When a woman is pregnant it is thought to be one of the happiest times of her life! While this may be true, it is hard be happy if you are feeling miserable. For those out there who are new to naturopathic medicine, it is a great time to give it a try seeing as you cannot take most conventional drugs now anyways!
There are a few vitamins that have received a lot of press for their importance in pregnancy. Folic acid is well known to reduce neural tube defects when taken before conception and during the first trimester. A study which appeared in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that taking a prenatal vitamin was associated with a 48% reduction in neural tube defects, 39% reduction in cardiac deformities, 47% decrease in limb deformities, 58% decrease in cleft palate, and a 52% decrease in urinary tract defects (J. Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2006 Aug: 28(8): 680-9).
Morning sickness is something that 50-80% of pregnant women will experience and it can be quite disruptive to their lives. It is thought to be due to the rapidly increasing levels of estrogen. Naturopathic treatment approaches include acupuncture to PC 6 (on the wrist about 1-2 inches up from where the wrist connects with the forearm) , herbs such as ginger, chamomile and peppermint which can help to optimize digestion, tight blood sugar regulation through frequent eating of small protein rich meals and avoidance of food triggers. Vitamin B6 and magnesium can also help but, especially during pregnancy, you should consult your naturopathic doctor before starting any supplements or herbs.
Pregnancy Related Conditions that can be helped with Naturopathic Medicine
-Miscarriage (through optimizing hormone levels)
-Iron deficiency anemia
-Urinary tract infections
- Breech, transverse or posterior positions
-Labour and delivery preparation
A mostly unknown area of naturopathic medicine in pregnancy is with breech, transverse and posterior positions. Most babies settle down into the head down or cephalic position in the 8thmonth of pregnancy. If your baby not head down by 36 weeks, the midwife or doctor will offer you a chance to have them turned head down manually, called an external cephalic version (ECV). ECV is more likely to be successful if this is the mother’s second (or more!) baby. Another option is acupuncture and moxibustion. Moxibustion is the use of the incense like herb Artemesia that is held over specific acupuncture points. (I know what you are thinking….sounds a little crazy, but it works!). A recent study using acupuncture and moxibustion at the acupuncture point BL 67 resulted in a 75% improvement in baby’s positioning to “head down”. (Acupunct Med 2013; 31:5-6).
Acupuncture is also used in practice to help reduce the back pain of early labour, typically when the baby is in a posterior position. Gentle labour inductions are also something that can be achieved with acupuncture. Starting at 36 weeks, the mother undergoes acupuncture that helps prepare the body for birth, and can help kick start things.
Were there a lot of things in the world of pregnancy and naturopathic medicine you didn’t know about before? That’s what I am here for J
As always, if you have any questions/comments feel free to post them below.
Dr Alexis practices at Life Therapies in Ottawa. Contact www.lifetherapies.ca or call 613.422.8939 to schedule your appointment.
Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits.