Common discomforts and natural remedies
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are very common discomforts, especially in the first few months of pregnancy. It occurs because your body is having to use so many hormones to develop the baby. Here are some natural remedies that you can try:
- Keep hydrated. Becoming dehydrated will only make it worse.
- Eat a diet of whole foods; avoid processed and fried foods
- Drink liquids in between meals instead of with them
- Eat high protein meals
- Eat small meals, 4-6 times a day
- Eat a cracker or piece of bread before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Take B-6, three times a day
- Ginger root, taken 6 times a day
- Mint tea
- Eat protein in the middle of the night (if you’re up!)
- Electrolytes (Emergen-C, Gatorade, etc)
Heart burn is another very common discomfort; I had this issue with both pregnancies. Not only is your stomach getting smaller, it’s getting further up in your body. Some ways to alleviate this are:
- Small, frequent meals
- Limit or cut out spicy foods or acidic foods (citrus, tomato based products, carbonated beverages, vinegar, hot sauce, etc)
- Consuming NO liquids about an hour before bedtime
- Drink less at one time, don’t drink fluids with meals (it dilutes the enzymes in the mouth and acid in the stomach causing the body to produce more acid)
- Papaya enzymes with meals (I took these; they are basically a more natural form of Tums)
- Peppermint tea (for some people this makes it worse, for me it helped)
- Ginger tea (this helps with nausea too)
- Sleep at a slight incline
- Eat yogurt and/or drink milk
Back pain is caused by increased weight pulling your spine forward and shifting your center of gravity. Sometimes, the baby is literally laying on your sciatic nerve (this was an issue I had with both!). Some preventatives and remedies:
- Have good posture (don’t lean over; sit up straight)
- Apply heat to your lower back
- Warm bath
- Lift with knees, not back
- Don’t overdo it! I would often have a lot more problems when I was up cleaning the house all day. Do things a little bit at a time.
- Don’t take medication unless necessary as they may be harmful to baby
The best piece of advice I can give to prevent this is to take a food based prenatal vitamin. Other ways to prevent and treat constipation are:
- Drink LOTS of water
- Eats lots of fruits and veggies
- Eat lots of whole grains
- Avoid dairy products and red meat
- Avoid processed foods such as white sugar and white flours.
- Limit caffeine (mainly because this can be a cause of dehydration)
- Exercise (regular)
- Do not wait if you need to go to the bathroom. Go when ya gotta go!
- Do not take laxatives during pregnancy. They can cause miscarriage or early onset of labor (they make your stomach cramp). Stool softeners are okay, but other options are better.
- If necessary, use a glycerin suppository to relieve the lower bowel. Once hard stools have been moved, use preventative measures.
- Prevent hemorrhoids by preventing constipation. If you do get them, Witchazel helps to relieve the swelling (soak cotton balls in this).
Leg cramps are much of the time caused by too little calcium. If you are taking your vitamin and multimineral, you won’t have as much of a problem with this. Some preventative measures and remedies:
- Get plenty of calcium: dark, leafy, green vegetables, salmon, nuts, seeds, molasses, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, etc.
- Exercise to help with circulation
- Take a warm bath before bed
- Massage cramped legs; get up and walk around
- Do not take quinine as this can cause hearing loss in your baby
Round Ligament Pain
Round ligament pain is one of those things that I had never heard of pregnant people talking about. I was really worried when I got pregnant with Karis and I stood up too quickly and had this HORRIBLE pain in my side. I thought there was something wrong! This is completely normal; it is from the uterus growing and the weight on the ligaments on your sides. The only thing that can help prevent this is being careful not to turn too sharply or get up too quickly.
More Blood Flow in your body
Because of this, you will have bleeding gums, headaches, varicose veins, nosebleeds, heart pounding, etc. This is normal.
