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holistic prenatal care

Swelling In Pregnancy

 

Swelling During Pregnancy - Why It Happens And What To Do About It

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Swelling during pregnancy can be alarming and uncomfortable. But it’s also totally normal and a healthy sign, especially when mild to moderate and changes based on your activity.

The fluid retention and increased amount of body fluids in the tissue space outside the blood vessels reflect the normal hormonal changes of a healthy pregnancy. 

Many women notice a slight puffiness or swelling in the fingers, hands and face. However, the additional fluid typically congregates in the lower part of the body, namely the feet, ankles and genital area.

This is related to the pull of gravity and the pressure of the enlarging uterus on vessels that bring blood back to the heart. It’s called dependent edema and usually temporarily decreases after rest and elevation or a night’s sleep on your side.

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Swelling during pregnancy is made worse by:

  • Prolonged periods of sitting or standing

  • Carrying a large fetus or twins

  • Being overweight

  • Hot weather

  • Increased perspiration leading to loss of salt

  • Inadequate intake of fluids, protein or salt

  • Anemia

How To Decrease Swelling During Pregnancy

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While swelling during pregnancy is common, many women find it uncomfortable and unsightly (not to mention it can make it hard to get your shoes on!) However, there are a number of ways to reduce the amount of swelling.

DIET

Avoid salt excess, but don’t restrict your intake either. Salt your food to taste, as you need a minimum of 2-3 grams of sodium daily. Sea salt is preferable to table salt that has chemical additives. 

Make sure your diet includes 60-90 grams of protein every day.

Avoid curbing your fluid intake, which will actually aggravate the problem. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily. This should be mostly composed of pure spring or well water - plain, naturally flavored, or sparkling, or herbal tea - between meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after).

REMEDIES

Check if you are anemic. If so, increase your intake of iron with food and/or an herbal supplement like Floradix Iron or yellow dock, and follow this guide here.

Drink 1-2 cups nettles and dandelion herbal infusions each day. To prepare:

  1. Soak one ounce of each herb in 1 quart boiling water for 3-4 hours.

  2. Strain in a glass canning jar.

  3. Add a dash of honey, fresh lemon, lime juice, or mint leaves to taste.

Alternately, take a dropperful of each herb, in tincture twice daily (reputable brands include Gaia, Wish Garden and Eclectic Institute), or the dried encapsulated form, 1-2 freeze-dried caps 2-4 times/day. Professional grade, top quality all natural supplements I recommend are also available in my online holistic apothecary.

Avoid diuretic medications. Safe and gentle herbal diuretics include:  

  • Hawthorne berries - Try Gaia, Wish Garden or Eclectic institute’s encapsulated freeze-dried extract 500 mg/day or 1-2 caps 2-4 times per day

  • Cornsilk tea - 1 cup 2-4 times/day

  • Black tea (if you are not a regular drinker of caffeine)

Consult a professional homeopath to suggest a remedy specific for your symptoms, as there are many homeopathic remedies that are not only safe but also effective for treating this condition. Or you can start by referring to books like Homeopathy For Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro.

MOVEMENT

Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing, and lying on your back during the third trimester.

Flex or bend your feet back towards your body several times at frequent intervals if you have to sit or stand for a long time.

Do regular exercise like dancing, brisk walking, prenatal yoga, swimming or water aerobics for at least ½ hour 5 days per week. 

Inversions are wonderful yoga postures to reduce swelling, especially helpful, and calming at the end of the day when swelling is usually at its worst.

A great one that is easy to do is Viparita Karini, otherwise known as “legs up the wall.” Lie down on your back, with your buttocks all the way to the wall, flat on the floor or elevated on a folded yoga blanket, bolster or block. Let your legs rest straight up the wall for 10-20 minutes. It is also a great opportunity for quiet meditation, focusing on slow deep breathing and inner gazing between your eyebrows.

A lavender infused eye pillow adds to the delicious relaxation effect.  Use the props to help you feel more comfortable and modify the postures to suit your needs. They are a great asset for your yoga practice, and will help in labor as well.   

An alternative is to lay flat with your head and shoulders supported on folder blankets, and elevate your legs on one, or even better two yoga bolsters.

REST AND COMFORT

Don’t stand if you can sit. Even better, is to squat, and don’t cross your legs while sitting.

Take frequent breaks to lie down on your side, or sit with your back straight and your legs elevated above the level of your torso (ideally for 1/2 hour 4 times daily, depending on how much swelling you have).

Avoid tight restrictive clothing from the waist down, especially socks, knee highs, tight pants and girdles.

Wear comfortable flat shoes instead of high-heeled or ill-fitting ones.

Put on elastic maternity support stockings before you get out of bed in the morning, but raise your legs first to empty them as much as possible from excess fluid.

Get a regular foot and leg massage with arnica oil, while you lie on your left side. Your partner can do this each night!

Soak your legs in a warm bath using 1 cup Epsom Salts, and add a few drops of wintergreen and lavender essential oils

If you are overwhelmed and need some guidance,  schedule a consultation with me.

