Unfortunately, your baby bump does not come with an instruction manual!

How have you been feeling? I have been very lucky in that I have not experienced any morning sickness. A couple mornings I did have some bouts of queasiness but these were remedied with an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese from Tim Horton’s. I have been off dairy for most of the past year and do not have bagels often but once I became pregnant this all changed. Sometimes you have to give in to your cravings – a little cream cheese won’t hurt anyone. I decided to make this post more of an educational one. It is important to know where to begin once you find out you are pregnant! Ensuring you have the appropriate nutrients will also help you feel stronger during this transitional time. I have listed and described the nutritional support you should start thinking about once you find out you are expecting. This is a vital time for you and your baby and therefore, important you support your health to ensure you are strong enough for your new little one. This is not easy to do! I do this for a living and I have found getting everything I need on a daily basis to be somewhat of a challenge. I find having all of the information laid out with explanations is a great start. Sit back, relax and enjoy! I have been feeling pretty tired lately. I find that once nighttime falls I am wiped! I am usually a night owl so this is a significant change for me. Your adrenal glands become even more taxed when you are pregnant. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and control many of our body processes as well as produce hormones. Making sure the body is getting the vital nutrients it needs at this time will help reduce the extra stress placed on the adrenal glands. It is very important to make sure you are taking a prenatal vitamin and to ensure that you are absorbing the nutrients from the prenatal. Digestion is VERY important! If our digestion is out of balance and you are not absorbing the appropriate nutrients from the food you are consuming it can become a serious issue. I will be discussing ways to support your digestion in upcoming blog posts. I wanted to list some of the must have for your medicine cabinet once you find out you are pregnant. A friendly reminder that it is very important to consult your Naturopathic Doctor (ND) or physician before taking anything, as everyone is different and each person has different health needs. What may be safe and effective for one individual may not be so for you! Your supplement regimen will change as you transition through each trimester of pregnancy but for now I will just discuss the must haves or your first trimester.
  • Prenatal Vitamin – there are many vitamins out on the market – make sure to consult a Naturopath of your physician to ensure you are taking one that has sufficient daily doses of the essential nutrients you need at this point in your pregnancy.
  • Vitamin D – your body needs this to maintain health levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. Remember – your baby will take the nutrients he or she needs at your expense! A deficiency in pregnancy can lead to issues with your baby’s growth, impact your baby’s birth weight and even lead to pregnancy complications such as preclampsia. It is a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked once you become pregnant. This is tested through blood.
  • Probiotics – it is important to maintain healthy gut and vaginal flora throughout your pregnancy. Probiotics can help to prevent UITs during pregnancy as well as keep you regular during this very constipating time.
  • B Vitamins – it may be necessary that in addition to your prenatal you may also need to supplement with B vitamins. B12 can plummet during this time and it is important to monitor your blood levels.
  • Folic acid – making sure that you are supplementing with folic acid. Consult your ND or physician to see what form of folic acid supplementation is best for you. Supplementing with folic acid will help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Calcium/Magnesium – if you are not too overwhelmed with the amount of supplements you need to start thinking about at this time it would be a great idea to add a calcium/magnesium supplement to your regimen. As the baby’s skeleton starts to grow you will need more calcium. Magnesium will also help you relax and if taken at bedtime can help you sleep and alleviate muscle cramps. You may find that your sleep is restless. Once you enter the second trimester supplementation with calcium is vital as the baby’s skeleton is being formed at this time.
  • Fish Oil – EPA and DHA stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid respectively. These fatty acids are omega-3 fats. EPA supports the heart, immune system and helps reduce inflammation within the body. DHA supports the brain, eyes and central nervous system. DHA is especially important during the first months of pregnancy as your baby’s brain is developing. As you get closer to delivery it is important to make sure you are also supplementing with EPA to support delivery and promote healthy production of breast milk.
  • Vitamin C – helps support your immune system, as it can get weak during pregnancy and helps to prevent preeclampsia and premature rupture of membranes.
  • Iron – iron levels are often measured as Ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in the body. Once this starts to go down, you may start feeling more fatigued and may start to notice other symptoms such as hair loss. Monitoring these levels and being proactive with supplementation is a good idea. Once again – consulting your doctor on which iron supplement is good for you is important as iron can be constipating. There are different forms of iron therefore, finding the one that is best for you is important. You can also start using organic blackstrap molasses as it is a natural source of iron and not as constipating – 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of almond milk or warm water.
  • Protein – Please make sure you are getting enough protein. You should be having about 75g of protein daily in your first trimester (this may fluctuate depending on your weight and activity level). It is hard to get this in! Trust me! Adding a protein shake to your diet is a good way to ensure you are getting the recommended dose. Protein not only will help support the growth of your baby but will also help keep you strong, reduce fatigue and help alleviate queasiness and nausea.
  • Seems like a lot! Good news – you can continue this regimen throughout your second trimester. Things may need to be modified slightly but that will be at the discretion of your ND or physician.

Lateral view of pregnant female abdomen showing round ligament and uterosacral ligament

Next, I would like to discuss round ligament pain! Does anyone even know what that is! I do now! If you are also suffering from this – you are not alone! Women often talk about morning sickness and feeling tired but I have not heard many women talk about their ligament pain! I have found this quite significant because it is a type of pain I have never experienced before. At first it can be scary but once you realize what is going on inside your body and what your body is going though it makes total sense. As the uterus is growing the round ligament that surrounds your uterus is stretching and thickening and this hurts!! I notice it when I am stretching or moving around. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and it can feel like a sharp pain travelling from the uterus to the opening of the vagina. Please remember that if you are experiencing any abdominal pain and you are not sure what is causing it or are worried please contact your midwife or physician. This is a lot to take in for this post! Please stay tuned! Below are some of the topics I will soon be blogging about:
  • How to tell your partner/spouse you are pregnant and how to support each other through this exciting yet very scary time
  • How to pack your travel bags when you are pregnant! Ensuring you have everything you need when you are away.
  • What to do when you get sick! I have been sick for the past few days so this is a very fresh topic.
References: 1. http://www.austinmidwifeforum.com/2009/05/22/sharp-pain-low-in-my-belly/ 2. http://pregnancy.familyeducation.com/second-trimester/12-weeks-3-days.html 3. http://pregnancypainrelief.com/ 4. http://digitaldoula.com/

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