Healthy nutrition is especially important from a few months before the beginning of a pregnancy all the way through to the end of breastfeeding both for mom and baby. In addition to eating a whole foods diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains, there are several specific nutrients that are important in the healthy development of your baby. Folic acid is an essential nutrient that helps to prevent neural tube defects in the first couple months of pregnancy. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is an omega-3 fatty acid present in fish oil that encourages healthy neurological development of your baby. Further along in pregnancy, calcium and magnesium become more important to support development of your baby’s skeletal system (without taking away from the integrity of your own!) and to help minimize muscle cramps for mom.
Naturopathic medicine also has much to offer individuals and couples who have concerns about fertility or are having difficulty getting pregnant. The first and most important step is to perfect your timing. Women can only conceive after ovulation, which is typically on day 14 of the menstrual cycle. However, not all women ovulate at the same time, so it is important to find your own rhythm through basal body temperature charting, watching for cervical mucous or using an ovulation predictor kit.
Women who have perfected their timing and still have difficulty conceiving may need further investigation into their menstrual cycle and adrenal hormone levels. Imbalanced sex hormones or dysfunctional adrenal hormones that can prevent pregnancy we can often correct with nutritional and lifestyle changes coupled with safe and effective botanical medicines. For more difficult hormone pictures, we may recommend gentle hormone therapies, using bioidentical hormones when possible.
For further information on naturopathic medicine and fertility, take a look at our Spring 2012 newsletter.