- Get plenty of exercise
- Get plenty of Vitamin C
- Avoid standing for long periods of time
- Stretch often
- Relax and rest
Not being able to fall asleep, or waking up and not being able to go back to sleep is the one discomfort that I think every pregnant women struggles with. I always say that it’s just God’s way of preparing you for a newborn . There are a few things you can do to make it easier:
- Take a multimineral supplement before bed (with vitamin C). Much of the time, your body just needs more magnesium and calcium. Some food based forms of these are: dark, leafy, green vegetables, salmon, nuts, seeds, molasses, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, etc.
- Warm bath right before bed with or without lavender oil
- Avoid caffeine
- Maintain a regular sleeping schedule
- Read before bed J (this always makes me sleepy!!)
- Exercise daily (sitting around all day will make it very hard to sleep)
Childbirth.org has a very detailed list of natural remedies for common discomforts. This website is great.
Supplements and herbs
Supplements are one of those things that aren’t completely necessary if you eat exactly the way you are supposed to, but I don’t know anyone who does that all of the time. I think if you decide not to take them (they are expensive), it’s not the end of the world, but I believe that you and your baby can benefit from them. I don’t list all of these supplements saying that it is completely necessary, even, to take all of them. But, I am just giving you information on different things that are good for baby and mommy.
Food Based Prenatal Vitamin
If I could give any advice on natural pregnancy, it would be to avoid taking generic or prescription prenatal vitamins, and stick to a natural, food based one. Not only are you and your baby getting more whole foods, you will be taking something that is so much better on your body. It helps with nausea, constipation, etc. I PROMISE it makes a huge difference. Those who have struggled with taking a prenatal vitamin because of what it did to your body; it was probably because it wasn’t food based. It makes a huge difference.
Some good brands are:
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal (great, but expensive), New Life Prenatal, MegaFoods Baby and Me, and Nature’s Plus Source of Life (the least expensive).
My midwife recommended another great vitamin- It is called Super Nutrition Prenatal. This one has the most of everything that I have ever seen. I won’t have to take a multimineral in order to get enough minerals if I take this because it has a LARGE amount of minerals (which is great because most prenatals don’t provide near enough minerals). It is green superfoods based as well, and has several herbs, etc. It is a great prenatal. (Lucky vitamin shows that it only has 500 IU’s of Vitamin A, but that is incorrect. All other websites show that it has 5000 IU’s)
It contains electrolytes, vitamin C and other vitamins, boosts your immune system and it just gives you a good energy boost. It is best to take this around lunch time. I believe that even people who aren’t pregnant should take this, especially when they are sick. I still take it at times. You can buy Emergen-C online or pretty much at any store, in the over-the-counter section.
Taking a multimineral supplement will help you sleep, help with leg cramps, help prevent anemia, and help decrease nausea. I took Solaray Mega Multiminerals. Make sure to take this with some form of Vitamin C (to aid in iron absorption; oranges, tangerines, tomatoes, orange juice, cantaloupe, etc) and right before bed. This is one of those things that isn’t completely necessary if you eat the way you should, but I know that it helped me to take it, so I’m sharing it.
If you take Super Nutrition Prenatals, you will not need to take a multi mineral at all (in fact, it’s probably not a good idea because you would have mineral over load!).
There are so many benefits that it would be impossible to list them all, so I will just list some J: helps with depression, mood swings, immune system, prevention of cardiovascular disease, brain development, etc. The specific benefits in pregnancy are: lowering premature birth and low birth weight, new born allergies, helps in the development of baby’s brain, and reduces risk of post partum depression.
Some great brands are Nordic Naturals, Barlean’s, Carlson Labs, Enzymatic Therapy- Eskimo 3, and Twinlab. From what I have read, cod liver oil is the best source, but other good sources can be salmon, tuna, anchovy, sardine, etc. Make sure to buy one that does not contain any heavy metals and mercury as these are harmful for anyone.
Probiotics help with digestion, controlling yeast in the body, immune function, reduce allergies in newborns (up to 50%), prevents eczema in children, etc. According to WebMd, if you take/eat Probiotics, it can cut belly fat down after pregnancy. The best and most natural way to receive these are through yogurt. But, you can also take this in supplement form (though, I have always just eaten yogurt).
