Pregnancy is a wonderful time in every woman's life. If you're pregnant or have given birth, then you must know by now that it is not without challenges, as it is also peppered with a lot of pain and discomfort. Back pain is one common complaint, for example, brought on by the increased levels of relaxin, a type of hormone that loosens the pregnant woman's ligaments to make for easy delivery. Here are a few things you can do to make your journey through pregnancy a lot easier, as well as some pain management treatments and alternative therapies that can do the job:
Swimming is the best way to improve posture and is one of the most prescribed forms of activity to manage pain in physical therapy. It keeps pregnant women limber and tones your core and spinal muscles. Just like any forms of exercise, swimming improves blood circulation and improves one's resistance.
Sea or pool water? Well, it doesn't matter-at least for now. Reports that chlorinated water is harmful for pregnant women or may cause asthma and eczema to unborn babies are still inconclusive and still need further research. Some healthcare professionals, however, advice pregnant women to take some precautions when swimming in pool water.
"As long as the chemicals are appropriately monitored, swimming in chlorinated pool isn't a problem at all. It might actually make you feel good-especially later in your pregnancy-to float in the water," said Dr. Catherine Lynch, an ob-gyn and a member of the Baby Center community.
Pre-natal yoga is all the rage right now among soon-to-be moms. It strengthens your spine, therefore, allowing you to maintain proper posture even as that little bundle of joy grows inside your womb. It also keeps you in tune with your breathing, preparing you for childbirth and labor. It also helps you keep calm when you need it most throughout your pregnancy and labor.
Perhaps, another important benefit of pre-natal yoga for pregnant women is finding support and establishing connections with other expectant mothers. "When I practice yoga in the company of pregnant women, not only do I feel connected to them, but I feel connected to every woman who has ever been pregnant and any woman who will ever give birth," Stephanie Snyder, a San Francisco-based Vinyasa Yoga teacher, told Yoga Journal. "That primal connection is empowering, and I know it will help me through the labor and delivery," she added.
Cynthea Denise, a registered nurse and California prenatal yoga instructor, recommends a variety of prenatal yoga poses, in a Baby Center article. These poses are:
Cobbler's or Tailor's Pose. Is a sitting pose done to open up the hips and pelvis. To do this pose, start by sitting up straight with your back against the wall with the bottom of your feet pressing against each other. As you sit, slowly press on your knees until they touch the floor. Be careful not to push too hard or too suddenly as to not stretch your calves.
Pelvic Tilt or Cat-Cow. Get down on your hands and knees, with arms and knees apart. In the right position, your body should resemble a tabletop. Now round your back as you inhale, then relax as you exhale. Repeat as you please.
Squats. Squats also open up the pelvis while strengthening your upper leg, according to Baby Center. When doing squats, hold on to the back of a chair for support. Find your balance then position your hips parallel to the back of the chair. Exhale deeply as you lower yourself gradually. As you're down in a squatting position, inhale, then exhale as you push yourself back again into a standing position.
Side-lying position. This pose is a perfect finale as you cool down after your yoga routine. Lie on your sides with your head resting on your arm or pillow. Prop a pillow or blanket under your thigh or your back for support.
The website also recommends doing the Warrior pose or Tree pose to improve balance.
About 50 to 70 percent of women are prone to back pain, especially during the third trimester of their pregnancy. Headaches are also a common feature of pregnancy, although it goes away for good or happens less once you had your child. In the meantime, what you can do to manage these types of pain is to incorporate cold and heat therapy into your routine.
Cold and heat therapy-sounds fancy, right? Not. Cold and heat therapy is just a formal, more medical-sounding term for a non-invasive way of treating soft-tissue and superficial injuries caused by straining your muscles too hard.
For body pain, the best and most accessible modality you can use are reusable heating and cooling packs, just like the one made by Thermal-Aid. The reusable pack-in the form of sectionals and stuffed animals, even-can be heated in the microwave for a few minutes, then applied to the painful area to bring back proper blood and nutrient circulation to the tissue and soothe muscle pain. To make sure that the pregnant woman feels no discomfort, the packs should be applied to the treatment site in quick 15 to 30-minute intervals.
For headaches, pregnant women can benefit from topical cooling gels or creams to head off the pain. Thermal-Aid offers an excellent headache relief system that combines the use of an all-natural headache soothing cream, and a cold eye pack, which could relieve pressure in the pregnant woman's forehead or eyes. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, if you're going to use cold packs, make sure to use it for no longer than 20 minutes on the treatment site and at a 10-minute interval.
Massage therapy has been scientifically proven to improve the overall health and wellbeing of pregnant women. In a study involving 26 women and published on J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol., it was found that 20-minute massages or relaxation therapy sessions twice a week in a span of five weeks can boost the mood, reduce anxiety, improve the sleeping patterns, and reduce the back and leg pain of pregnant women. It was also found that urinary stress hormone levels (norepinephrine) were lower in women who had massage therapy. Those women also encountered fewer problems during childbirth, while their babies had less postnatal disorders.
Massage therapies, however, should be tailored to pregnant women. According to Web MD, deep-tissue massage should never be used, especially on the woman's legs as the woman is at risk of having blood clots. This is due to the increase in anti-coagulants in the pregnant woman's blood to prevent bleeding. Light, slow massage strokes should be used on pregnant women and should be done towards the direction of the heart. The same should apply to abdominal massage, if it's ever going to be performed at all. It is best, however, to not have your abdomen massaged if you're pregnant.
Web MD advises pregnant women to avoid massage altogether if they are prone to vomiting, nausea, have a history of miscarriage or are prone to it, or is going through a high-risk pregnancy.