Post by Dr. Antoinette Falco ND, Women’s & Children’s Health Expert
Stick says “pregnant”. Congratulations!! Now what???
The past few months in practice, I’ve noticed that the couples I work with invest a lot of amazing effort and attention to their health when trying to conceive. Once pregnant, they’re often curious about what to do next to ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy and baby. Usually, you’ll have peed on several sticks, told your partner, and checked in with your family doctor for a blood test confirming your pregnancy. Check, check and check! After doing everything you could do to boost your fertility and get pregnant, what else can you do once you’ve confirmed a positive pregnancy?
Here are some of my top tips for starting your pregnancy off right.
Listen to your body
Pregnancy is a wonderful time, as the body is transforming both physically and emotionally to support the beautiful growth of another human being. Some of these transformations for a first time mom can really throw you off your day-to-day routines. While some mild discomfort, fatigue and energy decline during pregnancy are normal, it doesn’t mean you should push through it; this is typically a message from the body to slow down and take some time to rest. Supporting yourself by listening to your body and providing for its needs is one of the first steps for success through pregnancy. Keep in mind that a healthy mamma equals a healthy baby, and you must give yourself permission to put yourself first. Also be mindful of your emotions and feels that may come up at various stages of pregnancy, for example if you feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, stressed or sad; addressing these feelings will contribute to having a positive birth experience. Therefore, remember to schedule time for self-care, which can include regular prenatal massage, meditation, engaging in your hobbies, exercise or what ever makes you feel good.
Nourish your nest
Don’t forget to eat! I’m often told from pregnant women that their morning sickness is so terrible that they can’t keep anything down. Morning sickness can be quite debilitating but it’s important to remember that you’re growing a baby and the body need all the vitamins and minerals it can soak up from food. Eating a small high protein snacks every 2 hours can be beneficial to combating morning sickness. You can also try homemade chicken broth if you crave something simple and a little salty to settle your stomach. Vitamin B6, ginger and acupuncture have also been known to be effective for morning sickness. In general, if you have any food sensitivities, it is best to avoid them during pregnancy. Studies have shown that if a pregnant woman has a food sensitivity to dairy, for example, her baby has an increased risk of developing eczema, asthma or allergies.
Collect your resources
It’s time to research and ask lots of questions. To start, you should decide whether you would like to work with an OB or midwife for your pregnancy and birth. If you choose midwife, get on a wait list as soon as possible, as they are in high demand. Next you can look into the other health care practitioners that can support you through various concerns that may arise during pregnancy, such as morning sickness, insomnia, constipation, muscle aches and pains, frequent colds, anxiety, depression, stress, to name a few. I recommend checking out how the following professionals can support you through your pregnancy and help you prepare for childbirth: Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Naturopathic Doctor, Osteopath, Chiropractor, and Birth Doula. These practitioners will also help you transition into life with baby.
4. Begin with your happy ending in mind
As naturopaths working with many pregnant women, we find that the #1 emotion our expectant moms experience is anxiety. Internet reading can provoke anxiety because the it’s filled with articles about every single thing that could go wrong with your pregnancy. Keep in mind these are often theoretical “risks” geared to create enough drama to keep you reading and exposed to the ads posted on the sites (sad, but true). Instead, we suggest being choiceful about the materials you read. Use your reading as an opportunity to create positive imagery in your mind about your pregnancy and birth. There are many excellent pregnancy books available to read. If you’re a bookworm, like myself, it can be tempting to want to read as many books as you can. This can be overwhelming, so I am going to suggest 3 of my favourites:
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (by Ina May Gaskin)
- Birth Partner: A complete guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and all other labour companions (by Penny Simkin)
- Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth (by Grantley Dick-Read)
5. Don’t forget your prenatal vitamins!
To compliment a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy for both mom and baby, it’s best to take a high-quality prenatal that is complete with the most absorbable forms of each vitamin and mineral. Unfortunately, most conventionally-recommended prenatal supplements put you at higher risk for nausea, indigestion and constipation, and contain fillers and food colourings that detract from their nutritional quality. As a general rule, read the product labels, checking for methylated (active) forms of folate (L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate) and B12 (methylcobalamin) and a non-constipating form of iron (e.g. iron bisglycinate). Review the non-medicinal ingredients on your label for unnecessary additives such as fillers, binders and food colourings which are possible indicators of a lower-quality prenatal. In addition to a prenatal vitamin, magnesium can be helpful for sleep and muscle cramps in the second and third trimesters. Omega 3 oils like fish oil give your baby the DHA needed to support her developing brain. High-quality prenatal supplements are available in health food stores, through your naturopathic doctor, or from our online professional-quality dispensary. If you aren’t sure which are the best supplement for you, check with your Naturopathic Doctor.
For more information about individualized support care during your pregnancy, or naturopathic doula services please contact us for a complimentary meet-and-greet consultation with Dr. Antoinette Falco who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Dr. Antoinette can be reached at tworivershealth.ca or (519)265-6963. Her office is located at Guelph Women’s Health Associates, 1453 Gordon Street in Guelph.