Pregnancy : When to See your Doctor, What to Ask your Doctor, Natural Therapies and Remedies

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When to See your Doctor

If pregnancy symptoms fail to ease, or if they become debilitating, it is important to get them checked out. As a precaution, always see your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • A negative pregnancy test that follows a positive one—this could indicate hormone problems or ectopic pregnancy

  • Anxiety or confusion, perhaps with a racing heart or rapid breathing

  • Heavy bleeding or passing clots of pink, grey, or red material

  • Painful cramping, particularly if accompanied by bleeding

  • Any illness that lasts longer than 48 hours, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even colds or flu

  • A high temperature

  • Extreme headaches

  • The baby stops moving

  • Sudden swelling of your face or hands

  • Vision problems

  • A sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness

  • Severe abdominal pain and tenderness

  • Pain during urination

  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain

  • Extremely itchy skin that won’t respond to soothing creams

When to act

As your pregnancy progresses, you will become more attuned to your body and more familiar with the aches, pains, and other discomforts. However, if you experience sudden, extreme symptoms of any nature, call your doctor.

What to Ask your Doctor

Many women feel embarrassed about bombarding their doctors with questions, but rest assured that they will always be happy to answer even the most obvious queries, and to take the time to reassure you. Here are some ideas to help you get to the bottom of things.

  • Is everything going OK with my pregnancy?

  • What can I do to help my baby grow healthily and stay well myself?

  • Are my symptoms normal?

  • What types of medications are safe during pregnancy?

  • I’ve had some spotting—will my baby be OK?

  • What do the results of my tests and screening mean?

  • Is it safe to have a massage during pregnancy?

  • Is it OK to dye my hair during pregnancy?

  • Which prenatal classes would you recommend?

  • How can I monitor my baby’s heartbeat?

  • Where can I have my baby?

  • Can I have a home birth or water birth?

  • What can I do to get labor going?

  • How can I tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks?

  • Who should I call when I go into labor?

  • What happens if my doctor isn’t available when I go into labor?

  • How long should I stay at home before I go to the hospital?

  • Will I have the same nurses for my entire labor?

  • Can I say “no” to interventions during labor, and if so, which ones?

  • Can I have an elective cesarean section?

  • Where can I find a lactation consultant?

Natural Therapies and Remedies

Many women are understandably reluctant to take conventional medication during pregnancy. There are some alternative and complementary therapies and remedies that are safe during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor before starting something new. Always make sure the practitioner knows you are pregnant.

The best natural therapies

  • Reflexology: applies pressure to reflexes on hands or feet to encourage relaxation, increase circulation, and stimulate healing; it can help with pain relief during labor, and a host of pregnancy-related symptoms

  • Acupuncture: uses small, thin needles to balance energy in the body, which runs through pathways known as meridians; plenty of research shows that it is effective in a wide range of pregnancy symptoms, can help with the pain of childbirth, and can even help turn a breech baby; regular treatment encourages overall good health and wellbeing—for both you and your baby

  • Flower essences: diluted extracts of various flowers and plants are used to balance negative emotions that can be the cause of illness; excellent for tension, shock, anxiety, fear, depression, exhaustion, and even coping with change

  • Chiropractic: hands-on manipulative therapies that can ease any symptoms with a structural root, such as back pain, headaches, circulation problems, and even heartburn

  • Massage: the perfect therapy for pregnancy—it encourages healthy circulation and the removal of waste products, relaxes and restores, helps to disperse edema, and eases tension

  • Aromatherapy: uses essential oils to balance your body and mind; it can help ease a number of pregnancy symptoms. Many experts frown on aromatherapy during pregnancy; the effects of most plant oils on pregnant women is unknown, and some may be hazardous during pregnancy

  • Homeopathy: uses heavily diluted substances that work on your body’s energy field to encourage healing on all levels. Speak with your doctor before using any homeopathic products; homeopathy has been the subject of scientific controversy. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, visit a certified homeopath to see if he can provide treatment

The best natural remedies

  • Raspberry leaf tea is believed by some to shorten labor—it has been associated with increased uterine contractions, but very little research has been done on pregnant women using raspberry-leaf products, so unless your doctor says it’s OK, it’s best to avoid these until your pregnancy is full-term

  • Witch hazel and/or lemon juice can be applied neat to hemorrhoids (piles), to reduce swelling and bleeding; sitz baths in hot water two to three times a day can also be soothing

  • Massage your big toe firmly to ease headaches—this is a useful DIY reflexology trick

Complementary caution

Complementary therapies can be extremely useful during pregnancy, but only at the hands of a registered, experienced practitioner. “Natural” doesn’t always mean “safe,” so make sure you know what you are taking and why.

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