Experts from the OHbaby! team offer their best advice for easing the side effects of pregnancy so both you and your baby can feel your very best.
Naturopathically there are so many ways to support women during pregnancy. This precious, miraculous and taxing time of physical and emotional growth calls for maximum support and nurturing, and natural remedies have been a pregnant woman’s allies for time immemorial. Many women instinctively want to seek natural ways to support their health and wellbeing during pregnancy, while others need to look to alternatives to their usual medications which may no longer be safe at this time. Whatever the reason, the natural medicine cabinet abounds.
As this is such a precious time, and natural remedies can be powerful, it is best to seek professional advice from a qualified naturopath or medical herbalist. This will ensure you get the best, most effective treatments for you and your growing baby.
As naturopaths we make the following recommendations to support pregnant women, alongside good nutrition:
Reach for herbal support
Herbal supplements can support your body in many ways, eg:
■ Support immunity and address any acute infections that arise, such as coughs and colds, thrush or urinary tract infections.
■ Assist with energy and stamina, especially during the later stages of pregnancy when fatigue can kick in.
■ Reduce the effects of stress and calm anxieties, which has benefit for both mama and baby.
Harness some flower power
■ For any specific fears, worries or tensions, Bach Flower remedies (homeopathic remedies that work to support emotional imbalances) can offer targeted emotional support. If you are worried about a particular outcome, then Mimulus is your friend. If you have thoughts rushing around rampantly in your head, then White Chestnut will be of use. And if you just feel a strange disconnect and apathy, then Wild Rose may come to your assistance. There are over 40 Bach Flowers to choose from, and these can provide subtle, but deep, relief.
Aim to get adequate sleep, as much as you can, for there is plenty of broken sleep to come!
■ Adequate nutrient levels will help with this, especially magnesium, calcium, and iron.
■ Herbal relaxants and sedatives can be used to calm active minds and tense muscles, and herbal adrenal supports can help reduce elevated stress hormone levels that prevent good sleep.
If in doubt, ask! Naturopaths can assist you with many of the common ailments of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, nausea, haemorrhoids, headaches, fatigue, sleep, perineal care, constipation, birth preparation and more.
Other treatments, such as massage, acupuncture and float tank sessions, may also be of use to support you during your pregnancy. Remember that the better you feel – the more calm, clear and balanced – the better baby will be feeling and the better the foundation you are laying for the life of this person about to enter the world. This is just the beginning! Laying strong foundations now makes for a robust and healthy family in all the years to come.
Asti Renaut and Natasha Berman are naturopaths based respectively in Christchurch and Auckland. Qbaby products, information and advice can be found at qbaby.co.nz.
Pregnancy is a hugely significant time for you, both physically and emotionally. One of the secrets to feeling great is retaining a sense of who you are as a person and taking attentive care of yourself. Nurturing yourself in turn nurtures your baby.
There are many parts at play in order to harmonise your body so that you feel energised, yet calm. I recommend the following strategies for your total body wellness:
■ At my clinic we offer osteopathic treatments specifically designed for pregnant women. We encourage a check-up every trimester, starting with a personal assessment ideally between seven and twelve weeks. We work with your developing baby and the huge changes to your body, treating any side effects that may occur. We discuss your medical history and birth plans.
■ An osteopath can offer practical tailored advice to enhance comfort during pregnancy, eg how to position appropriate pillows for comfortable sleeping. We also stock a large range of supportive products and advise on how to use them.
■ Pregnancy is a good time to treat any pelvis, hip or knee pain that has been niggling, as such issues can become more challenging when extra weight is applied.
■ Reflux is an annoying problem affecting 50% of expectant mothers, predominantly due to the reduced amount of space available in your tummy. Osteopathic treatment is very effective in creating more space for baby and your organs, thus offering great improvements to your comfort.
■ Take time out each day to connect with both your baby and the natural world. Sit quietly outside every day, maybe take a blanket and pillows and lie down beneath a tree, looking up at the spaces between the leaves. This may sound a bit ‘hippy’, but trust me – it really works to deepen the connection between you and your baby. For added benefit, get your partner to join you!
I also recommend specialised, safe prenatal treatments to enhance your optimum strength and stamina, such as pregnancy yoga and Pilates. These targeted classes assist in opening up the hips and pelvis, ensuring your legs are strong enough to carry the extra weight of a growing baby, and to take the strain off your back. Pregnancy Pilates and yoga also work to improve the length of your body and mobility of your upper back, thus helping to reverse the natural forward curve which is exaggerated with your ever heavier breasts. Specialised swimming and prenatal aqua aerobics also come highly recommended – it is a wonderful weightless feeling, both you and your baby floating together. It also provides gentle movement for your increasingly softening joints and relief for swelling ankles and legs. If the going gets tough, relax and float – your break will be well deserved!
Sarah-Jane Attias is an Auckland-based osteopath who provides an integrated treatment approach for the whole family. Visit her online at livingosteopathy.co.nz.
To feel better while pregnant, and take optimum care of your growing baby, I make the following recommendations:
Ease the queeze
Avoid getting too hungry, as low blood sugar levels can make nausea worse. Eating several small meals a day instead of fewer large ones may help. Ginger is a traditional cure for nausea – make a simple ginger tea (add boiling water to a tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger) and sip throughout the day.
Vegetables are packed with goodness – antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Ideally half of your dinner and lunch plate should be vegetables. It's also beneficial to eat a few serves of raw vegetables a day too, as raw foods contain the added benefit of enzymes. Vegetables are also full of fibre, which will help ease constipation during pregnancy.
Power of protein
Eating a range of protein foods is really important as they are great sources of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Good options include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, cooked dried beans, lentils and peas. Seafood and eggs provide iodine which is much needed in pregnancy. Seeds and nuts are powerhouses of goodness providing omega 3 fatty acids, incredibly beneficial in pregnancy.
Calcium and other bone minerals become incredibly important during pregnancy. Boosting calcium and magnesium can help ease the muscle aches and cramping common in pregnancy. Dairy is a great source. Choose live cultured yoghurts for their probiotic content, as this supports good gut bacteria. If you don’t eat dairy, many other foods provide calcium, such as broccoli, kale, baked beans and tofu.
Beware the empty calorie
Refined sugar, soft drinks and fried foods are best avoided as they are high in kilojoules and low in nutrients. Balance and moderation will serve you well in your pregnancy diet. If you reach for whole foods and healthy snacks, avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine, you’re doing a great job of nourishing the life growing inside of you.
Anna Hansen is a nutritionist with a holistic approach, and a mum to three children. Find her at facebook.com/AnnaHansenLoveFood.