When It Might Be More Serious

Call your midwife or doctor if these suggestions do not help or if the swelling:

  • Becomes severe, excessive, or generalized throughout your body

  • Becomes pitting, in which pressing the puffy area leaves a temporary indentation mark.

  • Increases especially in your hands and face 

  • Is only affecting one arm or leg, not both.

  • Is as bad in the morning as it is at the end of the day, and does not lessen with rest and elevation.

Seek help if you experience sudden weight gain (5 pounds or more in less than 1 week) not related to diet changes or reduced activity, and if it your swelling is associated with headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, spots before your eyes or blurry vision, changes in mental status, chest or abdominal pain, shortness of breath or other unusual symptoms.

Keep in mind that for most people, swelling in pregnancy is just a common nuisance that will quickly be relieved with the birth of your beautiful baby.

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my Love Your Birth course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything! It is now recommended by midwives, physicians, health care professionals around the globe, and doulas take it for their certification training.

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Lying-In and Postpartum Recovery with Earth Mama Organics

 

While having a new baby is truly an amazing experience, your new beginning with baby and your postpartum recovery should always begin with rest, healing and self care, also known as “Lying In”. Understanding that our bodies crave healing and support after the miracle of birth is incredibly important.

Throughout history, children were raised in communities. When a woman labored, she was surrounded by friends and family. After birth, she was off duty to rest, recover, and breastfeed, while her tribe cooked, cleaned, took care of the other kids, and ran needed errands. Today, most of us live separated from our families, often experience pregnancy through postpartum more or less alone, and deliver our babies amongst strangers. A friend or a family member might stay with us briefly after our babies are born, but then we’re on our own. Because of this, it’s important to know what steps to take in order to best prepare for your postpartum recovery.

HAVE A PLAN. Make the most of the time you have with your new baby by creating a plan of recovery in advance. Postpartum struggles can be very overwhelming. By having a plan and sharing that plan with loved ones, you are eliminating some or all of the most common postpartum stressors. Earth Mama Organics provides a free downloadable Lying-In Plan, created to help guide expecting mamas through thinking about their own plans for postpartum healing. My online course has an entire module devoted to helping you know what to expect and how to plan for the support you need during this sensitive time.

MEDITATE. Taking time to relax and calm your mind can make a huge difference in our external and internal energies, by sitting or lying in a comfortable position and focusing on your breathing; guiding it to be slow, deep and even (make the inhale to exhale ratio each to a count of 3 or 5 for example) or doubling the exhalation time (inhaling to a count of 3, exhaling to a count of 6) is especially soothing. If meditation isn’t your cup of tea, try to find time to relax in quiet with your favorite book or listen to calming, uplifting music or sounds. Know that it's alright to take a moment for yourself. Your energy and your mental health need nourishment during the postpartum period. 

PREPARE YOUR HOME/RECOVERY SUITE. When the ‘nesting phase’ kicks in, and it likely will, channel that energy into creating a space that is postpartum friendly and unique to you. In the weeks leading up to your labor, gather some or all of your postpartum/newborn necessities and make sure they are in a place that is easily accessible to you when you’re lying in with baby. The last thing you need is to run to the other side of your home to grab a diaper or nipple-balm as soon as you’ve laid down. Make sure your linens are clean and things are where you’d want them, so that you’re ready and able to spend your time healing and connecting with your baby.

SELF CARE is so very crucial during this time. Earth Mama’s line of herbal products are specifically designed to care for women before, during and after pregnancy. These products are made the way herbalists have been doing it for centuries; through infusion. As most of my readers know, I widely support a holistic approach to pregnancy and postpartum recovery, so knowing that these products are made traditionally and are organic, without any parabens or artificial fragrances is reassuring. These processes offer a more powerful concentration of herbs, thus allowing the herbs to really do their jobs.


The following Earth Mama postpartum recovery care products are formulated to help new mothers to feel their best while connecting with their newborn. These products can be used to treat perineal soreness, lacerations/episiotomy, hemorrhoids, and c-sections as well as a number of other concerns. 

Organic Herbal Sitz Bath These easy to use herbal sachets are made from a combination of organic witch hazel, yarrow, plantain and calendula, and can be used to brew a sitz bath or as a cold compress for immediate relief to the perineal area. Earth Mama suggests mamas should brew, cool, and pour the herbal sitz over a regular postpartum pad, freeze the pad, and then use it as an ice pack for long lasting relief! You can make a bunch in advance and freeze them in a ziplock bag. 


Organic Perineal Balm provides lasting, cooling comfort down below. Made with organic herbs and oils, this product sits on the surface of the skin, allowing the herbs within the product to stay put and help in the healing process. This product can be used as needed, so be sure to apply it as often as you’d like. 


Herbal Perineal Spray This touch-free spray serves up quick, temporary symptomatic relief dispensed with an upside-down sprayer, making it easy to apply to those swollen or hard to reach places. According to Earth Mama’s website, leftovers can be used as a refreshing facial toner or after shave spritz which sounds enchanting and refreshing! 


