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Supplements for Pregnancy
Problems during Pregnancy
Anaemia in pregnancy
Backache in pregnancy
Bleeding Gums in pregnancy
Breech Baby
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in pregnancy
Constipation in pregnancy
Coughs & Colds in pregnancy
Depression in pregnancy
Gas (Flatulence) in pregnancy
Haemorrhoids in pregnancy
Headaches in pregnancy
Heartburn in pregnancy
Herpes in pregnancy
Insomnia in pregnancy
Leg Cramps in pregnancy
Morning Sickness in pregnancy
Preeclampsia & Eclampsia in pregnancy
Skin Problems in pregnancy
Thrush in pregnancy

Planning a pregnancy - if you are planning pregnancy it is extremely important for both you and your partner to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet, avoid all junk food and processed food, increase the amount of exercise that you do, and reduce your stress levels. It is important for both you and your partner to give up alcohol, cigarettes and all drugs six months before conceiving, and throughout your pregnancy. It is also important to take a good prenatal multi-vitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, and omega 3 fatty acid with DHA daily from the time that you begin to plan conception (see Supplements below).

Pregnancy - throughout pregnancy it is important to keep eating a healthy diet and to take care of yourself and your body, with moderate exercise (swimming and yoga are ideal), fresh air and relaxation whenever possible. During pregnancy only around an extra 200 calories and an extra 6 grams of protein per day are needed, which is about the same as one slice of bread with cheese. However go with your body - sleep when you need to sleep, eat when you need to eat and support your body with extra nutrition through supplements. If you can, eat only organic food and drink only filtered or bottled water, fresh juices and herbal teas. If possible do not use any medications or drugs of any kind while you are pregnant.

Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium - dairy products, fortified soya products, nuts and nut butters (especially almonds), seeds (including Tahini sesame paste), parsley and tinned fish with bones i.e. sardines. Also dark green vegetables like kale and broccoli but these contain only relatively small amounts.

Avoid caffeine, fried food, junk food and artificial fizzy drinks. Predatory fish such as tuna, marlin, shark and swordfish have been shown to contain toxic levels of the heavy metal mercury which can damage the brain and nervous system, particularly in the developing foetus. Avoid these fish, or limit consumption to no more than once a week.

In addition to the dietary advice that your midwife will give you, with regard to foods to avoid i.e. alcohol, shellfish, offal (liver etc), un-pasteurised cheese, peanuts, raw or undercooked meat or fish etc, it is also important to be aware of the following:

Radiation and electromagnetic fields - avoid having any more than your two scans if at all possible, and certainly avoid the detailed 3D scan that is just for pleasure - this is a form of radiation and is not beneficial to anyone, not the baby or yourself.

Do not use an electric blanket. Some experts believe that the invisible electromagnetic field emanating from the blanket can have a negative effect on the foetus.

Have warm baths or showers rather than hot, and do not use steam rooms or saunas at all throughout your pregnancy. The rise in your body's temperature is not beneficial for the foetus.

Avoid chemicals - eat organic food, use chemical-free skincare and personal care products (hair care, dental care, make-up etc), use natural cleaning products, and avoid highly polluted areas. Any chemicals you come in contact with will pass to your baby.  All the products available at 100% Nature are chemcial-free - see Products.

Giving birth - labour is a natural experience and does not have to be a medical procedure, unless of course there are actually complications. The more you take care of yourself through diet, relaxation and gentle exercise the more likely you are to avoid any problems or the need for medical intervention. Having a natural birth whether at home or in hospital is the ideal way both for your body and your baby. It is normal to be anxious about giving birth but by learning good natural birthing techniques it is possible to overcome this.

Avoiding being induced - whilst your estimated delivery date is based on a gestation period of 40 weeks many pregnancies can last for up to 42 weeks. In most cases labour will be induced at this point if you haven't gone into labour naturally. However your consultant should be happy for you to go to 43 weeks as long as you are monitored throughout that week and there are no complications or cause for concern. Only 1% of pregnant women haven't gone into labour naturally by the end of 43 weeks so ask your midwife to refer you if this is something you would like to do.

