COMMON PROBLEMS ARISING DURING PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is a natural process and not one that requires medication as a rule. Some conditions can arise, however, that may need treating.

ANAEMIA OF PREGNANCY

Anaemia is the medical term given to a range of conditions that are all associated with a lack of the oxygen-carrying compound haemoglobin found in the red blood cells. Assessment of normal levels of haemoglobin vary from laboratory to laboratory around the world but principally the amount we carry in our bloodstreams is 11.5-17mmol/l.

Anaemia is not uncommon in pregnancy due to the baby using up the mother’s supply of iron or folic acid. The symptoms of anaemia range from tiredness, lethargy, shortness of breath and irritability to palpitations and fainting. The signs are a pale skin, a pallor under the fingernails and sometimes tingling in the hands and feet. The only way to be certain that anaemia is the cause is by having a blood test which shows your haemoglobin level to be low.

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The orthodox world considers a person to be anaemic only if their haemoglobin level drops below the ‘normal’ levels. Increase your input of green-leaf vegetables, especially spinach, and enjoy a little more lamb. Molasses should be used instead of sugar.

The homeopathic remedy Ferrum phosphoricum 30 should be taken twice a day for 10 days.

Using blood tests, establish the cause of an anaemia. Most often it is due to lack of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 but it may be an amino acid or other vitamin. Once established, replenish with natural food supplements and seek advice from a complementary medical practitioner concerning the correct amount to take.

Strawberry tea with half a teaspoon of thyme per mug may taste a bit earthy but helps if taken three times a day.

If symptoms persist, acupuncture and especially moxibustion can be administered by a healthcare practitioner who will advise you further.

BLEEDING IN PREGNANCY

Bleeding from the vagina during pregnancy requires immediate discussion with your GP or obstetric team. Bleeding before the 28th week is classified as a threatened miscarriage and after that week is called an antepartum haemorrhage.

Very often a small bleed lasting a short time is nothing to worry about and is probably due to a burst vein or changes to the vagina or cervix due to the new hormone levels.

RECOMMENDATION • / do not recommend any home care although treatments from a homeopath or a herbalist can be used to great effect, but only after a doctor has been consulted.

BREAST PROBLEMS

Many changes will occur to the breasts in response to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. They will feel more sensitive, heavier and more tender, almost to the point of being painful.

The area around the nipples – the areola – may produce little bumps called Montgomery’s tubur-cules, which produce the necessary secretions to help the nipples prepare for breast feeding. The areola may darken and the nipple may enlarge out of proportion to the rest of the breast. This is all normal and requires no treatment.

RECOMMENDAT

Milk ducts may become blocked and hard, painful swellings may arise within the breast tissue. Apply alternate hot and cold compresses and gently massage the lump in the direction of the nipple. The lump may become slightly red but if it becomes deeply red or inflamed or streaks of red appear, move on to the next recommendation.

If the breast lump becomes red or inflamed use Belladonna 6 every 15min for three doses and then every 2hr until the matter settles. If it does not settle after 24hr, talk to a healthcare practitioner but avoid antibiotics as a first-line treatment.

Ensure that correct-fitting cotton bras are obtained. Spend as much time as possible with the breasts exposed to air and sunlight.

Comfortably hot baths can be very relieving for painful breasts.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation occurs for several reasons: the direct effect of the hormones on the bowel musculature, the body naturally slowing down the transit time (the time taken for food to travel from the stomach to the rectum) to allow more digestive process and absorption; reduced activity, dehydration and the taking of iron supplements.

Commonsense approaches such as drinking more water and maintaining activity levels are essential. If the problem continues, the following recommendations can help.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Reduce dairy products, meat and eggs. Increase your fibre intake and ensure that you are taking multivitamins because deficiencies in several vitamins can worsen the problem.

Lactobacillus acidophilus – two million bacteria with each meal will encourage the bowel flora to break down the faeces.

Four ounces of yoghurt, two teaspoonfuls of olive oil and a clove of garlic, mixed and eaten with wholegrain pitta bread.

A mildly spicy vegetable dish (Indian, Thai, etc).

Massage in general but abdominal massage in particular can be very relieving.

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Pure liquorice comes as a soft bar and is distinct from the children’s sweetened rubbery liquorice; 10-20g eaten before bed-time will help.

Molasses instead of other sweeteners is a help or it can be taken as 2 dessertspoonfuls before bed.

Drink at least half a pint of water per foot height per day.

Laxatives are not an option. If constipation continues despite the measures mentioned above, bring the problem to the attention of a complementary health professional.

RECOMMENDATIONS

CRAMPS

RECOMMENDATIONS

Increase water input.

Drink strong chamomile tea.

Calcium (500mg daily), copper (2mg daily), zinc (15mg at night) and magnesium (400mg daily) should all be taken for up to one week. If the problem persists, speak to your health professional.

Massage, Shiatsu and yoga techniques will all relieve cramping.

DIABETES IN PREGNANCY

Diabetes mellitus is caused by an insufficiency of naturally occurring insulin from the pancreas. It causes a rise in the sugar level in the blood, which is detrimental to most organs and systems in the body.