Organic Skin and Scar Balm This product is made with a nourishing blend of organic herbal ingredients, traditionally used to help reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. While stretch marks are all but preventable and genetics are mostly to blame, this balm aids in reducing the appearance of the inevitable - even though I encourage you to embrace these marks of new mama beauty, blessing, strength and wisdom. A little goes a long way and as long as your wounds are closed, this Earth Mama Organic Skin and Scar Balm can be applied up to three times per day.


Organic Periodic Tea First and foremost, it is important to note that this tea is NOT for use during pregnancy. Originally labeled, “Postpartum Recovery Tea” this tea can be consumed within the first hour after birth. It’s benefits include a reduction in bleeding, cramping, and assistance with the hormone shifts experienced after birthing both your baby and placenta. I find that this tea is best served nice and hot, but you may enjoy it cooled and over ice as well! 


Postpartum Recovery Time
It’s common to be very active with self-care before giving birth and then feel it’s impossible to balance everything after birth. It’s normal to have anxiety and fear around what might happen if you don’t get it all done and even start talking down to yourself for not 'doing enough.' Take the time to remember that not everyone’s body heals on the same schedule and while one mama may feel normal in a few weeks time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking things at your .own pace. If you need regular contact with someone who understands the physical and psychological levels of what is happening to support you through this time, I offer an array of holistic care options for post-partum mamas.

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Leg Cramps In Pregnancy

 

How to Deal With Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

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Leg cramps during pregnancy are quite common. They’re usually felt as a sudden, painful contraction or spasm of the leg muscles, and often occur at night or early in the morning. They may also be associated with a sense of uncomfortable restlessness in your legs. 

Leg cramps are thought to be caused by:

  • A diet too low in calcium and/or magnesium

  • A diet too high in phosphorus

  • Compression of nerves or impaired circulation to the area from the growing uterus

  • Inadequate fluids and salt intake

  • Iron deficiency

  • Muscle fatigue from too much strenuous activity

  • Sedentary living without adequate exercise

Dietary Considerations for Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

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Leg cramps during pregnancy are often caused by dietary factors.  

Make sure you are drinking at least 64 ounces of pure spring or well water - plain, naturally flavored or sparkling - and/or herbal tea daily between meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after you eat.)

Anemia due to lack of iron is very common in pregnancy, and should perhaps be your first consideration. Follow this guide if anemia is suspected.

CALCIUM

Make sure your diet contains at least 1200 mg of calcium every day. Best food sources include:

  • Dairy products (organic fresh raw goat or sheep are best)

  • Fish tested free of pollutants or from non-polluted waters like sardines, wild Alaskan or Norwegian salmon and mackerel

  • Fresh dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, seaweeds like kelp, broccoli, watercress, parsley, collards, bok choy, turnip and mustard (but not spinach)

  • Ground sesame seeds (tahini)

  • Blackstrap molasses

  • Dried fruit (like dates, figs raisins and prunes)

  • Nuts

  • Organic tofu and tempeh

  • Bone broth

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Certain herbs can also help as they supply a rich source of calcium and many other nutrients in a highly absorbable form. To make an infusion:

  1. Combine 1 ounce each of nettle and red raspberry leaf in one quart boiling water, cover.

  2. Soak them in a glass canning jar for 4-8 hours, strain.

  3. Optional: add fresh lime or lemon juice, mint leaves or a dash of honey to taste.

  4. Drink 1-4 cups daily.

For an additional nutritional boost, mix in 1 ounce of dried dandelion, ½ ounce alfalfa and/or oatstraw. 

When making soup stock from bones, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar during the boiling process. This releases the calcium out of the bones and thus makes a broth rich in absorbable calcium.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and an EXCESS amount of salt and protein foods which interfere with the absorption of calcium or increase the amount of calcium excreted in the urine. You need NOT LIMIT salt or protein as these are essential in pregnancy – just modify your intake if its grossly excessive and use sea or earth salt to taste.

If you cannot consume a sufficient amount of calcium by diet alone, consider a calcium supplement like 500 mg calcium citrate once or twice a day with meals to enhance absorption. The amount you need to take depends on the amount that is missing from your diet. 

If you take a calcium supplement, you should also supplement with equivalent amounts of magnesium, which happens to be calming and helps with other common discomforts of pregnancy like insomnia and constipation. If you experience excessively loose bowel movements, you can cut the magnesium to ½ the calcium dose. A great liquid absorbable supplement is called Natural Calm with Calcium, as it has both the magnesium and the calcium together (raspberry lemon flavor tastes yummy). Professional grade, top quality all natural supplements I recommend are also available in my online holistic apothecary

Also, reduce your phosphorus intake by reading labels and avoiding highly processed foods (like sodas, party snacks, and lunch meats) that contain phosphates.

Try eating raw foods high in vitamin E such as cold pressed oils, whole grains and wheat germ, nuts (especially almonds), seeds (especially sunflower). You may need to supplement with up to 200 IU per day as long as you are otherwise healthy and your blood pressure is normal. 

Eat foods high in vitamin C, which include raw fruits and veggies, especially green leafy vegetables such as kale and collard greens, strawberries, citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts. Herbal sources include nettle, dandelion, rose hips, watercress, red clover and burdock. You can supplement vitamin C with up to 1000mg twice a day until 36 weeks gestation, then decrease to 500 mg per day.

