Pregnancy is a really exciting time in life, but it’s also a time of many questions and concerns. The female body changes tremendously during these nine months, and every woman’s body is unique.
Many women are hesitant about taking prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and even herbal remedies when they’re pregnant, and rightfully so. Everything you put into your body has the potential to impact your growing baby, which is a pretty scary thought when you really consider it.
The FDA has labeling requirements to provide pregnancy safety data and classifies drugs into one of five categories. Physicians regularly rely upon these recommendations when prescribing medicines during pregnancy, and MotherRisk is one organization that has been working to determine the safety of therapeutic drugs when taken during pregnancy since 1985.
But if you prefer to take a natural approach to pre-natal care, there are many things that you can do to protect the wellbeing of both you and your unborn child. Additionally, there are some things that you can do to start preparing your body for pregnancy right now even if you’re not yet pregnant.
One of the biggest topics that comes up when discussing pre-natal care is vitamins. Pre-natal vitamins are often recommended to pregnant women, especially if they don’t get adequate nutrition in their daily diets.
However, some natural health advocates advise against vitamins that contain synthetic forms of vitamin A, which can be harmful during pregnancy, and favor taking isolated nutritional supplements based on specific known nutrient deficiencies. According to the American Pregnancy Association, these are the vitamins and minerals most essential during pregnancy:
- Vitamin A
- Beta carotene
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid/folate
Pre-Natal Testing Procedures
Pre-natal care can help improve the outcome of your pregnancy, but taking care of yourself through nutrition, exercise, and stress management goes a long way too. A huge part of modern pre-natal care is testing, but it’s important to understand what these tests are for and what the risks are.
These are some of the routine testing procedures that women commonly undergo during pregnancy:
- Urine screening
- Blood pressure checks
- Baby heart beat checks
- Weight checks
- Genetic tests
Holistic & Natural Pre-Natal Care
A holistic approach to pregnancy differs from the common perception of a natural approach. Holistic means taking all aspects (mind, body, and spirit) of an individual into account. It accepts and trusts the natural progression of a woman’s body during this time, but doesn’t necessarily shun all medications and interventions. Holistic approaches often incorporate complementary therapies, such as chiropractic treatment or acupuncture, into more traditional Western treatments.
Natural pre-natal care often involves midwives, who may work out of an office or clinic or conduct home visits. Many women prefer working with midwives during their pregnancy to receive the types of regular guidance, support, and personalized attention that busy OBGYNs aren’t able to provide during routine check-ups.
Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy
If you’re not pregnant right now but plan to be at some point in your life, there are some healthy ways to start preparing your body for the changes it will undergo. Exercise is one of the most important parts of daily life for all people, but it plays a key role in having a successful pregnancy. If you start an exercise routine now, you can modify it a bit and continue being active while pregnant. Women who are more active before pregnancy tend to remain active during pregnancy, which can help prevent fatigue and pain.
Regardless of your current situation, it’s important to always get enough antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and probiotics in your diet. Some naturopaths suggest getting tested for food sensitivities, such as a gluten intolerance, as well as for heavy metals that exist in your system before getting pregnant so you can adjust your diet accordingly and in advance. Ultimately, how you plan to approach pre-natal care is up to you, but it’s an incredibly important topic to discuss in depth with a medical professional you trust.