6 common pregnancy challenges & how to deal with them naturally

pregnant lady

Image: Louisa Stokes / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now into my eighth month of Pregnancy #2, and having experienced so many comfort-challenging textbook symptoms, I feel well qualified to share with you the remedies that have worked (or not) for me in trying to have a healthy, happy pregnancy. Most of these remedies incredibly have something to do with the use of food or food products.

If you are an expectant/current mum, I hope this post helps you in some way. If you are a dad, a son, a daughter, a non-child bearing friend – or even someone like me in Pregnancy #1 (with no symptoms other than tiredness, a steady growth rate, and wonderment as to how other women could find pregnancy itself difficult) – I would ask that you read this anyway, as it may give you some insight into what someone close to you may be experiencing.

I won’t talk in detail about my cravings and aversions again here, as they were the subject of a previous post, however I will let you know that my cravings started to disappear at Week 24. My aversions remain, so agave syrup and coconut oil are still out for me.

1. Morning sickness. My morning sickness was a 10-week-24/7-I’m-about-to-throw-up feeling from the time I woke to the time I went to bed. Icky yucky.

No one knows the exact cause of morning sickness, many speculate over it, and everyone seems to have a remedy to offer – and there are some useful ideas to be found in friends’ heads and online. You just need to find what’s right for you.

If you do happen to suffer from morning sickness, take heart that it may be a good thing for your baby: recent research has linked morning sickness to a higher IQ for baby [and, judging by the strength of my morning sickness, I’m pretty sure my baby is a genius!]. This, of course, does nothing to alleviate the symptoms.

What worked?

  • Dry watercrackers.
  • Ginger biscuits. I think the sweetness helped as much as the ginger.
  • Eating on waking. Before even getting out of bed in the morning, I would often eat a dry cracker to quell my tummy.
  • Ginger tea. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

What didn’t work?

  • People telling me to “ignore it and it will go away”. You think hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Try a pregnant woman invalidated.
  • Back-to-back meetings didn’t help.

2. Heartburn/reflux. I had one night of heartburn, which turned out to be a precursor to a minor gastro bug, but that one night was pretty awful. If you haven’t experienced it, heartburn is characterised by symptoms such as a burning sensation in the chest/throat, chest pain or tightness, an acidic taste in the mouth, and nausea. BabyCenter in the UK and the US suggest many excellent natural remedies, several of which worked for me.

What worked?

  • Lying on an incline to sleep.
  • Herbal teas – peppermint; ginger & coriander.
  • Eating smaller meals more often. I started doing this after my single episode and experienced no problems thereafter, hence I claim this remedy as a success.

What didn’t work?

  • In spite of its brilliant health benefits, my foray into slippery elm bark powder was a dismal failure. I forced myself to drink an entire mug of mucus-like gunk that had possessed no hint of the ‘pleasant tasting beverage’ promised on the label. I still shudder at the thought of that night.

3. Problems sleeping. As you get bigger and your favourite sleeping posture becomes off-limits, it becomes harder to get a good night’s sleep. There is a theory that the insomnia and lack of comfort that comes with pregnancy is merely baby preparing you for your new, post-birth routine – and, after my first experience, I think there may just be some truth in that.

What’s working?

  • Sleeping surrounded by pillows. I sleep with three pillows at the moment, including one between my legs, but this arrangement only gives comfort for part of the night. More frequent trips to the bathroom during the night mean that I am never comfortable for long. There are a number of pregnancy pillows on the market now, and apparently they really work [in case anyone is scratching their head over what to get me for Christmas].
  • Foot/back rubs before bed. These work awesomely.
  • Hot chocolate. It’s like a hug from the inside.

What hasn’t worked?

  • Everything else.

4. Leg cramps. Cramps are common during pregnancy because of the extra weight you are carrying and the added nutrients your body needs to support a growing baby. I have rarely had a night without a cramp since entering the third trimester.

What’s working?

  • Prevention: eat foods high in magnesium and calcium – like green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • Prevention: drink water. You need more water to support all that extra blood and tissue. Don’t let yourself dehydrate.
  • When you get a cramp: immediately flex your foot and press your leg into the floor with your whole weight behind it. This may be painful at first, but it’s the quickest way I can think of to quickly alleviate a cramp.

What hasn’t worked?

  • Forgetting about the propensity to cramp and stretching out with pointed toes in the middle of the night. It’s been a painful learning curve.

5. Back pain. In pregnancy, aside from putting on weight, your centre of gravity changes, you become more flexible, your pelvic bones shift, and your posture can be affected. Even if you don’t suffer from acute pain, there is a good chance you will ache after a long day.

What’s worked? Everything I have tried so far has worked brilliantly, including:

  • Chiropractic treatment. Brilliant for fixing that pinched sciatic nerve.
  • Yoga. Strengthens your muscles so that they can deal with all the extra relaxin in your system.
  • Regular stretching.
  • Valor oil. One of the Young Living blends, I recently discovered that this oil is known as the ‘chiropractor in a bottle’ [thanks to the lovely Helen for sharing!]. It also smells amazing.
  • Massages. I promise this isn’t a very public ploy to score more massages; they really do help!

6. S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d skin and muscles. It was during Week 27 that I had The Three Days of Feeling Stretched Beyond That Which A Human Has Naturally Been Stretched Before. Then it happened again at the start of Week 30. Now, in Week 32, I am roughly the size of a whale.

I can not fathom the fact that baby still has more growing to do; I’m sure I wasn’t this big with my son. Nevertheless, I have no stretch marks from either pregnancy (so far), so these tips are truly tried and tested.

What’s worked?

  • Shea butter – after every shower, from my knees to my hairline, since I started to notice my baby bump.
  • Cocoa butter. Last pregnancy, my moisturiser of choice was cocoa butter. This is thicker and greasier than shea butter, which is fine for the winter but uncomfortable in this summer heat.
  • For the last month, I have also been washing with my homemade unsoap every few days. This is rich in beeswax and cacao butter, to encourage supple skin.

I hope these little learnings help you as they have helped me. There is so much more out there on the web for you to discover for yourself (like these gems from Natural News). Good luck!

H 🙂

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Shani says:

    Interestingly with the morning sickness, we went camping for a weekend and it lightened up significantly, then a week and a bit later we went away for 10 days of more camping. Not once during those 10 days did I feel like throwing up and only towards about 7+ days did I start to feel nauseous again, and as soon as I got home I was sick again. my Dr and I have put it down to fresh air and escaping the daily mundane things that life involves….next time (not that there will be a next time), it looks like a 3 month holiday will be required in those early days 🙂

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for the hot tip, Shani. What a great excuse to take a holiday!

      H 🙂

  2. Claire says:

    Hannah, when I saw you the other weekend at yoga I couldn’t help but think to myself that you look fantastic. Fit, vital with a gorgeous baby belly.

    Further to your doula comments after class I just remembered something that can help your partner gather some doula skills. Its a website put together by a couple of well respected and experienced doulas here in Perth. dadskills.com is the address. Is he a reader? If so ask your midwife for some good books, but one I can recommend straight up is Ina Mays Guide to childbirth. If you aren’t familiar with it, she talks about aspects of birth that are rarely covered so thoroughly in most books.

    Any questions or anything at all you have my email address.
    Blessings- Claire

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Claire! I am feeling really well & looking forward to a beautiful birth.

      I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth a few months ago & was totally inspired. I also appreciate the link (lovely blog!) and have just sent you an email.

      H 🙂

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