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Posture and Movement

 Regular moderate exercise like swimming, walking, prenatal yoga or dancing helps prevent leg cramps, as well as periodic leg elevations and stretching.

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Maintain a good straight posture using proper body mechanics during daily activities such as carrying, pushing, pulling or reaching for something. This involves engaging your abdomen (corset your ribs inward, bring your front pelvic bone toward your breast bone, your belly towards your spine), and using your leg and arm muscles instead of your back.

Refrain from prolonged sitting or standing by periodically taking a break to exercise your legs. 

Avoid completely extending your foot while pointing your toe, as this can trigger a leg cramp. Make sure your foot is dorsiflexed while extended, especially during leg stretching and exercise, and make your bed loosely so your toes are not pressed down by the sheets.

Keep your legs warm with knee socks or leg warmers, especially during exercise and at night during sleep. Support stockings may help in the day.

For Immediate Relief of Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

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Take a deep diaphragmatic breath, by inhaling deep into your belly, expanding your ribs and chest - really stretch the inhale to your fullest capacity. Then take a huge automatic sigh of relief on the exhale, while consciously relaxing all tension. Keep up the deep breathing, and release more with each exhalation. Send breath and its healing energy to your leg cramps when you exhale. Stay very calm, present, and mindfully focus on all the details of your sensations without a mental story about them, without resisting and fighting with what is, which makes it worse. Practice consciously embracing and even intensifying the cramping, which actually helps alleviate it. See this as an opportunity to train yourself to surrender and relax with intense discomfort. It is great practice for labor and life. If you need guidance mastering the healing and transformative power of breathwork, schedule a session with me.

Also, try sitting while straightening your leg and actively flexing your toes back towards your head, using your hands or a yoga strap to help you flex your feet. This is not about bending forward and touching your head to your legs or resting it on a yoga block between them, although if you already have a practice it fells nice and calming) . It may help to exert steady pressure against your bed board or partner’s hand, or to simply stand up with your foot flat on the floor or flexed up towards your body.

If the cramp is in your foot, roll it over a roller, baseball bat or unbreakable bottle 3 inches in diameter. Some say standing on ice is effective.

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Deeply massage your lower legs and feet with arnica oil, mixed with a few drops of chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, St. John’s Wort and/or lavender. 

Other Healing Modalities

Herbal epsom salt foot baths - Soak your lower legs in very warm water with 1 cup Epsom Salts, and add a few drops of wintergreen, lavender, camphor and/or chamomile essential oils

Heat - Apply a heating pad or hot wet compress, infused with a few drops of the above mentioned essential oils, to the area of cramping. 

Homeopathy - Take homeopathic 6X of Magnesia phosphorica alternating frequently with Calcarea phosphorica several times a day until you feel relief. If this is a chronic problem among other pregnancy discomforts, it may be better to consult with a professional homeopath who can prescribe a safe, natural remedy specific to your individual symptoms.

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Herbs - Black haw or crampbark can be taken to decrease leg cramps. Take a dropperful of either tincture as needed, up to 4 times daily. Herbal teas and tincture combinations that include ginger, catnip, chamomile, lemon balm and skullcap, taken as directed on the bottle, can also help. Reputable brands include Wish Garden, Eclectic Institute and Gaia. Aviva Romm remains one of my favorite resources for safe effective use of herbs in childbearing. She is an integrative physician, midwife and herbalist who has done extensive research and compiled the most comprehensive, evidence based reference guide I have come across called Botanical Guide For Women’s Health. She wrote a more accessible resource for moms in The Natural Pregnancy Book - which has some wonderful home made recipes, if you like to make your own remedies. 

Acupuncture can work wonders. Consult an experienced acupuncturist. 

Avoid commercial medications like muscle relaxants and quinine as they are not safe during pregnancy.

When Nothing Helps

If your leg cramps are extreme or persist in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you! Consult your local practitioner if cramps become increasingly severe or frequent, the above suggestions do not help, or if you notice an area of leg warmth, redness, swelling and/or pain. Sometimes other metabolic imbalances can be the culprit, and these may need to be investigated.

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my Love Your Birth course- an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything! It is now recommended by midwives, physicians, health care professionals around the globe, and doulas take it for their certification training.

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Natural Remedies For Nausea During Pregnancy 

 
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Nausea during pregnancy will resolve on its own by the third or fourth month for most people. In the meantime, there are several methods for dealing with it naturally.

Nausea is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. It seems to be related to the massive increase in hormones to support the pregnancy, and an individual’s unique sensitivity to the physical and emotional changes that result. 

Consider keeping a diary of what makes your symptoms worse and better, to increase your awareness of what to avoid and how you can help yourself. Nausea is often made worse by fatigue, stress, unresolved emotional issues, sedentary indoor living, nutritional deficiencies, inadequate diet, an empty stomach, and offensive odors. Plan accordingly!

Dietary Recommendations for Reducing Nausea During Pregnancy

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A drop in blood sugar from the added work of making a baby can make nausea worse, so it is important to eat small amounts of whole food with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat, at least every 2-3 hours, and eat real, local, organic food products as much as possible. Include in your daily diet small frequent servings of:

  • Protein and fat like nuts, nut butters, seeds, tofu/tempeh, whole eggs, turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, wild Alaskan/Norwegian salmon, and fresh raw whole dairy (ideally sheep or goat).

