Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Nausea and Vomiting

General Description

Nausea is an unpleasant feeling of queasiness and an urge to vomit. Vomiting is the expulsion of the stomach contents through the mouth as a result of involuntary muscle spasms. Experienced by more than 80% of women as a sign of pregnancy, the onset of nausea occurs between 5 – 7 weeks gestation, peaking around 11 weeks, and typically resolves by 14–16 weeks. Severe cases of vomiting past 20 weeks may be hyperemesis gravidarum.

 

Sources of Discomfort

Inadequate dietary adjustments to pregnancy, keeping the stomach empty for prolonged periods of time, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and also a response to increased and rapidly rising hormone levels in early pregnancy (estrogen, HCG).

 

Methods of Relief

Morning Discomfort

  1. Eat high protein snack before bed, and at each waking
  2. Eat before rising – cracks or toast. Protein is ideal, if tolerable. Rise slowly upon waking.
  3. Diclegis: 2 Tablets at bedtime

 

Throughout the Day Discomfort

  1. Eat small, frequent, high-protein and vitamin B rich meals every 2 – 3 hours, Carry snacks with you on-the-go, and avoid dehydration, and sip small amounts.
  2. Avoid triggers such as strong odors, spicy / fatty foods, fatigue, heat, and stuffy rooms.
  3. Acupressure wrist bands.
  4. Drink water at room temperature and sip through a straw when even water is difficult to consume.

 

Herbs & Supplements

  1. Take vitamin and mineral supplements AFTER meals
  2. Vitamin B6: 25 mg 3-4 times daily, or 50 mg twice daily
  3. Teas: chamomile, red raspberry leaf, peach leaf, basil, spearmint, peppermint, and ginger
  4. Sucking on hard candies – ginger, peppermint

 

Immense Morning Sickness

  1. Unisome & B6 at bedtime

 

Additional Reading & Helpful Tips

12 Ways to Naturally Ease Through Morning Sickness and Find Comfort and Health Through Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Leg Cramps

General Description

Cramps or spasms in the muscles of the legs. They are common in pregnancy, especially at night, and can interfere with the ability to sleep. “Charley Horse” is a cramp that is typically a sign of calcium and magnesium deficiency.

 

Sources of Discomfort

Often due to nutrient imbalances, dehydration, overexertion, and pressure on the pelvic blood vessels or nerves impairing circulation to the lower extremities due to uterine growth.

 

Methods of Relief

Positional Relief

  1. Gentle stretching of leg muscles – toes flexed upwards, walking daily to promote circulation, shifting weight from one leg to the other when standing, and avoiding sitting with legs crossed.
  2. Elevation of the legs above the heart throughout the day, and counter pressure on the bottom of feet when laying down (partner hand / footboard of bed).

 

Pampering

  1. Enjoy a hot bath before bed, and keep legs warm while sleeping (warming pad). Can add magnesium flakes / Epsom salt to bath water.

 

Diet, Supplementation & Herbs

  1. Adequate diet to include bananas, grapefruit, oranges, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, salmon, sardines, dark greens, seaweed, soybeans, almonds, sesame seeds, oils, and essential fatty acids
  2. Adequate sodium (1500 mg), calcium (1000 mg), and potassium (4700 mg), daily
  3. 350 mg of magnesium at bedtime
  4. Raspberry leaf, nettle, dandelion, crampbark teas and tinctures

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Hemorrhoids

General Description

Hemorrhoids are dilated veins (varicosities) in the lower rectum which are common during pregnancy. They can be internal (inside the anal canal) or external (at the anal opening) with symptoms include rectal irritation, burning, itching, swelling, pain, and bleeding.

 

Sources of Discomfort

Normal changes in hormones, and pressure from uterine weight as baby grows, play a role in the dilation and prolapse of the vessels. Hemorrhoids can be aggravated by straining during bowel movements, low-fiber diets, recurrent constipation or diarrhea and regular use of iron supplements, stool softeners, and enemas. Hemorrhoids are also common after pushing during childbirth. Causes of the discomfort.

