topical pain relief

Here we go again. When I was pregnant with Some Boy, I had the WORST aches and pains. And don't even get me started on the Charlie horses. I would get those so bad in the middle of the night that the next day, my calves ached like I'd done a 5-mile sprint without warming up. Not fun. I'm not big on taking pills, and the things you can take while pregnant are pretty limited anyway (Tylenol? Please, that stuff does nothing for me) so I resort to topical pain relief remedies. Here are some of my favorite ways to relieve pain without ingesting anything that could be potentially harmful.

Stretch
If one particular area is flaring up repeatedly, stretch it out daily to loosen those muscles and minimize the aches and pains. Loosening those muscles and increasing flexibility will make you more able to handle any impact in those areas. Plus, stretching after you're already experiencing pain will increase blood flow to the area and help you heal faster.

Heat/Ice
I put ice on an area to decrease swelling if it seems to be genuinely injured. If an area seems to be acting up simply due to muscle fatigue or overuse, I use heating pads for about 20 minutes. This helps relieve aching muscles so I can go about my day. During pregnancy, it's particularly important not to fall asleep on a heating pad or to overheat the lower back or stomach area.

topical pain relief patch

Patches
As much as I love heating pads, I can't tote one around with me all day. I use Salonpas pain relief patches, which have ingredients similar to Ben Gay, for on-the-go relief. They're currently the only FDA-approved over the counter pain relief patches, and they can be applied to the problem area and worn for eight to twelve areas, providing all-day relief for sore muscles. My doctor has told me that I can use these during the first six months of my pregnancy, but to avoid pain relief patches in the third trimester.

topical pain relief foam

Topical Gel
Sprays and gels are good to carry around for unforeseen muscle pain. I like to use Salonpas Jet Spray, which I pick up just around the corner at CVS. This stuff is to topical pain relief gels what spray sunscreen is to that old gloppy liquid. Cleaner, faster, more convenient. You just whip it out of your purse and spray it on the affected area briefly for instant relief. For even tougher pains, their Massage Foam is like a massage in a can. I kid you not. It comes out all crackly and  you can really feel it working into the muscles when you apply it.

Massage
A good massage therapist is worth her weight in gold. Massages are one of those expensive little luxuries that I afford myself at least a couple times per year to loosen up my body. Some places won't give pre-natal massages during the first trimester simply due to the naturally higher risk for miscarriage during that time, but any licensed masseuse trained in pre-natal techniques should be able to provide relief throughout the second and third trimesters. I've also found that a good full-body pillow does wonders for back alignment and comfort throughout those last weeks.

What are your favorite ways to reduce pain without resorting to pills? Anything I'm missing?

This post is sponsored by Salonpas. All opinions are my own.