Routine supplementation of specific nutrients throughout your pregnancy is essential, as it is impossible to get all the daily requirements you need from your diet alone. Unfortunately it is not just as simple as taking a pregnancy multivitamin and a bit of extra folate! You are the only source of nutrition for your growing baby. The baby growing inside your womb forms its whole body from your body. It is a strange thing to think about. The baby will take what it needs and whatever is left you then use. In fact it takes 2 years to nutritionally recover from a pregnancy! So you can see how important it is that you incorporate naturopathic advice and supplements into your pregnancy health care regime.
Throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy, I recommend that my pregnant patients come and see me approximately 4 times. Starting with some time in the 1st trimester, then at 18-20 weeks, again at 30 weeks and finally at 34 weeks. I can also help with advice to “get things moving” (so to speak) if the baby is overdue, so I recommend they come in again at 41 weeks if this is the case, particularly if it is not their first child and others have come late too! I have helped several women in this way, and all have gone into labor within 12 hours! This is something they are grateful for as they wanted to avoid being medically induced.
A woman’s body changes tremendously throughout pregnancy, and so do her nutritional needs. It is important that she receives regular care so that supplements can be tailored throughout the pregnancy, and specific advice can be given at different stages.
What can naturopathy help with?
Naturopathy can also help with many of the things that pregnant women “put up with” such as morning sickness, tiredness, cravings, cramps, changes in bowel habits, baby brain, heart burn, and water retention. Geeze – sounds like a lot can be experienced during pregnancy. (I think I experienced just about all of those things listed above when I was pregnant!) Baby brain is a great example of something that is thought of as a normal part of pregnancy, where expectant mums become forgetful and muddled more easily than they were before they were pregnant. However as a naturopath, I look at baby brain as a deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids. The baby forms its brain predominantly from Omega 3, and if its mum doesn’t take a supplement of Omega 3 during pregnancy, then the levels in her brain decrease in order to supply her baby. It is important that you take a good quality supplement. You can read more about that here.
Omega 3 supplements are essential during pregnancy as eating fish has other problems associated with it. For example, I don’t recommend my pregnant patients eat tuna at all during pregnancy as its mercury levels are too high. Other fish can have high levels of pesticides and other toxins, and a lot of fish stocks are becoming unsustainable, particularly Atlantic Salmon, which is the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Finally, the volume of fish that a pregnant women needs to eat everyday to get adequate omega 3 is not practical. Taking a supplement of Omega 3 throughout pregnancy can help alleviate this annoying symptom of… “what was I talking about again…”
Naturopathic treatment can also assist with the more serious conditions of pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Treatment also doesn’t stop once the baby is born. Naturopaths can provide advice on:
- Vaccinations (for and against)
- Introducing solids (I advise doing this no earlier than 6 months, particularly if there is a history of allergies in the family or if they are small for their age or premature)
- Common problems that newborns/infants get such as colic, reflux & constipation.
- Plus advice for when they get a bit older such as teething, frequent colds, and sleeping difficulties.
So think about making an appointment with me during your pregnancy and you and your baby will reap the benefits from this decision.