Did you know the U.S. has been rated the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world and that according to the CDC, at least 700 women die every year from pregnancy or childbirth and 60% of the childbirth-related deaths are preventable? How could this happen? In one of the most sophisticated and progressive nations in the world, how do we have such staggering prenatal numbers? Is it the fact 1 in 14 women still smoke, while pregnant. Or is it that 1 in 4 pregnant women and nearly half-non pregnant women aged 15-44 years of age reported to the CDC they used the medication in the last 30 days. Also, 9 in 10 women take at least one medicine during pregnancy, and 7 in 10 women take at least one prescription medication during their pregnancy.
None of the studies have viewed how many women take supplements, and many women do not disclose or are afraid to disclose the supplements, herbs, etc. they are taking to the primary doctor in fear of being shunned, spoken down to, or told to stop without a valid reason. In a study performed on pregnant women in 2013, researchers identified the many commonly used medications in the first trimester both prescription and over the counter meds at staggering numbers. Birth control pills, amoxicillin, progesterone, albuterol, and promethazine were many of the standard prescription medications. This did not include the many antidepressants that many women are prescribed. Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Docusate, Pseudoephedrine, Aspirin, and Naproxen were many of the over the counter medications. Not to mention collections of herbs, supplemental aids, and over the counter natural treatments that were not evaluated in the CDC study. How did this happen? How did we miss that a woman’s body is sacred and in need of support during one of the holiest times in her life, producing life?
Unfortunately, there is little known about the effects of these, and many medications, as well as supplements on pregnancy as many women, especially pregnant women, are excluded from studies for fear of complications during the study. Studies are being formulated to identify potential risk factors that may increase the risk of birth defects as well as answer questions about medicine taken during pregnancy, currently but it is not a wonder that many neurological and immunological conditions are on the rise. It is essential to be open and honest with your provider regarding any things that you are taking natural or unnatural to ensure proper care is taken during pregnancy.
The focus in healthcare primarily has been the 1,000 days of life, which is from conception to 2 years old for an infant. However, more emphasis must be placed on preparing women for pregnancy. Regarding building health for women, these are some simple steps that can be taken in the 365 days before conception.
1. Evaluate current health status: That means having your functional medicine provider evaluate your total health and remember total health does not just mean the absence of symptom or disease. We assess your digestive health, hormonal health, and nutritional health and balance from there.
2. Evaluate your disease status: Your allopathic doctor should provide a full comprehensive physical to assess the health from a disease state perspective. This should be done with your OBGYN who can determine your bodies natural ability to create life and ensure your body’s disease free. Also, a great time to run some new first lab panels, hormone panels, etc. to assess for any hidden disease processes.
3. Prenatal Vitamin – Finding a high-quality multivitamin that is free from colors, dyes, and synthetic additives are critical to the health of the person. Ensuring appropriate nutrition is vital and not every prenatal vitamin is treated equally, so finding one with the adequate amount of iron, folate, calcium, vitamin d, choline, DHA, and probiotics is the key to a healthy pregnancy.
4. Eating a whole food, plant-based diet to include plenty of fresh veggies, fresh fruit, wild caught fishes high in omega 3s avoiding raw eggs, alcohol, uncured meats, and natural or undercooked meat.
5. Managing stress – Having a baby is a life-changing experience, one that should not be taken lightly. Helping to get your house in order (figuratively and literally) to prepare for a baby is key to conception. That means healing any stagnant relationships, creating opportunities for freedom and creativity, finding the perfect fit for a job, as well as relationship before plunging into the abyss of motherhood. The mother is the central focus of the home, and she must be healthy, grounded, and transparent to allow for the family to follow.
6. Heal the gut, heal the gut, heal the gut!! Your hormones start in the stomach, so remember this is the first stop in your discovery of yourself and your healing. Research continues to show the adverse effects of imbalances of health is a contributing factor to the development of high-risk pregnancies as well as congenital (at birth) diseases. Ensuring that Mommy is healthy before she begins the process of conception will provide not only an easier time getting pregnant, but also prevent any risk factors for disease processes from occurring or complications during the pregnancy. We are currently consulting with mommies as well as prospective mommies to ensure they are healthy, happy, and ready to create life.
All information contained in this blog post is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is neither intended nor suited to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical treatment nor for professional medical advice relative to a specific medical question or condition.