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The Alternative Pregnancy Handbook

by Dr Tanvir Jamil and Karen Evennett

listed in women's health

[Image: The Alternative Pregnancy Handbook]

Flatulence (wind)

Your windiness will not affect your baby, unless it prevents you from eating regularly and properly, but you can stop it happening, and save yourself a lot of embarrassment, by taking the following measures:

* Fight constipation, as above, page 26.* Eat six small meals a day instead of three large ones.* Don't rush your eating.* Keep calm at mealtimes to avoid swallowing air.* Avoid culprit foods – onions, beans, cabbage, fried foods, pulses, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic and fizzy drinks.* Add more fresh ginger to your diet to stimulate your gastric juices and aid digestion.* Make a dill seed tea, by simmering two teaspoons of seed in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. The tea will relieve indigestion, heartburn and flatulence. After the birth of your baby, you can carry on drinking it to stimulate the flow of breast milk.* Fennel and cardamon tea can also help wind. Put half a teaspoon of fennel seeds and one cardamon pod into a cup of boiling water. Simmer for two to three minutes and slip slowly. (NB Drink no more than three cups a day.)

\Food aversions

Mercifully a lot of women tend to go off the things that are bad for them in pregnancy, such as coffee and alcohol, and this makes keeping off them a whole lot easier. It's more of a problem if you go off healthy foods you know you should be eating. Don't force feed yourself, but do try to compensate with suitable alternatives from the same food group.

If you notice that certain foods smell or taste peculiar now you're pregnant, this could be a sign of zinc deficiency, according to one study, so be aware of that and check that you're including enough zinc-rich foods in your diet (e.g. meat, nuts, oats, potatoes and shellfish).

Frequent urination

Most pregnant women notice that they need to use the loo more than usual – particularly in the first and last trimesters. This is because you're producing a greater volume of body fluids and the kidneys are responding by speeding up the process by which they get rid of the waste products. Also the growing uterus is putting pressure on the bladder while they are still next to each other in the pelvis during the first trimester. You may be relieved from having to go to the loo quite so often once the uterus has risen into the abdominal cavity around the fourth month. In the mean time, try leaning forward when you urinate to make sure you empty your bladder completely. And, to avoid too many trips to the loo at night, try not to drink a lot in the last two hours before bedtime.

If frequent urination is causing real problems, acupuncture, craniosacral work and osteopathy can all help greatly. The homoeopathic remedies Umbellata 6c or Linaria 6c can be taken at a dose of four pills every four hours for a maximum of five days. Pelvic floor exercises (see over) will help tone up the muscles around the urinary exit.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor is the sling of muscles that helps hold the pelvis organs in place, and pelvic floor exercises are important throughout your life. If the muscles are allowed to become slack in this area you will enjoy sexual intercourse less and may have more difficulty than before in reaching orgasm. Your partner may also find lovemaking less enjoyable. A particularly weak pelvis floor can lead to incontinence and sagging vaginal walls.

A strong pelvic floor is especially important during pregnancy because the increase in progesterone softens tissues and ligaments and allows the body to stretch more easily. The pelvic floor softens too, and the weight from your growing baby may weaken it. Strengthening the pelvic floor now will help you avoid 'leaking' when you laugh or sneeze after the baby is born, and will also help the vagina to return to normal soon after pregnancy – and enable you to heal faster if you have to have stitches.

You can test the strength of your pelvic floor during intercourse, by squeezing your partner's penis in your vagina; or, when you are urinating, stop the flow and restart it. If you can stop completely in mid-flow, your muscles are in good shape. (But avoid doing this if you suffer regularly with bladder infections.)

The drawbridge exercise – the essential pelvic floor exercise – is best learned when you're lying down.

* Lie down with your knees bent up, hip-width apart, and your feet flat on the floor. Let your arms relax.* Tighten the vagina as if you're clamping it around a tampon.* Tighten the urethra as if you're trying to hold back a pee.* Tighten the anus as if you're trying to hold back a bowel movement.* Now think of these three tightened areas as one bridge or lift, and imagine you are lifting the drawbridge up inside you: tighten a little, then stop (without relaxing), then tighten a little more and stop again. Hold this squeeze and breathe slowly in and out, then let your drawbridge down in as many stages as you can manage.

Once you've mastered the exercise lying down, you can try it when sitting or standing or walking – and aim to do it whenever you can: every time you make a cup of tea: do the washing up: take the dog for a walk; brush your teeth; or watch a favourite TV show and so on. Getting into a habit will make you do the exercise without even thinking about it. One exercise class for postnatal women got them to do their pelvic floor exercise to the tune of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. The argument was that this is still one of the world's most-played records and that women would find themselves doing their exercise while standing in shop queues and sitting in cafes where the song was being played!

Extracted with permission

Sandra Goodman PhD

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