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ICTC International Center for Traditional Childbearing

Minor Problems of Pregnancy
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Minor Complaints, Problems, Discomforts 


Minor Problems in Pregnancy


Many of the minor digestive problems of pregnancy can be lessened through healthy eating - five portions of fruit and vegetables a day --and exercise. Walking really does help!


Morning sickness:


Probably caused by hormonal changes. Some degree of morning sickness is actually an encouraging sign of a healthy pregnancy.

Usually improves after 14 weeks.

May be made worse by:

  • Stress
  • Poor diet -- particularly fatty or spicy food
  • Skipping meals
  • Prenatal vitamins or supplements


Improved by:


  • eating small amounts
  • regular meals or snacks.
  • Increase fluids (usually taken separately from meals)
  • resting
  • mild exercising (walk in the fresh air)
  • avoiding foods that increase nausea – greasy, pungent foods
  • sweet teas may help
  • dry foods – toast, crackers, etc

 Constipation and hemorrhoids:

food moves mover slowly through the intestines. This can cause constipation and/or hemorrhoids. Pregnancy hormones which relax the veins may also contribute to hemorrhoids as well as varicose veins.

Made worse by:

  • Long hours of standing at work
  • Long periods of sitting
  • Low fluids
  • Straining
  • Iron supplements or vitamins (causing harder stools)
  • Women who have to take additional iron may find that this worsens the problem.

Improved by:

  • Increasing fluids WATER!
  • Changing brands or types of vitamins
  • Regular exercise – especially walking
  • Adding fiber – FRUIT and VEGETABLES

Self Care/Treatment:

  • Safe to use OTC creams such as preparation H
  • Comfrey or calendula creams or compresses
  • Witch hazel wipes (tucks is one brand)
  • Gentle wiping with moistened toweletts (store bought or home-made)
  • Baths – sitz or shallow bath. May also add healing/soothing herb mix
  • Reposition if protruding – after a warm bath, gently reinsert. Do kegal for a few minutes. They will ‘usually’ easily slip inside and stay there.
  • Raw potato poultice. Old advice which really works. Grate a raw potato and put on a cloth pad. Old docs used to advise cutting a small piece of potato to make a suppository. It’s said to shrink hemorrhoids quickly.
  • Keep bowels loose by eating stewed or dried  fruit or prunes
  • Some fruit juices will soften BMs. Apricot, prune, pear
  • Coffee

Avoid laxatives or enemas.


Varicose veins


have similar causes and treatments as hemorrhoids. Caused by hormonal changes and pressure. Made worse by long hours of standing. Some believe that keeping the bowels loose will improve varicose veins as well as hemorrhoids.

May also try:

  • Raising the foot of the bed or mattress an inch or two
  • Sleep and sit with feet elevated
  • Wearing support hose or panti-hose. Put on the first thing in the morning, as you get out of bed.
  • Calcium magnesium supplement may help
  • Some doctors advise women to take a baby aspirin to prevent blood clots
  • Regular daily walk to strengthen muscles and keep blood moving.


  • Long hours on your feet
  • Prolonged hours of sitting
  • Crossing your legs while sitting
  • Tight or restrictive underwear or socks

Leg Cramp:


Common; especially at night.

May help to increase calcium – more dairy products, or take supplements.

If it happens in the back of the leg, push your heal “down” while curling your toes upward.

Warm packs – heated rice socks   help to treat and may help prevent cramps.


Indigestion and heart burn


Hormonal cause, but also is made worse by pressure on the stomach as the uterus grows. Heartburn is miserable, but not fatal!



Made worse by:

  • Spicy foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Heavy meals
  • Drinking liquids with meals
  • Sleeping – or lying down -- soon after eating


Improved by:

  • Milder foods
  • Avoid or decrease fats and grease
  • Stay upright for 2 hours after a meal – eat earlier in the evening
  • Going for a walk after meals


Holistic Remedies for Heartburn or Indigestion

  • Calcium tablets -- like Tums or calcium carbonate
  • papaya tablets or even dried papaya.
  • Raw celery.
  • Raw almonds or raw cashews.
  • peppermint/chamomile teas
  • Ginger -- candied or make a tea by shredding ginger root into hot water. Use either root or candied. This helps with nausea too.
  • Apple-cider vinegar tea is a surprisingly effective old time cure. Put a tablespoon with a little honey in hot water, and drink like tea. Orjust take a teaspoon of the stuff, if you can stand it straight. The idea behind it is that "acid stomach" may actually be an "alkaline” condition and that a mild acid such as vinegar will help bring balance.
  • Lemonade – cold or as a hot tea may also balance acids
  • Yogurt or acidophilus capsules are recommended for any malady of the stomach or intestines: heartburn, nausea, gas, diarrhea, stomach flu, etc.



  • Over The Counter Products: Kalenzyme gum. Tums or generic calcium 
  • Exercise: Flying Angel: Sit up tall (or tailor sit) and flap your arms up and down like a bird (high enough so the hands meet above the head).
  • Acupressure tip: Standing up, gently place the first two fingers of each hand side by side-index finger next to index finger-on the top of the diaphragm, centered under the breastbone. Then bend at the waist, with your fingers in the same place. When bent as far forward as comfortable, start applying pressure, with both sets of fingers in the direction toward one's feet (although when you are bent over it feels like you are pressing toward your spine). Slowly straighten up keeping the pressure firm and steady: When standing straight, the direction of the pressure should be clearly toward one's feet, instead of toward the spine. Hold for as long as comfortable. Repeat twice. Do this every time you think of it, or when heartburn strikes. this adjustment/pressure point is supposed to close the hiatal valve that is responsible for acid reflux and causes heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera juice (2 tbls) combined with liquid chlorophyll MINT (1 tablespoon) taken hour before meals. (This recipe is from a naturopath).
  • Some find relief with a deep bath or hot water bottle.




Caused by softened ligaments and forward weight of the uterus. Will probably improve when the baby engages (drops lower in the pelvis)


Made worse by:

  • Long hours standing or sitting
  • Poor posture when sitting
  • Lifting heavy objects or carrying heavy purses or diaper bags


May be improved by:

  • Trying to improve posture
  • Maternity girdle/support device (even queen-sized pantyhose)
  • Correct sitting position (upright chair, pillow to support for lower back)
  • Exercise – strengthening exercises such as crunches, or gentle modified sit-ups. Pelvic rocks. SWIMMING and water exercises are perfect!
  • Massage
  • Warm baths, hotpacks, liniments.
  • Herbal rub (St John’s wort oil)



Source Gist of Midwifery gail hart
























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International Center for Traditional Childbearing
Midwifery Mentorship Program
Portland, Oregon