I remember my first pregnancy like it was yesterday. I stared down in disbelief at the plus (+) sign on my pregnancy test. A terrifying sound of happiness mixed with pure unadulterated fear began to pour out of my mouth. My husband, having never heard me make such a noise, rushed into the bathroom. “I’m pregnant!” I exclaimed.
Once the shock wore off, the anticipation began. I shared the news with my co-workers from the local health food store. I was absolutely bombarded with questions.
- Are you going to vaccinate?
- You’re going to breastfeed, right?
- Are you having a home birth?
- What prenatal are you going to take?
- Are you going to wait to cut the cord?
All these questions caused me to feel overwhelmed, to say the least. I knew I had a lot of research to do. I was about to pioneer natural pregnancy and childbirth amongst my friends who had not yet had a baby. I had made a choice that I would be doing this the most natural, healthy, non-invasive way possible. In this article, I hope to cover what I feel are some of the most important natural approaches during pregnancy, birth and beyond.
The Foundational 3
The most common question I get from pregnant women is, “What supplements should I take during pregnancy?” There are 3 things I believe are extremely beneficial for pregnant mothers to take throughout their pregnancy and even while nursing after the baby is born. They are safe and important in the overall health of mommy and baby.
1. A Quality Prenatal
I have taken several brands and forms of prenatal vitamins. It has become my belief that a whole food prenatal is the best form you can take. The price point is typically higher than your run of the mill prenatal, but in this case, I believe you definitely get what you pay for.
The biggest complaint you run into with prenatals is nausea. Companies like New Chapter, Megafood, and Garden of Life have pretty much solved this problem. Their prenatals are so gentle that you can take them on an empty stomach! This is especially important during the first trimester, when it can be hard to eat much more than saltines.
2. Omega-3 DHA
Another important supplement during natural pregnancy and breastfeeding is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which is crucial for focus and concentration. DHA is not only important for Mommy’s brain, but for baby’s developing one. If the mother is not taking an adequate amount of DHA, the developing or nursing infant will get it from their mom’s reservoir. I believe many new mothers experience foggy brain and forgetfulness because they are lacking DHA. Many experts even believe that the lack of omega-3 fatty acids contributes to postpartum depression.
DHA is most commonly present in fish oil. It is imperative, especially during pregnancy, that your fish oil be contaminant free. Make sure the company guarantees that it is been tested for purity and is free of PCBs and heavy metals. Nordic Naturals and Carlson’s are two of my favorite fish oil brands and are known for their quality.
3. Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is famed for its use during pregnancy. It is one of very few safe herbs to take while pregnant. Most pregnancy teas have red raspberry as their main ingredient. I personally was not a fan of the taste and opted for the pill form. However, both can dramatically improve and prevent pregnancy complications.
Here is a list of just a few of the things red raspberry leaf can do:
- Ease morning sickness
- Prevent miscarriage
- Reduce pain during labor
- Make labor faster
- Increase milk supply
One of red raspberry’s greatest benefits is its ability to tone the uterus. This is how it is able to prevent miscarriage, reduce pain and increase labor speed.
I typically recommend 3-4 cups a day of the tea. For the pills, I recommend:
- 2 pills during the first trimester
- 3 pills for the second trimester
- 4 pills a day during the third trimester
Solaray and Nature’s Way are my go-to brands for the pills. Most women I know who were diligent with their red raspberry leaf had their babies in less than 5 hours. This is including myself. My longest labor was only 2 hours.
During the last trimester I also recommend alfalfa, which builds red blood cells and helps prevent hemorrhaging. Adequate vitamin D is also very important during pregnancy. Thirty-five (35) IU per lb of body weight is my standard recommendation.
Natural Options for Pregnancy Discomforts
There is nothing quite like the thrill of having a life formed inside of you.
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