  • Unrefined complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, oats, kasha, beans, sweet potatoes, squash, and whole multi-grain sprouted bread like Ezekiel. Combine with protein and fat like toast with avocado or sliced turkey, oatmeal in milk, or granola with yogurt.

  • Fresh fruits with protein and fat like pure peanut butter or a handful of almonds.

  • Plenty of fresh vegetables with protein and fat like hummus or cheese.

  • Healthy fat for cooking. Good options are cold expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or butter.

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Stay away from refined white flour foods and sweets, as they lead to a rapid rise then fall in blood sugar - this actually worsens nausea and causes other symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches, brain fog, anxiety and depression. Avoid letting your stomach become empty or stuffed, and try to separate eating solids and drinking liquids by about 15-20 minutes. Try to eat a small portion of food that you tolerate after vomiting. Eat what agrees with you for now from the above foods, as baby will take nutrients from you. You can replenish when the nausea resolves.

Keep some healthy snacks by your bedside to eat before rising in the morning and going to bed at night. Always carry an assortment of your favorite foods when out.

In general, plain foods are usually better tolerated than hot, spicy, rich, greasy, overly sweetened or processed junk foods. Avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, as they irritate the stomach, in addition to causing health problems for you and your baby.

Hydration is Key

Keep well hydrated by drinking at least 64 ounces of liquids away from food. Good options are:

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  • Pure spring or well water with a splash of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice.

  • Seltzer or sparkling water (plain or naturally flavored).

  • Herbal teas of ginger, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, raspberry leaf, cinnamon, peach, catnip, lemon balm, anise or fennel seeds with honey, agave or fresh mint leaves to taste.

  • Warm milk with lemon juice or honey as soon as you get up in the morning.

  • A small glass of grapefruit juice before meals.

  • Sipping natural ginger ale throughout the day.

  • Soup broth (vegetable, bone or miso are excellent choices).

If you are vomiting, try to drink a small amount of liquid each time you throw up. One quarter cup of fluids every 15-30 minutes is crucial to keep hydrated.

Try to drink the health food alternative to Gatorade or Pedialyte (which is full of chemicals), called Third Wind or Recharge to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Another option is electrolyte infused water like Smart Water. Fresh or all natural coconut water is nature’s rehydration drink. Eating watermelon is also great for hydrating yourself and is well tolerated. You can also make your own concoction by combining:

  • 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp calcium/magnesium powder

  • 1-2 Tbsp honey

  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon or lime to taste

  • 1 qt spring or coconut water.

  • Drink a cup slowly every 1 - 2 hours. Even if you vomit it up, you will still get some and it often reduces the number of vomiting episodes.

Take Time for Self-Care

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This is a very sensitive period. You need to find extra time for your own much needed pampering, and remind close friends and family that you need lots of additional love and understanding.

SELF-CARE STRATEGIES

Soak in a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils of lavender, sandalwood, peppermint, citrus or rose. You can also bathe in a few tablespoons of fresh ginger juice - made by juicing a few inch piece of ginger - or 1/2 cup of grated ginger to the bath.

Get more sleep by going to bed earlier or sleeping later, and taking a nap or frequent rest periods during the day. Allow more time to get out of bed in the morning.

Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Open windows when inside, weather permitting. Every day, try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun. This does wonders!

Engage in regular moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, dancing or swimming for ½ -1 hour 5 days per week. Even though you may not feel like doing this, it helps immensely and you will feel better afterwards.

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Practice the following breathing exercises twice per day (like before rising in the morning and going to sleep at night) and whenever you feel very nauseous or stressed. 

Exercise 1. Simply focus your attention on your breathing for a few minutes. Then, after a normal breath, try slowly squeezing out as much air as possible using the muscles in your chest. Next, allow air to come in naturally and deeply, but automatically. Repeat the cycle for at least eight breaths.

Exercise 2. Take a slow deep inhale, drawing your breath deep into your belly and expanding the inhalation to your fullest capacity. The exhale happens naturally. But let it be through your mouth with an audible sigh of relief, releasing and relaxing all tension. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this cycle for at least eight breaths.

Exercise 3. Play with the counts of inhaling, pausing, exhaling and another pause before the next inhale to see what feels best for you. Try triangle breathing: inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4, then pause for a count of 4, continuing for 5-10 minutes. Alsp try box breathing: inhale to a count of 4, pause for a count of 4 while focusing on relaxing, exhale to a count of 4, pausing again for a count of 4 and repeating that cycle for 5-10 minutes.


Breathwork with extended slow exhales, such as inhale for a count of 3-4 and exhale for a count of 6-8, tend to be extremely calming as well. Rapid forced exhaling through the nose as in the yoga breath of fire, as well as conscious connected circular breathing through the mouth with full capacity enthusiastic inhale and relaxed quick exhale, is more activating and energizing. I love to guide people in mastering transformative life-changing Breathwork practices not only for healing, but also for optimal health and well-being.