Acupuncture can be very effective throughout pregnancy to help maintain good health and when the time is right encourage the onset of labour, so helping to avoid being induced. Homeopathy can also be extremely helpful throughout pregnancy, labour and as a new parent. An excellent book to help you to prescribe for yourself and your newborn baby is Miranda Castro's 'Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby's First Year'. Consider seeing a professional homeopath and acupuncturist throughout your pregnancy, in preparation for the birth and your newborn baby.

NB. The information below is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

SUPPLEMENTS FOR PREGNANCY:

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant or are already pregnant then it is important to take the following supplements - see For Pregnancy to view all these products.

Multi-vitamin - for optimum health and to provide a balance of nutrients for the development of the foetus take a good prenatal multi-vitamin formula with whole food concentrates, iron and folic acid. Adequate levels of folic acid before and during pregnancy reduce the chance of birth defects such as spina bifida. Adequate levels of vitamin E during pregnancy can help to reduce the chance of your child developing asthma.  Taking a prenatal multivitamin before and during pregnancy can help to avoid becoming anaemic.

Probiotics - taking a probiotic supplement during the last 1-2 months of pregnancy and giving the same to your newborn baby for six months after the birth significantly reduces the chance of your child developing allergies. This is particularly relevant if allergies and eczema run in your family - see Probiotics.

Folic Acid - if you are looking to take this vitamin individually the recommended dosage is 400cg daily.

Omega 3 - scientific research has shown that the DHA (docosahexanoic acid) in omega 3 fatty acids is extremely important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, for the initial growth and development of the brain and eyes in the foetus. Studies show that women who consume plenty of omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have children who suffer from behavioural and learning problems and also poor visual acuity. Research also suggests that pregnant women with an adequate omega 3 intake are less likely to suffer from post-natal depression - see Depression in Pregnancy.

'MorDHA' is a DHA-rich fish oil and 'Cerebrum Capsules' contain DHA derived from algae which are suitable for vegetarians.

NB. All recommended fish oil supplements have much higher and therefore more beneficial levels of EPA and DHA than most high street brands, are guaranteed to be free from contaminants such as heavy metals and PCBs or dioxins, and are exceptionally stable guaranteeing freshness and no fishy smell or aftertaste.

Calcium and magnesium - calcium is needed for the formation of a healthy bones and teeth, and is important throughout breastfeeding as well. It may also help to prevent high blood pressure and premature birth. Women can take up to 1500mg of calcium a day (with 750mg of magnesium).

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids - taking 2000mg daily in divided doses can help to strengthen the immune system throughout pregnancy.

Herbs - 'Red Raspberry' can be used during the last three months of pregnancy. Liquid extracts of this herb can be more effective than the tea or supplement preparations. 'Complex Female' is a combination of liquid herbs including red raspberry to be used during the final two weeks of pregnancy. 'Shatavari' is an Ayurvedic herb that can be taken during pregnancy to help tone the uterus and reduce the risk of miscarriage.

'Blackthorn Elixir' is an invigorating, fortifying elixir to help maintain general health and wellbeing, made from ripened sloe berries. Fruity blackthorn enlivens, to help you keep up with demanding times such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Click on the For Pregnancy link to view all these products.

PROBLEMS DURING PREGNANCY:

Some women appear radiant and glowing throughout their pregnancy and seem to 'glide' through the nine months with hardly a single complaint. However it is very common to experience some of the problems detailed below and these are generally attributed to hormone changes, anatomical changes and nutritional deficiencies. Enjoying your pregnancy is important for you and your unborn baby so as soon as any complaints arise it is better to take action rather than to suffer and feel unhappy.

Acupuncture can be extremely beneficial throughout pregnancy and if you suffer from morning sickness, vomiting, backache, headaches, sciatica, carpel tunnel syndrome or feelings of depression consider seeing a registered practitioner. For all skeletal problems seeing a McTimoney Chiropractor can also be very helpful, and important. The method is a very gentle manipulation of your body to ensure your skeleton is in line, and you are carrying your weight evenly. For any problems that you may experience that are not detailed below see an acupuncturist, homeopath, nutritionist or naturopath.

ANAEMIA IN PREGNANCY:

Anaemia is most likely to develop in the second trimester. Symptoms include pale skin, gums and the area around the inside of the eye and fatigue. You may also crave such things as coal, dirt, ice, starch or even hair - this is a sign of a nutritional deficiency and is called 'pica'. If you suspect you are anaemic see your midwife or GP.

