Pregnancy symptoms like nausea, headaches, hemorrhoids, constipation and heartburn are common — and they can put a real damper on your excitement about having a baby. Luckily, there are safe and natural solutions that have helped millions of women. Try a few; you might just find one that works for you. And just remember: While all of the following are considered safe during pregnancy, if you want to try any other herbal remedy on your own, be sure to check with your doctor first (some supplements and herbs aren’t safe when you’re expecting)
Nearly three in four pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (a.k.a., morning sickness), so if you’re suffering from it, you’re definitely not alone. The good news is for the vast majority of women, symptoms typically ease up by the start of the second trimester. In the meantime, a few natural remedies have been shown to help — experiment with a few until you find what works for you:
- Eat smart. What and when you eat can go a long way. So in addition to avoiding large meals and snacks, opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods; pair protein- and nutrient-rich options (like a glass of warm milk, a cheese stick or a cup of yogurt) with carbohydrates (like crackers or toast). Also try to avoid spicy, high-fat or salty fare.
- Drink up. Stay hydrated by drinking between meals rather than while you eat to help prevent your stomach from getting too full. Try ice-cold water, sparkling water, seltzer, ginger ale, ginger beer or ginger tea.
- Suck on sour or peppermint candy. These flavors may help reduce nausea symptoms.
- Stock up on ginger. The gingerol in ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help neutralize stomach acids. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends nauseated moms-to-be take 250 mg of ginger every morning, plus another capsule right before bed. You can also grate fresh ginger into your meals, soups and salad dressings; eat crystallized ginger; or brew fresh ginger shavings in hot water for a tummy-settling tea.
- Consider vitamin B6. It’s already in your prenatal vitamin (one more reason to pop it), but ask your doctor about taking an additional supplement or switching prenatals to one with a higher dose, since B6 has also been shown to reduce early-pregnancy nausea (usually in combination with the antihistamine doxylamine).
- Try Sea-Bands or Psi wrist bands. Some moms swear by them; they’re available at most drug stores and work by stimulating acupressure points to reduce nausea.
- See a prenatal acupuncturist. Some studies suggest that acupressure targeting the inside of the wrist can effectively reduce morning sickness symptoms — and acupuncture has been shown to elevate your mood, banish headaches and back pain and give you an energy boost. Just be sure to see a practitioner trained for to treat expecting women, since some pressure points (especially on the feet) can cause uterine contractions and induce labor.
- Give aromatherapy a go. Taste is influenced by smell, so you might find that pregnancy-safe scents like mint, lemon and ginger — which have been shown to ease symptoms when eaten — can be effective when sniffed, too.
- Clear your mind. Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation or prenatal yoga.
If none of these remedies work, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor — there are safe medications he can recommend to help ease your symptoms. In more severe cases, he may admit you to the hospital for treatment with intravenous fluids.
HEMORRHOIDS & CONSTIPATION
Swollen veins in the anus or rectum are an all-too-common pregnancy woe, especially during the third trimester, when your expanding uterus puts increased pressure on your pelvis. It’s also common for expectant mothers to experience some constipation, which can cause or worsen hemorrhoids due to straining during bowel movements. If you do get hemorrhoids, these natural remedies can help:
- Chow down on fiber. One way to prevent hemorrhoids from developing in the first place is to keep things moving by getting fiber into your diet. Good sources of fiber include fruits and veggies, flaxseeds, prune juice, chia seeds, whole grains and beans.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps keep things moving.
- Soak up. Sit in a warm tub for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day. Or try a sitz bath: Available at most pharmacies, it’s designed to be positioned over the toilet and may be easier for you to manage than getting in and out of a tub.
- Keep toiletries simple. Opt for plain, moistened toilet paper that doesn’t contain dye or fragrance.
- Cool it off. Witch hazel wipes (you can find them at the pharmacy) can bring cooling relief. Or apply a cold compress or an ice pack.
- Sit on a donut-shaped pillow. It can help ease pressure on the rectal area.
- Do your Kegels. Kegels aren’t only good for your perineal floor, helping prevent incontinence and improve sex — they also increase circulation to the area affected by hemorrhoids.
Although none of the above will actually cure the problem, they can help alleviate your discomfort — if not, ask your doctor before using any medication. Fortunately, hemorrhoids usually go away on their own after delivery.
As with most pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy headaches usually result from hormonal changes; fatigue and blood-sugar swings can play a role as well. That means the best tactic to avoid getting one is to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, get enough rest and, of course, avoid any known headache triggers. When you do come down with a headache, try these natural remedies to ease the pain:
- Chill out. Lie down and place a cool compress on your forehead.
- Get a rubdown. Ask your partner or a friend for a shoulder and neck massage.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, yoga or meditation can sometimes help.
- Try acupuncture. Research has shown that getting acupuncture during pregnancy eases headaches; women who received it also relied less on medication.
If you develop a severe headache or one that persists for more than two or three hours, be sure to contact your doctor, as it may be a sign of a pregnancy complication.
Countless pregnant women experience a burning sensation in the throat and chest that results from stomach acid getting pushed in the wrong direction by the ever-growing uterus. Try these natural remedies to help improve heartburn:
- Avoid heartburn triggers at mealtime. Consider passing on carbonated drinks and sparkling water, and avoid spicy, greasy or citrusy foods. Instead of big meals, try to eat a few smaller snack-sized portions throughout the day.
- Chew sugarless gum. It can stimulate the saliva for an acid-neutralizing effect (just stay away from peppermint, since it’s highly acidic).
- Sip a soothing drink. Try adding a tablespoon of honey to a glass of warm milk
- Sleep soundly. Wait as much time as possible before lying down after a meal, and elevate your head while sleeping.
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