Coping with Discomfort

There are many body discomforts commonly experienced by all pregnant women. Hormones and physical changes in our bodies produce undesirable side effects, which can often be remedied or at least their effects reduced, through diet, herbs, natural alternatives, and clinical treatments.

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backacheBackache

Back rubs are one of the best favorite remedies. People often ask a pregnant woman, “What can I do to help?” How about offering the expectant mother a massage?

Dancing Hula, belly dancing, pelvic rocks, prenatal yoga, swimming, nice walks and making love all help.

Good nutrition really helps, make sure you are getting enough minerals, especially calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. Take natural prenatal vitamins. Try to choose an organic prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.

If your back is aching, please tell your midwife or care provider, so she can check you for kidney tenderness. During pregnancy a mother-to-be’s kidneys can come under great stress. Your midwife or doctor will check you to be sue your backache is not due to unhealthy kidneys. Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine are quite skilled at alleviating kidney stress.

Gentle Cranial Sacral Therapy and Chiropractic care are quite effective in alleviating many discomforts of pregnancy.

Itching and Skin Conditions

Most itchy skin in pregnancy is caused by stretching and hormonal changes. Gentle, massages with oil (almond, sesame, coconut, olive, avocado, apricot or vitamin E oil) help a lot, as do warm baths with flower petals and a few drops of pure flower oil, try rosemary or lavender. Some essential oil companies have brilliant blends for MotherBaby. Make sure your clothing, towels and sheets are washed in mild laundry soap and well rinsed. Pregnancy can make you more sensitive to irritants like detergent residue in your clothing. Choose cotton or natural fiber clothing over polyester or blends.

For a few women, itching skin during pregnancy can really get intense. This is often due to the body’s efforts to purify, releasing old stored toxins through the skin. Detoxification causes excess heat in the liver and blood, which must be released via the skin, this is why it itches. It can feel like you are on fire. This is known as a condition called PUP (puerperal uticaria).

Try drinking the water of young coconuts and eat the soft flesh. Coconut is an ancient remedy, to relieve the excess heat in your body. Cut fried and fatty foods out of your diet. Drink more water. Eating steamed or raw beetroot has been found to help. Sometimes with PUP nothing seems to help except finally having the baby. Even if you are really uncomfortable, PUP does not harm mother or baby. You must try not to scratch so much that your skin become raw and sore.

Anti Itch Salad:

  • 1 Beetroot ~ peeled and grated
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp Omega oil (best) or Virgin Olive or Coconut Oil
  • Natural Soy sauce ~ to taste
  • Toss together and enjoy!

Melasma or “mask of pregnancy”

This condition is characterized by discoloration of the skin, mostly on the forehead, nose and upper lip. Melasma is not usually itchy, but it makes women feel very self-conscious. Caused by hormonal changes, it gets worse if the mother is nutritionally stressed and it gets darker if exposed to the sun. Covering your skin to protect it from the sun helps minimize this condition. It normally goes away gradually after the baby is born. Improved nutrition is the key. In some Native American tribes, mothers would rub the baby’s first poo, the meconium, on melasma to reduce the staining of the skin. I have not tried this, but it can do no harm.

Itchy vagina

AN itchy vagina often stems from a bacterial or yeast infection, especially if accompanied by strong odor. Try sitting in a warm bath with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, for at least 20 minutes, three times a day. If after three days the symptoms persist, please tell your health care provider. Avoid making love until it clears up completely.

As pregnancy comes to its fullness it is very important to clear up any vaginal infections so the baby won’t be infected as he or she passes through the birth canal. Wear cotton underwear only, or none at all, especially at night while you sleep. Wipe after bowel movements only from front to back, to prevent infecting the vagina with feces. Wash with mild soap (or no soap) and water at least twice daily. Never douche, unless your health care provider recommends it.

Pregnancy does increase the wet and juicy quality of your vagina. There will be more discharge. If your vaginal discharge has no unpleasant odor (like bad fish or too-yeasty) there is no infection. You simply are more-juicy, a condition naturally occurring in pregnancy. Increased heat due to additional body weight, increased blood flow and hormonal levels contribute to a vaginal environment that has a more delicate balance and needs protection against infections.
For the same reasons mentioned above, you may also sweat more, while pregnant and breastfeeding. This is just your body’s natural ecology. Learn to love it.

Swelling

At the first sign of swelling of fingers, hands, feet, ankles, or face, drink more pure water. Swelling is a message from your body saying: “Take better care of me!” You may be sweating a lot and not getting enough salt. Try Gomazio (see recipe below). Or, you may be over salting your food. Salt to taste, but taste your salt. Often mothers-to-be who experience swelling are protein deficient. Are you getting at least two small servings of protein everyday? Swelling means you must pay more attention to getting more nutritious food. Instant noodle soup is not a wholesome meal. If you are eating instant noodles a lot, you are not properly nourished. Swelling by itself is not dangerous, but you must see your midwife as soon as possible, and have your blood pressure checked to rule out any danger to your self or the baby. If you notice swelling and/or headaches and/or blurry vision, it is absolutely necessary for you to immediately get a check up. Your blood pressure should and must me monitored.

Sesame Gomazio a recipe to combat swelling

All people, especially pregnant mothers, need salt in balance, too little or too much is dangerous and can aggravate hypertension, and edema (swelling of hands feet and face). A good way to make sure you are getting enough salt, but not too much is to make up this recipe for Gomazio. Remember that in the Middle East the sesame is called “The Seed of Immortality”. Sesame is rich is calcium, protein, vitamins A and E, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium. Always choose real sea salt, as it contains iodine, to prevent goiter. You may use gomazio to flavor all your foods, instead of plain salt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw or roasted sesame seeds. (White sesame seeds are cooling, which means they are best for people who have a lot of heat in the body, like growing children and people of hot temper. Black sesame seeds are warming and have more benefit for people with cold in their bodies, like older people or those easily chilled).
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp spirulina and/or moringa oleifera (optional)

Roast sesame in dry skillet on low heat stirring continuously so the seeds pop but don’t burn. Just as the seeds become golden brown add the salt. When slightly cool, grind all ingredients in a, dry mill, blender or traditional mortar and pestle, until coarsely ground, not too powdered.

Try sprinkling it generously on everything, a hard-boiled egg will become a gourmet snack with gomazio on it. It adds protein and calcium to salad too. Add to any food, for a calcium rich flavor, with not-too much salt. Sesame added to whole grains makes it a complete protein, easier for the body to assimilate.

Moringa Oleifera leaves or dried powder (called Malungay in Philippines and Daun Kelor in Bali) dry the leaves and add to Gomazio. Moringa leaves, dried or fresh, or powdered may be added fresh to porridge or smoothies. They are a source of iron as well as a galactogoue, known to increase breastmilk!

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