Diabetes, like thyroid problems, can occur during pregnancy despite not being a problem in the same person when they are not pregnant. The Chinese have a meridian or energy line that travels from the top of the head down the mid-line of the body. This meridian is called the vessel of conception, or the directing vessel, and is of paramount importance in the reproductive systems of both men and women. The orthodox world considers problems in the pancreas or the thyroid to be due to chemical overdemand but all Eastern medical philosophies have an energy line such as the vessel of conception, which connects the pituitary gland (control of the cycle), the thyroid gland, the pancreatic gland and the uterus .

Weakness in this energy channel is brought on by poor health throughout the system but also by a lack of energy received from the relationship of the pregnant woman with her partner and her parents.

Discuss diabetes situation with a nutritionist to adjust the diet correctly.

Because of the association of diabetes with the vessel of conception, see a Chinese or Tibetan practitioner for acupuncture and possible herbal treatment.

Once a nutritionist has adjusted your diet, you may use dandelion (Taraxacum) fluid extract (five drops in water) lOmin before each meal.

HYPOTHYROIDISM

Hypothyroidism occurs infrequently in pregnancy. The orthodox world has some belief that this is caused by an excessive demand or by some suppression of the thyroid gland by chemicals produced by the baby or by the mother herself. The Eastern philosophies consider that the energy is being pulled down into the uterus, leaving less for the organs associated with the vessel of conception .

Any symptoms of hypothyroidism, especially excessive tiredness, feeling cold, dulled concentration and excessive water retention, should all arouse suspicion. Most pregnant women like to sleep more but an excessive sleep requirement in association with tiredness regardless of the rest received should also arouse suspicion.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Please obtain the opinion of your GP and complementary medical practitioner.

MISCARRIAGE

Sadly, some pregnancies do not reach a satisfactory conclusion. One Eastern philosophy believes that a pregnancy that ends in a miscarriage is a tremendous blessing for the parents, who had vested upon them a spirit requiring a very short incarnation that is usually associated with an Advanced Soul. However, this information does not take away the devastating sadness of the loss of a baby. If a miscarriage takes place, please follow the recommendations below.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To try to help avoid a miscarriage once it is suspected to be likely, contact your complementary medical practitioner for a reference to someone in the alternative medical field who has some knowledge of this subject. That person or your own practitioner may be able to help but your home medical kit is unlikely to be enough.

Visit a counsellor, however well you feel that you are dealing with the event.

The sudden change in hormonal structure is best dealt with by a health professional. Please see your complementary practitioner.

If a miscarriage has occurred and bleeding continues, use the homeopathic remedy Phosphorus 6 or Secale cornutum 6 (four pills every hour) until the bleeding and discharge stops. Once this has occurred, take Arnica 200 (one dose twice a day for five days).

The male partner should take Arnica 200 (one dose twice a day for five days) and would also benefit from a counselling session.

PRE-ECLAMPSIA AND ECLAMPSIA

Pre-eclampsia refers to a rising blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother’s urine. These two parameters are constantly checked because the development of eclampsia can be extremely dangerous. Eclampsia is characterized by convulsions due to the effects of swelling in the brain.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A pre-eclamptic condition must be monitored by a gynaecologist and a GP.

A naturopathic physician should be consulted and homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture and meditation/relaxation treatments can be effective, reducing the risk of hospitalization. Delivery is usually by Caesarean section if the pre-eclamptic condition is not controlled.

DIZZY SPELLS AND FAINTING

Dizziness and fainting are usually due to lowered blood sugar levels, nutritional deficiencies and just plain exhaustion. If the following recommendations do not help with dizziness within a few days or if you have more than one faint, bring yourself along to your health practitioner and advise your GP that you are doing so.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Eat small snacks in-between meals if dizzy spells or a single faint should occur . If the fainting or dizziness is associated with a flush use Belladonna 6 and if the dizziness is noticeable when rising from bed or a chair take Bryonia 30, one dose three times a day for five days.

NAUSEA AND HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM

Hyperemesis gravidarum is the Latin terminology for severe nausea of pregnancy. RECOMMENDATIONS

Regular visits to an acupuncturist to obtain a suitable acupressure technique.

Severe nausea and vomiting can lead to malnutrition and may need to be controlled by orthodox drugs via your GP.

POLYHYDRAMNIOS

Polyhydramnios is the presence of too much amniotic fluid and can be associated with twins or diabetes. Symptoms are abdominal pressure and distension, in association with a tense and larger-than-expected abdomen.

RECOMMENDATIONS / have not seen alternative techniques correct this situation, although bed rest and massage can be relieving.

Do not be tempted to use herbal treatments because anything that can affect the production of amniotic fluid is liable to affect the foetus.

A gynaecologist can drain excess fluid under ultrasound guidance, which is a comparatively safe and effective procedure.

SWELLING AND OEDEMA

See Polyhydramnios and Swollen feet and hands.

