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Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

If you would like to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy and after the birth, read on for some tips!


Nutrition


Keep taking your supplements even after the birth of your baby. Your growing baby will take what it needs from you, and this means that it will deplete your supply of vitamins and minerals, and this goes on post partum. This is where most women need support to avoid post natal depression, adrenal exhaustion and thyroid problems post partum. Make sure your supplement has the following:

  1. Folate (methylfolate) – rather than taking folic acid which is just poorly absorbed, make sure it is either folate or methylfolate. This should form part of the B vitamin complex you take - see below.

  2. Iron – brain development and blood cell production, and to prevent anaemia in the baby

  3. Calcium – bone and teeth development

  4. Fish oils – healthy brain development and immune system function. Make sure you get a balanced one with omega 3, 6, 7 and 9.

  5. Zinc – immune system of mother and cell development of baby, take after birth for healing tissues

  6. Iodine – growth and development of baby, for mother's thyroid health

  7. Vitamin B-complex – must be ideally the methyl forms of the B vitamins for optimal absorption, great for mother’s nervous system, energy levels and prevention of neural tube defects

  8. Vitamin D3 with K2 – required to maintain calcium and phosphorus levels for your baby’s and your bones

  9. Vitamin E – mother’s cardiovascular health, may prevent stretchmarks, immune support, antioxidant to remove damaging free radicals. Ideally, go for the one that has all 8 sub-types of vitamin E, so that means the tocopherols and tocotrienols, i.e. alpha, beta, delta and gamma forms of Vitamin E - it just ensures proper utilisation of this amazing antioxidant.

  10. 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. Switch your probiotics every 2 months so that you get a good coverage of strains for microbial diversity.

It probably won't be possible to find an over-the-counter supplement that has all these nutrients in decent quantities, and in the nicest forms, so 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 or hair tissue mineral analysis tests.


Herbal Support


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 really help prepare the muscles of the uterus, potentially shortening labour and make for an easier birth. Herbs can also support the maternal immune system which is far less effective from the drop in oestrogen during pregnancy.


Herbs can support the cardiovascular system which has an increased load, especially during the third trimester - blood volume increases by approximately 50%, meaning that the heart is working a lot 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 and haemmorrhoids. 


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. Nervous system and adrenal restorative 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 cycles and hormones return back to normal.


Avoid


Caffeine 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 inflammation within the abdominal cavity as much 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. Dates are a great one to eat, as they are high in magnesium - a trial of pregnant women found that eating dates on a daily basis were associated with easier labours and births, likely due to the magnesium affecting the uterine muscles.


Breastfeeding


There are many safe herbs to take during the second and third trimesters, and also post-partum to 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.


If you would like a personalised natural approach during your pregnancy, contact me to have a chat.

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