The Importance of Prenatal Care

Have you recently become pregnant? The early months of pregnancy are an exciting time, knowing that your body is nurturing a new life. This is a very important time to make healthy changes in your lifestyle, and to address the changing needs of your body. In order to nurture and develop new life, your body will go through many changes over the course of pregnancy, some of which will be uncomfortable. However, with the proper lifestyle, dietary and habitual changes, these uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy can be overcome.

Your journey has begun, and we hope it is exciting! (Photo source: Unsplash)

Here are some things you should know about early pregnancy

Pregnancy is split into three periods called trimesters, the first one starting the week of your last period and ending on the thirteenth week of the pregnancy. Each trimester has a few commonly-experienced symptoms which develop over the course of the pregnancy. These symptoms include:

First Trimester (week 1 to 12)

  • Morning sickness: One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is nausea, which is typically worse in the early morning. The intensity of nausea varies from person to person.
  • Food cravings or aversions: changes in the body can result in sensitivities to different odours and tastes. This may be why you’re suddenly desperate for food you’ve never wanted before, or averse to your favourite dishes.
  • Mood swings: Pregnancy can be a lot to emotionally handle in more ways than one. Increased fatigue and changing hormones, on top of the uncertainty many of us feel in the run-up to parenthood, can do a number on your mood.
  • Tender breasts: As your body prepares to nurse, the resulting hormonal changes will cause your breasts to swell and to become sore. This should resolve within a few weeks.
  • Soreness in the lower back: Soreness and cramps are something to be expected from pregnancy, and the lower back in particular is going to be under a lot of stress.

Second Trimester (week 13 to 26)

  • Constipation: Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy, due to hormonal changes slowing down the muscle contractions that move food through your body. This can lead to bloating and discomfort.
  • Frequent Urination: As the baby grows, it puts pressure on the bladder. This can lead to mild incontinence and frequent need to urinate.
  • Heartburn: This symptom, a burning sensation in the chest area caused by stomach acids escaping from the stomach, frequently crops up in the second trimester.
  • Bleeding of the Gums: There’s a wide variety of reasons why your gums will begin to bleed, including hormonal changes, decreased saliva production, and morning sickness. The best way to deal with this is simply to keep up with your dental hygiene.
  • Weight Gain: It is common (and indeed, a good thing) to gain some weight during a pregnancy. Your weight gain will begin with a 3 to 6 pound increase in the first trimester, but it first becomes noticeable in the trimester.

Third Trimester (week 27 onward)

  • Back Pains: By your third trimester, you may be experiencing intense soreness and cramps in your back. This is down to a number of factors, ranging from everyday stress and posture changes to the expansion of your uterus. In most cases, this is nothing to worry about, as exercise and a change of posture can help immensely.
  • Shortness of Breath: Over the course of your pregnancy, the expansion of your uterus will compress your diaphragm and limit the ability of your lungs to fully expand. This symptom may seem distressing, maybe saying it poses no harm to you or the baby.
  • Swelling in the Legs and Feet: As you enter the third trimester, your body has been hard at work preparing for the baby for a while. One of the symptoms that becomes particularly noticeable at this point is swelling in the legs and feet, the end result of an increase of blood and fluids in your body.
Discomfort is a part of pregnancy. (Photo Source: pexels)

Experiencing these symptoms are normal parts of the pregnancy, and though they are unpleasant, they are also temporary. That said, it’s still very important to pay close attention to your symptoms. Consult your doctor if you feel your symptoms are more intense than they should be.

Gestational Diabetes

One of the possible “side effects” of pregnancy is a form of diabetes known as “gestational diabetes.” This condition is the result of hormonal changes interfering with your body’s insulin, the hormone responsible for the processing of glucose in your bloodstream. As a result, glucose builds up in your bloodstream rather than being absorbed by the cells that need them. All women develop some level of “insulin resistance” during pregnancy, but having a level of insulin resistance before the pregnancy can give rise to gestational diabetes.