URINARY TRACT PROBLEMS Infections

During the pregnancy urine tests will be performed. Whilst looking for sugar to show diabetes, the urine will also be checked for the presence of

Urine Analysis pH 7.0

Protein + (0.30g/L)

Glucose Negative

Ketone Negative

Blood +

Microscopy

WBCs >100/HPF

RBCs Not seen

Casts Not seen

Epithelial cells +

Crystals Not seen

Organisms ++

CULTURE No bacterial growth

Example of the results of urine analysis showing the chemistry and biology of the urine sample. protein or nitrites. Evidence of either of these leads to a suspicion of a urinary tract infection and the orthodox world is divided as to whether to treat this finding with antibiotics or not. One must not allow a bladder infection to travel into the kidneys, which can lead to spontaneous abortion. On the other hand, one does not want to give antibiotics, which can affect the normal bowel bacteria and lead to absorption problems.

RECOMMENDATI

If proteins or nitrites are found in the urine sample, insist that the sample be sent to a laboratory for culture and sensitivity. This means that any bacteria will be grown and tested against antibiotics so that a correct drug is given if the need arises.

Any discomfort in the bladder or in the lower back (the kidney area) must be brought to the attention of your health practitioner.

In the early stages of a mild discomfort you may use cranberry tablets or powder, as directed by a practitioner or pharmacist. There is no standard strength for cranberry preparations. Do not use the sweetened cranberry juices. The sugar content will encourage bacterial growth.

Juniper or Berberis vulgaris fluid extracts (ten drops four times a day in water) may be curative.

Depending on the symptoms, the following homeopathic remedies should be reviewed: Cantharis, Pulsatilla, Equisetum, Staphysagria, Phosphorus and Mercurius.

Apply reflexology to the bladder and kidney points on your feet .

Add 20 drops of eucalyptus and sandalwood essential oils to a hot bath.

Drink one glass (6-8oz) of water or herbal tea every hour and put half a teaspoonful of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) into every other glass (maximum of 4 pints of water per day).

Frequency and urgency

The need to pass urine and having difficulty in holding a full bladder are symptoms that can occur very early in pregnancy but will definitely occur as the pressure on the bladder increases with the growth of the baby.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Yoga and pelvic floor exercises are essential.

Try not to drink a lot within 2hr of going to bed.

Two less well-known remedies, Chimaphila umbellata 6 and Linaria 6, can be taken at a dosage of four pills every 4hr but if you find no relief after five days, stop.

Acupuncture, craniosacral therapy and osteopathy can all make an appreciable difference.

Vaginal discharges

Vaginal discharges are common, usually due to the hormonal changes affecting the cells lining the walls of the vagina. Any bloody or brown (stale blood) discharges should be discussed with a GP or gynaecologist but other minor discharges should be left alone and assumed to be normal.

If the discharge is irritating, copious, coloured or bad smelling then a simple douche technique as described below is acceptable. Concern is sometimes expressed about cleaning the vagina when pregnant because this may introduce infection. To an extent this is true, but since intercourse is permissible with the resultant introduction of another person’s bacteria and body fluids, I do not see why the following antiseptic technique is not perfectly safe.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Obtain a 20ml or 50ml syringe, leave it in recently boiled water for 5min. Mix one tablespoon of live yoghurt with a large mug of boiled water cooled to a warm temperature and pull the milky solution into the syringe. Insert the syringe no more than two inches into the vagina and gently depress the plunger. Thoroughly flush the vaginal vault and perform this each morning for seven days. The procedure should be repeated at night using a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a large mug of warm water.

The following homeopathic remedies may be helpful: Hydrastis 6 if the discharge is thick and tenacious; Mercurius 6 if greenish yellow, smarting, with some swelling and worse at night; and Stannum metallicum 6 for a white mucusy, profuse discharge, especially if the back aches. As always, refer to a good homeopathic text for a more accurate prescription.

SKIN PROBLEMS

Skin changes occur in all pregnancies, usually for the better. Sufferers of eczema and psoriasis frequently find that their condition improves, which is good news because the drugs used in psoriasis and the steroid creams used in eczema should be stopped if possible. If you are under any treatment for psoriasis that involves taking oral medication this should be stopped several months before pregnancy is planned .

Stretch marks

The stretching of the skin can lead to shiny streaks over the breasts and abdomen.

RECOMMENDATION

Apply a high-dose vitamin E cream or mix vitamin E (l.OOOiu emptied from capsules) into a tablespoonful of olive oil and massage in twice a day.

Itching skin

All too frequently at some point during a pregnancy itching skin will become a problem. The cause is uncertain, although there are two possibilities: altered hormone levels and a histamine release in the skin due to the waste products produced by the baby.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Change your soaps, bath products and washing powder to unmedicated hypoallergenic products. Make sure you only wear natural material such as cotton or wool, avoiding synthetics.

Add chamomile extracts, coconut or almond oil to your baths. Chamomile extracts are very often successful.

Borage oil can be applied either directly or through the bath.

Use Evening Primrose Oil Ig three times a day for five days. Liquorice extracts can be remarkably soothing when applied to the skin.

Calamine lotion can be used if the above compounds do not work.

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