If you are like most women out there you want to be at your best during pregnancy for the sake of your growing bubs but also your own wellbeing and happiness. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to say ‘I enjoyed my pregnancy’ and to have the ability to relish in your own very special bump memories for years to come.
Naturopathy encompasses a range of dietary, lifestyle and wholistic support offering qualified nutritional & herbal prescribing that can hugely benefit pregnant women.
In this blog I hope to shed some light on the benefits of naturopathy in pregnancy and give you some tangible tips and tools to start using straight away.
Pregnancy is a time of rapid growth and development, starting with accelerated cellular division, then neural, bone, organ, fat, hair, skin formation and development, the list goes on! For this to occur we first need healthy, well-nourished cells, a robust placenta deeply rooted for proper nutrient and blood transfer, and a healthy uterus and body to facilitate the magic. Simple enough but yet the most complex of our body’s natural feats!
What starts as a couple of sex cells or gametes becomes you and I, fully functioning (most of the time!) humans.
Nutrients required in pregnancy
Our nutrient requirement in pregnancy increases to accommodate for the growing fetus and to replenish maternal levels, that is why all GP’s and specialists at a minimum are recommending women take folate and iodine supplements during pregnancy.
Blood volume increases by up to 100% in pregnancy to help carry and transfer additional nutrients, red blood cells and oxygen to bubs which I find amazing (and explains the nighttime urination as our kidneys filter and excrete the excess fluid). Our capacity to create and transfer nutrients increases however this can cause maternal deficiencies which can later cause conditions like osteoporosis, thyroiditis and depression. Naturopathy aims to balance supply the growing baby with what it requires and also fuel the maternal body so avoid depletion states and help the mother flourish through the fourth trimester and beyond.
Key nutrients in pregnancy are
|Iron||Reduces the chance of premature birth, low birth weight babies, abnormal brain development|
|Calcium||Assists in baby’s bone formation and the remodeling of maternal stores, reducing the risk of bone loss long term|
|Iodine||Assists in crucial maternal then fetal thyroid function, retinal and brain development|
|Folate||Reduces the chance of neural tube defects and supports methylation|
|Vitamin D||When repleted has been shown to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, ready more here.|
|Choline||Improves neurodevelopment and increases nutrient transfer across the placenta|
Here is a great blog on nutrient requirements in trimester 2 that I send to all my pregnant mamas.
Herbal medicine in pregnancy
The first and most important point to raise here is if you are not trained in herbal medicine use in pregnancy then please avoid self-prescribing. However, if you are working with a qualified practitioner eg. Naturopath, Western Herbalist, TCM practitioner then you will know there are many safe and effective herbs that can be used to support a woman through pregnancy
Our entire Halsa Tea range is safe in pregnancy and organic so you can be assured of not just safety but quality too.
Dietary support in pregnancy
Good nutrition in pregnancy starts with a basic understanding of macronutrients and how to get a balanced amount of each.
Here we have written a blog that I recommend all pregnant women read on what macronutrients are.
Naturopaths can help pregnant women better understand the basics of nutrition, their individualised macronutrient requirements which go up in pregnancy and ways to maintain their micronutrient intake, particularly as our needs change each trimester.
Healthy foods to eat in pregnancy
– Salmon, sardines and oily fish
– Dark berries
– Wholegrains and legumes
– 1-2 serves of organic dairy a day from trimester 2 onwards
– Free range eggs
Movement and stability in pregnancy
A lot of women unfortunately stop exercising in pregnancy due to morning sickness, fatigue, pain and mental health. Naturopaths spend ample time coaching on the importance of exercise on outcomes and guide the patient to a daily routine that is suitable for them. There are many benefits to be gained from regular exercise during pregnancy. These include physical benefits and the prevention of excessive weight gain, as well as benefits for psychological wellbeing.
Did you know that exercise in pregnancy:
– reduced c-section rates
– reduces gestational diabetes risk
– reduces perinatal depression
– Increases wellbeing in pregnancy
Medically it is often recommended that pregnant women exercise for 30 minutes a day. Naturopaths recommend between 30-60 minutes utilising a range of low-moderate weight-bearing, relaxation and light cardio exercises specific to the woman’s needs.
Mental health in pregnancy
The importance of a woman’s physical and mental health should be central to every aspect of maternity care from every member of their health care team. Pregnancy is a huge physical and emotional journey for every woman and this needs to be acknowledged by themselves and their care team.
It is important that all practitioners have an understanding of the normal range of emotions at each stage of the perinatal period so that they are better equipped to identify anxiety and depressive symptoms if they occur. – COPE, 2017
Naturopathy offers continuity of mental health care through a woman’s journey which gives them a soft landing point at any emotional hurdle. Naturopathy offers a trusted relationship, nutritional & herbal support as well as diet and lifestyle guidance to help a woman maintain her mental wellbeing.
Here is one of the most important blogs I’ve written to date on mental wellbeing resources for pregnancy and beyond (bookmark this one).
If you would like to work with a naturopath during pregnancy reach out to one of our qualified, pregnancy-trained naturopaths by clicking here.
Jennifer Ward, Adv dip Nat, BCom Econ, competing Masters Repro MedJennifer is a qualified naturopath with a focus on preconception, pregnancy, postpartum
Learn more about Jennifer here
Book a session with Jennifer here
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2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622376/ 3. https://www.halsahealth.com.au/post/pregnancy-nutrition-trimester-2