Holistic Therapies for a Healthy Pregnancy
I often see a number of fertility as well as pregnant and post-partum patients in the office. Each comes with its own levels of issues, so our goal as Naturopathic Doctors is to support where every person is at. For this piece, let’s focus on the nine months of pregnancy.
Pregnancy brings forth emotional ups and downs along with physical shifts that take place within a woman’s body. It’s a time that is equally exciting and exhausting, which makes it so important for a woman to focus on self-care for her mind and body. The following activities support a healthy, active pregnancy while helping to reduce stress and anxiety that can often comes with bringing a new life into the world.
Keep Moving. Aerobic exercise enhances circulation, facilitates bowel motility, reduces stress, supports restful sleep, and strengthens the cardiovascular and muscular systems. Taking moderately-paced 30-minute walks, twice a day is a good start for most women. If it’s been a while since you’ve engaged in daily exercise, check with your physician about the best way to start. If you’ve been exercising regularly or are an athlete, you may need to modify your usual routine to prevent injury and reduce the risk of strain on the pelvic muscles that support the uterus. Whatever your routine, it’s good for both mind and body to spend time outdoors in nature,
Strengthen Body and Mind with Yoga. Yoga, which is meditation in motion, can be practiced throughout your pregnancy, with modifications made as your belly grows. Yoga strengthens and stretches the muscles, including those that support the pelvis. Specific breathing patterns used in yoga help strengthen the respiratory muscles needed when the time comes for delivering the baby. Be sure your instructor is certified to teach yoga for pregnancy.
Sleep Well. There will be lots of sleepless nights as you get closer to delivery and once the baby arrives, so make sure you are getting adequate rest during pregnancy. Restful sleep supports immunity, enhances resilience to daily stressors, and supports the development of the fetus. Try to keep routine times for lights-out each night and wake-up each morning. Sleeping on the left-side seems to improve sleep in pregnant women. If you have difficulty sleeping through the night, try taking a brief nap at least once during the day.
Get “Ah” Massage. Prenatal and pregnancy massage helps nourish the muscles and organs, lowers stress, and reduces swelling that occurs during pregnancy. It can also help reduce back and foot pain, improve sleep, reduce emotional angst that can arise as the due date approaches. Look for a licensed massage therapist who has been trained in therapeutic massage for pregnancy.
Other Modalities. There are many other modalities or therapeutics that are designed to support women in all trimesters of pregnancy. Acupuncture for example is one of them. Many people credit acupuncture for easing a wide range of pregnancy symptoms including heartburn, swelling in the legs, constipation, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica and more. Much all other therapeutics, always have your acupuncture performed by a licensed and regulated practitioner as they are properly trained and have the skillset to perform it.
Nutrients and Diet
By far this is crucial. Healthy pregnancies usually require an overhaul of one’s diet to make sure that both mother and baby are receiving the right amount of nutrition. Your Naturopathic Doctor may also run tests to keep en eye on blood sugar levels and markers such as iron and B12 to avoid deficiencies or excesses.
While all of these modalities that I’ve just talked about are considered safe and normal during pregnancy, every woman is different, with different needs and levels of support. Please check with your Naturopathic Physician, MD or even midwife (if you have one) before starting or changing your exercise or self-care routine to make sure the modality is appropriate for you and baby.
Dr. Olena Gill, R.Ac., ND is a Naturopathic Doctor and Registered Acupuncturist practicing in Parksille and Gabriola, BC. You can reach her at 778 – 762 – 3099 or www.indigomedicine.com
Please note: the information in this article is not considered medical advice or treatment so please see your medical provider for proper evaluation and treatment.