• Increase your intake of iron-rich foods such as organic red meats, green leafy vegetables, prunes, raisins, egg yolks, apricots, cereals and whole grain foods. Eat a source of vitamin C at the same time to aid the absorption of the iron. Vitamin C-rich foods are broccoli, parsley, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, berries, peppers, blackcurrants, Brussels sprouts, papaya and mango.

• Take a chelated iron supplement of 30mg a day with 100mg of vitamin C for better absorption. Or try 'Floradix' a liquid iron formula which contains an easily assimilated form of organic iron, extracts of herbs, fruit juices and vitamins C and B complex. It helps to utilise food energy sources and has an important role in the maintenance of normal health and vitality - see For Pregnancy.

• Iron can cause constipation (although a chelated supplement should be less likely to cause a problem) so increase your fluid and fibre intake to avoid this - see BOWEL HEALTH SUPPORT - Pregnancy

• Make sure you have enough B vitamins in your diet, including folic acid and B12 to reduce the risk of other types of anaemia developing and take a vitamin B Complex to avoid deficiencies - see Vitamins.

• See a professional homeopath for a constitutional diagnosis, which takes your emotional and physical characteristics into account.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

BACKACHE IN PREGNANCY:

During pregnancy the increased levels of hormones in the body has a relaxing effect on the muscles and so your body is not as well supported as it used to be. This along with the increase in body weight and the change in your centre of gravity can lead to backache.

Acupuncture can be very helpful to alleviate pain and is beneficial both during and after pregnancy. Also see a McTimoney Chiropractor who will very gently manipulate your body to ensure your skeletal structure is in line, and you are carrying your weight evenly. Ask your partner to massage your back or see a professional masseur.

• Try massaging with 'Prenatal Massage Oil' developed specifically for pregnancy with suitable essential oils - see Pregnancy & Labour.

• Change your position often and be aware of your posture, keeping a straight back.

• Try swimming, gentle stretching exercises and pre-natal yoga to keep your body supple. Don't however continue a movement than feels even slightly uncomfortable as you can easily strain a ligament, which will take a long time to heal.

• Make sure you have a good mattress and sleep on your side, not your back.

• Whenever possible wear flat shoes with a wide toe, you may find you need a larger size, and avoid wearing high heels.

• Ensure that when you do lift things you are in the correct position, bending from the knees, not bending the back.

• Try a hot water-bottle or a cold pack in the small of your back.

• In order to deal with the root of the problem i.e. work, stress, postural, emotional etc see a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

BLEEDING GUMS IN PREGNANCY:

The changing level of progesterone during pregnancy can cause the gums to swell and bleed more easily, and so become more prone to infection.

• Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium - dairy products, fortified soya products, nuts and nut butters (especially almonds), seeds (including Tahini sesame paste), parsley and tinned fish with bones i.e. sardines. Also dark green vegetables like kale and broccoli although these contain only relatively small amounts.

• Take a calcium supplement (with magnesium) of up to 1500mg daily, it is beneficial to you and your baby - see Minerals.

• Increase your intake of foods high in vitamin C such as broccoli, parsley, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, berries, peppers, blackcurrants, Brussels sprouts, papaya, mango. A deficiency in vitamin C can cause bleeding gums.

• Try taking a vitamin C supplement of 1000-2000mg daily - see Vitamins.

• Brush your teeth carefully three to four times daily with a soft toothbrush, in circular movements rather then up and down, and floss every day - see Dental Care.

• See your dentist at least once during your pregnancy but avoid having any dental x-rays while you are pregnant.

• For bleeding gums try taking the homeopathic remedy Phos 30c, and for gums that are receding take Silica 30c - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three or four times a day and see if there is any improvement.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

BREECH BABY IN PREGNANCY:

Towards the end of pregnancy a baby will ideally settle into the correct position for birth, with its head down and its back against the mother's abdomen. However it can adopt the 'breech' position with its head up, bottom down and legs tucked up in front. A breech birth is more difficult and may result in the use of forceps or a Caesarean section. Over half of breech babies turn in to the correct position themselves after 32 weeks, and some babies turn around right at the onset of labour, however if your baby is still breech at 34 weeks it is worth encouraging it to turn, to try and avoid the need for a Caesarean or other intervention:

• The method of Moxibustion used in acupuncture has been used successfully for centuries to help turn breech babies. The herb mugwort is dried and rolled like a cigar and this is known as a 'moxa stick'. This stick is then lit at one end, while the other is placed on the acupuncture points at the outside edge of the little toe on both feet for 15-20 minutes, and repeated as necessary. Moxa can also be placed on the end of an acupuncture needle. The heat and stimulation created by this method results in movement so as soon as a baby does turn the treatment should be stopped, otherwise the continuous use of moxibustion could cause a baby to move back into the breech position. Best results are achieved when treatment takes place during weeks 34-36, however it can still be very effective after this time.

