy levels.
When it comes to avoiding mid-day comas, a mama’s best friend is iron. Our body’s use iron to produce hemoglobin, which is used to produce red blood cells. Considering that blood is imperative to life, iron is as essential to a healthy pregnancy as it is to keeping energy high(er) and avoiding that infamous “mom brain.” Pregnant ladies should be snacking a recommended 27 mg of iron a day. Red meat, oysters, and liver are all great sources of iron. Iron can also be gobbled up via vegetarian morsels like beans, leafy greens, hemp seed, sesame seed, chia seed, and pumpkin seeds (be sure to eat them along with vitamin C as non-meat iron could use a little help with absorption).
Pregnancy is both a magical experience, and a humbling one. There’s nothing more humbling than the gooey underwear of a baby-proofed cervix. The sight of so much white and creamy fluid can be alarming (and a pain to wash out), but normal vaginal discharge, (aka leukorrhea), is both healthy and helpful. Pregnancy has the pelvic area surging with vital estrogen and blood flow, which naturally stimulates the production of protective mucus within the womb. This mucus helps to protect the womb by balancing out pH and supporting healthy vaginal flora, and it is especially protective of the cervix. The cervix is basically the doorway of the uterus, so extra mucus helps to keep bacteria and microbes out of the uterus and away from baby. So, healthy discharge is something any mama can appreciate.
Since leukorrhea is normal and necessary, there really isn’t much we can do about it. Eating a healthy diet that is low in hormones and pesticides will certainly help keep leukorrhea down, but sometimes the body is just going to do what it needs to do. If you find yourself with more cervical goo than you care for, then menstrual pads are obviously an option. However, panty liners may be crude and out-dated remedies now that period panties are on the market. Thinx, the company that produced the original period panties, has actually launched a line of incontinence undies to address the pee-sneezes and leaky bladders so common after birth (Note to self: do kegels. And lots of them!). These non-toxic antimicrobial undies are designed to hold up to 6 teaspoons of urine, so they may be the perfect solution for prenatal discharge. If your doc or nurse-midwife gives them the thumbs up, then you can save your pads for a rainy day that’s months away.
Do you have tricks to kicking these pregnancy complaints to the curb? Have you experienced other issues we didn’t cover? Share them in the comments below!
Ash Stevens is a gardener, a writer, and a fan of all things green. Her love for health and sustainability began with her journey into motherhood, and it’s grown exponentially ever since. She’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle through gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors. If she isn’t writing or reading up on exciting green trends, she’s probably playing Connect Four or swimming in the river with the kids. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.