Try to relax with yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation techniques (yoga nidra), visualizations and imagery work. There are many phone apps like Calm and Breathe to help you establish a regular practice.

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Enjoy a light distraction like watching an engrossing drama, comedy or musical, reading a good book, or listening to music that you love.

Get a change of scenery by unplugging from your smartphone or computer and spending a day in the park or at the beach, hiking in a beautiful place, getting a spa treatment, exploring a museum or a local town, going to the theater, taking an art or music class, volunteering for those in need, getting together and connecting with those who support and encourage you, going on a mini vacation with a family member or friend to a place you love.

Natural Remedies for Nausea During Pregnancy

HERBS

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If you are interested in herbs, there are several options to try alone or in combination. Go for high-quality sources like Gaia, Wish Garden or Eclectic Institute, or professional grade brands like those in my online holistic apothecary.

Peppermint. Place 1 or 2 drops essential oil of peppermint in a spray bottle and spray it near your nose periodically. You can also put the drops on a piece of cloth, or in an essential oil diffuser, and smell it as often as needed.

Red raspberry leaf. Take 1-2 capsules or 1 ml tincture 1-2 times per day.  

Wild yam tincture. Take 20-30 drops 3-6 times a day, or 1 dropperful up to every few hours depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Dandelion tincture. Can be taken on it’s own, but is especially effective in combination with wild yam. Take 20-30 drops 3-4 times daily.

Ginger root powder. If no history of 2 or more miscarriages, take 250 mg capsules up to 4 times per day.

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New Chapter’s Ginger Honey Tonic. Can be taken in 1-2 tsp doses as often as needed, as can all natural ginger lozenges, ginger sucking candies and dried crystalized ginger pieces.

Slippery Elm. Can be taken in lozenge form or as a thin porridge, by adding water to the powder and honey to taste.

Umeboshi (sour plum). Can be taken as sucking or chewable candies, and are available in most health food stores.

CBD from hemp oil. This is the new rage, as it relieves morning sickness without the potential risks of the THC component of cannabis on the developing fetus. Results from anecdotal evidence and preliminary research, although sparse (as is common with most natural remedies in pregnancy), are promising. Make sure it is absolutely pure, and from a reputable source who can recommend proper dosing or from pharmacies licensed to dispense it, as it is largely unregulated. It is usually taken as several drops under the tongue.

Fresh homemade herbal teas can work wonders for nausea during pregnancy. Do some experimenting to find what is most helpful to you:

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  • Immerse a tiny piece of fresh ginger, or 1 tsp grated ginger in a cup of boiling water for 5-15 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip up to two cups throughout the day.

  • Dandelion root can be taken with or without the ginger. Add approximately 5 Tbsp dried root or about 10 Tbsp fresh root to 1 quart boiling water. Let it brew for 3-4 hours, strain into a glass canning jar, and periodically sip totaling up to 2 cups per day.

  • Add 1 Tbsp dried chamomile to 1 cup boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip periodically, up to 2 cups daily.

  • In 1 cup boiling water, add a tsp of dried or 2 Tbsp fresh leaves of peppermint or spearmint. Immerse covered for 15 minutes and drink as often as needed. You can make your own mint smelling remedy, by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crush the leaves each time you open it, and smell throughout the day as often as you need.

  • You can add a dash of honey, lemon or lime juice to any of the above teas to taste.

  • Try making ice cubes of strong ginger, peppermint or red raspberry tea and suck on them every few hours.

  • You can make your own mint smelling remedy by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crushing the leaves each time you open it, and smelling throughout the day as often as you need.

SUPPLEMENTS

Take a good whole food all-natural prenatal vitamin like New Chapter, Innate Response, or Vitamin Code. Add an additional supplement of 25-50 mg Vitamin B complex 1-2 times per day, depending on how much nausea, vomiting and fatigue you are experiencing. A whole food or herbal iron supplement can also be taken, after meals as needed if you are anemic. It tends to be well absorbed and better tolerated than the pharmaceutical formulations, especially ferrous sulfate that actually upsets the stomach.

If your symptoms are severe and you cannot tolerate taking supplements, just take 25 mg Vitamin B6 three times per day. If even that is too much and your nausea is accompanied by the great exhaustion of early pregnancy, consider a Vitamin B injection from a compounding natural pharmacy. 

Another option when dealing with severe symptoms is to combine Vitamin B6 with a rather safe over-the-counter antihistamine medication doxylamine, known as Unisom, which is available in most drug stores. Take 1/2 tablet or 25 mg before sleep with 25 mg of vitamin B6. You can take the other half in the morning with your first B6 dose but it may make you drowsy. And do not forget the midday 25 mg dose of B6. The combination of Vitamin B6 and Unisom or the prescriptive version called Bongesta can be phenomenally successful at reducing severe nausea during pregnancy, and is considered the best pharmacological treatment around.

