Quick fix those niggles
The changes in your body during pregnancy cause a shift in the centre of gravity that affects your posture. The expanding belly pulls the abdomen forward and the abdominal muscles elongate and stretch up to 20cm to accommodate the expanding uterus. The back ends up picking up the slack. A weak pelvic floor and tight hamstrings also contributes to backache.
• Become aware of your posture. When standing or walking, your chin should be pulled back, your shoulders and ribcage should be lifted up and back. When standing, try to tuck your bottom in so that you feel your tummy muscles working to support your spine. • Always bend your knees into a squat position and keep your back straight when lifting. Bring items close to your body if you are picking anything up from the floor. • If in pain, a warm compress like a buckwheat pillow or hot water bottle applied to the affected area will increase circulation and release the spasm, speeding up healing and the feeling of relaxation. • Take frequent breaks. When working, occasionally rest your head on your desk and stretch the back of your neck. • Moderate, regular and gentle exercise will strengthen all the postural muscle of the body. • Wear a supportive bra that fits properly. • Wear low-heeled shoes. • Massage is known to release endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. Ask your partner to massage your back while you sit on a stool or a chair, or lie on your side on a bed. Use a vegetable oil that will keep the skin supple and soft. Keep a small pillow or rolled up towel in the car to place in the small of your back when driving. • Warm baths with safe aromatherapy oils or vigorous water showers will do much to lift sagging spirits as well as sagging backs.
PAIN IN THE ABDOMEN
Round ligament strain is felt as a sharp pain low on one or both sides of the abdomen or in the groin, lasting less than two minutes. It’s extremely painful and can bring you to tears. It is usually felt in the first and third trimester, it is due to spasm of the round ligament holding the uterus in place within the pelvis.
• When pain strikes be sure to breathe deeply and slowly through your nose and bend towards the pain. • Two tablets of mag phos (tissue salt no.8) under the tongue three times a day may help alleviate this spasm. • Avoid sudden movements or changes in direction.
One of the most common complaints of pregnancy is pubic bone pain. For some women it is slightly uncomfortable, and for others even slow walking is difficult. The pelvis has a joint in the front that is supported and held together by strong ligaments. During pregnancy, under influences of the pregnancy hormones, the ligaments soften and slacken, causing the joint to become less stable in order for the pelvis to widen during birth so that the baby can pass through. Pain is usually felt low down over the symphysis pubis joint, which becomes very sensitive and tender. Pain is often felt in the hips, lower abdomen and groin. It’s often worse on rising from bed, or from the floor, when getting in and out of a car and in some women, simply walking is almost unbearable.
There’s no quick fix during pregnancy and things will improve gradually afterwards, but there are a few things you can do to decrease the amount of discomfort you may feel. •Avoid walking long distances and standing for long periods of time. • Sit on a high stool to take the weight off your pelvis if you are a teacher or hairdresser. Do not cross your legs, and keep your knees together when getting out of bed or the car. Try putting a piece of plastic on the seat so that you can easily swivel your legs out of the car. • You may have to purchase a support belt. • Physiotherapy will give some relief for a short time and it’s worth going for a few sessions when you are really hurting. • Put your feet up whenever you can.
Pregnancy may curb your headaches or exacerbate them. If you are a headache sufferer, then you most likely already have your own way of dealing with them. Although hormones play a role in headaches, they are not the only factors responsible. Many are food related, while most are stress related. Your work or your environment may cause stress or a physical problem such as tired, sore shoulders or back strain. Bad posture is a big culprit. Eye strain and ear strain (loud or constant noise) can also bring on a headache, as can lack of sleep or constant worry.
• Exercise that involves stretching is very beneficial. • Take time out to pamper yourself and enjoy your pregnancy. Listen to music that makes you feel good. • Check your mattress and your pillow. Is your pillow at the correct height to support your neck properly? • Examine any physical sources of stress and strain causing muscular tension. For example, when you are driving, place a small support pillow in the small of your back and do not drop your shoulders too low or lift them too high (close to your ears). Remember to unclench your jaw. That can cause major tension of the face and neck as well. • Massage is a wonderful stress reliever. The touch of a loved one provides much comfort and warmth, and that alone can make a difference to how you are feeling. • A warm (not hot) bath with a little aromatherapy oil – a few drops of peppermint, neroli, chamomile, rosemary or grapefruit oil in the water – may ease your throbbing head and aching body.
SORE OR NUMB WRISTS
During the latter part of your pregnancy you may become aware of a strange numbness or tingling sensation in your fingers. This condition, which is sometimes accompanied by stiffness in the finger joints, is called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). During pregnancy, increased pressure within the carpal tunnel fluid (due to the pregnancy hormones causing fluid retention) can cause the feelings of numbness and discomfort or pain. It’s usually worst in the morning after your arms have been inactive during your sleeping hours. If you have been sleeping on your arm it may feel completely lifeless.
• Try not to lie on the affected arm or hand while sleeping. • Raise the affected hand above your head for a few minutes while you wiggle your fingers and slowly rotate your wrist. • Don’t carry heavy parcels and avoid extreme flexing and extension of the wrist. • Massage the fingers with arnica oil to relieve stiffness and improve circulation. • An ice massage on the wrist may also help. • Your wrist may need to be splinted for part of the day or night. • Diuretics may be prescribed if the pain is unbearable. • Increased calcium intake may help • Move fingers vigorously in luke warm water first thing in the morning.
Cramps usually affect the legs, feet and toes, and often strike during the night. Lack of magnesium and poor blood supply to the affected area may be a cause for this uncomfortable, sometimes painful complaint. It is usually worse on waking.
• Pull your toes towards your ankle (flex your foot) to relieve a cramp in your calf. • Ask your partner to gently rub the affected muscle, but not while cramping. • Exercise – walking helps circulation. • Calcium and magnesium supplements may help; explore homeopathic options. Bananas are the best natural source of magnesium. • Soaking in a warm bath with a quarter of a teaspoon of arnica oil in it before bedtime may prevent an attack.
ALTHOUGH HORMONES PLAY A ROLE IN HEADACHES, THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY FACTORS RESPONSIBLE