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Did you know that 60-90% (depending on age group)(1) of reproductive aged women are not consuming enough Magnesium in America? This is a big problem, and even more so in pregnancy. In prenatal nutrition, we have heard about the need for things like Folate (please don't use Folic Acid), but we have not heard much on the need for Magnesium. Possibly because the goal of prenatal nutrition is to grow healthy babies, not the functional health of the mother. With the increasing rise of maternal health issues and death, this needs to change. (I am taking a little bump off my last post where I discussed how disappointed I am in the prenatal vitamins available in the market. If you want to know why, "Your Prenatal Vitamin Sucks" click here.)
I received a wonderful comment on another blog post of mine, "Top 10 Foods to Prepare for Labor and Delivery." In that post I list Liver as one of my Labor and Delivery prep superfoods. The commenter brought up the concern that liver is an extremely rich source of Vitamin A, and excess Vitamin A in pregnancy is associated with birth defects. Her concern was that I may be giving out dangerous information in regards to suggesting liver consumption for labor preparation. I truly welcome these comments and concerns, as they offer an avenue for discussion, and this is a great topic of discussion.
The number of natural induction methods and options have grown exponentially over the last several decades. In my practice, as an Acupuncturist, I’ve seen a huge influx in women seeking Acupuncture and alternative medicine to speed up the labor process in the avoidance of a medically induced childbirth. While most of the natural induction methods are fairly harmless and offer some benefit in triggering the natural hormonal reactions of labor, there are some that would be better left on the shelf.
Preeclampsia is a prenatal and postpartum condition that is hallmarked by gestational hypertension and the presence of protein in the urine. It occurs in approximately 5-8% of pregnant women, and can be life threatening. Woman who have had preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it again.
There have been several studies linking different nutritional deficiencies with an increased risk of developing gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. In this article I will address the individual nutrients linked in these studies, as well as nutritional principles to get you started.
First off, I want to thank you for following along on this series. I have been really excited for this one. I am sure there are parts that I missed, or questions that have arisen. Please feel free to email me, or comment below. I love discussion.
To top of this series, I want to simplify it a bit. I want to list my FAVORITE foods for preparing for labor and delivery. Some of these may seem different from what you've been told during pregnancy. That's okay, we are trying to deliver a baby at this point, and some of the nutritional needs change slightly.
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria in and on our bodies. We have a symbiotic relationship with them. More and more research is pointing to the benefits and necessity of a healthy microcolony.
As it applies to labor and delivery, probiotics are extremely important, influencing not only the health and labor outcome of the mother, but the health of the infant into adulthood.
It seems to me that there is so much emphasis put on the progression of labor, that we fail to address the many other aspects to the process.
The Amniotic sac and the fluid it contains is as crucial to the initiation of labor as it is a home for the growing infant.
All of the processes leading up to delivery are important. A hiccup with any one and normal natural labor and delivery is affected.
That being said though, If the door cannot open, the baby cannot pass. If the cervix cannot soften and efface, then no amount of contracting will delivery your baby.
In the female reproductive system, there is a delicate play between Estrogen and Progesterone. The yin and the yang in TCM of the reproductive system; Estrogen is the yin cooling aspect, and Progesterone is the yang warming aspect.
Both Progesterone and Estrogen are steroid hormones. Meaning they are made from cholesterol...there it is again. If your body doesn't have enough cholesterol, you cannot make steroid hormones (this includes Vitamin D, which is technically a steroid hormone).
Now that we know a little bit about the biology of natural labor, and the beginning of how the hormones play off of each and other and work in the body, let's dig a little deeper.
I wanted to start off with oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the key players in the birthing game. Without oxytocin, the uterus cannot contract, the cervix cannot efface or dilate, and natural birth does not occur.