 

Methods of Relief

  1. Avoid standing, sitting (include commode) for prolonged periods of time. Lay on your left side during rest periods.
  2. Avoid inflated “donut” pillows, which compromise circulatory drainage.
  3. Regular activity and occasional Kegel exercises may be helpful.
  4. Use of a stool (squat pot) to bring feet to toilet level for better muscle alignment and less rectal strain during movements.
  5. Increase dietary fiber and hydration levels.
Compresses & Bath Soaks

  1. Hot / cold: Include – Witch hazel, comfrey, epsom salt, sitz, red clove

and nettle

  1. Grated (as a compress) or thinly sliced raw potato (as a suppository)

to shrink and relieve swelling

 

Topical Application

  1. Plantain, yarrow, and goldenrod ointments
  2. Vitamin E capsule, as a suppository, 400 IU or more
  3. Aloe Vera gel
  4. Lubricate hemorrhoid with olive oil and gently push back into the rectum
 Herbal Suppository for Hemorrhoids

 

4 oz cocoa butter

2 oz each powder – marshmallow root

– white oak bark

– goldenseal

2 oz calendula oil

Refrigerate in suppository mold

Insert every evening

Wear a pad to absorb leakage

Knee-chest position to promote drainage

 

Tinctures, Teas, Tablets & Homeopathy

  1. Yellow Dock root tincture: ½ dropperful orally, 3x daily
  2. Bilberry tablets, 3x daily
  3. Horse chestnut, in any form
  4. Hamamelis (oral form of witch hazel) during hemorrhoid flares, 30c as needed

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Heartburn

General Description

Heartburn is an internal burning sensation in the chest or throat as a result of regurgitation, or reflux of acidic gastric contents into the lower esophagus. As many as 80% of women experience heartburn in the third trimester of pregnancy.

 

Sources of Discomfort

Pregnant women are more prone to experience heartburn due to physiologic changes during pregnancy, such as stomach displacement as the baby grows, the softening of the lower esophageal sphincter from increased progesterone in the body, and decreased motility of the GI tract. Heartburn can be triggered by eating rapidly, or consuming foods that are fatty, spicy, or fried, as well as by consumption of citrus, coffee, chocolate, or alcohol.

 

Methods of Relief

  1. Consume small frequent meals, avoiding specific food triggers. Consume liquids separate from meals to inhibit secretion of gastric juices. Avoiding laying down for one hour after meals. Consider taking a walk to remain upright and encourage digestion.
  2. For night occurrences, sleep semi-upright with the use of extra pillows.
  3. Avoid antacids (tums / Mylanta), Alka-Seltzer, and baking soda.
  4. Digestive and/or papaya enzymes with meals.
  5. Comfrey tablets with pepsin.
  6. A plain baked potatoes and thoroughly chewed raw nuts, particularly almonds.
  7. 1 Tbs of cream or milk to coat the stomach.
  8. Acupressure Points: Applied to stomach 36 and Pericardium 6.
  9. NF formula’s liquid calcium/magnesium supplement, 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp., as needed.

 

Lozenges, teas, and infusions

Slippery Elm, marshmallow root, ginger, peppermint, chamomile, skullcap, or passion flower

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Headaches

General Description

Pain associated with headaches can be felt in the front or back of the head, behind the eyes, on the sides, or engulf the entire  head area. Headaches can come in the form of tension, migraine, and present chronically on a daily basis. They can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, light and noise sensitivity, dizziness, and visual disturbances.

 

Sources of Discomfort

Common headaches are typically caused by dehydration, lack of timely nourishment (hypoglycemia), sinus and allergy issues, hormone and circulation changes, or eyes strain due normal fluid retention during pregnancy. Low iron can also play a role, as oxygen availability within the brain is reduced.

 

Other triggers:

–    Being in the presence of smoke or strong odors, the body becoming overheated,

sleep deprivation, and caffeine withdrawal. Migraines may appear for both genetic

predispositions and environmental exposure.

 

Methods of Relief

Prevention

  1. Avoid exposure to environmental toxins, caffeine, and limit sugar in-take.
  2. Remain well hydrated, consuming small, frequent meals every two to three hours which

include adequate amounts of protein (80 g daily) and salt (1500 mg daily) which helps

with water absorption.

  1. Balanced amount of rest and physical activity. Promoting moments of relaxation

through yoga, meditation, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, massage, or

hydrotherapy.

 

Supplementation

  1. Magnesium: 600 mg orally once daily –   Coenzyme Q: 150 mg orally once daily   –   Riboflavin: 400 mg orally once daily
  2. Butterbur root extract (Petadolex): 75 mg orally twice daily

 

Remedies When Headaches Present

  1. Sleep, in a quiet and dark place
  2. Relaxing teas such as hops, skullcap, and chamomile, as well as a warm lavender-infused rice bag applied to the neck.
  3. Simultaneously soaking the hands in hot lemon water

 

Over the Counter Options

  1. Aspirin: between 250 – 1000 mg orally, not to exceed 1500 mg daily
  2. Ibuprofen: 200-800 mg orally every 4 hours, not to exceed 3200 mg daily
  3. Acetaminophen: 1,000 mg orally

 

Persistent headaches should be brought to the attention of your care provider immediately, as it can be a sign of an underlying and more serious issue.

