Want to enjoy your pregnancy to the max? 5 ways to beat pregnancy discomforts
Motherhood can be one of the most wonderful experiences in life but sometimes pregnancy can leave us feeling a little less fabulous than normal. Mood swings, back aches, swollen feet, cravings…you name it! No wonder Kim Kardashian said on her blog “I don’t enjoy one moment of it and I don’t understand people who enjoy it.”
With this in mind, we asked our experts to tell us how to deal with 5 main unpleasant symptoms during pregnancy. You’re welcome!
Your body can tell you a lot about what it needs and it is important to listen to the messages it is sending out through pregnancy. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Getting Pregnant Faster explains, “Some women will instinctively go off certain foods or drinks and may not be able to even stand the smell of them (coffee is a common dislike)”. Sometimes a craving can give you a clue about particular requirements your body has. “A craving for pickles, for example, may be telling you that you need salt or calcium, whereas a craving for ice cream may indicate a need for fat, protein or calcium” Dr Glenville tells us.
Are you struggling with your cravings? Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at Superfooduk.com shares her top tips:
“If you have cravings for carbohydrates, go for healthier unrefined carbs such as brown rice, rye or wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta, oatcakes or porridge made with whole rolled oats.” She says. “If you crave sugary foods, try eating a piece of fruit with a few nuts to balance the absorption of the sugars.
Try adding cinnamon or vanilla to porridge or plain live yoghurt, as they have a natural sweet taste. Oatcakes with natural almond, hazelnut or walnut butter are also great.
If you crave salty junk foods, instead go for naturally salty foods such as olives, pickles, vegetable juices or tomato juice. Veggies naturally contain potassium and sodium salts as well as much-needed vitamins and other minerals, and the extra salt should help to satisfy your cravings”.
Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist also suggests “Taking a pregnancy multivitamin, as well as having a nutrient-rich diet, can help to prevent deficiencies that could provoke cravings. Try Pro-Ven Pregnancy Support (www.provenprobiotics.co.uk, £12.95.)”
2. Swollen feet and ankles
Many women suffer from oedema, which is the swelling of feet and ankles during pregnancy as the body retains more water than usual. It comes without saying that this can all be very uncomfortable, restrict movement and stop us from wearing our favourite shoes. Others can develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes and the affects of the baby’s weight during the later stages of pregnancy.
Prevention is the best way of dealing with varicose veins. “Checking our legs regularly; exercising frequently; eating a balanced diet; and wearing compression hosiery can all help to maintain healthy legs”, says Angela Rippon OBE, Vice President of The Patients Association. Shona adds, “Try drinking dandelion tea, which acts as a gentle and safe diuretic to get rid of excess fluid in the body”.
Old-school massages can also bring relief. If there is no one around you to treat you to a foot rub, try Carnation Footcare PediRoller Kit (www.firstaidfast.co.uk, £7.95), a roller and soothing foot massage gel designed to offer immediate relief to tired and aching feet. “For an added cooling sensation try placing your PediRoller in the fridge before use” says Michael Ratcliffe, Podiatrist at Carnation Footcare.
You can also look into varicose vein foam treatment. This is minimally invasive and can be completed in under an hour. However, if these problems persist, make sure you speak to your GP. “Excessive swelling can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure that can lead to complications, if not treated” says Cassandra.
“Pregnant women are entitled to free, tailor made compression hosiery through their local GP. Compression hosiery just look like normal tights by are specially made to improve circulation by gently squeezing the leg, pushing blood back towards the heart, alleviating leg pain, reducing swelling and preventing varicose veins” says Kimby Osborne, leg health expert at Activa Healthcare.
3. Back ache
Back pain can be a problem for many women in the later stages of pregnancy. The first thing to remember is to maintain a good posture and walk upright, trying not to lean back. Lynne Robinson, Author of Pilates for Pregnancy and founder of Body Control Pilates suggests, “Stand tall, sit tall, walk tall. Grandma was right! Just standing tall works the deep postural muscles, which hold you up against gravity. When you slouch, not only does it look awful (bulging stomach, round shoulders) but also it puts pressure on the spine and reduces the efficiency of your breathing and the ability of your core muscles to support the spine”.
Cassandra adds, “Avoid high heels, as they put more strain on the back. Other things that may bring relief include back massages and hot showers (or warm baths, but not hot ones)”.
4. Sleeping problems
Are you tossing and turning most nights? You are not alone. “Unfortunately, poor sleep can contribute to many other pregnancy problems including fatigue, stress, irritability, mood swings, and cravings” says Shona.
So what can help get your 8-hour beauty sleep every night? Barns suggests “Eliminate anything containing caffeine after about midday – even dark chocolate can have a stimulating effect and may affect sleep if eaten later in the day. You should also avoid heavy meals late in the evening. A large meal in the evening should be eaten no later than three hours before you go to bed; if you end up eating later, stick to a lighter meal, avoiding meat and fatty foods as these take longer to digest. Also, treat yourself to a nice, relaxing chamomile tea before bedtime”.
Staying active can be very difficult when you are pregnant, however it can really help you tosleep well at nights. Shona suggests, “Getting some exercise during the day is important for sleep too. Even half an hour’s walk can give some benefits”.
Fortunately, you can still take a Magnesium supplement while pregnant, which helps to relax your muscles and de-stress. Cassandra says, “A magnesium supplement taken in the evening may help to prevent cramps and improve sleep. Try new KalmAssure from Natures Plus.”
Increased hormone levels in the first trimester arethe main cause of skin problems during pregnancy and unfortunately, if you have a history of acne you have a higher risk of developing it.
Barns says, “Treating pregnancy acne can be very tricky. Your skin can get more sensitive and you should avoid over-the-counter chemical spot treatments”. Instead, look for natural acne remedies such as essential oils.
Sonja Dymalovski, Skincare Expert at What Skin Needs explains “Unlike anti-acne treatments available on the market, oils are packed with vitamins, amino acids and anti oxidants so they won’t dry your skin. Instead, they can smooth fine lines and heal blemishes at the sametime. Try What Skin Needs’ Skin Balm (www.whatskinneeds.co.uk, £12.99) with extract from Aloe Vera, Plantolin and Ylang Ylang captured in a creamy, soothing texture”.