ADDITIONAL REMEDIES

While there are many herbalists and holistic midwives whose books line my shelves, with now a plethora of recipes and recommendations used effectively around the world for countless years all over the internet, Dr. Aviva Romm remains one of my favorite resources for safe effective use of herbs in childbearing. She is an integrative physician, midwife and herbalist who has done extensive research and compiled the most comprehensive, evidence based reference guide I have come across called Botanical Guide For Women’s Health. In The Natural Pregnancy Book she advises a wonderfully effective Japanese treatment if you feel like a bout of vomiting is coming on or if you have been already vomiting multiple times:

  • Heat ½ cup sea salt in skillet for 3 minutes. 

  • Put the salt in a pillow case or other suitable sack.

  • Fold into a rectangular pad or small square and wrap it in another towel if too hot.

  • Apply pack directly to your stomach in your upper right abdomen (not lower belly). 

Wear acupressure wristbands, or Seabands, which place constant pressure on the acupressure points related to nausea. These can be purchased in most health food stores and some pharmacies, have been very effective for some women. Or get regular acupuncture treatments.

Homeopathic remedies are safe and amazingly effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. You can consult with a classical homeopath, or refer to books like Homeopathy For Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro. Some women report much success with Weleeda’s homeopathic combination Nausin (7 – 10 drops four times per day). 

Do not take over-the-counter medications without checking with your health care provider, as many are not safe during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.

Please call your health care provider if you have severe persistent vomiting such that you can not keep anything down for more than 24 hours, you are losing weight, dehydrated, and/or you feel faint, as you may need medication, or even intravenous hydration.

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Final Consideration: Your Nausea May Have an Emotional Component

Mental conflict and emotional turmoil can greatly contribute to nausea and vomiting, as does ambivalence about your pregnancy. Make a conscious effort to work on increasing feelings of forgiveness, appreciation, love, joy, optimism, and healing. Likewise, try to let go of anger, resentment, fear, sadness, and other negative thought patterns that are not serving you. Conscious connected breathing as in Clarity Breathwork is a highly effective way of doing this naturally, without much effort.

Try to avoid things, thoughts and people that agitate your mind and raise your internal tension. Surround yourself as much as possible with calm, centered people, things, sounds and places that inspire, relax you, cause you to feel at ease and restore you to inner peace and serenity.

Talk through ambivalent or troubling feelings with your partner, close friend or therapist as needed. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling if you need help with this, as it is not only helpful to express your feelings with a sympathetic ear, but also to develop skills of self mastery and empowerment. Breathwork however will release issues that can not be resolved through thinking and talking, and shave off years of therapy.

If your nausea is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

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Shortness of Breath in Pregnancy

 
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Women often have a heightened awareness of their breathing, have mild breathlessness or feel a slight shortness of breath in pregnancy. This is related to normal conditions of pregnancy, such as:

  • Hormonal changes

  • Added demands on the heart

  • Increased oxygen needs

  • Pressure of the growing uterus on the diaphragm

Shortness of breath after exertion is worse in women who smoke or are not physically fit due to a lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle.  

To keep or get in shape and build your stamina, do an aerobic form of exercise - like brisk walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming - at least ½ hour 5 times per week. If you’re not accustomed to exercise, start lightly and build up slowly. But, listen to your body, modify as needed and avoid overexertion. And, of course, quit smoking right away.

Feeling stressed, so common in the modern world, contributes to shallow breathing and worsens the feeling of being winded and tense. Conscious breathwork is literally key to your salvation. It will transform your life, and can certainly make a huge difference in labor too! 

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If You Experience Shortness of Breath In Pregnancy

There are a number of methods shown to reduce shortness of breath in pregnancy. Try some of the ideas below and find what feels right to you.

FOCUSED BREATHING

Periodically check in on your breathing. If you’re breathing fast, slow it down. If it’s shallow (just from the chest or not a full breath), try to take deeper, fuller breaths down into your belly. Regularly make yourself yawn several times.

Practice one of the following breathing exercises for a few minutes a few times daily. Ideal moments are before going to bed at night, before rising in the morning, and throughout the day. Draw on this exercise whenever you experience:

  • Stress or internal tension

  • Anger or triggering

  • Depression or sadness

  • A break in activity (for example traveling, bathing or waiting in line - let these be opportunities to practice and perfect your skills)

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Three-tiered Breathing. Deep abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is the optimal form of breathing and an effective natural tranquilizer, especially if you do it often. To train yourself in this way of breathing, get comfortable in a reclined position or sit up straight. Then, place your hands on your belly and concentrate on breathing into them. While doing this, bring your attention slowly into your body from head to toe, observing and releasing any muscle tension. Be mindful of what you are currently seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, and all the sensations of breathing. Just watch without judgment or attachment. This takes you into the present moment, and is wonderfully relaxing.

  1. Exhale slowly through your mouth with an audible sigh.

  2. Inhale deep into your belly for a count of 4 or 5.  Imagine a pump expanding your abdomen and lower back which causes you to inhale, then allows your ribs to expand with air, then your upper chest to rise towards your collarbone and shoulders.

  3. For a count of 4 to 5, slowly release your breath through your mouth in the same order as the inhale - from abdomen to ribs then upper chest. Let go and relax more each time you exhale.

