Being pregnant was one of the strangest experiences of my life, and yet it was also wonderful. And like every mom-to-be, a healthy pregnancy with a healthy baby is what I wanted most of all. Unfortunately, pregnancy can come with a number of challenges. From nausea to exhaustion, pregnancy can take its toll and every trimester can offer a new surprise. Here are some common pregnancy problems that many women face and natural ways to handle them. And remember, before taking anything, please consult with your primary care practitioner to make sure it is safe for you.
Nausea and Vomiting
This can affect up to 90% of pregnant women in their first trimester and may be due to all the physical changes that occur in early pregnancy, including higher levels of hormones. Several studies have shown that the use of a vitamin B6 or ginger supplement may decrease the intensity of both nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Acupressure wrist bands or acupuncture may also help.
Also known as vaginal candidiasis, yeast infections tend to be more prevalent in pregnant women. It is believed that the high estrogen levels and high glycogen content in vaginal secretions during pregnancy provide an excellent environment for the yeast to grow rapidly. It may help to take a probiotic supplement high in L. acidophilus, which provides beneficial bacteria that help prevent overgrowth of the yeast. Probiotic capsules can be taken orally or even inserted vaginally during an active infection, but it is important to talk to your healthcare practitioner first. Cutting down or even eliminating sugar from the diet may also be beneficial.
Although they may occur at any time during pregnancy, headaches tend to be most common during the first and second trimesters. They may be caused by a surge in hormones along with an increase in blood volume and circulation that occur during the early stages. Other possible causes may involve lack of sleep, dehydration, low blood sugar and stress. Studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for tension-related headaches, as well as migraines. Acupuncture points are chosen based on the particular headache pattern experienced. Massage therapy can be very helpful in relieving muscle tension as well as stress, common causes of headaches. Make sure to see a registered massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massage.
Appearing most often on the legs, varicose veins are swollen, bluish veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin. Many women may first develop varicose veins or find that they get worse during pregnancy. These may be caused by a combination of added pressure from the growing uterus, a surge in hormones, and increased blood volume, which all result in relaxation of the blood vessel walls as well as increased blood pressure in the leg veins. Although sometimes hereditary, there may be some things that you can do to minimize this. Elevate your legs whenever possible and use a stool to rest your legs on when you are sitting. Exercise daily to improve circulation and eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which may help strengthen blood vessel walls to prevent bulging.
This is a common problem during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. As the baby increases in size, it puts pressure on digestive organs. Food also passes through the intestines more slowly due to an increase in progesterone, which relaxes smooth muscles throughout the body, including the digestive tract. To ensure smooth exits, eat high-fiber foods such as whole grains, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, and make sure to drink plenty of water (eight glasses per day). Exercise regularly; yoga, walking and swimming are safe and effective choices.
Many women can experience heartburn during pregnancy even if they have never experienced it before. Increased levels of hormones can soften the ligaments that normally keep the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) between your stomach and esophagus tightly closed. Also, the growing baby puts pressure on the stomach, pushing up its food contents through the LES into the esophagus. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they cause relaxation of the LES. Avoid lying down after meals. Avoid greasy and highly seasoned foods.
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