There are many unpleasant side effects that occur during pregnancy or are aggravated by being pregnant. Constipation, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, morning sickness, heartburn and indigestion, are normal and common ailments that have over the counter remdemies that are safe for pregnancy, but many woman would prefer for a more natural approach. Many ailments can be lessened or alleviated completely by reliving stress, getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, being active, and drinking enough water. If you are suffering from a cold, the flu, or a stomach bug, check out my post on natural ways to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Many women could also benefit from a calcium and magnesium supplement- check with your care provider to see if thats right for you. As always, be sure to check with your care provider before using any medications or remedies- herbal OR over the counter!
Constipation is VERY common during pregnancy, caused by your digestive tract slowing down to absorb all of the nutrients that it can for your baby. There are many non-medicine ways to help relieve the discomfort. If your constipation is prolonged, gets worse, or is very painful and not relieved by changes in diet and activity, make sure you talk to your care provider about safe remedies to get things moving.
- Make sure you are getting enough exercise. Walking and yoga are great low-impact choices to get everything moving.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water or herbal tea per day. To find ways to make your water more exciting, check out our pregnancy nutrition board on Pinterest.
- Go when you get the urge to go!
- Each a diet rich in fiber, leafy greens and whole grains (including bran).
- Stay away from fatty foods.
- Oatmeal a great way to start the day. Fill it up with raisins, prunes, chia/flax seeds.
- Eat yogurt! It will help get things moving and also contribute valuable probiotics to your digestive tract.
- Dandelion, flax seeds, and black strap molasses are also good for constipation and can be incorporated into teas, smoothies, muffins, and more!
Morning Sickness & Nausea
Anyone who has been pregnant will tell you that "morning sickness" is definitely misnamed because the nausea can come at anytime during the day. Most of the time nausea will be gone by the end of the first trimester, but for many woman it will continue longer. Some even will experience it throughout the whole pregnancy! It is aggravated by an empty stomach, strong smells, changes in digestion, sweet and fatty foods, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and sometimes just because your body is growing a human and experiencing lots of emotional and physical changes. If you are experiencing extreme and/or prolonged nausea and throwing up, and are unable to keep anything down, contact your care provider immediately for guidance. This could be a serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, that while uncommon, often leads to inpatient medical care.
To combat nausea, try a few of these tips:
- Get enough sleep. This will help with all sort of pregnancy aliments
- Stay away from smells and experiences that nauseate you
- Light exercise
- Eat frequent meals high in complex carbohydrates and protein. Don't skip meals and carry snacks such as nuts or protein bars with you.
- Drink plenty of liquids- including carbonated beverages and fruit juices diluted in water.
- Get checked for vitamin deficiencies.
- Stock up on herbal teas: ginger, chamomile, peppermint, dandelion root are all good choices.
- Sucking on ginger candies or eating crystallized ginger can also help.
Headaches can be one of the most aggravating parts of pregnancy. An increase in headaches very common and often caused by stress, dehydration, hunger, mineral imbalance, or just because. If you are experiencing frequent and/or severe headaches, contact your care provider immediately.
Try the tips below to help ease your headaches.
- Do your best to eliminate stress and tension. Contracting your muscles, especially in your neck and upper back, can cause headaches.
- Relax! Lay down in a quiet place or in a warm bath and relax your body. Close your eyes and visualize the tension and stress leaving your body.
- Make sure you are eating high-protein, low carb snacks and drinking enough water.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages. (although going cold turkey could result in headaches at first)
- Chamomile and lavender tea are excellent at reliving tension and relaxing the body.
- Get tested for mineral deficiencies such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. You might need an additional supplement.
Heartburn & Indigestion
Heartburn and indigestion are probably the most common pregnancy aliments. The symptoms tends to increase as the baby grows and is especially aggravated by lying down. While some over the counter remedies are safe for pregnant women, make sure to talk to your care provider before using them.
- Avoid oily, rich, and spicy foods
- Eat small frequent meals; At least two hours before lying down or going to sleep.
- Prop yourself up on several pillows to keep you more upright when sleeping or laying down.
- Try raw almonds! They help some moms alleviate the heartburn.
- Talk to you care providers about using an antacid such as Tums, or creating a homemade alternative with 1/8 of a tsp of baking soda dissolved in water.
Anxiety and Insomnia
Anxiety and insomnia during pregnancy are very common and normal occurrences. Fears and worries over birth, parenting, finances, and work, coupled with growing discomfort as your baby gets bigger, can take a toll on your ability to sleep. While many women experience these symptoms from time to time over the course of pregnancy, it is important to discuss any anxiety, depression, or insomnia with your care provider.
Try some of the suggestions below to help relax your mind and ease your way into sleep.
- Make sure to get regular exercise
- Have a snack before bedtime and/or when you wake up in the middle of the night
- Add some calcium rich foods before bedtime
- Chamomille & lavender tea are helpful in relieving anxiety and relaxing the mind
- Try a hot bath or shower before bed
- Try some relaxing yoga positions and meditations
- Journaling or writing a to-do list can help get your thoughts out of your mind and onto paper
- Write letters to your baby
- Try out a pregnancy pillow. Sometimes insomnia can be alleviated by being more comfortable in bed.
If you are experiencing ongoing or crippling fear or anxiety, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, feel like you are unable to keep your emotions under control, or any other symptoms that you or your support system find worrisome, contact your care provider or mental health counselor immediately. For more information on perinatal and postpartum mood disorders, visit Postpartum Progress
While constipation, heartburn and indigestion, anxiety-related insomnia, and headache are bothersome, they are rarely serious. Changes in diet, activity level, increasing your fluid intake, sleep, and relaxation can often ease the symptoms without the use of over-the-counter medication. There are also many wonderful herbs, syrups, tinctures, and teas that can alleviate many common pregnancy symptoms, and your care provider or naturopath can make some suggestions.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that give you or your support system cause for concern, don't hesitate to contact your care provider. Also, don't forget to talk to your care provider BEFORE taking any over the counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies.
Author: Renee Corbino
Renee keeps Balanced Birth Support organized and amazing as the Administrative Manager. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and two cute little boys. She is a breech birthing mama and supporter of empowering births.