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Natural Relief for the Common Discomforts of Pregnancy (Part 2)

Natural Relief for the Common Discomforts of Pregnancy (Part 2)

We return to this column after a brief hiatus with the continuation of a very important topic. Mothers-to-be have to deal with a variety of conditions that can at the least be frustrating and at the worst make them question what they’ve gotten themselves into! I will present several of the more common complaints they may deal with and how to treat and even prevent them.

Much of the information I will share here comes from the booklet by Carl Jones of the same title. It is published as part of the Keats Good Health Guide, The Women’s Self-Care Library.

In part 1 of this series I covered some very important basics. See my column archive online at for the discussion of proper standing, sitting and lying positions and a very common complaint associated with pregnancy – low back pain.

Upper Backache
​Upper backache usually results from the postural stress and muscular strain of your increased breast size. Your body soon adjusts to the change and the problem usually resolves on its own by the second trimester.

• Maintain good upright sitting posture. Avoid allowing your shoulders to sag forward.

• Wear a bra with good support to minimize breast movement.
• Exercises – shoulder rotations and arm circles.
• Natural Remedies – Arnica or other homeopathic remedies (Topricin).

Bleeding and Tender Gums
​Bleeding gums result from the increased blood volume of pregnancy and the effect of increased estrogen; softening of the gum tissue. This condition is usually self-limiting and resolves a month or two after delivery.

• Brush your teeth 3-4 times daily with a soft bristled brush.
• Floss your teeth daily.
• Be sure your diet is high in vitamin C and calcium.

• Follow the above prevention steps.
• Consume a diet high in fresh and raw fruits and vegetables.
• Gently massage your gums with clean fingers.

Breast Soreness
​Breast sensitivity during pregnancy results from the development of milk-producing tissue and your 30 to 40% increased blood supply. The increased size and development of your milk-producing and milk-bearing glands are orchestrated by the hormones of pregnancy and, alas, is not preventable. However, avoid using drying soaps on your nipples.

• Wear a well fitting supportive bra to alleviate discomfort from added breast weight.
• Avoid soaps or alcohol containing preparations which may remove protective skin oils and predispose the nipples to soreness and cracking.

Breathing Problems
​Most often occurring in the third trimester, breathlessness is a purely mechanical problem caused by the uterus taking up so much space. There is less room in the abdomen and chest cavity to breath as deeply as you do when you are not pregnant. Third trimester breathlessness is not preventable.

• Sit straight. Slumping further closes up the space for full lung expansion.
• Stretch your hands over your head.

​Especially common during the second and third trimesters, this condition results from multiple pregnancy induced factors. Progesterone causes smooth muscle relaxation which slows gastric motility predisposing to constipation. The growing uterus also displaces and compresses the intestine, impeding circulation. Some pre-natal vitamins high in iron can also contribute to the condition.

• Drink plenty of fluids. A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Avoid caffeine products and sodas.
• Include lots of high fiber foods in your diet. Whole grains, seeds and nuts, dried or fresh fruits and raw and cooked vegetables.
• If you are taking an iron supplement with or in your pre-natal, make sure it is an organic form of iron such as iron fumarate, iron peptonate or iron picolinate versus the less expensive and more commonly found ferrous sulfate.

• Eat prunes or drink natural prune juice.
• Avoid straining during bowel movements.
• Exercise – walk daily and exercise regularly.
• Natural Remedies – Acidophilus or herbal formulas safe for pregnancy. Avoid cascara sagrada, a natural laxative that may cause birth defects. Promote regularity with an herbal bulk colon cleanser such as psyllium husks. Avoid mineral oil which can interfere with mineral absorption.

Dizziness or Faintness
Especially after an abrupt change in position, this condition occurs as a result of a drop in blood pressure associated with the stress of gravity.

• Change positions slowly.
• Observe good body mechanics as described in part 1 of this article.
• Exercise regularly.

Be sure to look for next month’s column when I’ll be covering complaints ranging from fatigue and flatulence to headache and heartburn.

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