Treatments for common discomforts in pregnancy

 

Discomfort

 

Possible Cause

 

Possible Remedies

 

Abdominal achiness

 

·       Stretching of the muscles & ligaments supporting the uterus

·       Sit down, put feet up, relax, flex knees towards abdomen, pelvic tilts, warm baths and heat
 

Abdominal cramp

 

·       Pressure on muscles, ligaments, veins & other organs

·       Ligament stretching

·       Orgasm

·       Preterm labour

·       Experiment with different positions

·       However, call your healthcare provider if you have cramping along with spotting, heavy bleeding, fever, chills, vaginal discharge, tenderness & pain, or if the cramps don’t subside after several minutes of rest

 

Bleeding gums

 

·       Pregnancy hormones can cause gums to swell and become inflamed, which may lead to frequent bleeding especially while brushing teeth

·       Continue to floss and brush regularly

·       Try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Apply ice to gums

·       Avoid eating refined sugars

·       Call your dentist if your gums are bleeding & painful. Decaying teeth can cause an infection that can initiate preterm labour

 

Breasts, sore

 

·       Increased levels of oestrogen & progesterone.

·       Increased size of breasts

Soreness often -but not always- decreases later in pregnancy

Wear a good supportive bra and a sleep bra at night

 

Breathlessness

 

·       The uterus pushes on the diaphragm toward the lungs

·       A normal part of pregnancy, but if accompanied by chest pain, palpitations racing pulse or clamminess in fingers and toes, call healthcare provider; if asthmatic, also discuss with healthcare provider
 

Clumsiness

 

·       Carrying more weight, changing centre of gravity, relaxing of joints due to pregnancy hormones

 

·       No solution but watch out for wet, icy or uneven surfaces. Avoid wearing high heeled shoes. Don’t carry things you can’t safely drop. Call healthcare provider if accompanied by dizziness

Constipation ·       Pressure of the growing uterus on the rectum

·       Pregnancy hormones slow movement of food through digestive system

·       Some Iron supplements

·       Eat high fibre foods (cereals, whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables.

·       Drink plenty of water (at least 6-8 glasses/day)

·       Exercise

·       Try Bob’s Iron or Feramax

Dizziness ·       Pressure of the growing uterus on the rectum

·       Hunger. Low blood sugar

·       Standing too quickly (postural hypotension)

·       Anaemia

·       Allergies

·       Hyperventilation

·       Healthy snack, water or juice

·       Sit down

·       Avoid lying on your back in late pregnancy

·       If in a stuffy place, fresh air

·       Call healthcare provider if dizziness is accompanied by blurred vision, headaches, palpitations

 

Oedema (swollen extremities)

·       Pressure of the growing uterus on the rectum

·       Extra blood flow during pregnancy

·       Growing uterus puts pressure on pelvic veins, slowing down circulation

·       Elevate feet

·       Wear support stockings (your midwife can prescribe these)

·       Exercise

·       Eat properly, avoid sodium and salt foods

·       Eat cucumber, honeydew melon, or watermelon

 

 

·       Excessive water retention
 

Fatigue

·       Developing placenta

·       Rapidly changing hormone levels

·       Low blood sugar

·       Low blood pressure

·       Take naps

·       Adjust schedule

·       Eat healthfully

·       May subside in 2nd or 3rd trimester

 

Finger pain & numbness

 

·       Carpal tunnel syndrome from increased fluid retention and softening muscles and ligaments in pregnancy

·       Symptoms most often at night, so shift sleep position

·       Avoid sleeping on hands

·       Flex fingers and hands regularly

·       If pain persists after pregnancy, physio or surgery may be recommended

·       Consult healthcare provider if numbness interferes with sleep or daily activities

 

Heartburn/ indigestion

 

·       Increased progesterone from developing placenta (makes digestion sluggish)

·       Oesophageal reflux of stomach contents

·       Growing fetes crowds abdominal cavity, slowing elimination and pushing up the stomach acids

·       Avoid rich or spicy dishes, chocolate, citrus and coffee

·       Eliminate alcoholic beverages

·       Eat small, frequent meals

·       Take small mouthfuls and chew food well

·       Avoid drinking large quantities of fluids during meals to avoid distending stomach

·       Try not to lie down for at least an hour after eating

·       Sleep propped up with several pillows or elevate the head of bed

·       Over the counter antacid with magnesium or calcium (tums, gaviscon, zantac)