• The homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla 30c can be very effective at encouraging babies to turn. Take one dose every two hours for up to six doses during one day. Take for one day only - see Homeopathy. If this is not effective see a professional homeopath for a higher (200c) potency - follow the Complementary Health link above.

• Try 'postural tilting' several times a day. Lie on the floor with a pillow beneath your head and two or three under your hips. Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and make sure you feel comfortable. This position creates extra space in your pelvis. Encourage your baby to turn by massaging the abdomen gently, pushing your baby in one direction, and imagine your baby turning. Rest in this position for 10-20 minutes practising deep breathing and relaxation exercises.

• Try crawling around on your hands and knees for 10 minutes every day. This also creates movement and more space for the baby to turn.

• Talk to your baby, asking it to turn and explaining why it is important.

CARPEL TUNNEL SYNDROME IN PREGNANCY:

A type of repetitive strain injury (RSI), carpal tunnel syndrome has become common in the modern world, mainly due to the use of computers and the continuous rapid use of the fingers. The symptoms occur when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed or damaged. In pregnancy as the muscles relax due to the increased levels of hormones, and the hands swell due to water retention this nerve becomes compressed. The carpel tunnel is the opening in the wrist through which the median nerve runs.

The symptoms can range from mild numbness and tingling to excruciating pain and an inability to use the hands properly. Generally the sensation is burning, tingling and numbness in the thumb and the first three fingers, but the pain can also spread up the arm from the wrist, and for people who are suffering from this long-term there is a risk that the muscles of the thumb can degenerate. It is often worse in the morning or at night. Fortunately if you get carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy it should disappear after you have given birth.

• See your midwife who can refer you to the hospital to be measured for splints (supports) for your hands and wrist. These should be worn at night to help keep your wrist in the best position and easing the pressure on the nerve.

Acupuncture can be very beneficial for reducing the pain and discomfort of carpel tunnel syndrome.

Avoid salt and all foods high in salt and sodium, which increase water retention and may make the condition worse. Avoid adding salt to foods both in cooking and at the table. Avoid processed foods and other foods with a high salt content.

Oxalic acid can lead to joint problems so foods that contain or lead to the production of it should be consumed in moderation. These include asparagus, eggs, fish, parsley, rhubarb, spinach, spring greens and cabbage.

• Try eating half a fresh pineapple each day until relief is obtained. Fresh pineapple (not tinned) contains bromelain, which reduces pain and swelling.

• Increase your intake of foods high in vitamin B6 such as bananas, avocados, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken and whole grains. B6 is an effective diuretic and may help to reduce water retention.

• The antioxidant Co-enzyme Q10 improves tissue oxygenation and is fine to take whilst pregnant - see Antioxidants.

• Try taking Rhus tox 30c the homeopathic remedy, which is useful for stiff and painful joints, or Ruta 30c if you have had RSI before and pregnancy has either made it worse or brought it on again - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three or four times a day for a week and see if there is any improvement.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

CONSTIPATION IN PREGNANCY:

During pregnancy the increased level of progesterone in the body has a relaxing effect on the muscles making them less efficient and this includes the gut. The result can be constipation and this can increase the likelihood of haemorrhoids (piles) so try to avoid it or alleviate it as soon as it occurs.

see BOWEL HEALTH SUPPORT - Pregnancy

• Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and salad, and include dried fruit such as prunes and figs.

• Try cutting out wheat and dairy products for a while to see if that improves things.

• Increase your fibre intake through wholegrain foods and try adding 'FortiFlax' (ground flaxseeds) to your cereal and salads (see link below).

• Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered or bottled water each day.

• Take gentle regular exercise every day, just walking for half an hour will help.

• Try and keep your bowel movements to be the same time each day - this is good for the body - and raise your feet and legs on a low stool, do not strain.

