Congratulations! You are pregnant, and you want to have a healthy pregnancy with optimal prenatal care. Whether this is your very first pregnancy or not, it is important to make sure that you take steps to have the healthiest pregnancy for you and your baby. Not only will a healthy pregnancy put you and your baby in the best position you can be, but it can make drastic changes in the way you feel during and after your pregnancy.
When you are pregnant, your body will require around 300 more calories per day to help maintain a healthy pregnancy. Try to eat a balanced diet consisting of protein, fruits, and vegetables to help your body take in as many good nutrients for the baby as possible. You will want to avoid ingesting harmful bacteria for you and your baby. You can find these harmful bacteria potentially in foods such as undercooked meat, undercooked eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, unpasteurized juice, raw seafood, and deli meats. You will also want to limit food that include heavy metals. Some fish, such as tuna, contain high levels of mercury. You will want to limit your caffeine intake as much as possible but best to eliminate it fully. Be aware of caffeine from other sources such as soda, energy drinks, chocolate, and tea. Increased caffeine increases your risk for miscarriages, lack of sleep, and heartburn.
Alcohol consumption is vital to avoid in pregnancy. Alcohol is quickly absorbed in your body and your baby’s body and the baby can end up with a higher blood alcohol than the momma’s blood
alcohol level. Alcohol can cause birth defects and even problems with your baby as your baby grows up. Your baby will be at risk for problems with learning, speech, attention span, language, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, and delinquent behavior. If that isn’t bad enough, your child can even develop fetal alcohol syndrome. Symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include mental problems, growth problems, facial defects, and heart defects. So, it is easy to see why giving up alcohol during pregnancy is worth it.
Smoking is another important thing to give up during pregnancy (and in general) because it not only is detrimental to your health, but your babies health and development. Smoking can cause low birth weight, growth problems, miscarriages, and pre-term labor. I know this should go without saying but using marijuana and drugs is extremal harmful and possibly fatal for you and your baby. In addition to a healthy diet, it is vitally important to take prenatal vitamins that folic acid. With that said, the only time during my own pregnancy that I was nauseous was when I took the prenatal supplements!! In retrospect I wonder if the quality of those pills was good enough or packed with cheap ‘bonding’ material when made!!
Iron is important because your blood volume in your body increases when you are pregnant. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is important because they are the cells in your blood that carry oxygen in your body and your baby’s body. Iron also helps make collagen which is a protein that helps make cartilage, bone, and connective tissue in your body. Unfortunately, most women begin their pregnancy with low iron levels. You can see why it is so important to take iron. Plus, as you get further along in your pregnancy and you baby grows more, your baby will need more iron from you. Also, when taking iron, it is important to take it away from drinking any milk, coffee, or tea because it can prohibit the absorption of iron. Calcium can also prohibit the absorption of iron. So, if you are taking calcium supplements or taking anti-acids such as Tums, it is best to take your iron supplement at a different time. Try to take your iron supplement on an empty stomach and with orange juice for the best chance of absorption. It is important to note that you should not take too much iron. While not having enough iron can lead to low birth weight, pre-mature labor, and/or death of the baby, taking too much iron can increase your risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and miscarriage. I am very apprehensive about prescribing Iron without ordering blood work up. Not every anemia is Iron deficiency anemia in which case, taking Iron is actually not a good idea. Make sure to have your Ferritin taken when ordering blood workup and your OBGYN is up to par with the healthy levels of Iron and Ferritin in pregnant women. Ask around to make sure your OBGYN is not going to treat you like another number!!!!
The next important supplement you should make sure that you take for the development of your baby is folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin. It protects your baby from neural tube birth defects. Neural tube birth defects include problems that cause the brain, skull, and/or spinal cord to not develop or not develop properly. These birth defects can start happening as early as the first through the fourth weeks of pregnancy. If you are not already pregnant, it is never too early for child bearing age women to start supplementing with folic acid every day.
One supplement that is often missed with pregnancy is vitamin D. Vitamin D is not only great for your bones, but it also helps you build your baby’s bones as well. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with pre-eclampsia. In moms, low vitamin D levels are associated with many different types of cancer, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, diabetes, and heart disease. It is important that you do not take too much vitamin D or you can over-dose on it. Despite that you store vitamin D, it is estimated that as much as 60% of the population is deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that it must have fat to be absorbed in your body. So, make sure that you take vitamin D with a meal, so it will be absorbed.
Common problems with Pregnancy
Headaches and lower back pain are the most common problems that bring patients to my practice. I so hope that none of you pregnant women out there take any medications despite the claim that they are safe!!! How sad will it be if one day they find out that those drugs were not safe after all. Look into the drug. Thalidomide was a drug prescribed in the late fifties for nausea which caused sever birth defects, impacting many families. If you think it was then and things are different now, according to the Parenting magazine, Zofran was prescribed to many pregnant women for morning sickness and caused birth defects. My heart goes out to all those moms, their children and the lives of many that were so sadly impacted.
Bottom line, I do not trust it. If it is not a food source, I run away from it. If it is not organic, pasture raised, I run away from it. If it is not generated in nature, I run away from it!
What are good exercises for pregnancy?
Regular exercise is important for you and your baby during pregnancy. Exercise can give you the strength and endurance to get through labor. It can help you handle the physical stress and changes that pregnancy places on your body and improve your circulation during pregnancy. An additional benefit is that regular exercise can help you recover faster from having your baby. You will have enough to take care of once the baby comes, so it will help greatly to have a fast recovery. Yoga is a fantastic exercise for pregnancy but be aware of the changing in your size when doing the balance exercises in Yoga. My favorite general exercise is squatting!!! Assuming you do not have any knee problems, you should start squatting exercise right away to condition your inner thigh muscles knowing that in the near future, those legs have to stay nice and strong. Watch this video to learn how to squat properly.
Getting on hands and knees, holding the stomach to prevent the downward move (creating extra curve in the lower back) as to avoid the ‘cow’ pose and create the “cat” pose is another great exercise I recommend my patients. It allows the stomach muscles to not lose their integrity so they can help minimize the over extension of the lower back region. Please remember to use your own judgement to make sure you are not over doing the exercises I recommend here and make sure safety is your number one priority.
Chiropractic and Pregnancy
To help with a healthy pregnancy it is great to get regular chiropractic adjustments. Not only are chiropractic adjustments beneficial for you and your baby, but they are very safe. During pregnancy, your ligaments and tendons will stretch out to allow your body to expand to make room for the baby. This can cause your joints to get out of alignment and cause you unneeded aches and pains. Staying in alignment can help you avoid these aches and pains as well as help give your baby more room to move into the optimal position for labor. In addition, it can help you have an easier time during labor and delivery.
What is unique about pregnant women is the fact that the hormone Relaxin runs high while pregnant; this hormone allows the ligaments to be more relaxed therefore adjusting pregnant patients is a breeze. At my office, the chiropractic tables are designed to lift up in the lower back/abdominal region which is my pregnant patients favorite thing: laying down on their stomach while not pressing on the baby!
Is Massage good when pregnant?
Absolutely. Pregnancy massage is a great idea to relieve some of the tension in the lower back and neck area. There are a couple of spots that need to be avoided during first trimester. The spots around the lower back will trigger contraction and need to be avoided. The inside of the ankle is the spot to not apply pressure to when close to the due date as in triggers contraction. At my clinic, our table lifts up so the pregnant mom can lay on her stomach, the very much missed position that our pregnant patients love.
Remember, any stress on you is a transferred stress to the baby. Make sure you make this time a very healthy one.