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Natural Awakenings Boston

Healthy Pregnancy Rx: Holistic Tips for Baby and You

Apr 30, 2011 01:40AM ● By Dawna L. Jones, MD

When Holly, a healthy and strict vegetarian who ate no dairy, came to me, she was pregnant and looking for advice. Holly was seeking ways to treat her newly diagnosed anemia, and she was starting to feel a little nauseous, skipping meals and water. Her previous doctor gave Holly a prescription for nausea, but she didn’t want to take medicine. Below are some of the things that I recommend to patients like Holly for a healthy pregnancy.

Folate Yourself

Folate, found in green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, wheat germ, orange juice, beans and spinach, is essential for the proper neurological development of the baby. It can help to prevent birth defects like spina bifida and protect against anemia. Folate is also available as folic acid in vitamins. The recommended dose is 400 mcg daily.

Diet and nutrition

Omega-3 fatty acids are oils that help with brain development. They may also help women who are having problems conceiving or staying pregnant during the first 12 weeks. The oils help decrease inflammation in blood vessels, including the ones that supply blood to the baby through the placenta. Flax seed oil and high-quality fish oil are good sources of DHA for baby brain development.

If anemia is present, natural solutions include a multivitamin with iron; dark green vegetables; prunes and raisins; red meat; blackstrap molasses; wheat germ; green drinks that contain grasses or seaweeds; and capsules with chlorophyll. Cooking food in a cast-iron skillet will also help.

Those becoming anemic may want to add an iron supplement, as the baby is going to require iron to make red blood cells and calcium to make bones. Homeopathic remedies may also be used (Ferrum Phos 6x three times daily and Calc. Phos 6x three times daily) for iron and calcium supplementation.

A good daily diet would include five to seven servings of vegetables and fruit per day, along with protein (as chicken, fish, beans, tofu, meat and protein smoothies) and whole grains. Tuna may be off the list entirely, due to the radiation leak in Japan and higher mercury levels in general. Calcium sources include milk, cheese and yogurt and non-dairy options like collards, kale and dulse (seaweed); tofu; calcium-fortified orange juice; fortified almond, soy and rice milks; and a prenatal vitamin or calcium supplement.

Avoid foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Babies who get higher levels of sugar may grow larger than they should. Salt can trigger higher blood pressure in moms, which may cause decreased growth in the baby and early delivery.

Nausea and Constipation

Nausea is a common complaint during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and sometimes the bowels slow down, too, causing constipation. For relief, try taking a probiotic and drinking lemon juice and water in the morning, as well as eating fiber (whole grains) to improve digestion.

Natural solutions for nausea include taking extra vitamin B6; eating small meals at regular intervals; and avoiding fatty foods, hard-to-digest meats and dairy. Real ginger ale at room temperature and ginger tea made from the root may reduce the symptoms of nausea. Sea bands can be worn on the wrist to stimulate acupressure points for relief.

Ditch Zumba; Breast Feed Instead

Studies have shown that women who consistently get their heart rate above 140 beats per minute during pregnancy have smaller birth-weight babies that may not reach their full growth potential. Exercise is fine—as long as it is light and adjustments are made for two. Breastfeeding is a win–win situation for mom and baby that can help the woman get back in shape fast.

Delegate Cleaning the Litter Box

Cat feces may contain toxoplasmosis, an organism that can cause problems in the pregnancy. Delegate the job of changing or handling the kitty litter.

Viruses and Flu During Pregnancy

Pregnant women sometimes have a decreased ability to fight off colds and flu. The H1N1 virus can be life threatening during pregnancy. While the vaccine is available, homeopathic remedies and supplements are also helpful in protecting against viruses. Limit exposure to people who are sick and take extra vitamin C daily. Homeopathic remedies like influenzinum and oscillococinum can be taken daily during the flu season to boost the immune system.

Dawna L. Jones, M.D., is a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, currently practicing holistic gynecology in Hanover. She is also certified in homeopathy and lectures on holistic health for women in the Boston area. For more information, visit BellaNaturalHealth.com.