Naturopathic Prenatal Care - The First Trimester
Congratulations! Your little bundle of joy will be here before you know it!
Pregnancy is an amazing journey, full of ups and downs. Be prepared for them all and you will enjoy your pregnancy all the more.
1. Nausea and vomiting: About 80% of pregnant women experience nausea (morning sickness) during the first trimester and 50% experience vomiting. The exact cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is still unknown, however most attribute it to the rapid change in hormone levels.
It is very important to manage these symptoms so that mom can maintain a balanced diet and consume enough calories for the health and growth of baby. There are MANY safe, non-pharmacological treatments for morning sickness; including acupuncture, herbs, dietary changes and specific vitamins/minerals. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for recommendations.
2. Constipation: Many women experience mild to severe constipation throughout pregnancy. Some of the causes include: increased progesterone production, iron rich prenatal vitamins and the position of baby over the bowels. Your Naturopathic Doctor will be able to make suggestions for safe ways to relieve constipation.
3. Fatigue: For many, exhaustion is one of the first signs of pregnancy. Many expecting moms constantly feel tired long before they start to show. Many times, dietary changes and supplementation improve this common first trimester symptom. Your Naturopathic Doctor will make a custom diet plan for you and can recommend quality supplements so that you don’t have to drag yourself to get through the long days.
4. Leg Cramping: Ouch! In the middle of the night, that’s what you will be thinking…..OUCH! Cramps in the lower legs are extremely common during pregnancy. While the exact cause is unknown, it is highly likely to be caused by the increased demand for calcium, magnesium and other electrolytes. Baby’s growth and wellbeing will always be the body’s priority. This being said, calcium, magnesium and other electrolytes often times need to be supplemented.
Dehydration is also another common cause of leg cramping during pregnancy. Your Naturopathic Doctor will be able to give you a quality mineral supplement and will counsel you on appropriate dietary changes that need to be made now that you are ‘eating and drinking for two’.
5. Swelling or bloating: Breasts, feet, hands, face and tummy can all swell during pregnancy. While most swelling is associated with increased blood volume, fluid retention and dietary choices, severe swelling can be a marker for health issues associated with pregnancy.
Diets high in sodium and caffeine can increase fluid retention and swelling. Inactivity is also a culprit for swelling. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about proper diet and what types of exercise are safe during pregnancy.
If an expecting mother notices sudden swelling, especially in the hands and face, this could be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy induced condition and is dangerous for both Mom and baby, if left untreated. If you experience sudden swelling, let your Naturopathic Doctor know right away. They will examine you, take your blood pressure and advise you as to what steps to take for treatment.
6. Frequent trips to the washroom! Blood volume UP = Urine output UP! The extra blood pumping through mom’s and baby’s bodies results in higher urine output. This, combined with your little one putting pressure on your bladder, may have you running for the washroom. Be sure not to let this keep you from drinking plenty of water. Both you and baby need lots of water to stay healthy! Concerned about your frequent urination? Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for advice!
7. Uterine cramping: Light cramping is very common during the first trimester. Some women will even experience a little bit of ‘spotting’. Try not panic if this happens. Your body is going through SO many changes right now and baby is working on making a home in your uterus for the next nine months. This ‘nesting’ can sometimes cause cramping and spotting. If you experience any cramping and/or spotting, give your Naturopathic Doctor or Medical Doctor a call. They can help.
Proper diet and supplementation can be tricky during pregnancy, especially if you are suffering from morning sickness. However, it is very important to ensure that your little one gets all that they need so ask your Naturopathic Doctor for help and advice.
Iron - iron deficiency anemia is extremely common during pregnancy. However, supplementing with common iron supplements can cause constipation, which as we discussed above, is already a problem during pregnancy. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for dietary guidance and proper iron supplements which can help to improve your iron levels.
Folic acid - folic acid (5-MTHF) is critically important during pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects which are serious birth defects of the spinal cord. Neural tube defects occur at a very early stage of fetal development. Ideally, the mother begins taking folic acid before trying to conceive. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor what form (5-MTHF!) and dose of this essential vitamin is best for you.
Prenatal - It is very difficult to get all necessary nutrients from foods today. Our diets are often lacking in key food groups, therefore it is often times necessary to supplement with a prenatal vitamin. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for a quality prenatal recommendation.
DHA, EPA (fish oil)- Grow, baby brain, grow! DHA and EPA, the fatty acids of fish oil, are essential for baby’s brain development! As a bonus, they also improve mom’s mood, skin and are wonderfully anti-inflammatory!
Vitamin D - The sunshine vitamin! My favourite! And yet deficient in most Canadians. Vitamin D is essential for proper immune function, hormone regulation, healthy mood, bone health and so much more! Both mom and baby require adequate vitamin D. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor to test your vitamin D levels and prescribe the proper dose for you.
Calcium and Magnesium - As mentioned above, calcium and magnesium are very important for baby’s bone and muscle development. Make sure that you are getting enough through both diet and supplements, if needed. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for diet recommendations and about which Cal-Mag supplement is best for you during your pregnancy.
Interested in prenatal care? Book an appointment with Dr. Kelsey Duncan, ND, today!
Trying to conceive? Book an appointment with Dr. Kelsey Duncan, ND, today!