• See the main Constipation section for information on suitable homeopathic remedies, or see a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

COUGHS & COLDS IN PREGNANCY:

Coughs and colds are often more common during pregnancy and can be more difficult than usual to get rid of. Once you have a cold most of the usual immune-boosting supplements are not suitable to take during pregnancy, apart from vitamin C and garlic, so keeping yourself healthy and trying to avoid infections is important.

• Eat a healthy diet and increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin C such as broccoli, parsley, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, berries, peppers, blackcurrants, Brussels sprouts, papaya and mango.

• Include raw garlic in your diet by adding it to salad dressings and meals when cooking is complete. It is a powerful immune support.

• Take an odourless garlic supplement such as 'Super Strength Supergar 8000' to support the immune sytstem- see Wholefoods & Superfoods.

• Take a vitamin C supplement of 1000-2000mg daily to support the immune system - see Vitamins.

• Drink plenty of fluids including filtered or bottled water, fresh juices and herbal tea.

• Try not to carry on as normal, it is very important to get plenty of rest until you are better.

• To ease congestion use a humidifier or vaporiser, or make a steam inhaler with a bowl of freshly boiled water, and add a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus - see Essential Oils.

• See the main Colds section for suitable homeopathic remedies. If you are unsure, or your cough, cold or congestion is persistent see a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

DEPRESSION IN PREGNANCY:

Experiencing feelings or periods of depression, as well as feeling more emotional and volatile is very normal during pregnancy. Being open and talking about your feelings is a good way to help deal with this. Make sure that you have someone that you can talk to. The following recommendations apply to depression during pregnancy and post-natal depression (PND), which affects 10-15 per cent of women after giving birth.

Acupuncture can be very effective in dealing with depression and has been used in this way for many hundreds of years. Seeing a professional homeopath can also be very beneficial.

• Ask your midwife or doctor about seeing a counsellor if you feel that is something you would like to do.

• Regular exercise can help to alleviate feelings of depression.

Relaxation and 'time out' is important. Consider yoga and meditation classes, and after the birth try an Infant Massage class to help you bond with your baby.

• Get some fresh air and sunshine (or at least daylight) every day to help clear your mind.

• Try bright-light therapy, which can significantly improve the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other forms of depression.

• Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital for healthy brain function. Low levels of fatty acids just after the birth have also been linked to post natal depression. During and after pregnancy eat more cold water fish such as organic salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, and take a supplement such as 'MorEPA', 'Lemon Fish Oil' or Flaxseed Oil capsules if you are vegetarian - see Essential Fatty Acids.

• If none of the above methods are working discuss taking Hyperifirce St John's Wort with your healthcare provider. It is often taken as a natural alternative to chemical anti-depressants with far fewer side effects, and has not shown to affect milk production or infant growth - see Herbs.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

GAS (FLATULENCE) IN PREGNANCY:

The digestion slows down in pregnancy due to hormonal changes so digestive problems are common and foods which normally you would have no problem with can cause gas and bloating.

• Keep a note of problem foods and avoid them.

• Eat little and often - try having four to five small meals a day instead of three large meals, and eat slowly, chewing your food well.

• Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and when cooking vegetables steam them, rather than boil them to preserve as many enzymes and nutrients as possible.

• Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered or bottled water each day.

Exercise gently each day - walking is an excellent way to relieve gas.

Peppermint tea can both be very soothing and help to relieve gas and the bloating that accompanies it - see Herbal Tea.

• Try the following homeopathic remedies: Carbo Veg 30c for trapped wind and pain; Lycopodium 30c if the cause is anxiety; and Nux Vomica 30c if the cause is overindulgence - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three or four times a day as required. If your symptoms match two different remedies alternate them.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

HAEMORRHOIDS IN PREGNANCY:

Haemorrhoids (piles) are varicose veins of the rectum and are common during pregnancy. They can be internal or external and are caused by; the pressure of the uterus as the foetus increases in size and weight; as a result of constipation in pregnancy; and during labour due to the increased pressure in that area. Constipation is common during pregnancy because the levels of hormones cause all the muscles in the body to relax, including the gut and so digestion slows down and becomes less effective. If you do develop haemorrhoids it is possible to reduce their size but it is not possible to be rid of them entirely.