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Constipation

General Description

Infrequent, often painful, bowel movements, followed by straining and presentation of hard stools.

Sources of Discomfort

During pregnancy, bowel motility is decreased. This lingering of stool in the GI tract, causes an increase in water reabsorption within the intestines. Pressure from the enlarged uterus can also contribute to constipation. Excess iron supplementation, lack of dietary fiber, over-use and mis-use of laxatives (reducing that body’s ability to recognize release cues), dehydration, limited physical activity, stress / anxiety, and depression.

Methods of Relief

  1. Sufficient water in-take, at 80 – 128 fluid ounces, daily. Drinking a hot liquid (herbal teas), followed immediately by a cold liquid can encourage bowel movement. Vegetable and fruit juices (prune) can also be helpful.
  2. Increase fiber in diet: dried fruits, such as prunes or apricots, chia seeds, flax seeds, whole grains, vegetables, papaya, nuts and seeds. Ensure carbohydrates are unrefined. Consider a change in daily vitamin supplements.
  3. Ensure iron supplement is not “ferrous sulfate” derived. Yellow dock can replace “ferrous sulfate” iron supplementation.
  4. Eat less red meat, especially smoked and cured meat such as bacon, ham, sausage, and pastrami.
  5. Regular physical activity encourage movement within the bowels. Avoiding holding, or straining to release a movement.
  6. Avoid antacids, cathartics, enemas, and over-use of laxatives.
  7. Magnesium Powder – 1 – 2 tbs. in warm water before bed.

Helpful stool softeners (temporary use only):

  • Docusate sodium: 50 mg 1 – 2 times daily
  • Docusate calcium: 240 mg 1 time daily

 

  1. Fiber Therapy:
  • Citrucel or Metamucil: 1 T in 8 oz fluid, 1-3 times PO Daily
  • Psyllium capsules: 1-2 PO daily
  1. Herbal Support:
  • Senna, nettle, and violet leaf teas

Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Backache

General Description

Pain, discomfort, or achiness of the back region, is experienced by approximately 70% of women during pregnancy. Posture, body mechanics, and muscle tone, along with a variety of factors can contribute to back pain.

 

Sources of Discomfort

During pregnancy, necessary hormones cause the softening of joints and ligaments in preparation for birth. The weight of a healthy growing baby can cause a shift in posture to accommodate the ever changing center of gravity, and may lead to misalignment or tilt of the uterus. These changes will often causes nerve and muscle pain, as well as stress to the ligaments which attach to the uterus and sacrum, resulting in upper and lower back pain.

 

Other potential source(s) of backache:

  • Kidney Infection – when pain / discomfort is at waist level

 

Methods of Relief

  1. Avoid excessive bending, lifting, or walking without appropriate rest periods. Wear shoes that are flat and comfortable, avoiding heels.
  2. Proper stooping / bending position, with feet shoulder width apart, one foot slightly in front of the other. Use a squat when lifting, rather than bending at the waist.
  3. Use of proper back support (brace, belt, maternity girdle, abdominal support) when sitting or standing for excessive periods of time.
  4. Sleeping surface should provide good support. Make use of body and pregnancy pillows, ensuring a pillow at the back and between the legs to keep knees hip width apart.
  5. Physical activity that provides gentle stretching such as yoga and swimming. Pelvic tilts and rocking can be particularly helpful in easing discomfort.
  6. Chiropractic Care and osteopathic therapy. As well as massage, acupuncture, and acupressure. Pamper yourself during this time.
  7. Use of heat / cold in the form of baths, water bottles, or packs. Magnesium flakes / Epsom salt added to baths can also be helpful. 1-2 cups in a large tub. Apple Cider Vinegar soaks, castor oil packs, and capsaicin cream can also bring relief.
  8. Increase your daily intake of calcium and magnesium, either through nutrient rich foods, such as dairy, dark leafy greens, and nuts, or through supplementation.
  9. Many herbal therapies can also be helpful, as needed:
  • Devil’s Claw: 50 – 100 mg daily
  • Willow Bark: 120 – 140 mg daily
  • John’s Wort Tincture: 15 – 25 drops in a glass of water, every few hours, as needed
  • Cayenne: used as a poultice or a plaster over the area of discomfort