·       Natural remedies (see below)

Haemorrhoids ·       Increased blood circulation, dilated veins

·       Constipation

·       Pressure from pushing out a baby

·       Sitz bath

·       Ice pack or heating pad

·       Avoid sitting or standing for long stretches

·       Topical anaesthetic or medicated suppositories; over the counter remedies

Itchy skin, red & itchy palms and soles ·       Hormones and stretching skin

·       Increased oestrogen

·       Apply moisturiser

·       Oatmeal bath (available in drug & beauty stores)

·       Wear loose clothing to avoid heat rash

Leg cramps ·       Added weight on leg muscles

·       Excess of phosphorus (found in processed meats, snack foods, sodas)

·       Shortage of calcium

·       Pressure of expanding uterus

·       Stretch, massage

·       Warm bath or hot water bottle

·       Walk

·       Increase calcium intake, take supplements right before bed

 

 

Nausea

 

·       Pregnancy hormones

·       Fluctuating blood sugars

·       Eat 6 small meals per day rather than 3 large ones. Avoid drinking fluids with meals. Instead drink fluids ½ hour after meals. Try to keep a little food in stomach at all times. Carry crackers when out

·       Vit B6 (50- 75mg) every day may be helpful

·       Try Acupressure (sea bands) on wrists

·       Red raspberry / Ginger tea (see recipe & dosage below) or capsules

·       Omit prenatal vitamins until nausea subsides but keep taking folic acid 1mg during this time

 

 

 

Nosebleeds

·       Increased blood supply to nose’s delicate veins

·       Dry membranes, especially in dry weather

·       Avoid nasal dryness

·       Blow nose gently

·       Place small amount of vaseline inside nose before bed

·       Drink extra fluids

 

Rectal bleeding

 

·       Anal fissure caused by constipation

·       Haemorrhoids

·       Avoid sitting or standing for long stretches

·       Do daily kegels

·       Sitz bath

·       Thoroughly cleanse affected area

·       Apply ice

·       Topical anaesthetics or medicated suppositories

·       Sit on inflatable ring

·       Eat a fibre rich diet to avoid constipation

 

Sleep disturbances, insomnia

 

·       Cant get comfortable

·       Bladder under pressure (frequent urination)

·       Heartburn

·       Anxiety

·       Nausea

·       No smoking or alcohol

·       Cut down on caffeine

·       Don’t exercise before bedtime

·       Establish bedtime routine

·       Relaxation techniques

·       Snack before bed to avoid nausea

·       Avoid heavy meals and spicy foods

·       Drink fewer fluids in late afternoon, evening

·       Natural remedies (see below)

 

Splotchy skin

 

·       Pregnancy hormones

·       Usually diminish after pregnancy

·       Keep out of sun

·       Get enough folic acid

·       Apply concealing makeup

 

Stuffy nose

 

·       Allergic rhinitis of pregnancy

·       Inhale a bowl of steam before sleeping

·       Hot shower

·       Neti pot

·       Nasal spray (use sparingly)

 

Urination, frequent

 

·       Growing uterus shrinks bladder capacity

·       Increased pressure on bladder

·       Avoid excessive liquid intake before bed

·       Contact healthcare provider if urination is accompanied by burning, as it may indicate a urinary tract infection

 

Vaginal spotting

 

·       In late pregnancy, usually a sign of softening cervix or cervical dilation

·       Likely normal if a small amount after a vaginal exam, pap, or intercourse

·       Possibly, bed rest if it becomes excessive

·       Consult healthcare provider – may suggest placenta previa, placenta abruptio, preterm labour

 

Varicose veins

 

·       Growing uterus puts pressure on pelvic veins, increasing pressure on leg veins, increase in progesterone, causing blood vessels to relax

·       Avoid putting too much pressure on legs and standing for long periods

·       Exercise

·       Elevate feet and legs

·       Keep within recommended weight range during pregnancy

·       Sleep on left side with feet on a pillow

·       Support pantyhose

·       Soak affected area in witch hazel bath

·       Nettle tea, purple fruits, berries, and Vit C can help strengthen your veins

 

Sleeplessness

  • It is important to have a night time routine. This could include light exercise and having a set bedtime. Use lots of pillows as
  • Try warm milk. It contains an amino acid called tryptophan which aids relaxation
  • Calms forte is a homeopathic remedy found at most health food stores and drug stores
  • Skullcap tincture is safe in
  • An mien pien is a Chinese remedy for sleeplessness in pregnancy or postpartum. Follow directions on the box and wash the outer red coating off the pill with cold water

