During pregnancy, there can be a few irritating, unpleasant and sometimes downright debilitating ailments that can impact enjoyment of this wonderful time. As it is a good idea to avoid medications during pregnancy, there are limited traditional options for treating pregnancy-related conditions. This is where options such as nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy can be very helpful.
Eating little and often will help alleviate heartburn, as ensuring your stomach is never too empty nor too full will avoid overtaxing your digestion. Fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate and fizzy drinks can all aggravate heartburn, as will eating late in the evening. Drinking anise or fennel seed tea after meals will help calm digestion. Slippery Elm Bark effectively neutralises stomach acid, and this gentle herb is a pregnancy favourite. Dried papaya is an excellent snack for those suffering with heartburn as it has the double benefit of containing digestive enzymes as well as helping prevent excess stomach acid. Attending acupuncture can be very helpful, especially if heartburn starts early on in the pregnancy - a point located on the foot called Stomach 44 is wonderful at relieving acid reflux.
Restless legs and leg cramps
If you find you are getting persistent restless legs or leg cramps, often worse at night, it may indicate you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or are dehydrated. Sub-optimal levels of iron, magnesium, calcium, folate and sodium can all lead to leg cramps and restlessness. Taking a wholefood multivitamin will help, as will increasing these ‘all-rounder’ foods in your diet: green leafy vegetables, seeds, dried apricots, molasses, apples, dates, figs, beans and pulses, and natural sparkling water for electrolytes. The homeopathic tissue salt Mag Phos can be very helpful for leg cramps. You could also try adding a touch of salt to food to rebalance sodium levels. You should try to eliminate caffeine completely, including coffee, green and black teas, chocolate and cola, as even small amounts of caffeine can aggravate symptoms.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
Pelvic pain in pregnancy is very common. It occurs when the bones of the pelvis rub together due to changes in joint alignment coupled with over-softening of the ligaments thanks to the pregnancy hormone Relaxin. Occasionally it can be so painful and debilitating that it interferes with walking, driving and sleeping. Acupuncture is an excellent treatment for PGP, with women reporting significant reduction in pain¹, usually within one to two treatments.
When selecting an acupuncturist for pregnancy related conditions, it is advisable to select specially trained obstetric acupuncturists such as those who are members of Acupuncture Childbirth Team (ACT Dublin).
Fiona O’Farrell is a licensed acupuncturist and naturopath and runs The Gate Clinic in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. She specialises in women’s health, pregnancy, and fertility. For more information call 01 201 7210 or visit www.thegateclinic.ie.
Natural Health Therapist