As a primary care holistic and integrative medicine doctor, I always find myself following my female patients on their “baby journey” from the moment they start thinking about becoming a mom until the big day and beyond. My young patients get to know my philosophy early on and they can choose whether to subscribe to it or not. For example, I never prescribe birth control because it does not protect a woman from sexually transmitted diseases, has many side effects, and can make it more difficult to conceive once you finally decide to get off your birth control.
I also believe in a healthy lifestyle that is free of drugs. Many of my young patients have a lenient view on some drugs. I commonly hear a patient say, “Oh, it’s just pot. It’s not really a drug.” I counter this point with my almost 20 years of clinical experience, which has proven that marijuana is incompatible with a healthy pregnancy. In preparation for getting pregnant marijuana should be avoided. The same goes for smoking and alcohol. Consider shaking off these habits at least several months in advance, as both are toxic to the embryo and fetus stages of in-utero development.
If you have been prescribed any psychotropic drugs it would be prudent to talk to your physician at least a year in advance about weaning off these medications. I am especially referring to benzodiazepines, like alprazolam, pain medications with codeine, and all of the ADD/ADHD stimulant medications.
Once you have detoxed from prescription medications and recreational substances, I think it is fair to say that you are on your way to becoming a healthy and responsible mom-to-be.
If a woman is very overweight, I typically recommend losing the excess weight at least a year in advance. Weight loss is incompatible with restrictions and miserable routines. Everyone gains weight during pregnancy and that’s perfectly fine. There are easy and natural steps a woman can take after pregnancy to reclaim her ideal weight.
The next step is to get a positive attitude. I do not recommend figuring out the ovulation time and trying to conceive during this “prescribed” time. There is no right time and anytime is a good time to have sex with your loving partner. The less calculating and anxious you are, the more likely you are to conceive sooner. Many of my patients who fought infertility for years, would give up and take off for a vacation – and that’s when they would finally conceive! So take it easy and have fun while you are at it.
Remember, pregnancy is not a disease – it is a state of being, and more often than not, it feels wonderful. Progesterone is the main hormone of pregnancy and it makes women feel very peaceful and balanced. You often notice how lustrous a pregnant women’s skin is and that’s thanks to progesterone levels being higher than usual.
Granted, morning sickness can be bothersome for some women, but it typically dissipates, at least in part, after the first trimester. Hydration, sleep and open air walks can alleviate the symptoms of nausea. Avoiding coffee, nuts, tomatoes and other nightshades such as eggplants can improve the discomfort of heartburn.
Many of my patients complain of severe fatigue during first trimester, and that usually resolves completely by the second trimester.
A healthy pregnancy calls for healthy and balanced nutrition. By eating organic, or at the very least, non-GMO food, you are effectively providing your cells and those of your baby’s with the nutrients that are essential for optimal cellular functioning.
Finally, with the political tensions mounting, I implore pregnant women not to constantly sit in front of their TV watching news or politics. Stressing out during pregnancy can exhaust your adrenal glands and your baby’s too.
Instead, spend time doing things that are sure to make you feel better: play with the kids, tend to your garden or plants, cook something new, make something creative, or listen to tranquil music. You were gifted with a chance to create a legacy of a healthy and happy child in this world – and that in and of itself is a miracle to behold in awe.
Svetlana Kogan, M.D. is a primary care holistic and integrative medical doctor in New York City and the author of Diet Slave No More!
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