Pregnancy: Natural relief from heartburn and back pain

The aches and pains that can come with pregnancy can take their toll. We have some advice for some natural solutions for b...

The aches and pains that can come with pregnancy can take their toll. We have some advice for some natural solutions for back pain and heartburn in pregnancy.

BACK PAIN

When your bump is causing back pain, there are plenty of things you can do before reverting to over-the-counter pain killers.

During pregnancy, the baby changes your whole centre of gravity, which results in your pelvis shifting forward. This can lead to a common form of back pain known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP). This pain starts from the middle lower back area and travels around to your hips and pubic bone.

In order to compensate for this forward shift in their pelvis, many women naturally lean backwards, increasing the curve of their lower back and sometimes causing further lower back pain.

1. Exercise
Staying active can really help with back pain as it keeps your muscles from getting too tight. Some forms of exercise can be uncomfortable when pregnant, however swimming is recommended as a pregnancy-friendly way to keep moving.

Exercises like squats, lunges, glute kickbacks or bridges can all help support your posture and prevent back pain by strengthening your glutes, back, hamstrings and calves.

2. Deep breathing
Laboured breathing during pregnancy can contribute to back pain. Because our organs get squashed from the weight and the size of the baby, our diaphragms tend not to function as they should. This can lead to the rib cage not moving as well as it should, which can lead to back pain.

Using proper breathing techniques can help keep your rib cage moving properly. Practise your core breath, which is when your ribs go out and up on the inhale, and in and down on the exhale. This deep breathing is also important as slow, silent inhales through the nose will help get the breath into your side ribcage and lower and middle back, helping to release tightness in those muscles.

3. Chiropractic care
Chiropractic care during pregnancy can be very gentle. It is important to choose someone who is specially trained in treating pregnant and postpartum women and the chiropractor should have a special table or some other way to accommodate a pregnant woman’s bump.

4. Posture
When standing, pay attention to where you feel the weight in your feet. Try to get your weight into your heels rather than the balls of your feet. Standing with your feet too close together while pregnant can irritate your back, so try to keep them hip-width apart.

How you sit can also impact your back. When sitting, try staying close to the edge of the seat, as you would on an exercise ball. This will make your pelvis more mobile and help with back pain, partly because letting your belly hang will help get your baby into a better position.

5. Massage
A massage therapist can offer relief for back pain. Mums-to-be can also use a foam roller at home to loosen up their glutes, hamstrings and calves so those muscles don’t pull on the lower back.

6. Practice mindfulness
Some research has shown that pain responds well to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). It is worth taking time to find an MBSR course, where you will learn how to use meditation and mindful movement, like certain yoga positions, to manage stress and pain.

HEARTBURN

Also known as acid reflux, heartburn is a common symptom of pregnancy. This happens when the valve between your stomach and oesophagus relaxes due to hormones, allowing the acid to flow back up.

For some women, spicy foods trigger heartburn, while others may experience it after eating a large meal, lots of citrus or sometimes anything at all. Your digestive system also slows down during pregnancy, which can cause indigestion and constipation. The pressure of your baby on your stomach can make this discomfort worse.

Before you try medication or supplements (always ask your GP before trying these things while pregnant), there are some natural ways to improve your heartburn:

1. Ginger
It is a commonly known fact that ginger helps to reduce nausea, however it can also have a soothing effect on the digestive tract. Try to incorporate natural ginger root into your diet - try grating it into your stir-fry or curries or boiling it in water for tea.

2. Apple cider vinegar
People tend to think of vinegar as very acidic, however apple cider vinegar is quite neutral, so it calms down the acid in your digestive tract. Dilute one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water and drink it once a day for natural heartburn relief.

3. Herbal tea
Peppermint, slippery elm and marshmallow root are known for their soothing properties and considered safe during pregnancy. However, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs or herbal teas while pregnant.

If you get the OK from your doctor, try sipping these teas, available at health food stores, after your evening meal to see if they offer you some natural heartburn relief.

4. Exercise
Going for a 10-minute walk half an hour after a meal promotes digestion. This gets food moving through the digestive tract, which means a little less pressure on your stomach, making it less likely that the acid will flow back up your oesophagus.

For more advice on natural or over-the-counter solution to heartburn or back pain, ask your GP or pop in and chat to our friendly CarePlus Pharmacists.

*Information from Today's Parent - midwives, obstetricians, naturopaths and chiropractors



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