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A Comfortable, Healthy Pregnancy—Naturally

Few times in your life are as exciting or as intense as pregnancy. You’re probably experiencing a wide range of emotional reactions, as well as many physical changes. Don’t buy into the idea though that you have to simply suffer through pregnancy discomforts. Pregnancy is a time to slow down, listen to your body, and take care of yourself. As you do this, your mind will turn inward to your baby, and you’ll be better prepared for the demands of childbirth and new motherhood. You’ll experience fewer aches and pains and feel energized and peaceful. Read on to learn a few simple techniques for relieving many common pregnancy complaints.

Relieving Backaches And Sciatica

Backaches are probably one of the most common pregnancy complaints, especially in late pregnancy. The weight of the baby and the uterus causes strain on the back and may even press on the sciatic nerve, causing intense pain that runs into the thighs. Urinary tract infections can also cause backache. Fortunately, simple changes in diet, exercise, and posture can relieve most backache pain. Below are a few easy suggestions:

  • Practice good posture. Don’t allow your back to sway forward in response to the weight of the baby. Stand up straight and tall, keeping your shoulders back.
  • Exercise everyday to reduce tension in your back and strengthen your muscles. Go for a walk or try swimming. Prenatal yoga is a wonderful exercise form that teaches relaxation and mindfulness while exercising and stretching your muscles. Yoga practice is also a great preparation for the work of childbirth.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support that encourage good posture. Avoid sinking into soft chairs, but rather sit in straight chairs instead.
  • Eat plenty of fiber to avoid constipation, which can cause backache.
  • Put your feet up on a chair to relieve back pain and improve circulation to your legs.
  • Limit sugar and caffeine in your diet and opt for plenty of steamed veggies, fish, and poultry. Take a high-quality food-based prenatal supplement that contains calcium and magnesium.
  • Add thirty drops of St. John’s wort or skullcap tincture to a cup of chamomile tea three times daily for a week or so. Both herbs are excellent for relieving pain and discomfort.
  • Add Epsom salts or the essential oils of rosemary, chamomile, or lavender to a warm bath.
  • Get a prenatal massage.
  • Apply an ointment for aching muscles. Mix ¾ cup of coconut oil with three tablespoons of sweet almond oil. Add one teaspoon of lobelia and St. John’s wort tincture. Pour into a jar or bottle and rub into aching muscles and joints. This oil works wonders to relieve soreness.

Relieving Indigestion And Heartburn

Even if you won the chili-eating contest at your county fair without a second thought a year ago, you’ll probably encounter heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy. Increased progesterone slows digestion and can even cause the valve at the upper portion of the stomach to close incompletely, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. Your growing uterus and the weight of the baby put pressure on your stomach as well. Avoid over-the-counter antacids and opt for gentle herbs and sensible eating habits instead. Read on for some ideas to relieve your troubled tummy:

  • Elevate yourself at night with a few pillows if you experience nighttime heartburn. Try yoga practice or meditation before you go to bed.
  • Eat small, frequent meals, rather than one or two large meals. Avoid heavy, oily, or spicy foods that are hard to digest.
  • Eat supper at least two hours before you go to bed.
  • Try a handful of almonds or cashews, which are known to improve digestion. Yogurt is also excellent for soothing heartburn.
  • Try an herbal remedy to treat heartburn and indigestion. Slippery elm bark contains a substance that coats and soothes the throat, esophagus, and stomach. Find slippery elm bark lozenges at natural food stores or make a tea by stirring one teaspoon of loose slippery elm bark powder into a cup of milk. Add a bit of cinnamon, honey, or vanilla to taste.

Relieving Itchy Skin

Increased hormone levels often give women that “glowing” pregnancy look, and for many women, acne and other skin conditions also improve. On the other hand, stretching skin on your breasts and stomach may itch like crazy! Take this time to pamper yourself a bit with a few natural remedies:

  • Exercise daily to improve circulation and liver and kidney function. The liver and kidney often become overloaded during pregnancy, which puts more of the burden of releasing toxins on the skin. Improve liver and kidney function, and you’ll likely experience less itching.
  • Drink a lot of water, but avoid soda, coffee, and drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners. Limit fruit juice to four ounces per day.
  • Eliminate or reduce processed foods in your diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans, and nuts.
  • Eat enough good fatty acids. Eat fish once per week or take a high-quality fish oil supplement. Add flaxseed oil to smoothies or take 1,500 mg of evening primrose oil daily.
  • Rub coconut butter on your body or make your own body butter by mixing coconut oil with a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender, rosemary, or tangerine.

Relieving Morning Sickness

The euphemistic term “morning sickness” hardly begins to describe the nausea many women feel during pregnancy. Not every woman experiences morning sickness, but those that do usually begin to feel better by the end of the first trimester. Talk with your health care provider if you experience severe nausea or nausea that continues beyond fourteen weeks.

Theories abound about why morning sickness occurs. Most experts believe it may be caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal fluctuations, nutrition issues, or biological mechanisms designed to protect the fetus. Occasionally, stress or ambivalent feelings about the pregnancy can exacerbate morning sickness.

You’ve probably noticed that certain odors or foods trigger bouts of nausea. Fatigue, hunger, constipation, or stress can also increase feelings of nausea. Pay attention to those triggers and try to avoid them. Below are a few more ideas for dealing with pregnancy-related nausea:

  • Eat small, frequent snacks that contain protein and some whole-grains or complex carbs. Try peanut butter on apples or yogurt with granola. Hummus on whole-grain crackers or a cheese sandwich are great choices too. Don’t skip breakfast, which can set you up for nausea throughout the day.
  • Carry a healthy snack with you so you don’t get too hungry, which can cause morning sickness. Keep a bag of nuts or trail mix in the car or munch on whole-grain crackers. Eat a carton of yogurt or a piece of cheese to provide some protein. Don’t fill up on candy bars or sodas to tide you over.
  • Pay attention to your body’s cues. You may wake up in the night hungry and unable to go back to sleep. Go get a quick snack if you need one.
  • Exercise every day to improve digestion and remove toxins from your system. Go for a walk, try yoga practice, or swim.
  • Get enough rest. During the first twelve weeks, your body is going through enormous changes to prepare for the pregnancy. You’ll experience less nausea if you get the rest you need. Go to bed early and take a fifteen-minute power nap in the afternoon.
  • Take a whole-foods vitamin supplement. Nutritional deficiencies, including iron, vitamin B-complex and magnesium, can aggravate morning sickness. If you find that supplements make you nauseous, try taking them with food or take them before you go to bed. Or, try a different formula. Raw food formulas tend to cause fewer problems because they don’t contain the synthetic vitamins and fillers found in traditional supplements.
  • Try chamomile tea or peppermint tea for relieving nausea.
  • Suck on ginger-flavored candy or crystallized ginger, which has been shown in numerous studies to relieve nausea. You can also steep one teaspoon of fresh grated ginger with one cup of boiling water. Sweeten it with honey, and don’t drink more than two cups per day. Note: Ginger can stimulate menstrual flow in large amounts. Do not use it if you have a history of miscarriage, and do not take more than one to two grams per day.

As always, check with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner before starting or changing any treatment. Here’s to a healthy and comfortable pregnancy!

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