Pregnancy aches and pains are incredibly common and tend to increase in intensity as the pregnancy progresses. Some women are lucky and only experience very little discomfort. Others have a tough time focusing on everyday tasks due to pregnancy-related pains. Putting up with the discomfort is a small price to pay to bring a new little one into the world. But the good news is there are things you can do to relieve these common but painful inconveniences. From back pain to swelling, cramps, and carpal tunnel, we’ve got 31 natural ways to get rid of pregnancy pains and aches.
A Quick Tip
Before we dive into the natural remedies for pregnancy pains, let’s discuss your safety as a mother-to-be. The following tips are not intended as medical advice and should not be instituted as a replacement for consulting a medical professional.
If you feel extreme pain, constant nausea and vomiting, quick swelling, or you otherwise feel that something is wrong, it’s best to see a doctor. Better to be safe than sorry!
Mild to moderate swelling is common, with most women experiencing it at some point during their pregnancy. If you begin to notice swelling, remove any jewelry on your fingers. Swelling usually affects the hands, legs, and feet and typically happens during the evening. There’s extra fluid in your body which causes this swelling and it’s usually a frequent visitor until after you’ve given birth.
How to Relieve Swelling
- Prop your feet up (this extra fluid obeys gravity).
- Wear support pantyhose.
- Drink plenty of water (yes, this does help).
- Stay cool (swelling is more common in high temperatures).
- Eat diuretics, like asparagus, beets, cranberries, cucumbers, and watermelon.
A common byproduct of swelling, carpal tunnel happens when the median nerve in your wrist comes under pressure. It can cause pain, tingling, or numbness that radiates up one or both arms.
How to Relieve Carpal Tunnel
- Try a wrist brace from your local drug store.
- Try this carpal tunnel exercise:
- Extend your arm out in front of you, palm down.
- With your other hand, bend your hand toward the floor. You should feel a stretch in your wrist and forearm.
- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Use a cold compress to relieve pain and swelling.
- If you type a lot during the day, make sure your wrists are straight and take frequent stretching breaks.
This pain is a doozy and can make nearly any position painful or uncomfortable. As your pregnancy progresses your posture is likely to change while your joints and ligaments stretch. Occasionally these changes can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates down your low back, glutes, and the back of your thigh.
How to Relieve Sciatica
- Try prenatal yoga moves like these:
- Exercise 1
- Sit in a chair and cross the leg of the affected side over the opposite knee.
- With a straight back, lean forward until you feel a deep stretch in the buttocks.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 5 to 8 times, several times throughout the day.
- Exercise 2
- Begin on your hands and knees on a comfortable surface.
- Step one foot forward and position your knee over your foot.
- Lean forward into a lunge until you feel a stretch on the back leg. You should feel it along the front of the hip and thigh.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.
- You can talk to your doctor about a pregnancy brace or girdle that goes under your belly. It can help take the pressure off of your sciatic nerve, depending on what exactly is causing the irritation.
Back and Pelvic Pain
Low back and pelvic pain are very common— particularly in the third trimester. The combination of extra weight, hormones, and bodily changes can put a strain on your back, pelvis, and abs, throwing your posture out of whack and causing pain. Oftentimes the best tactic against back pain in the third trimester is maintaining good habits in the first. This means being mindful of your posture, sleeping position, stress, and the food you eat.
Ways to Relieve Pelvic and Back Pain
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Make sure your low back has support when you sit down. (Use a pillow or rolled-up towel if need be.)
- Sit and rest often.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
- Wear comfortable flat shoes (no high heels) with support (no flip flops).
- For pelvic pain, consider a pelvic support belt.
- Try hot and cold therapy on your lower back.
- Consider a combination of acupuncture and exercise. Studies show that this works well to alleviate both pelvic and back pain during pregnancy.
- See a chiropractor during your pregnancy. It’s best not to wait until you have pain, as a chiropractor can help your body stay in alignment from the first trimester on. Chiropractic care has proven safe and useful in helping reduce many different kinds of pregnancy aches and pains.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause headaches. You should talk to your doctor before taking any sort of medication for a headache or any other pain you have.
Ways to Relieve Headaches
- Drink plenty of water (even if it feels like you already have to pee every five minutes). Dehydration can cause headaches.
- Eat healthily and regularly. Proper nutrition can help keep your body’s chemicals in order.
- Get proper rest. This is easier said than done, but doing some simple exercises during the day can help you sleep at night.
- Manage stress with yoga, meditation, or your preferred method.
Usually attacking the legs at night, muscle cramps can be a minor annoyance, so painful you want to cry out, or somewhere in between. Luckily, they usually only last a few minutes and there are some things you can do to fend them off.
Ways to Relieve Muscle Cramps
- Stretching— especially before bed.
- Massages— from a professional, your partner, or even yourself. Massaging your own legs can help prevent cramps.
- Warm therapy with a water bottle or heating pad.
- Walking or light exercise involving the legs on a regular basis.
- Deep breathing (to help bring oxygen to the muscles).
- Eat potassium-rich foods (bananas, avocados, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, grapefruit,).
- Consider a calcium supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamins (discuss with your doctor).
That’s our list of 31 natural ways to get rid of pregnancy pains and aches. There is some overlap for relieving each different kind of pain, which are things you can get into the habit of doing early. Drinking plenty of water and eating healthily are two big ones. Maintaining proper posture, reducing stress, and exercising are all great things to do all the way through your pregnancy!
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His clinic provides chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy, and massage therapy designed to help patients receive long-lasting relief. His Anchorage chiropractic practice has received great reviews and top ratings from thousands of patients.
He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.