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Whether you’re expecting one baby or two, pregnancy can take a toll on the body and mind. Between pain in your back, abdomen, and feet, these nine months can become their own kind of labor, especially since doctors often recommend skipping certain over-the-counter pain medicines. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve pregnancy body pains even without the use of pain relievers.
Our first instinct when we’re in pain is to lie low and not move around too much, especially if pregnant. However, there is something to be said for exercise when it comes to relieving pregnancy pains. Exercise improves circulation, which can help fight swelling, stretches out muscles to prevent cramping, and improves flexibility and muscle strength. This doesn’t mean that you should try to do an intense workout. Doctors recommend light exercises that are easy on the joints and do not pose a great risk of falling such as walking, swimming, and yoga.
You should refrain from exercising if any of the following apply to you:
- Pregnancy complications
- Pregnancy-induced anemia or high blood pressure
- Risk factors for premature labor
- Physician-advised bed rest
Heat has long been used as a way to help relax cramped or stiff muscles to relieve pain. However, some are hesitant to use a heating pad during pregnancy. However, there is little to no risk of using a heating pad on joints, hips, or the small of one’s back when pregnant. Risk only comes when the heating pad is used in a way that is not recommended, such as applied directly to the skin, during sleep, or longer than twenty minutes. You should also avoid applying the heating pad directly to the abdomen. If this is the epicenter of your pain, try soaking in a warm (not hot) bath instead.
Like heat, there is a long history of rumors about the risks of massage for pregnancy. The idea that massage increases the likelihood of miscarriage is a common misconception, unfounded by any solid evidence. Prenatal massage is an excellent way to relieve cramping, stretch muscles, and promote circulation to different parts of the body. This is especially helpful if you are prone to swollen feet. Massage may also help regulate hormone levels and reduce heart rate.
Pregnancy is part of the process of bringing your little one into the world. And though any mother will tell you that those hard months are worth it, there are ways to help ease you through those long days until you get to hold your baby in your arms.