ADVICE:

• Increase your intake of dietary fibre by eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, dried fruit and whole-grain foods. This will help to soften stools and prevent constipation, thus reducing the likelihood of developing haemorrhoids, and ease discomfort if you suffer from them. It is important to avoid passing hard stools as this can be very painful and can cause bleeding and swelling.

• Eat a healthy diet and avoid refined and processed foods.

Never strain when having a bowel movement.

• Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered or bottled water each day, as well as juices and herbal teas.

Exercise every day, even just walking, helps the digestion and elimination process.

• Practise your pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles in your rectum as well as your vagina and urethra.

• At the first sign of constipation - see BOWEL HEALTH SUPPORT - Pregnancy

• If you do get haemorrhiods apply 'Aesculus (horse chestnut) Gel' directly to the inflamed veins to help relieve pain and reduce swelling - see Gels & Oils in the Family Pharmacy.

• After going to the toilet try using natural baby wipes instead of dry toilet paper, which is too harsh - see Skin Care for Babies & Toddlers.

• Homeopathy can help so take Nux Vomica 30c if the piles are itching and blind (inside the rectum), or Sepia 30c if you have a sense of prolapse from within, if you have shooting pains up the rectum, or you bleed while walking - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three or four times a day as required. The Aesculus (horse chestnut) homeopathic remedy is also available from professional homeopaths.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency or different remedy contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

HEADACHES IN PREGNANCY:

Minor headaches can be common in pregnancy as a result of stress, tension, worry, lack of sleep and low blood sugar levels if you are not eating sufficient food or for whatever reason have missed a meal.

• Make sure that you are getting enough rest and relaxation, and if you can catch up on sleep during the day.

• Do not skip meals. Eat little and often to prevent low blood sugar. The metabolism speeds up during pregnancy and more food than usual is required by the body.

• Drink plenty of fluids - filtered or bottled water, herbal teas and fresh fruit juices diluted with water.

• Check your posture for tension if you feel a headache coming on and stretch your neck and shoulders for ten minutes, taking deep breaths. Try tucking your chin more towards you chest slightly - this is the correct position for good posture.

• Get some fresh air if you have been indoors.

• Have your eyes tested in case your eyesight has changed during pregnancy.

• If you feel stressed or emotional talk about your thoughts and concerns with your partner or somebody else you feel comfortable with. Consider seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist either privately or through your GP.

• Take a long, warm bath with either some drops of Lavender in or the 'Prenatal Bath Soak' - see Essential Oils and Pregnancy & Labour.

• Try applying the 'Prenatal Instant Unwinder' to your temples and pulse points, it contains lavender, vetiver and ylang ylang - see Pregnancy & Labour

• See the main Headaches section for suitable homeopathic remedies or see a professional homeopath (see link below).

Acupuncture can also be very beneficial for pain relief, and a McTimoney Chiropractor will be able to make sure that your skeleton is in balance and not the cause of your headaches.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

HEARTBURN IN PREGNANCY:

Heartburn and indigestion are common during pregnancy because the increased levels of hormones relax all the muscles including the sphincter muscle above the stomach, and as the uterus expands it can push against the stomach causing fluids (acid) back into the oesophagus which causes a burning sensation.

Avoid all spicy and greasy foods, alcohol, coffee, and baked goods which contain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Keep a note of which foods make the problem worse and avoid them.

Don't take antacids as they can upset the balance of the acidity in the stomach even more, and if taken regularly can increase the risk of anaemia in pregnancy by affecting the absorption of iron.

• Keep yourself upright to prevent reflux of stomach acid, squatting rather than bending over and propping yourself up with pillows when you lie down.

Eat slowly and chew your food well to allow the saliva to start the digestive process before food reaches the stomach.

• Eat little and often, avoiding large and heavy meals, and avoid eating too late in the evening.

• Try drinking (sipping) a glass of warm Rice Milk to relieve heartburn. Rice milk is non-acidic and is easily digested and is availble in most supermarkets and health food shops.

• Try chewable 'Papaya Tablets', which contain natural enzymes to support healthy digestion - see Digestive Enzymes.