  4. Repeat this cycle for a total of 8 times or at least a few minutes.

Extended Exhale Breathing. Inhale deeply into your belly as above, for a count of 3 or 4, then double the exhale to a count of 6 or 8. While breathing in this way, focus on internal sensations, surrendering and relaxing deeper with each exhalation. Repeat for several cycles for at least a few minutes.  

Just Breathe by Dan Brule is an excellent book about all types of breathwork to enhance your well-being. There are also helpful phone apps called Breathe and Calm. For more guidance and deeper transformation, schedule an online or in-person breathwork session with me.

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MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS

State-of-mind, high vibration thoughts and intentions (your deeply positive goals and truest, most lofty desires) and spiritual connection can all be significant factors in the quality of your breath, and the results you feel from conscious breathing.

We all need to be very careful about what we say to ourselves repeatedly, as thought is creative and can lead to manifesting our reality. What we say to ourselves - the good stuff and the not so good stuff - we can often make happen. Literally. Never underestimate the power of the spoken word and your inner self-talk.

If a thought supports, empowers and inspires - and leads to good or uplifting feelings - let it flow. If your internal dialogue leads you to feel more stressed, anxious, unhappy, upset, not good enough, victimized, limited, or increases suffering in any way, drop it like a hot potato.

Know you can avoid going down a slippery slope and that you have the power to turn off the spiraling record player of negativity. It takes great personal work to replace those lower vibration thoughts with higher ones that are actually more true and supportive, but regular practice will elevate your life immensely. You can turn those negative, often false thoughts, around to the opposite. Examples could be:

  • I am good enough at …. (instead of I am not good enough)

  • I have the strength to handle this (instead of I have no more strength to handle this)

  • I am a great mother (instead of I am a bad mother)

  • He/She should have done that or that should have happened (instead of they should not have done that or that should not have happened), because it did happen, they did do it, so it was actually meant to happen (without condoning harmful actions that were done by someone)

  • I am loved and cared about (instead of no one loves or cares about me)

  • That was just what I needed (instead of that ruined my day)

Another great practice is to state your desires as if they are already happening, by keeping them pure, direct, to the point, and in the present tense. Examples could be:

  • I am perfect as I am

  • My life is perfect as it is

  • I am blessed

  • I am Divine

  • I let go and let God

  • I am grateful

  • I am joy

  • I am love

  • I am calm

  • I’ve got this

Create your own mantra as your breathe, and really allow yourself to imagine all the details and sensations of how this new thought feels (what it looks, sounds, smells, tastes and really feels like). There are many wonderful books on this topic . A great start is Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements , Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, or Byron Katie’s Loving What Is.

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Take frequent short breaks throughout the day to reduce inner tension and increase feelings of centeredness and tranquility. Spend time outside in nature as much as you can. Practice meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, releasing all the muscles in your body from head to toe. This is especially helpful if you are nervous about your breathing. 

Also consider doing some Yin, gentle, prenatal and or restorative yoga, or locate your nearest Zen Center. Read Marc Lesser’s Book, Accomplishing More by Doing Less, or any book by Thich Nhat Hanh to learn the basics of meditation and Zen practice. One of my favorites is Peace Is Every Step: The Path Of MIndfulness In Everyday LIfe. 


POSTURE

The way you hold your body can make a significant difference in your ability to take a full breath. 

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Yoga and dance help with this tremendously. Periodically check your posture, especially during the second half of pregnancy. Make sure you are standing or sitting straight using your abdominal muscles, and that your shoulders are down, but not slumped forward.

Sleep with some extra pillows to keep your head or shoulders elevated, or lie down on your side. Wear loose, comfortable clothing so you aren’t restricting your movement or your body’s ability to expand with each inhale.

SELF-CARE

Be sure to take good care of yourself in general. Eat a diet that is healthy and well-balanced including a variety of whole foods and choosing organic whenever possible. Good options are:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Beans and seeds

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Tempeh 

  • Wild Alaskan salmon

  • Whole eggs

  • Turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, and wild game

  • Whole fresh raw dairy - goat and sheep is best

  • Healthy fats like cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or free range grass-fed organic butter

Drink at least 64 ounces of filtered, spring or well water daily between meals, at least 20-30  minutes before or 2 hours after eating. Add berries, a few squeezes and slices of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or fresh mint leaves to taste.

OTHER TIPS

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Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest periods for the added demands of pregnancy. Go to bed earlier, sleep later and/or take daily naps.

Cut back on unnecessary demands if you feel you are doing more than your body can handle.

Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

Consult an acupuncturist with expertise in shiatsu treatment.

Read my books, which cover additional breathing exercises for pregnancy and birth, and for healing and enhanced well-being. 

Contact your physician or midwife if your breathlessness:

  • Becomes severe

  • Occurs especially during rest 

  • Interferes with your ability to carry out routine household chores

  • Is associated with other unusual symptoms like chest pain or palpitations, severe fatigue or weakness, fainting, or blood tinged sputum 

  • Occurs with signs of an infection such as fever, coughing, or congestion.

  • Is in addition to history of asthma or other respiratory problems, heart disease, or smoking

For acute attacks, pause to rest, breath slowly and deeply, exhaling through pursed lips, and try standing with your hands stretched up towards the ceiling.

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.