Healthy Mommy, Healthy Baby
Jan 31, 2016 10:03PM
Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy
by Dr. Isabel SharkarAre you thinking about getting pregnant? Are all your friends getting pregnant and filling your social media feed with baby pictures? As you start thinking about pregnancy, there’s more to it than meets the eye in today’s highly toxic environment. More women are having fertility issues than ever before. From the food we eat to our personal care products, getting pregnant might not be so easy. Even if you are years away from planning a pregnancy, it’s never too early to start preparing your body. After all, a healthy mommy equals a healthy baby.
The overly prescribed birth control pill masks many things that may be occurring with your menstrual cycle. It can take a while for your hormone levels to get back on track and regulate your menstrual cycle after you ditch the pill. Address potential infertility factors like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, check your thyroid function, balance your basal body temperature and blood sugar levels. Thyroid disorders can contribute to problems with ovulation and pregnancy.
Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue and interferes with ovulation. Before conception, get your adrenal stress profile and nourish your adrenals to prepare them for pregnancy. Exercise, practice yoga, do deep breathing and meditation. Meditation reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and increases the level of natural bliss chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin.
A landmark 2005 study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that blood samples from newborns contained an average of 287 toxins. Addressing your toxic burden now will help minimize exposure to your unborn baby. Exposure to pollutants, pesticides and industrial compounds can decrease a couple’s ability to have children up to 29 percent according to a 2013 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Smoking causes up to 13 percent of all infertility cases, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Even women who smoke moderately or are exposed to secondhand smoke may have disrupted endocrine function and can experience significant fertility issues.
Everything that goes on and in your body while you are pregnant affects your growing baby. Take care of dental issues and switch to natural skin and hair care products. The average woman puts more than 160 chemicals on her body every single day. Green your beauty routine and opt for aluminum-free deodorant. Ditch toxic nail polish and go for an all-natural perfume crafted from essential oils, and take equal measures with your household products.
What you consume in your body influences your genetic expression. Now is the time to clean up your diet, eliminate food sensitivities, and heal your gut to decrease inflammation in the body. Eat fresh organic whole foods and monitor your caffeine intake. Avoid fish high in mercury and processed meats. Eliminate heavy drinking, canned foods and go gluten-free. Studies have found people who have unexplained infertility often have better pregnancy results when gluten is removed from their diet. Drink nourishing herbal infusions and plenty natural spring water. Add fiber, probiotics, colorful vegetables and healthy fats to your diet. Check your vitamin D, B12 and folic acid levels. You can start supplementing with high quality prenatal, vitamin C and DHA products before you get pregnant.
Get to a place where medication isn’t needed to manage a health condition prior to pregnancy and cleanse the liver. Pregnancy creates large rushes of hormones and your liver is the primary source of flushing them through your body. If your liver is already stressed, it is going to be more overwhelmed during pregnancy. Dandelion, milk thistle and lemon water are great ways to support the liver. Dry skin brushing is also wonderful for moving your lymph fluid to aid detoxing.
You spend an enormous amount of time planning big work projects, and how about the amount of time it takes to plan a wedding? It makes sense to take time to make your body as healthy as possible prior to conceiving. By doing so, you can influence your child’s risk for chronic disease down the road. Although there is a lot that goes into preparing your body for pregnancy, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With the right healthcare team you are in for a wonderful journey.
Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131.