By Dr. Kalin Suzuki, ND
You don’t have to suffer for 9 months of your life. There are many safe, natural and effective ways you can treat those annoying discomforts of pregnancy. Here are 3 of the most common problems, and how to treat them.
Nausea and vomiting
The most well-known pregnancy symptom, as many as 90% of women experience nausea during their pregnancy. Experts still don’t know exactly why pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting (especially in their first trimester), however most theories point to the huge hormonal shifts that are necessary in early pregnancy.
Here are things you can do to help ease symptoms of nausea:
- Eat several small meals per day, rather than a few large meals
- Stay hydrated with electrolytes
- Acupuncture is excellent during pregnancy; there is actually a specific point for nausea!
- Vitamin B6 is well-researched for nausea in pregnancy. Diclegis, a medication combining B6 with an antihistamine, is also safe and effective during pregnancy, for when symptoms really get out of hand (or mouth)!
Constipation is very common during pregnancy for multiple reasons. The hormone progesterone increases, acting to support the pregnancy. Unfortunately, it also decreases gut motility, meaning it slows down the digestive process. Later in the pregnancy, the size of the baby mechanically presses on mom’s intestines, slowing down digestion as well.
To decrease constipation:
- Exercise can promote overall health, but it also keeps things moving in the right direction! Try to get in at least one brisk walk per day.
- Drink more water! Staying hydrated is key; without enough fluid in your intestines, stools are more likely to be harder to pass.
- Fiber: I recommend getting enough fiber through your diet with healthy whole grains and vegetables, rather than taking fiber supplements.
- Magnesium supplements can be helpful for constipation. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the appropriate dose.
Low back pain
60% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy. This is due to changes in posture due to the growing baby, abdominal muscle weakness and increased flexibility in the joints. Although rare, there are other causes of low back pain that are serious, so definitely check in with your doctor.
Here are a few things you can do to help with low back pain:
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. While this may seem obvious, it is a common cause of back pain. If you have to do the lifting, make sure you use your legs, not your back to lift.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. Longer king-sized or specific pregnancy pillows can be especially comforting.
- Take breaks during the day when possible, to elevate your legs and flex your hips, taking pressure off your low back.
- Exercising during pregnancy! This is very effective for pain of all types, and safe when done appropriately. Talk to your doctor about the best exercises during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the joy and excitement of pregnancy can often be accompanied by some pretty uncomfortable symptoms. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who can work with you and your obstetrician or midwife to craft a plan to restore you to a place of comfort and ease you into motherhood more gracefully.
Dr. Kalin Suzuki is a primary care doctor practicing evidence based integrative medicine. She is passionate about working with pregnant women, using both natural and pharmaceutical treatments that are safe and effective during pregnancy.