To view a version of this feature with additional photos, see Natural Remedies for Stretch Marks, Back Pain and Other Pregnancy Aches and Pains
In the past week, two lovely, adorable pregnant moms I know - including my across-the-hall neighbor - have mentioned having some serious aches and pains. Both are around the six-to-seven-month mark of their pregnancies.
I also had some intense discomfort around that time, though I had a very active and comfortable pregnancy overall. Although "comfortable pregnancy" might actually be an oxymoron, I was standing on my head in yoga until the bitter endless end. So I went through my notes - and my book, The Complete Organic Pregnancy - to give them both some natural tips and remedies for common pregnancy pains. I remember how surprised I was that some of the simplest, most obvious things helped me feel better when pregnant and in pain. This was a relief, as I did not want to be taking medicine, over the counter or otherwise, if I could avoid it when incubating my daughter. As it turns out, for mundane ailments, meds are quite avoidable.
The following suggestions are obviously largely anecdotal. They work in varying degrees. Pregnancy is pregnancy. Some women never feel uncomfortable during their 40 plus weeks, some women never feel comfortable. Drinking extra water or going for a walk isn't suddenly going to relieve you of the fact that you've got a heavy orb growing off your front. These aren't miracle cures. But basic steps and fixes can absolutely help in some of the more "ouch" moments. If anything on the list below seems suspect to you, run it by your midwife or OB before giving it a try. And chime in in comments below with other suggestions that have worked for you. Sometimes bitching about your ailments with people who are going through similar issues is all the relief you need.
A few common sense moves can keep you off the over-the-counter chewables and questionable pink liquids:
*Elevate the upper part of your mattress (stick something underneath it to prop it up - a great trick for a congested baby, too).
*Avoid foods likely to upset your smushed-by-baby stomach and don't go to bed right after eating.
*Eat small meals frequently, rather than large meals three times a day.
*Are you avoiding drinking because of the endless bathroom trips? Quit it! Drink more water than you thought humanly possible. It works wonders for headaches. (Remember - as soon as you're breastfeeding you'll be drinking even more than this...).
*Rest, even if your To Do list is miles long.
*Don't brush your teeth right after you eat.
*Drink ginger, mint, and chamomile tea.
*Run cold water over your wrists; place a cold wet washcloth on the back of your neck.
*Never have an empty stomach - slightly counterintuitive that hungry equals nausea but for some reason when you're pregnant, it can. Even when you can't keep large amounts of food down, make sure to not be too hungry. Keep snacks that don't make you queasy (crackers? lollipops?) by your bed and in every purse you currently have in rotation so you're never stuck with nothing to nibble.
*Chew on ice. Or popsicles.
*Try taking your prenatal vitamin at different points in the day (taking mine at night right before I fell asleep saved me from being sick to my stomach). If this doesn't help, try a new brand of vitamin.
BACK PAIN AND OTHER RANDOM ACHES AND PAINS
*Get moving - go for a walk on a treadmill or around your neighborhood, or hop on a stationary bike, or take a prenatal yoga class. Getting your blood flowing can be all you need to kiss random pains goodbye.
*Get a prenatal massage.
*Use heat or cold - whichever one you crave - via heating pads or ice packs or a hot shower.
*See a physical therapist - there are things you can learn about how to hold yourself and aligning your posture when pregnant that do wonders for backaches. Your health care company may pay for this - mine did for a few sessions and it worked wonders.
*Get a full body pillow for side sleeping - it can help with overall alignment and reduce pain.
*Lumbar pillows can help ease the pains that arise sitting at a desk all day long.
*Eat copious amounts of organic dried fruit.
*Talk to your doctor about taking psyllium. If you get the green light, buy organic-only, and not a brand with added artificial color, flavors, and sugar.
*While breakouts are largely hormonal and some argue no amount of zit cream can help them, who doesn't try to combat the suckers? Thankfully there are natural versions that are safe for pregnancy and beyond, in many price points. Try creams and oil blends from brands like Burt's Bees, Suki, or Dr. Hauschka. Or surf over to SaffronRouge and see what they're carrying; their stuff is always as pure as it comes. I found straight astringent oils like tea tree to be too harsh when pregnant.
*While you're at SaffronRouge.com, see what they've got for stretch marks. The verdict is out on if you can really prevent the things, but the oils and creams do wonders for the unfathomable itch you feel when your stomach is stretching. Plus, it feels good to try to prevent them from coming, just in case. Whatever you slather with - oil, shea butter, or cream - organic or certified natural is a must. Weleda and Dr. Hauschka oils got me through my pregnancy.
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