 

Heartburn & Indigestion remedies

  • Ferrum phos; 6 or 12x dosage. Take 4-5 pills 2x daily. Available at most health food stores
  • Lemon water, apple cider vinegar, celery, carrot juice, peppermint or chamomile tea. Any of these may work for some
  • Acidophilus in pill or liquid form
  • Alfalfa tablets: up to 6-8/day especially after meals
  • DGL: a supplement in pill form that is very effective for some. Available in some health food stores
  • Fruitin is very effective for some. Available in some health food stores
  • Tums, Gaviscon, and Zantac are all safe in

 

Anaemia

Anaemia Prevention Brew 1/2 oz dried nettle leaves 1/2 oz dried parsley leaves 1/2 oz dried comfrey leaves 1/2 oz dried yellow dock root 1/4 oz peppermint leaves

 

Place herbs in glass half-gallon jar. Pour boiling water over and steep for 8 hours. Drink up to 4 cups daily for one week of each month

 

  • Iron absorption is diminished by insufficient high-quality protein, coffee, black teas &/ or
  • Herbal sources of iron include nettles, dandelion, alfalfa, yellow dock, chickweed, burdock, kelp, mullein, sorrel, parsley, comfrey, chicory, watercress and
    • Bob’s Iron Formula is a formula that we have made at Pharmasave Compounding Pharmacies and Pure Pharmacies that is exceptionally efficient at correcting iron deficient anaemia
    • Feramax is an effective prescription iron supplement. Ask your midwife. Chinese herbal remedies are:
    • WOMEN’S PRECIOUS: take 8-16 pills 3 times daily
    • WUCHI PAI FENG: sometimes called “chicken eggs”, is an ancient Chinese formula used to tone blood and energy, warm the uterus and nourish the mother. 12% of this formula is made from chicken. This is especially good if you are nervous, tense or exhausted. Do not take this remedy if there are any signs of infection anywhere in the body. Do not take if you have a fever, cold or
    • SHOU WU CHI: the Chinese anaemia tonic for vegetarians

Pregnancy Teas

*See Anaemia prevention Brew – Previous page

 

Ginger tea

Brew fresh ginger by stirring and simmer on low heat for 20-30 mins. Add honey as desired and sip all day long. If vomiting has begun or nausea is becoming predominant, ginger capsules may be more effective. Fill size 00 capsules with powdered ginger and take 2-4 capsules every 3-4 hours. Up to 20 capsules per day can be taken safely. Reduce dosage as nausea diminishes. When nausea and vomiting are resolved, take a low dose (1 capsule 3 times a day) and then stop ginger completely.

 

Red raspberry tea

Brewed as a tea or as an infusion, Rubus is the best known, mostly widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragrine, an alkaloid that tones the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. Most of the benefit of regular use of Raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy relates to the strengthening power of fragrine and the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in the plant. Of special note are the rich concentration of vitamin C, the presence of vitamin E, and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorous and potassium. Benefits of drinking Raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy include: preventing miscarriage and postpartum haemorrhage, easing morning sickness, providing a safe and speedy labour, helping the delivery of the placenta, and assisting breast milk production.

 

Nettle tea

Urtica dioica is one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to be necessary for human health and growth. Vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, and sulphur are particularly abundant in Nettles. The taste is deep and rich. Benefits of drinking Nettle infusion before and during pregnancy include: aiding the kidneys, nourishing the mother and fetus, easing leg cramps and other muscle spasms, preventing haemorrhage after birth, reducing haemorrhoids, and increasing the richness and amount of breast milk.

 

Dandelion tea

In addition to vitalizing and healing the liver, Dandelion leaves help the kidneys function better, and are a good source of calcium and potassium. This combination of qualities makes Dandelion leaves a vitally important herb in the prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia. Dandelion leaves contain vitamins A, C, B1, B12, calcium, potassium, iron, choline and many trace minerals.

 

Alfalfa

Taken throughout pregnancy, Alfalfa infusion or tea will increase available vitamin K and haemoglobin in the blood. Alfalfa also encourages a good milk supply. Contains vitamins A, B1, B12, D, and E.

 

Oat Straw

Useful in strengthening the capillaries that helps to prevent varicosities.