Pregnancy can bring about unfamiliar health issues that are not typically experienced in your everyday life. Whether you are looking to prevent health concerns from arising or treat existing ones, a naturopathic doctor can be a great addition to your healthcare team.
Common health concerns experienced during pregnancy include:
- Nausea and vomiting: Approximately 80% of women report some level of nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy and about half experience vomiting. Approximately 20% of women have nausea past the first trimester. The reason why nausea and vomiting occurs in pregnancy is not completely understood however there are non-pharmacological treatment options to help manage your symptoms.
- Constipation: There are many reasons why women become constipated while pregnant
Solutions to constipation in pregnancy can be simple or complex. Hydration is important, along with eating fiber rich foods (ie fruits and vegetables). Failing improvement from these measures, supplementation may offer support for a sluggish bowel.
- Progesterone: Increased progesterone in pregnancy causes smooth muscle relaxation in the digestive tract and as a result, foods take longer to move through.
- Many pre-natal vitamins contain iron which can be constipating
- A growing baby may put pressure on your bowels making it more difficult to pass stools
- Colds and Flu: Suffering through sickness during pregnancy is not ideal but happens often. When symptoms become too much, pregnancy safe herbal support may be prescribed in order to help fight the infection and ease symptoms.
- Urinary Tract Infections and Yeast Infections:
Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTI’s. Urinary stasis is more likely in this patient population as higher progesterone levels decrease urethral tone, which increases urethral volume. Additionally, a growing fetus puts pressure on the bladder. UTI’s can cause premature labour and therefore it is necessary to treat the infection.
Yeast infections are more common in pregnancy due to higher levels of estrogen in vaginal secretions, which result in greater susceptibility to yeast overgrowth.
Urinary tract infections and yeast infections may become cyclical in some women. Use of antibiotics destroys probiotics in the digestive and vaginal tract thus clearing the way for an overgrowth of yeast.
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops in pregnancy. The body has difficulty producing enough insulin in order to keep blood sugars from rising. If left untreated, gestational diabetes will increase the probability of delivering a larger baby (over 9lbs), which may make delivery more difficult. It will also increase your risk of developing gestational hypertension. Having gestational diabetes may also put your baby at increased risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
After delivery of the baby, blood sugar levels typically return to normal however the mother will also be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life or during subsequent pregnancies.
Dietary and lifestyle factors are the primary factors to manage blood sugar in gestational diabetes. Supplements may also be used to increase insulin binding, and an increase the number of insulin receptors in the body.
- Pre-eclampsia: Pre-eclampsia is a condition that occurs in pregnancy and includes high blood pressure, and protein in the urine. Additionally, women with pre-eclampsia may also have swelling of the feet, legs, and hands. It typically appears after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia can put a woman at risk for developing eclampsia, which is characterized by seizures. If that occurs, an early delivery of the baby may be required. ND’s may be able to help prevent pre-eclampsia through the use of research based nutrient supplementation.
Why seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor during pregnancy:
- An ND will customize your treatment plan to your individual needs at any point in your pregnancy.
- An ND will review current supplements to determine if they are safe in pregnancy and provide supplement recommendations to support you appropriately throughout your pregnancy.
- Nutritional counseling will be provided by your ND to optimize your health and baby’s health.
- In the third trimester, your ND will be able to prescribe appropriate solutions to help prepare the body for labour and to support healing afterwards.