• Homeopathy can help: try Carbo Veg 30c if you are flatulent, distended, with lots of belching, a sense of food putrifying, and if even the simplest foods cause distress, or Apis 30c if there is burning with belching and tenderness - see Homeopathy. Take one dose every half an hour or an hour depending on the severity, and then three or four doses a day as required. If your symptoms match two different remedies alternate them.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency or a different remedy contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

HERPES IN PREGNANCY:

Genital herpes is caused by the same family of viruses that cause cold sores, on the lips - see Cold Sores for further information and dietary advice relevant to both conditions.

If you have herpes or had your first outbreak during your pregnancy it is very important to notify your midwife. The first outbreak is generally the worst and if this occurs during the first few months of your pregnancy it may be damaging to the baby. If you have a bout of herpes when you are due to give birth you will probably need to have a Caesarean section because it can be life threatening to newborn babies.

• Do all that you can to strengthen your immune system: eat well and get plenty of rest; take 1000-2000mg of vitamin C a day - see Vitamins; add raw garlic to your food and, or take a garlic supplement - see Whole Foods & Superfoods.

• Add a handful of sea salt to your bath water with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil - see Essential Oils. Tea tree oil can also be applied neat to the area, or diluted in water or a base oil.

• See a professional homeopath for a constitutional diagnosis, where your emotional and physical characteristics are taken into account.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

INSOMNIA IN PREGNANCY:

Insomnia is very common during pregnancy, particularly during the last few weeks when finding a comfortable sleeping position becomes difficult, you need to get up in the night to urinate, and your emotions and thoughts with regard to pregnancy, birth and parenthood may keep you awake. Deficiencies in vitamin B6 can also cause insomnia.

• If possible take naps during the day to catch up on sleep if you feel exhausted.

• If your emotions and thoughts are keeping you awake keep a pen and notebook by your bed and write them down to discuss them with your partner the next day.

• Try using  'Lavender Spray' and taking warm baths with 'Prenatal Bath Soak' to relax before going to bed - see Essential Oils and Pregnancy & Labour.

• Take up yoga or some other form of meditation to help you relax. The breathing techniques you will learn can also be very beneficial during labour.

Try reading or meditating until you feel sleepy, or ask your partner to read to you.

Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, coca cola, and anything else with caffeine in.

Do not eat large meals close to bedtime. Leave at least three hours to digest a meal before going to bed.

• Try drinking sleep-inducing herbal teas such as chamomile throughout the day, before bedtime and in the middle of the night if it helps. Or try 'Sleep Tea Bags' which contain a blend of herbs to promote restful sleep - see Herbal Tea.

• Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin B6 such as bananas, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, red kidney beans, lentils, watercress and squash, although be aware that some of these may cause gas. The B vitamins are important for a healthy nervous system, for relieving stress and promoting restful sleep so try taking a good B Vitamin Complex - see Vitamins.

Calcium has a calming effect on the body and magnesium is needed to balance with calcium and relaxes the muscles. Calcium is also beneficial to take during pregnancy for foetal development and to help avoid high blood pressure. Women and girls over the age of 17 take up to 1500mg of calcium with magnesium in divided doses each day, after meals and at bedtime - see Minerals for calcium & magnesium supplements.

• See a professional homeopath or acupuncturist to get to the root of the problem and determine the correct treatment.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

LEG CRAMPS IN PREGNANCY:

In addition to the strain the extra weight places on the legs, leg cramps can be caused by certain nutritional deficiencies, an imbalance of electrolytes and changes in your circulation.

• Increase your intake of foods rich in calcium and potassium such as bananas, almonds, grapefruit, organic salmon, sardines, sesame seeds, soya and tofu, and organic dairy products.

Elevate your legs when you are sitting or sleeping so they are higher than your heart.

Change your position frequently and avoid standing in one place for too long.

• Walk at least half a mile every day to improve the circulation.

• To relieve cramp flex your feet upwards gently pulling your toes towards you.

• Try using 'Prenatal Leg Refresher', it is a soothing, cooling leg massage gel for tired and aching legs and feet and includes simple massage instructions - see Special Offers.

• Try taking supplements of calcium with magnesium, and potassium to ensure you are getting adequate levels of these minerals. Women and girls over 17 years can take 500-1500mg of calcium daily and 99mg of potassium daily - see Minerals.

• See a professional homeopath for a constitutional diagnosis, where your physical and emotional characteristics are taken into account.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

MORNING SICKNESS:

Experiencing feelings of nausea and vomiting is normal and is most common from the sixth to the twelfth week of pregnancy. However for some women it can last a lot longer, even for the whole nine months. Different women experience different degrees of sickness, and although it is called morning sickness it can occur at any time of day or night.

