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Natural Relief for the Common Discomforts of Pregnancy (Part 4)

Natural Relief for the Common Discomforts of Pregnancy (Part 4)

If you missed the earlier parts of this topic of discussion, the previous 3 parts of this column can be found in my column archive online at The discussion continues this month with a few of the most common complaints I hear at my office from women who are pregnant.

I want to remind everyone that 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.

​Hemorrhoids result when the uterus is the heaviest and exerts pressure on the veins in the rectum. Constipation and straining at bowel movements are often the indirect causes and can aggravate an already existing problem.

• Avoid constipation as previously discussed.
• Avoid constrictive clothing that may impede circulation. Avoid inorganic iron supplements that can lead to constipation.

• Use a sitz bath in very warm or hot water.
• Use ice packs to numb the area and help hemorrhoids to recede.
• Rest with hips and legs elevated on cushions to reduce blood pressure.
• Exercise – pelvic floor strengthening and pelvic rocking.
• Natural Remedies – homeopathic hemorrhoid creams, homeopathic tablets labeled for hemorrhoids, witch hazel pads. Bioflavinoids can strengthen the exterior blood vessel walls.

​Especially common during the last weeks, your body is preparing you for life with a baby. Other factors can include the inability to get comfortable, waking multiple times to urinate or Braxton-Hicks contractions.

• Try to keep a regular sleeping schedule.
• Avoid large meals two or less hours before bed.
• Find the most comfortable position as discussed earlier.

• Take a warm relaxing bath before bed.
• Drink chamomile tea before bed.
• Try different sleeping positions.
• Get daily exercise.
• Natural Remedies – homeopathic remedies labeled for relaxation. Teas from chamomile or passion flower, lemon balm or marjoram.

Leg Cramps
​Usually in the calf region, leg cramps can result from increased pressure of the uterus on the nerves, decreasing circulation in the legs. An imbalance of calcium and phosphorus is the most common cause. This can result from drinking too much milk which disturbs the balance of the minerals.

• Be sure your diet has enough calcium, but avoid excessive milk. Calcium can also be depleted when consuming too many phosphorus rich foods and drinks such as sodas and meats.
• Take a well balanced, natural prenatal vitamin.

• See your chiropractor to ensure proper nerve conduction to the muscles.
• Stretch regularly.
• Massage.
• Elevate your legs while resting.
• Take a warm bath before bed.
• Exercise – pelvic rocking, squatting, tailor sitting, ankle rotations and daily walking.
• Natural Remedies – nutritional supplements with the proper balance of calcium to magnesium (2:1). Herbal remedies include nettle tea or red raspberry leaf tea.

Morning Sickness
​Perhaps the most common and most unpleasant problem for over 50% of expectant mothers in the first trimester, morning sickness may be caused by increasing levels of the hormones progesterone or human chorionic gonadotropin. The degree of nausea varies from mother to mother and often from one pregnancy to another. In some mothers the smell of certain foods can trigger nausea. Strong aversions to even formerly favorite foods are common.
As the first trimester ends, the dropping levels of HCG may be responsible fro the reductions in morning sickness. Severe morning sickness can lead to malnourishment if it continues past the first trimester and should be evaluated by your health care provider.

• Take a well balanced prenatal vitamin.
• Eat a healthy, well balanced diet.
• Avoid junk foods or deep fried foods that are difficult to digest.
• Exercise regularly.

• Eat crackers, dry cereal, or toast slowly first thing in the morning. This absorbs stomach acid and begins the digestive process. Then relax a few minutes in bed before getting up.
• Eat five or six small meals rather than three larger ones.
• Drink fluid between meals rather than with.
• Avoid greasy, fried and spicy foods.
• Air out rooms when cooking.
• Natural Remedies – vitamin B-6 (usually 10-20mg per day) is the most effective remedy. Additionally zinc (25mg per day) and magnesium (up to 500mg per day) can be helpful. Your prenatal vitamin should have adequate nutrients. Herbal remedies include peppermint, spearmint, chamomile or raspberry leaf tea and ginger, raw or in capsules. Homeopathic remedies labeled for nausea can be helpful.

​The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts as smaller individual nerves that first leave your spinal cord in between each of the vertebrae in your lower back and pelvis. These smaller individual nerves come together to form the sacral plexus, a large bundle of nerves low in the pelvis. The sciatic nerve courses through the gluteal area to the hip and then down the back of the leg where it begins to divide back down to smaller nerves in the back of the thigh. Pain from sciatica may be felt all the way down to the foot. The pain of sciatica can come from several different reasons. One of the smaller nerve roots can be irritated as it leaves the spinal cord by the pressure of a bulging disc or joint inflammation. The heavy uterus can put pressure on the sacral plexus. Tight muscles can put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the hip or gluteal region. Proper diagnosis is essential to obtain the correct treatment.

• Observe good posture sitting, standing and walking, see Part 1.
• Maintain proper spinal biomechanics and alignment.
• Exercise regularly.

• See your chiropractor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
• Try up to 50mg of vitamin B-6 to keep your nerves healthy.
• Exercise – Walking daily is the simplest and most effective form of exercise to maintain proper pelvic position and motion. Strengthen the pelvic floor with leg raises and hip/buttocks lifts.
• Natural Remedies – spinal/pelvic manipulation, soft tissue work (massage), homeopathic remedies (Topricin is a safe-for-pregnancy topical cream available in my office), alternate ice and moist heat.

Next month I will conclude this series with the discussion of Stress Incontinence, Swelling and Varicose Veins. See you then!

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