One of the most talked about subjects in our pregnancy and postnatal classes the last few weeks has been hayfever.
I was feeling a little smug recently, with no symptoms at all this year, finally thinking I'd grown out of it embracing one of the benefits of growing older.....when all of a sudden about 10 days ago, it hit me! Non-stop sneezing, itchy and runny nose, blocked sinus', sore throat, itchy puffy eyes (it's not a great look). It's the grass pollen; apparently very high levels in the UK this month.
I haven't found a cure (sorry!), but thought I'd share a few ideas that I have tried or had suggested to me, that are not of the medical kind.
Before I was pregnant for the first time, I regularly used over the counter anti-histamines and decongestant for my hayfever that kept it at bay enough that some summer days out weren't completely and utterly ruined by the symptoms. However in pregnancy there was not only restrictions on what I could take, but also a desire to try more natural remedies. I had two babies less than 2 years apart so was either pregnant or breastfeeding for the most part of a few years, so got used to not taking medications as I had done previously. And over the years since that - and with my third child (pregnancy and feeding), I continued to pick up ideas on how to help hayfever relying less on medications. Here are some:
In that pregnancy I used homeopathy and flower remedies (from a homeopath so the remedy was made for me, as I found the generic homeopathic remedies you find in the chemists were not effective for me). And I have to say, it helped. It also got me interested in using less medicines in general. I have more recently heard about Pollinosan which comes highly recommended, I may give that a try.
I found that for me, there is a direct correlation between my immune system being below par, and allergies being worse. If I am pregnant, run down, stressed or even just more tired than usual, hayfever symptoms are worse. Taking a mutli-vit supplement or immune-boosting supplement can help, also eating immune boosting food such as garlic, root ginger, fresh herbs, fresh fruit and veg. Healthy living in general; exercise etc. This can also include using less chemicals in the home (cleaning products, room sprays etc)...maybe look into using more natural products in your home. I know my nose reacts much less to more natural products (such as vinegar and essential oils).
For me, yoga has improved symptoms so much over the last 10 years or so. The stress relief it brings, helps boost the immune system, calms everything down, including an itchy nose, and my irritation caused by that. Also the full, calm, healthy breathing experienced in yoga really helps to clear the sinus'.
For hayfever symptoms that cause congestion, headaches or difficulty breathing, a small amount of targeted reiki really helps to clear them. Even if you are not a reiki practitioner, perhaps try just relaxing and holding your hands just in front or over your face/head with the intention of healing, positive energy to relieve your symptoms. Give it a try!
I didn't hear this tip until fairly recently but it makes so much sense and really helps. If you have been outside, take off your clothes as soon as you can (once home of course!), put them straight in the washing machine, and have a shower, including rinsing or washing your hair to remove any pollen. Rinse eyes in cool water (if you have the time and inclination you could also lie down with cucumber slices over your eyes to cool them down if itchy/puffy).
If you have any pets that have either been outside or are themselves an allergen for you (I have a cat and am mildly allergic to her), get an old facecloth/small towel, dampen it and run it over their fur. If it's hot it'll also cool them down :)
We all need a bit of fresh air, but if you are suffering, and especially if it's breezy, it's a good idea to keep windows closed.
NETI POT/SALINE SOLUTION
I use a neti pot for "nasal irrigation". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_irrigation
It takes a little getting used to but is super-effective in clearing out the sinuses! Have plenty of tissues to hand. Once the nasal passages are cleaned, you may choose to put a sticky balm or similar up the nose; this traps pollen and other allergens when entering the nostrils as you inhale, thereby limiting the allergic reactions. It also helps to moisturise sore skin around the nostrils. Lots of people recommend vaseline, but as I prefer more natural products I prefer to use something like Neals Yard Baby Balm. Their Baby barrier cream is also fantastic for very sore skin and protection too; I use this overnight if suffering with a streaming cold. There are other hayfever balms available in pharmacies.
Eucalyptus oils is famous for helping blocked noses to breath. I love using lavender (this is fantastic as it's antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and calming), and others that can help are peppermint, pine and lemon.
With peppermint, if I have hayfever or a cold, I put a drop or two straight on to my hand, rub hands together and breathe in deeply a few times, does the trick (careful to wash it off though before touching your eyes or handling your baby, as it "smarts"!)
Also, diffusing lemon, lavender and peppermint is nice to have in the room to clear the air.
Another way to use essential oils is to put a few drops in a bowl of very hot water and breathe in the steam with a towel over your head (again, an attractive look! - but effective). You could also use steam without an essential oil. Obviously be very careful when handling hot water and maybe save for when no young children are running/crawling around.
HOPI EAR CANDLING
If your allergies are causing you issues with your sinuses, using Hopi ear candles can help draw our congestion and clear the airways. You can go for a treatment by a therapist that offers Hopi Ear Candling or buy the candles from a health food shop or online and DIY at home (although it is best to have a partner t. It's actually quite relaxing!
Some people find that complementary therapies like acupuncture and reflexology can help with over all health and allergies. Here is a post from a reflexologist who recommends a reflex point for triggering our body's histamine response: https://www.facebook.com/LukeJIreland/posts/10157128283340204
There are lots of other recommendations, like reducing dairy (known to increase the volume of mucous in our bodies), eating local honey, nettle tea/soup, taking grass pollen capsules (might try this next year before summer hits), and even stinging yourself with nettles! (the idea being for the body to produce histamine to deal with the sting and not react to the hayfever allergen?). We certainly have to get inventive and resourceful sometimes as mums and mums-to-be, but that's no bad thing. I do take the odd medication for hayfever now on really bad days, but it's a last resort and I really enjoy feeling less "allergic" generally when living more more holistic existence.
Hope some of this helps some of you mummies out there - if nothing else have fun trying and maybe find benefits to easing symptoms in a more natural way where possible.