05 Apr Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy – Dr Susan Strevens, Chiropractor
Dr Susan Strevens our paediatric and pregnancy chiropractor gives some simple advice for staying healthy during pregnancy
‘During pregnancy, your body goes through many chemical and physical changes, some of these can cause more discomfort than others. Because they are common we often come to accept that this is just something we need to deal with for the next 9 months!’
If you are trying to conceive, start making healthy changes to ensure that your body is in the best shape for carry and nurturing your baby.
Here are the top 5 topics we often here in clinic:
How can I minimise my morning sickness?
Morning sickness during the first trimester is a normal self-regulating process. Your body is undergoing enormous physiological change, particularly on a hormonal level, nausea is often one of the by products. The best method for conquering morning sickness is to eat smaller meals more frequently.
Consistent light snacking will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping which helps reduce nausea. Other items that may be helpful are fresh ginger tea, increasing vitamin B6 which can be found in bananas, currants, dried apricots, runes, whole grains and brewers yeast.
Why should I see a Chiropractor?
Chiropractic care helps women to be as healthy as they can be during pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, the weight of your baby can become a major load to bear and hormonal changes begin to relax the supporting tissues of the spine. Having your spine checked by a chiropractor ensures that your pelvis is sitting correctly to allow optimal room for your baby to grow and move.
Research shows that correct alignment of the pelvis and spine contributes to a more straightforward labour with less pain and trauma for mother and child. Pelvic imbalances often cause Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and Symphysis Pubis Pain (SPD).
There are many different Chiropractic techniques that your chiropractor can use to accommodate for your growing belly!
Can I continue to exercise?
Women who exercise habitually can continue to do so during pregnancy with slight modifications. Exercise during pregnancy is extremely important for several reasons. The changes to your cardiovascular system during pregnancy enables a greater flow of nutrients and oxygen to your baby. Moderately intense aerobic exercise should be limited to 10-20 min periods and low intensity exercise should not exceed 45 min total. Stretching is vital for relieving general aches and keeping the back flexible. Yoga is fantastic during pregnancy (there are many specialised pregnancy yoga classes) not only for strengthening and stretching but also the discipline of breath control and mind-body connection. It is important to drink plenty of filtered water both before and after exercising to prevent dehydration.
Make sure you discuss any concerns with your Health Practitioner before beginning any new exercise.
What is the best sleeping position during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you may find yourself wrestling in bed trying to get comfortable before falling asleep. Unfortunately, your regular sleeping positions may no longer work for you during pregnancy.
The best sleep position during pregnancy is on your side, specifically your left side. Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.
Keep your legs and knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs will stop the pelvis from twisting.
Sleeping on your back can cause some problems including increased frequency of backaches. Some report problems with breathing, digestive system function, haemorrhoids, lower than normal blood pressure and a decrease in circulation to your heart and your baby with sleeping on the back. This is a result of the weight of your baby in your abdomen resting on and compressing the major blood vessels in your abdomen (the aorta and vena cava) as well as your intestines.
There are now a range of pregnancy pillows you can purchase to help support your growing bump.
What supplements should I take during pregnancy?
Before you become pregnant (ideally at least three months) you should start taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of activated folic acid. This B vitamin has been found to dramatically reduce the incidence of birth defects and can lower the risk of preterm labour too.
Source a high quality supplement to ensure your growing baby has everything they need, including iron, B12, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K. I like to recommend prenatal vitamins that contain DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to boost baby’s brain development and even decrease the incidence of postpartum depression in new mums.
Some expecting mothers require additional supplementation in the event of pre-existing medical conditions or during a high risk pregnancy. In these cases we recommend consulting our nutritionist to ensure you have the best possible guidance on your individual condition.
Of course, eating a healthy, well-rounded diet is essential while you’re pregnant, but the truth is that it’s unlikely you’ll get all the key nutrients you need through food alone.
Probiotics are vital! It is estimated that up to 75% of all women will experience a yeast infection in their life time and pregnant/post-pregnant mothers have a likely predisposition. Hormonal changes can wreak havoc with the healthy balance of bowel bacteria and can quickly result in a yeast imbalance. Regular consumption of probiotics support proper digestive health.
Here is some interesting research that supports the benefits of exercise, chiropractic and supplementation during pregnancy:
Women who exercise have shorter, easier labours (decreased by an average of two hours), less medical interventions (24% less caesarean and 14% reduced use of forceps), less foetal distress and a faster recovery. This is also less need for induced labours or epidural. Anderson C DC. Exercise and Pregnancy. ICA Review: Sumer/Spring; 004 (pg 52-56)
Research shows that correct alignment of the pelvis and spine contributes to a more straightforward labour with less pain and trauma for mother and child, and may significantly reduce labour time. In her studies Dr Joan Fallon found that first time mums averaged a 24% shorter labour, while those who had given birth before had a 39% reduction in the average labour time. Fallon J DC. The Effect of Chiropractic Treatment on Pregnancy and Labour: A Comprehensive Study. Proceedings of the World Federation of Chiropractic, 1991:4-31.
A careful diet enriched with vital nutrients is imperative for the health of your baby and their brain development. Food and Nutrition Board. Nutrition during Pregnancy and Lactation; An Implementation Guide. Nation Academy Press; 1992