The time and effort you spend optimising your health during pregnancy can provide your baby with the best start in life, and have lasting effects on your child’s health for years to come. It can also make pregnancy an easier and more enjoyable experience for you.
Uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, constipation, aches and pains, or even stress, can alter your pregnancy experience, putting a negative spin on what should be a happy time full of feel-good vibes. In addition to chipping away at your sense of wellbeing, these symptoms can affect your health and the health of your baby. This is particularly true if there are early warning signs of more serious health conditions, including gestational diabetes, which causes abnormal blood sugar levels during pregnancy, or preeclampsia, which causes maternal high blood pressure. These conditions can alter the baby’s growth and development, in addition to causing delivery complications.
There are many factors to consider when trying to ensure a smooth pregnancy. Rather than going it alone, assembling a team of health experts can be the ultimate #SquadGoals in helping you through this journey. Whilst enlisting a squad may sound like a lot of added effort before your baby has even arrived, surrounding yourself with a healthcare dream team can significantly reduce the risk of uncomfortable symptoms or complications associated with pregnancy.
There is an entire community of healthcare professionals at your disposal, who have the expertise to provide you with the best advice during pregnancy and beyond. A pregnancy healthcare squad can include the following Practitioners:
General Practitioner (GP) and Obstetrician-Gynecologist: Address general pregnancy health needs, including routine health checks that monitor maternal and foetal wellbeing. An obstetrician also specialises in delivering babies safely.
Naturopaths or Nutritionists support you in developing healthy dietary and lifestyle habits to maintain you and your baby’s health. In an era of information overload (Dr Google, anyone?), a natural healthcare Practitioner can help you cut through the pregnancy myths and customise a treatment plan just for you. Your plan will include personalised dietary advice that supports you and your baby’s nutritional needs. Nutritional requirements change dramatically during different stages of pregnancy, therefore ensuring adequate nutrient intake, preventing deficiencies, and avoiding harmful foods or ingredients can help your body grow the best baby ever!
Your treatment plan may also include a supplement regime to top up your nutrient levels. A pregnancy multivitamin is often recommended to prevent nutritional deficiencies and associated symptoms, such as fatigue and brain fog. Your plan may also include folate, choline and essential fatty acids (particularly omega-3 fats), all of which are vital for bub’s growth, especially the development of the brain and nervous system. If you’re deficient, an iron supplement may also be recommended, to support your energy production as well as bub’s development.
Probiotics that optimise your baby’s gut microbiome may be part of your plan. The microbiome is a collection of beneficial gut bacteria that are essential for bub’s immune development, resilience against infections, and digestive function. Looking after the developing microbiome can set bub up for lifelong good health.
A midwife is a medically trained health professional that supports women during pregnancy, labour and birth. Your midwife can help monitor you throughout your pregnancy, suggest strategies to help during labour, monitor your baby’s vital signs, such as their heartbeat, and provide pain relief. Additionally, a doula offers valuable non-medical support and information to pregnant women, including tending to your emotional needs and providing comfort measures such as relaxation breathing, massage and positioning during labour.
Chiropractor: Support physical alignment. Even though your baby is teeny-tiny, the physical demands of carrying them for nine months can lead to aches and pains. See a chiropractor for some much needed pain relief.
Acupuncture: Encourages relaxation, reduces anxiety, and promotes healthy sleep, all essential requirements of a smooth pregnancy. Ensuring good stress management and quality sleep helps keep the body functioning optimally, which may reduce the development of pregnancy-related symptoms.
Prenatal pilates can help strengthen deep abdominal, pelvic and postural muscles to accommodate your growing baby and prevent pelvic girdle pain. Building these muscles will also help you return to full activities more quickly post-birth and help prevent injury in the months following. If pilates isn’t your thing, consult an experienced physiotherapist for a strengthening exercise routine you can do at home.
There’s no ‘I’ in squad…or in baby, for that matter
Preconception and pregnancy should be viewed as a team effort – a squad affair – rather than the sole concern of the parents–to-be. Solid support from a squad of health professionals during pregnancy is essential for so many reasons, the most important being maintaining your health and the health of your baby. Additionally, reaching #SquadGoals can ease worry, helping you to feel comfortable and supported during this daunting, but exciting, time.