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Coping with pre and post pregnancy pain


Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

SOME women can find pregnancy a trying time, with numerous aches and pains, while others seem to fly through it. It's very common for pregnant women to suffer from back pain, aches around the groin and hip area and sometimes headaches, but exactly what medicines should you avoid during pregnancy and which are safe to take?

During pregnancy what you eat and drink passes to your baby through the placenta, so it's important to think twice before taking medications, supplements or herbal remedies. Talk to your GP or midwife about what is safe and if you take regular medications ask whether you can continue to do so.

What to avoid

Over-the-counter drugs can often be more powerful than we think and have some worrying side effects for pregnant women and developing babies. Depending on which trimester you are in when you take them, they can cause breathing problems in the baby, an increased risk of miscarriage and placental abruption (where the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born). Codeine, aspirin and ibuprofen as well as cold and fl u remedies that contain a potent combination of painkillers, antihistamines and pseudoephedrine must be avoided or only be taken under the strict advice of a qualifi ed pharmacist.

Certain prescription medications should be avoided during pregnancy and your doctor will advise you on this. In addition, some herbal remedies are not recommended for pregnant women because they may cause birth defects or induce uterine contractions. Always ask a qualifi ed herbalist or pharmacist and read labels before buying and using herbal remedies.

Back pain

For a common problem such as back pain there are a number of things you can do before resorting to painkillers, and if you need to see your GP he or she will know what drugs are safe to take during pregnancy.

General tips for back pain in pregnancy include bending at the knee and not the waist when picking things up, not stretching to reach things, sleeping on a firm mattress, buying a special belt or other products that help with back support and wearing shoes that give your arches support ( no higher than one to two inches). Effective exercises include swimming or aqua aerobics, pregnancy yoga or pilates. To avoid straining your back when getting up from a lying down position, roll over onto your side and push up with your arms. It's also a good idea to sleep with a maternity body pillow. You can also apply a hot water bottle to the sore area for some relief, or relax in a warm bath. If you are in continual pain and your GP cannot help, you could consider seeing a qualifi ed osteopath who will help you to walk and to carry the weight properly. If you use an alternative practitioner, check that they are fully qualifi ed to work with pregnant women.

Pain relief during labour

Pain relief during your baby's birth is a hotly debated topic amongst women. Of course it's impossible to predict how your labour will go and how much pain relief you will need, but there are a number of options that are most effective at different stages of your labour.

Mother & Babies