Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
If you would like to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy and after the birth, read on for some tips!
Keep taking your supplements. Your growing baby will take what it needs from you, and this means that it will deplete your supply of vitamins and minerals. Make sure your supplement has the following:
Folate (methylfolate) – prevents neural tube defects which affect brain and spinal cord development
Iron – brain development and blood cell production, and to prevent anaemia in the baby
Calcium – bone and teeth development
Fish oils – healthy brain development and immune system
Zinc – immune system of mother and cell development of baby, take after birth
Iodine – growth and development of baby, for mother's thyroid health
Vitamin B-complex – mother’s nervous system, energy levels and prevention of neural tube defects
Vitamin D – required to maintain calcium and phosphorus levels for your baby’s and your bones
Vitamin E – mother’s cardiovascular health, may prevent stretchmarks, immune support, antioxidant to remove damaging free radicals
Probiotics – improves mother and baby’s immune and digestive systems, prevents pregnancy vaginal thrush that may occur. May prevent mental disorders such as post-partum depression or anxiety.
It will probably not be possible to find a supplement that has all these nutrients. However, you can take numerous supplements that cover all bases. If you do this, please be sure that you are not taking too much of any one of these vitamins, as this can also be detrimental. Please see a qualified health care practitioner to ensure you are taking the right one(s) for you. Also, where you may be deficient in one vitamin, someone else may not be, but this can only really be determined by blood tests.
Taking herbs during pregnancy needs to be carefully monitored by a qualified herbalist. However, there are safe herbs to take during the second and third trimesters that can help prepare the muscles of the uterus, which can shorten labour and make for an easier birth. Herbs can also improve the maternal immune system – who wants to be sick during pregnancy?
Herbs can support the cardiovascular system which has an increased load, especially during the third trimester, when blood volume is increased by approximately 50%, meaning that the heart is working harder. Herbs can help improve the tone of blood vessels to be able to handle the extra blood, meaning that herbs may also help prevent varicose veins. In addition, the herbs will be good for baby's cardiovascular health.
Herbs can help calm the worried pregnant mind and nervous system. The more relaxed the mother, the better birth experience, as a natural labour and birth will come about in a relaxed state of mind. In addition, they may help calm the baby, too. Nervous system herbs are also great to take post partum to help avoid post natal depression. Bach Flower Remedies are also a great way of helping to calm a worried pregnant mind, as well as the mind of a new mother to help her stay on track.
Taking herbs post partum that tonify and nourish the reproductive system are also vital in order to further support the new mother and to help her body return back to normal again.
Caffeine as it can cause miscarriages, as well as deplete water levels in the body, and as a central nervous system stimulant, it may create a jittery baby. It also causes inflammation, and you want to reduce as much inflammation within the abdomen cavity as possible.
Sugar is also a central nervous system stimulant and increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Try to avoid it and eat only healthy foods. If you must have something sweet, and you do not have gestational diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease, stick to fruit, as it is nutrient dense.
There are many safe herbs to take during the second and third trimester and post-partum that increase milk supply for breastfeeding. You can also make cookies that can help improve milk production, as well as eating certain foods, such as dates, fennel, fenugreek, caraway seeds, dill seeds.
Keep taking multivitamins - the baby is still taking their nutrients from your body via breastmilk! And keep taking the herbs for breastmilk production, as well as eating the foods to increase it.
Ensure you drink as much water as you can, especially once you start breastfeeding and the milk has come in – breastmilk production uses vast amounts of water, so whilst mother becomes dehydrated, she will also have a decrease in supply of breastmilk. Invest in a 1 litre glass bottle that you fill and make sure you drink it for every feed the baby has. This will replenish your water levels, as well as take care of the breastmilk production which uses so much water.
Support for breastfeeding problems is paramount to continued breastfeeding, which is best for the baby. The following organisations might also offer additional support:
If you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason, do not feel guilty or pressured into breastfeeding. If this is the case, you can take herbs and Bach Flower Remedies to shake off any guilt or negative feelings associated with this. It is such an emotional and beautiful yet stressful time, as you are only trying to do your best for your new baby, and people can be so judgemental. We all have different parenting styles and ideals, and what works with one person will not work for someone else. Do not forget to look after yourself.