There are some true joys of pregnancy that every woman can appreciate: seeing baby for the first time on an ultrasound; feeling baby’s first kick; vigorously growing hair and fingernails; new motherhood’s natural boob job; and folding those teensy tiny adorable baby clothes.
But it’s the rare woman who gets through the 10 months of pregnancy without experiencing one or more of the myriad pregnancy discomforts. Some of the most annoying offenders are also the most common: morning sickness, acne, itchy skin, heartburn, hemorrhoids, and swelling.
In order of how early in pregnancy they usually appear, here’s a guide to these irritating pregnancy discomforts and what to do about them. Like all of our maternity guides, this information is not meant to be medical advice. Discuss your pregnancy discomfort with your health care provider.
Pregnancy Discomfort #1: Morning Sickness
For as long as women have been getting pregnant, we’ve been suffering with morning sickness. Every culture has its own versions of morning sickness remedies, and today, modern women have more options than ever. Traditional herbal remedies that came to the rescue of our foremothers are still effective today. What’s changed is that we now have science to show us that ancient, tried-and-true solutions for pregnancy-induced nausea aren’t just old wives tales. Ginger and lime, for example, have been clinically proven to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness. You can consume those ingredients in herbal teas, capsules, or lozenges—or get their aromatherapy benefits in body lotion and essential oils.
Morning Sickness Remedies:
Pregnancy Discomfort #2: Acne
At just about the same time you discover you’re pregnant, you’ll discover one of the other early pregnancy symptoms: acne. The surge in pregnancy hormones causes oil production to increase and the extra water retention pushes toxins through the skin. Now that you’re pregnant, you want to avoid cosmetic chemicals that interfere with hormones and which are linked to birth defects. Since those ingredients include benzoyl peroxide and Retin-A, it’s time to switch up your skin care products. Fortunately, there are numerous options available now for pregnant women, including pregnancy face wash, facial toners and pregnancy acne spot treatments.
Pregnancy Acne Treatments:
Read more about full skin care systems that can treat pregnancy acne along with other tips and tricks in our skin care guide: "Treating Pregnancy Acne."
Pregnancy Discomfort #3: Itchy Skin
It’s an exciting day for every pregnant woman when her belly first “pops.” It can literally happen overnight. One day you look a little bloated; the next, it’s unmistakable that you’ve got a baby on board. Most women in their first pregnancy experience the belly bloom during the second trimester (in subsequent pregnancies, you may show earlier). Toward the end of your second trimester and throughout the last three months, the pregnancy hormones and the rapidly growing skin combine to create an itch on your belly that can drive you insane. Not only is abundant moisturizing necessary, but so is extra anti-itch support. Pregnancy lotions that include herbal extracts with anti-itch power are a great combination. Taking vinegar, oatmeal or baking soda baths can also help alleviate itch.
Pregnancy Lotions with Anti-Itch Properties:
Pregnancy Discomfort #4: Heartburn
Many a mom can attest to toting Tums around with her throughout pregnancy. The only real caveat about taking Tums (which are safe to use during pregnancy) is that you shouldn’t do so during the first trimester, and you shouldn’t eat an entire roll each day. There is such a thing as too much calcium in that form! In addition to calcium-based over-the-counter heartburn relief, you can try some safe herbal tea to tame your tummy’s temper tantrum. Certified Kosher and vegan, Organic Heartburn Tea
can come to your rescue.
Pregnancy Discomfort #5: Hemorrhoids
Who knew pregnancy could be such a literal pain in the butt? Pregnancy hormones make your veins swell more easily, and when constipation makes you strain, and baby gets so heavy that your uterus starts to cut off the flow of blood in your pelvic veins, you have the perfect recipe for hemorrhoids—swollen rectal veins that hurt, itch and burn. (The same factors contribute to vulvar vein swelling, which is another painful surprise pregnancy discomfort.) The bad news is that even if you don’t get hemorrhoids during pregnancy, you’re very likely to experience them after birth, so keep the following information handy for your postpartum care.
To ease the discomfort of pregnancy hemorrhoids, try to avoid constipation with a diet rich in whole grains and veggies and plenty of water. Shrink hemorrhoids and varicose veins around your vagina with soft gel ice packs
. And use pregnancy-safe Mama Bottom Balm
to get instant itch relief, numbing and faster healing of hemorrhoids.
More than you ever want to know about my thoughts on hemorrhoids: "Help for Pregnancy Hemorrhoids."
Pregnancy Discomfort #6: Swelling (Edema)
Just as you enter the final stretch of pregnancy, with only a few more weeks to go, you’ll lose your feet. That big heavy baby is putting so much pressure on those pelvic veins now that things just aren’t flowing like they should. With the increase in fluids in your body, it seems to all go to the feet, ankles, legs, fingers and face. Pregnancy swelling, or edema, can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition. If you experience sudden swelling, extreme swelling, swelling in only one leg, or swelling that’s painful to the touch, call your health care provider right away.
To alleviate the discomfort of gradual pregnancy swelling, however, elevate your feet, try to sleep on your left side only, aim to drink 80 ounces of water a day, and ask your partner to rub your legs and feet to promote circulation. Peppermint oil is lightly stimulating (not too stimulating—we don’t want contractions just yet) and can jump-start circulation, so give him a peppermint lotion to use.
Products for pregnancy swelling:
Written by Maternitique founder and pregnancy beauty expert, Tara M. Bloom. I look forward to yourcomments, pingbacks and seeing who shares this on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and StumbleUpon.