When gestational diabetes occurs, your blood sugar levels rise dramatically after each meal, and cannot get back to normal within two hours. For most women there will be no symptoms, but for those who do, the symptoms typically consist of increased thirst and frequent urination. As a result, it is best that you consult your doctor early in the pregnancy to see if you are at risk of developing the condition.

Gestational diabetes is something to be careful about. It can cause complications in your pregnancy, and can be a danger to both you and your baby’s health.. However, don’t worry too much about developing the condition. Even if you are vulnerable to it, it can be treated.

How can you improve your health?

While the baby is still in your womb, your health has a direct impact on their health. This is why having nutrient-rich food and sufficient vitamins is important. With proper care and support, you can ensure proper fetal development and reduce some of the discomforts of pregnancy. Here are a few things you can do to improve both your health and the health of your baby, and to ease pregnancy symptoms. 

This may just be the first step, but you’re on your way. (Photo source: unsplash)

Stay hydrated: Pregnancy will demand more water intake to support fetal circulation, amniotic fluids, and higher blood volume. If you are experiencing constipation, higher water intake can also ensure softer and more regular bowel movements. 

Exercise: Regular and moderate exercises can relieve back pain, round ligament pain, and leg cramps. It can also help improve the metabolism and encourage circulation in the body, which can ease bloating, constipation, and prevent gestational diabetes.

Vitamins: Vitamin supplements can be tremendously helpful for both you and your baby’s health. Important nutrients needed for baby’s growth are folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and more. Folic acid is very crucial to prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.

Quit smoking and alcohol: Although these habits may be difficult to give up, it is very important that you do so. Since a baby’s organs are not developed to process toxins, nicotine and alcohol can directly affect a baby’s blood flow, growth, and organ development. Research has shown that babies exposed to these substances are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suffer from serious health problems in later life. 

Reduce high sugar intake: Consuming too much sugar can increase the risks of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. This can put your baby at risk of being overweight and of developing diabetes later in life. It can also cause a larger baby and potentially premature birth.

  • Foods to avoid: It is recommended for pregnant women to stay away from raw meats, seafood with high mercury, unpasteurized cheese and cold cured meats. These foods can be harmful to the health of your baby. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, we also suggest avoiding food with a cold nature like watermelon, bitter melon, salads and iced/cold beverages. This is because cold can affect our energy circulation, which can affect a baby’s immune and organ development.

How can Traditional Chinese Medicine support throughout pregnancy

It is amazing how much a woman’s body can change during pregnancy to support a new life. However, the body does require some help in order to adjust properly. When pregnancy discomforts arise, many pharmaceuticals are not suitable to relieve those symptoms. At this time, alternative treatments such as Traditional Chinese Medicine can be your solution. The first trimester is one of the most crucial periods in preventing miscarriage, and starting early can help mitigate the symptoms of later trimesters as well. 

During this time, herbal therapy is strongly recommended to help support your body to carry the baby till full term. It is especially important for women who have had miscarriages or abortions, or for those who are older.

Acupuncture and herbal therapy are also very effective to help ease pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, sore muscles and ligaments, nasal congestion, urination issues, and more. Treatments are gentle and effective, providing you with relief without any negative effects on your health or the health of your child. Research has also shown that acupuncture towards the end of pregnancy has great efficacy on easing/inducing labor, and correcting babies in breech positions.

Simple Cures is here to give you prenatal help

If you are interested in treating yourself and the baby in a holistic way, Simple Cures may be the right fit for you. Here at Simple Cures, we believe that compassion and knowledge go hand in hand during prenatal care. There are a great number of natural remedies and techniques in the tradition of Chinese Medicine that can help ease the symptoms of pregnancy, and our caring practitioners utilize those techniques in order to provide care in fertility, prenatal, and postnatal health. We curate treatment plans that utilize acupuncture or herbal therapies that fit both you and your baby’s needs.

If you would like to have a natural and healthy pregnancy without the alterations of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, consider booking an appointment with Simple Cures! We look forward to supporting you through this special journey, and we hope your pregnancy goes well. Lets book an appointment with Jamie.