25 Mar Managing Common Pregnancy Complaints
By Mums Fitness Founder, Timo Topp
During your pregnancy you may be susceptible to some common pregnancy complaints such as morning sickness, fluid retention and constipation. This article looks at healthy, nutritional and natural ways to manage these ailments to assist you with a smooth and enjoyable pregnancy.
Morning sickness is probably the most common pregnancy complaint experienced in the first trimester due to a surge in pregnancy hormones. It can start from the fourth week and continue until week 12-14. Whilst food may be the last thing on your mind eating regularly can help to elevate it a little as low blood sugar can contribute to the feeling.
Eat regularly and snack to keep blood sugar levels up. Crackers, dry toast or yoghurt are recommended. A magnesium and vitamin B6 supplement can help reduce nausea as can drinking ginger tea or water with ginger slices. Have faith it usually only lasts till the end of the first trimester.
Blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy. Iron is required for the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells. Iron is also important for the health of baby brain development and immune function. If you have low iron during pregnancy this may translate to increase chances of infant anaemia. Iron rich foods include: lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs wholegrain cereals, leafy greens, nuts and seeds. It can be difficult to ensure sufficient levels so it is wise to include an iron supplement to meet increasing needs. Calcium and vitamin C help to increase absorption.
Constipation may occur in the early stages of pregnancy due to the rise in progesterone which slows the bowels. Sip plenty of water regularly and eat fibre rich foods such as wholegrain cereals, plenty of fruits and vegetables and add wheat germ or psyllium to cereals or smoothies. Dried apricots and prunes can also help. A probiotic supplement may be recommended to help with digestive health and regular exercise also helps.
Fluid retention can affect 50% of pregnant mums and is more common in the third trimester. Be aware of rings feeling tight or feet feeling tighter in shoes. It is not caused by drinking too much water so continue to drink regularly. Try not to spend too long on your feet. Reduce salt intake by reducing processed foods as excessive salt will promote fluid retention. A magnesium and B6 supplement can help regulate water balance.
Food sources include: fish, brown rice, kale, spinach broccoli and sunflower seeds.
Varicose veins and leg cramps
The reason pregnant mums are susceptible to varicose veins and leg cramps is due to the growing pressure of baby on the veins of the pelvis making it harder for from the legs to reach the heart as well as increased progesterone which relaxes blood vessel walls
Tips: Exercise promotes circulation or even do some foot circles to get blood flowing. Occasionally lie down or sit with your feet raised, avoid standing for long periods of time and avoid wearing tight clothing around the legs. Vitamin C is important for immunity and improving circulation so eat lots of citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and cabbage. A nice warm bath would help relax sore leg muscles and promote circulation.
Stretch marks are caused when the collagen in the skin tears as the skin stretches to accommodate the rapid growth of the baby relaxin is released as part of the pregnancy which makes the skin more vulnerable to tearing.
You can prevent stretch marks by eating foods rich in omega 3 which helps to keep the skin elastic: oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines. Zinc and vitamin c are important for collagen production so eat red meats, fish, sunflower seeds for zinc and citrus fruits for vitamin C and drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated.
Apply a natural moisturising cream such as cocoa butter, coconut oil, almond oil or grape seed oil or a vitamin E cream.
Increasing pregnancy hormones can cause the break out of skin conditions. Progesterone is a more androgenic (male) hormone which causes glands in the skin to be make more oil leaving pours vulnerable to blockage resulting in inflammation.
Tips to prevent acne: Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated, vitamin C helps reduce infections, eat foods rich in omega 3 fats – as mentioned
before. Zinc also helps reduce inflammation and helps heal the skin. Use a natural face cleaner to keep the skin free from dirt that can block pours.
Increasing progesterone in the first trimester has a sedative effect making you feel tired. This coupled with the extra demand of growing a baby and increased blood flow it is no wonder you get tired during pregnancy. Energy levels can pick up at the end of the first trimester but then drop again towards the end of the pregnancy.
Ways to boast energy
Try to get as much sleep as you can as towards the end of the pregnancy your sleep is likely to be disturbed.
Eat healthy foods regularly and avoid processed, high sugar snacks that will play havoc with blood sugar levels. Choose wholegrains over refined white carbs.
As mentioned earlier, eat iron rich foods and also consider a supplement if levels are low. Also supplement with a good pregnancy multivitamin which will help you obtain many of the specific nutrients discussed in this article such as B vitamins important for energy, magnesium and zinc. Spirulina is an excellent supplement as it is natural and a superfood also high in protein. Also take vitamin C to fight of infections and keep immunity strong when your body is under stress from the demands of the pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses lighten your workload and delegate duties. Look to catch a nap when you can.
Do some light exercise to boast energy levels, psychological wellbeing and promote circulation. Drink plenty of water and reduce caffeine and of course alcohol!