The development of a baby while in the mother’s uterus is an amazing process with millions of chemical reactions taking place every minute. The birth of a healthy child is dependent upon this process receiving all the nutritional support required from the mother without her body removing anything from it. When the mother is not healthy she will not provide the essential nutrients for the child. In some cases, she may in fact take from the child in order to support her own tired tissues. For instance, a mother with fatigued adrenal glands will use the adrenal hormones produced for the child to support her own needs. This mother may feel better when pregnant than otherwise. However, stress is placed on the baby’s adrenal glands. This usually results in infants who are cranky and cry all the time.
When a mother’s nutrients are low, the child may be born with a compromised immune system, which leads to a life of increased sickness. A worse scenario occurs about two percent of the time in the general population, where a child is born with a malformation or birth defect.
In 1990, birth defects accounted for 21.5 percent of all infant deaths in the United States. They were broken down according to the systems they affected:
Heart - 32%
Respiratory - 14%
Nervous System - 13%
Chromosomal - 12%
Other - 29%
Compared to the general population, certain segments, such as women with insulin-dependent diabetes or those who have previously given birth to a child with neural tube defects, have an increased risk of delivering malformed babies.
A neural tube defect is a malformation of the brain or spinal cord during development. Spina bifida, where the spinal cord is exposed, and anencephaly, where most or all of the brain is missing are two common defects associated with the nervous system. These two neural tube defects occur each year in about 4,000 pregnancies. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that up to 3,000 of these birth defects could be prevented if women consumed folic acid before pregnancy and during early pregnancy.
A woman who wants to become pregnant and have a baby should take several steps to ensure that her body is healthy and able to support her child when the time comes. Here is my basic list:
Drink Water – Most people are functionally dehydrated. Many symptoms people have such as fatigue and headaches can simply be the result of insufficient amounts of water. Water intake is also critical to proper detoxification.
Detoxify – Our bodies store excess toxins. Removing these is a key piece to overall health and tissue function. If birth control pills have been part of a woman’s life prior to becoming pregnant, I often recommend that she detoxify her body for at least one year. See: Detoxification.
Exercise – Exercise is beneficial for every tissue in your body. It will help with labor and delivery by strengthening pelvic and leg muscles and increasing stamina. The lungs and all other organs will also be supported through exercise. See: Exercise.
Eat Healthy – The only way to ensure that the proper nutrients your baby needs are present is to obtain them from your diet. Not only is eating the right foods important, but avoiding the wrong foods is also a key to keeping the nutrients you already have. See: Diet and Foods.
Supplementation – It makes good sense, in our increasingly toxic and stress filled world, to fortify your body with the nutritional vitamins and minerals that support daily function. For the pregnant woman and those women wanting to get pregnant, high quality nutritional supplementation is critical. My foundational recommendations include: a multivitamin designed for women, a multimineral, and essential fatty acids. In some cases, other specific supplements may be required depending upon the current and past health of the patient. See: Supplement Recommendations.
In the Health Saving Articles I talk about listening to your body. This means paying attention to changes before and after you eat. The signs are the same for a pregnant or non-pregnant mother, with one exception. The child inside the pregnant mother will also provide some clues. If the mother eats a food that her body handles well but the baby does not, he may begin to move and kick in excess (kicking is a normal part of development). He may also hiccup. These are not good signs. A mother should take notice of these reactions and should avoid irritating foods in the future, thereby reducing the stress on the baby.
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