A Word of Caution
Just because your normal routine of alternative therapies (from daily nutritional supplements to herbs for a bout with the common cold) has worked for you in the past doesn't mean it's OK for a fetus in the womb. Many herbs, such as goldenseal, are unsafe during pregnancy. Check with your health care practitioner before taking any herbs or supplements.
Pregnancy brings with it a menu of discomforts that can come and go throughout the nine months. Hormonal changes and pressure from the expanding uterus can have many effects on a woman's body. Some of the most common discomforts are morning sickness, water retention, headache, back pain, fatigue, digestive problems, and mood swings.
Acupressure for Pregnancy Discomforts
Acupressure offers the chance to relieve morning sickness, aches and pain, swollen feet and ankles, and several other pregnancy discomforts, with no side effects to the mother or fetus. Using the fingers and hands to apply moderate pressure to specific points on the body, this therapy rebalances the flow of vital life energy, or qi, in the body.
Each pregnancy discomfort calls for treatment of different acupressure points. The treatment can be performed several times a day or week as a preventive measure. Or, as in the case of nausea, it can be done whenever the symptom strikes.
Acupressure treatment of morning sickness has received special scrutiny from the scientific community. For example, a trial conducted in part by the University of California School of Nursing in San Francisco tested this treatment on expectant mothers. Half of the 60 patients tested were taught to apply pressure to the P6 point on the lower arm for ten minutes, four times a day. The other patients were instructed to use a "sham" acupuncture point. The women using P6 experienced significantly less nausea than the other women.
It's wise to consult a trained acupressure practitioner before performing self-treatments at home, as applying pressure to a certain points may induce early labor.
Yoga for Pregnancy Discomforts
Yoga can greatly reduce or eliminate many pregnancy discomforts and can prepare the body and mind for childbirth. Its benefits include:
- better posture (important for avoiding back pain)
- improved breathing (boosting the flow of oxygen in the mother's body and placenta and releasing emotional tension)
- improved blood circulation (also good for both the mother and fetus and may lessen the chances of varicose veins and hemorrhoids)
- gentle exercising (important to strengthen back, eliminate constipation, and improve sleeping)
The yoga routines consist of poses and breathing exercises and can last from 20 to 60 minutes. Pregnant women should not perform any poses that are strenuous or require lying on the abdomen. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, certain other poses should also be avoided. A qualified yoga instructor can devise a personalized program.Herbal Medicine for Pregnancy Discomforts
Herbs can be used to soothe the digestive tract, induce relaxation, act as an astringent, and encourage urination, among other actions. Ginger root is one of the more frequently prescribed herbs for morning sickness. One clinical study reported that ginger eliminated all instances of nausea and vomiting for 75 percent of the pregnant women tested. Dried, powdered ginger is available in capsule form, or fresh ginger can be added to foods or made into a tea. Herbalists recommend that expectant mothers take no more than one gram of dried ginger or the equivalent per day, but it’s best to check with a practitioner to determine what amount is safe for you.
Chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, and raspberry leaf are also effective in treating morning sickness. Other helpful herbs for pregnancy discomforts include:
- dandelion leaf for water retention
- lavender, mint, and slippery elm for heartburn
- butcher's broom, hawthorn, and yarrow, applied externally to varicose veins
- garlic for high blood pressure
- witch hazel, applied externally to hemorrhoids
Other Pregnancy Discomfort Therapies
- Aromatherapy for Pregnancy Discomforts -- Essential oils from clary sage or lavender mixed in bathwater can help insomnia. Other oils are beneficial for treating aches and pain, nausea, and tension.
- Chiropractic Medicine for Pregnancy Discomforts -- Adjustments and manipulation can treat back pain, headaches, constipation, and even nausea.
- Homeopathy for Pregnancy Discomforts -- A variety of remedies are available for all pregnancy discomforts. They must be tailored for the individual and should be used at the lowest effective potency.
- Hydrotherapy for Pregnancy Discomforts -- Treatments include warm abdominal compresses for morning sickness, warm baths for insomnia, and cold sitz baths for hemorrhoids.
- Nutritional Therapy for Pregnancy Discomforts -- Dietary adjustments are combined with nutritional supplements as needed.
- Osteopathy for Pregnancy Discomforts -- Manipulations can help the body deal with the added weight that pregnancy brings, which may cause back and leg pain.