The nausea is often accompanied by an increased sensitivity to smells and loud noises and you may experience an unpleasant, metallic taste in the mouth that is only relieved by eating.

The main cause of morning sickness is believed to be high levels of the hormones oestrogen and chorionic godanotropin (hCG), which is increasingly produced by the placenta until the end of the first trimester. It is now known that emotions can also contribute or aggravate this condition i.e. feelings of doubt, fear, resentment, disgust, and denial. There is also thought to be a connection with the liver. This is a logical conclusion when you consider that the liver is responsible for breaking down excess hormones and toxins in the body which can then be excreted. If the liver is not able to deal well with the increase in hormones one of the symptoms is nausea.

Abnormal vomiting, severe nausea and vomiting that continues after the twelfth week, occurs in about 1 in 300 pregnancies and can result in dehydration, acidosis, malnutrition and weight loss all of which can have detrimental effects on the developing baby. If you do suffer from this consult your health care provider or seek professional help.  Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy or radionics can be very helpful - see Complementary Health.

NEW - Morning Sickness Ease

• Keep dry biscuits or crackers by your bed and eat some before you even lift your head off the pillow in the morning. Lift your head slowly and carefully sit up. Have a drink of warm or cold lemon and honey, or lemon and ginger before getting out of bed. Try making an infusion of hot water with chopped ginger and fresh lemon. Ginger biscuits can be helpful.

• Eat little and often, taking small frequent meals with snacks in between, and chew your food well. Make sure you sit and enjoy your food. You may find that cold food is better than hot food as it tends to smell less. It is important to avoid having an empty stomach so try snacking on bananas or crackers with cheese to maintain your blood sugar levels.

• Try not to stop drinking or eating, or skip meals because of the nausea. Make sure that you find foods that you can eat.

• Try to eat a predominately complex carbohydrate diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables for a few days. If that doesn't help try a high protein diet (fish, cheese, meat and eggs) to see if that improves things.

Try cutting out fats and fatty food, dairy products, sugar, and even fruit to see if there is any improvement.

• If you do find you are better without dairy products take a calcium supplement, or an iron supplement if you cut out meat and whole wheat, to make sure you are getting enough - see Minerals.

• The amino acid 'L-Methionine' helps to breakdown fats in the liver and eliminate toxins and is effective in preventing nausea. It is fine to take when pregnant. Take 500mg twice a day (formulated with 50mg of B6 - see below) - see Amino Acids.

• Try also taking Vitamin B6 and magnesium on a daily basis for up to six weeks.  When experiencing nausea take 50mg of B6 every four hours.  Take 400mg of magnesium daily first thing upon waking. This combination of nutrients is safe take when pregnant  - see Vitamins and Minerals.

Vitamin K can be helpful and an excellent source is 'Alfalfa'. Take as directed on the label - see Whole Foods & Superfoods.

Ginger liquid extract can be very helpful for relieving nausea - see Herbs.

Ginger, dandelion and peppermint tea can all be beneficial for morning sickness - see Herbal Tea.

Acupuncture can be very effective for helping to alleviate morning sickness. Traditional Chinese Medicine has also be found to be effective.

• Try taking homeopathic remedies to help improve your symptoms: take Nux Vomica 30c if you love fats and stimulant foods, if there is nausea with retching that is relieved by vomiting, sour belching, indigestion and heartburn. You may feel bad-tempered and as though you have a knot in your stomach; Sepia 30c if you loathe fat and the smell or thought of food makes you nauseous, if there is an empty feeling in your stomach that is temporarily relieved for eating, you feel apathetic, exhausted and heavy but are better for vigorous exercise; Pulsatilla 30c if there is nausea but with little vomiting, you are worse after eating and drinking, better for fresh air and for company and you feel weepy, moody and like to be comforted; Ipecac 30c if you have a big aversion to all food and cold drinks, there is constant nausea with empty belching and retching, and vomiting is difficult and does not relieve the nausea; and Nat Mur 30c if you want salt and only simple foods - see Homeopathy.

Take one dose every half an hour or an hour depending on the severity, and then three or four doses a day as required. If your symptoms match two different remedies alternate them.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

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