Alfalfa contains chlorophyll, beta carotene, fiber, digestive enzymes, and a high concentration of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It also helps with clotting (through vitamin K), which reduces the possibility of postpartum hemorrhage. Alfalfa actually means “Father of Foods” because of the high concentration of nutrients.
Nettle leaves nourish the kidneys, ease leg cramps and other muscle spasms, diminishes pain after birth, is a great source of Vitamin K which helps to prevent hemorrhage, reduces hemorrhoids, diminishes varicose veins, and increases richness and amount of breast-milk.
Dandelion root provides vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and other trace elements. It nourishes the liver and kidneys, and it can reduce water retention. Take this in moderation.
Pregnancy Tea- The best tea that I have found is Traditional Medicinals Organic Pregnancy Tea. Not only does it contain red raspberry leaf, it contains nettles, spearmint, alfalfa, rose hip, and bitter fennel which are nourishing to the pregnant body.
The greatest benefit to red raspberry leaf is that it tones uterine muscles to help aid in labor and delivery.
Herbs to Avoid When Pregnant
This list is very limited. For more information, see websites/blogs at the end.
- Black/blue cohosh (only to be taken at the end)
- Witchazel (you can use this externally, just not internally)
- Hops (this one is debatable)
- Juniper berries
- Golden seal
Using natural products such as shampoos, conditioners, body soaps, make ups, cleaners, and detergents are just as important as organic foods. This is important for anyone, but especially pregnant women. Commercial products contain cancer-causing agents, allergens, reproductive and developmental toxicity, etc. The best thing to do is lower the amount of products that you use, and search for products that are completely naturally made. The Cosmetic Database is a wonderful resource to find out which products are safe and which ones are not. Just because something is labeled natural, doesn’t mean that it is actually natural. Do your research.
Here is an excerpt from an article on The Health Action Network Society website, titled “Phthalates and Parabens in Personal Care Products”:
“Phthalates and parabens, due to their common chemical structure, mimic estrogen and are therefore xeno-estrogens. These foreign estrogens are also found in the birth control pill, herbicides, pesticides and PCBs. Once they latch onto the body’s own estrogen receptors, the level of estrogen in the body rises. High levels of estrogen are linked to an increase in breast cancer, lowering of sperm counts, premature maturation of teenage girls, development of breasts in middle aged men, increase in the prevalence of premenstrual syndromes, early onset of menopause, greater incidence of prostate cancer and a rise in endocrine or hormone disorders. Could all of these be a result of the increasing paraben uptake by our body as well as all the other possible xeno-estrogens in our environment?”
These products are in most commercially made personal care products…
Preparation for labor and delivery
Evening Primrose Oil
EPO contains a fatty acid which your body uses to produce hormones (relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone) in pregnancy. This helps raise the hormone levels that are needed to soften the uterus, cervix, vagina, and pelvis. This is especially useful for those who have scarring from previous deliveries. This should not be taken until about 4 weeks before delivery.
Some good brands are: Solgar, Solaray, TwinLab, Nature’s Plus, and Carlson Labs because they are cold pressed (this means no chemicals or heat were used to create them).
They are sold in 500mg to 1500mg. I bought and used 1300mg. My opinion is that it is better to buy the larger dosage because then I can take less J.
Christopher’s Prenatal Formula
Christopher’s Prenatal Formula is something that is a bit controversial because it contains an herb (black cohosh) that is on the “no-no” list. The reason it is on the list of herbs not to take is because it can be a uterine stimulant. It is perfectly safe to take in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The bottle says to take this the last six weeks, but I personally would save it for the last 2-3 weeks.
The reason to take this is that it aids in the elasticity of the pelvic and vaginal area as well as strengthening the reproductive organs for delivery. I have heard from many that this works very well. I have never taken it (because I didn’t know about it when I was pregnant in the past).
This is one of those things that you can choose to take if you wish, but most likely things would turn out fine if you didn’t. If you have long, hard labors, it might be a good idea.
Natural Pregnancy Part 3 coming soon.