Finding out you are pregnant often comes with many different emotions, fears, worries, thoughts, and ultimately is followed by a plan. Everyone will make decisions on what they will do while they carry the baby, how they will care for themselves, and what their ultimate birth plan is. Many people will chose to take a more natural route before, during, and after pregnancy. There are many different ways in which naturopathic medicine can benefit both the pregnant mother and the baby. The following is a breakdown of how such things as acupuncture, nutriceuticals, and proper herbs and nutrient intake can aid in easing the more unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy as well as promote good health for both mother and child.
Pregnancy can either come as a surprise or be something that was planned for. As with almost anything else, being planned and prepared for is the most desirable option. If you are in the position to plan and prepare before getting pregnant it is best that you seek a naturopathic doctors’ counsel. They will set up a pre-pregnancy program that will prepare your body for what’s to come. The use of nutrients and herbs, catered to each patients needs, as a part of a detoxification regime will help improve gastrointestinal health. Getting started before conception will also help to solidify a routine that will be followed throughout the pregnancy.
Massage therapy can be used during pregnancy for the same reason it is used outside of pregnancy (to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and facilitate blood flow to internal organs). However, it can also be used to alleviate cramps, lower back and hip pain, and chronic tension caused by pregnancy. Massage therapy can also help to ease discomfort resulting from fluid retention.
Acupuncture can be used during the pregnancy as well as before and during labor.
During pregnancy acupuncture is effective in easing general discomfort, and aiding in many ways. Here is a short list of some of the ways in which acupuncture can positively contribute to the pregnancy:
- Can be used to induce labor for late pregnancies
- Enhance the health of the mother
- Prevent complications during pregnancy
- Relieve morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum
- Alleviate heartburn
- Alleviate hydroids
- Alleviate stress
- Influence the development of the baby
- Turn breech babies
During labor, acupuncture is used to ease labor pains. By using a non-drug substitute such as acupuncture you eliminate the possible side effects that can go along with local or general anesthetic.
Living a healthy lifestyle is always advised but there are many benefits to the mother and baby when taking such things as regular exercise and a healthy eating into consideration. If following the plan of a naturopathic doctor an expecting mother will be advised to exercise regularly and eat more or less of certain foods. A naturopath will address eating organic foods, avoiding pesticides, preservatives, and chemically processed food as well as taking the proper supplements and vitamins. The following is a short list of ingredients, supplements, and nutrients along with their benefits.
- Nutriceuticals: It is suggested that you speak to your naturopathic doctor about what nutriceuticals you should be taking. These physician grade supplements are extremely beneficial to the health and development of the baby.
- Magnesium: As with many natural vitamins and minerals magnesium can be taken as a supplement or from eating food such as green vegetables, fish, dairy products such as milk, whole wheat bread containing bran and germ, as well as drinking plenty of water. Magnesium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, promote proper blood pressure, and increase pain tolerance for delivery.
- Calcium: The most obvious source of calcium is dairy products. Beyond that you can get calcium from things such as soft bones of fish, tofu, sesame seeds, nuts, white bread, dried fruit, and green leafy vegetables. Bottled water, breakfast cereals and orange juice are also fortified with extra calcium. Proper intake of calcium can reduce the risk of certain birth defects, abnormalities, miscarriages, as well as kidney stones, hypertension, and depression for the mother. It also promotes healthy development of the skeletal system for the child.
- Folic acid: Although folic acid can be ingested by eating such foods as whole wheat products, lentils, okra, asparagus, and orange juice the best way to ensure you are getting enough folic acid is to take supplements. Folic acid aids in cellular development and regeneration. It is important to always have enough folic acid but the first week of pregnancy is the most important time. It promotes proper development of the brain and spinal cord. Low levels of folic acid can lead to increased chances of miscarriage and Neural Tube Disorder (NTD). In the study “A Giant Step in Understanding the Link Between Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defect Prevention”, by Steve Austin, he found that “any folic acid supplementation that includes 1000 mcg B12/day will remove any theoretical concerns about masking pernicious anemia”.
- Omega 3: Foods that have been deemed to be the richest foods in Omega 3 in order of the most condensed are: Flaxseed, walnuts, salmon, soy beans, halibut, shrimp, tofu, snappers, scallops, and winter squash. Omega three aids in the development of the baby’s eyes and brain as well as their overall proper growth and development. Taking the proper amounts of Omega 3 can prevent preterm delivery, reduce chances of the child having allergies, and decreases the mothers chance of post partum depression as well as easing the birthing process.
What you eat and how you eat it is important on so many levels. Much of this is covered in the other sections of this post. However, one aspect you might not consider is how what you eat affects your chances of experiencing acid reflux during pregnancy. Even if you are not prone to acid reflux it is very common for pregnant women to have it during the 3 months of their second trimester.
In order to avoid getting it here are some tips you can follow:
- Eat regularly, small meals every few hours
- Chew your food well
- Carry around a snack in your bag at all times so that on the first onset you can eat something
- Don’t eat late at night or right before you go to bed
- Try to avoid overly acidic food
The following can be used to alleviate discomfort safely:
- From Natureschild.com Slippery Elm (1 teaspoon) mixed into a paste with some honey neutralizes stomach acid, soothes the stomach and eases gas.
- Chewing fennel seeds after a meal aids digestion and decreasing acid production.
Carrots: Many people don’t realize this, but while pregnant you might as well just change the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “a carrot a day”. Carrots and carrot juice have multiple benefits to both the child and mother. Drinking carrot juice/eating carrots can accommodate the high levels of calcium needed during pregnancy as well as help to lower the chance of infection after birth. According to Naturalhealthcure.org “the chances of developing puerperal sepsis is minimized by the regular intake of carrot juice during pregnancy”. After birth carrot intake helps to keep breast milk enriched promoting proper nutrients for the baby.
Exercise is a key ingredient to staying healthy and fit during pregnancy. Some exercises are more recommended than others. Activities such as walking, yoga, and meditation can not only help keep you fit but aid with sleeping issues as well as high levels of stress.
During Labor / Birth Plan
There are multiple things that can be done to prepare and aid in a smooth labor. These suggestions will be covered in a later post. However, here are two tips that will help during labor.
Raspberry tea leaf mixed with some ginger helps the uterus to “make the most” of each contraction and Arnica 30c can help to keep the mother calm and focused during child birth.
If you would like more information or would like to meet with a Doctor to discuss your pregnancy and options please contact Dr. Lisanti’s Office to make an appointment.