Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Symptoms
May 08, 2020
Pregnancy can be such a beautiful, wonderful, and transitional time in life. Yet, what is less talked about is how challenging it can be emotionally, mentally, and physically, too.
Many people have heard of the most classic pregnancy symptom (aka morning sickness). From first-hand experience, I can attest that the term morning sickness may be the biggest misnomer I’ve ever heard.
I experienced nausea 24/7 and kept down only about half my meals at the beginning. I developed an aversion to water, struggled with insomnia, and experienced aches and pains all over. Just like many other expecting mamas, the first trimester was the most challenging for me. As a first time expecting mama, I can tell you I did not know about all of the other symptoms that come along with pregnancy. And I definitely did not know about the degree of severity they can be experienced, until I went through it myself.
I quickly came to learn that other very common pregnancy symptoms include headaches, backaches, nosebleeds, congestion, constipation, acne, and insomnia — just to name a few.
Thankfully, there are a variety of natural, pregnancy-safe remedies that can help bring more comfort into our everyday lives. Once I began to incorporate these into my routine, it brought an unexplainable amount of relief and ease into my day to day.
- High dose of ginger extract
Ginger is a safe, natural, and effective way to reduce nausea. There are a variety of ways to consume ginger such as in tea, crystallized candy, or higher concentrated tablets. Although the ginger candies may work for some, if nausea is more extreme, or persists all day, the concentrated tablets will offer the highest therapeutic dose, and therefore be the most effective.
- Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint oil is a quick and easy way to subside those sometimes all-consuming waves of nausea. I never went anywhere without a small roll-on stick and used it frequently in those moments of queasiness, (I found this especially helpful in the car or on the subway). You can either breathe in the scent directly from the bottle or place some on your wrists or neck (as long as it's mixed with a carrier oil to avoid burning the skin).
Acupuncture is a part of a traditional form of Asian medicine that consists of inserting fine needles into particular points in the body to support overall health and wellness. It has been well researched on its positive effects throughout pregnancy, and it treats such a vast array of symptoms such as nausea, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues.
And in all honesty, simply laying on the acupuncture table and simply breathing deeply for 20-30 minutes does wonders for our overall health too. Acupuncture has been a regular self-care staple during my pregnancy and is always one of the highlights of my week.
- Avoid letting your stomach be completely empty
Crackers, everywhere, all the time! I kept crackers beside my bed, in my washroom, in my purse, and in my car. Although it doesn’t have to be crackers, having something in your stomach at all times is an easy way to settle the stomach and reduce nausea. Although this may be intuitive to some, it wasn’t to me as I had such an aversion to most food. As soon as I started eating first thing in the morning, and always had a snack on hand, my nausea and vomiting dramatically decreased.
As nausea and vomiting are intimately intertwined, all the recommendations for nausea apply in this section too. One additional item I would add is a homeopathic remedy.
Homeopathy is an energetic system of medicine that is based on the belief of the body's natural ability to restore balance. Since there is no physical substance in the remedy, it’s completely safe in pregnancy. Homeopathic remedies are typically taken in the form of a small pellet and are used on an as-need basis.
Due to the severity of my nausea and vomiting, I used a remedy called Ipecac. If you’d like a more personalized remedy, you can seek out a Homeopathic practitioner that will find the most suited remedy for your particular symptoms.
Constipation is very common in pregnancy and is partially due to a sudden change in hormone levels. Ensuring regular bowel movements not only supports a healthy gastrointestinal system, but also assists in our overall health, wellness, and energy levels. Constipation can worsen headaches, acne, and back pain. And, well, it’s simply very uncomfortable. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep our digestive system regular.
Eat your veggies! Cravings and aversions may make it harder to ensure you’re getting enough fiber. But do your best to consume enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts. The less processed the food is, the more fiber it contains. Eating foods in their most natural state, as much as possible, will help encourage regular bowel movements.
Magnesium is a safe and gentle mineral that can be taken before bed to assist in regular bowel movements. Magnesium bis-glycinate is the gentlest form of magnesium and works via relaxing the bowels and drawing more water into the intestines. The only side effect of taking too much is having the bowels move a bit too quickly. Therefore, start with a small amount and gradually increase until bowel movements are regular.
Magnesium also relaxes the muscles and can be a soothing supplement to take in pregnancy to help with aches, cramps, and pains.
As blood volume increases during pregnancy, the amount of fluids needed during pregnancy increases as well. Cravings for juice and sweeter beverages are common, and the sweetness typically helps with nausea. It should be kept in mind that juice contains no fiber and is loaded with natural sugars, and as a result, it can lead to imbalanced blood sugar levels. For those having a hard time keeping down plain water, adding just a splash of juice, or diluting the juice with water is a great happy medium to decrease overall sugar intake, yet increase water intake.
- Cupping and massage
Although some pregnancy headaches are unavoidable, for those that carry tension in their necks and backs, cupping and massage is a great way to find relief for tension induced headaches. Practitioners who offer cupping are Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors, Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropractors, and some masseuses.
Aches and pains
- Yoga and exercise
Although physical activity may not be at the top of a first-trimester to-do list, keeping the body moving in some way is important physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even 5 -10 minutes of stretching a day can provide a world of relief.
Prenatal yoga at any stage in pregnancy is a wonderful way to relieve tightness, as well as increase both strength and mobility. It’s also such a special way to connect with your baby and get to know your body better.
As with any lifestyle or health habit, try it out to see if it works for you. If it does, great! If not, don’t force it. There are always a variety of other natural options for the same issue. What works for some people won’t work for others, and it’s just about finding what is the best fit for your unique self.
Lastly, meeting ourselves where we are at, with compassion, is one of the absolute best things we can do for ourselves during pregnancy. I really struggled the first few weeks with letting go of how things were before. I found it more challenging than I thought it would be to let go of my prior exercise routine, I was frustrated with my aversion to my usual healthy ways of eating, and I had an especially hard time adjusting to a decreased capacity for my work, hobbies, and productivity.
It took a few weeks of adjustment, (and repeated reassurance from my partner, Midwife, Naturopathic Doctor, and Medical Doctor), to take it easy, be kind to myself, and remember it won’t be like this forever. Once I finally surrendered into this new phase of life I was in, it was much easier to feel supported, to feel grateful, and to feel more deeply at ease.
Pregnancy can be beautiful, miraculous, and life-changing, yet simultaneously wildly challenging and stretch you far beyond your comfort zone. Remember to take it day by day, listen closely to what support you need, and trust in the wisdom of your body.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Torontow is a naturopathic medical student, prenatal/postnatal yoga instructor, nutritionist, and new mama. Her mission is empowering women to enhance their vitality, health and overall wellness through regular movement, proper nourishment, and education on how to take the best care of their unique self. Connect with Alexa on Facebook , Instagram , LinkedIn, or through her Website.
*Disclaimer: natural does not always equate to safe in pregnancy. There are some plants and herbs that the research is unclear on, or has been proven unsafe in pregnancy. Check with your healthcare provider before incorporating new supplements, teas or herbs into your daily routine.