If you’re a mom-to-be or are thinking of having children soon, you might have questions about how functional medicine can be beneficial to you in this season of life. I see many young, healthy women in my clinic who come to RIFM specifically because they want to be in peak physical health before having a child.
So today I’d like to talk about how functional medicine can help you in your goal of a healthy pregnancy and baby. I’ll discuss a few of the basic things to consider if you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant.
When women come to see me before they are pregnant, we begin by focusing on detoxification prior to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Since the body uses pregnancy and breastfeeding to detoxify, it’s optimal to do the important work of detoxification first. Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, and it is also one of the ways your body removes toxins. In an ideal situation, a woman would go through a detoxification process before trying to conceive. For more information on this topic, see the many resources that discuss detoxification on our blog.
Nutrition is Critical
I often tell expectant mothers that they are making their baby’s brain in their bowels – meaning that what they eat will be used to build their baby’s brain, bones, organs, etc. Her body will take the fatty acids she consumes to make her baby’s brain. Her minerals will become her baby’s bones. She is taking nutrients from her own body to make her baby.
You may have heard someone give the dated advice not to worry about nutrition during pregnancy because the body takes whatever it needs from the mother to make the baby. While it is true that an expectant mother’s body will rob nutrients from her to give to the baby, it is still very important for a pregnant mother to have adequate levels of nutrients. The baby can’t take from the mother what isn’t there. We see this play out in the unfortunate fact that women with low vitamin D levels have children with increased risks for autoimmune diseases, asthma, atopy, and eczema. Something as simple as optimizing vitamin D levels before pregnancy can be very beneficial to both mother and baby.
Focus on Healthy Fats
Fatty acids are also super important for expectant mothers. I see many kids with ADHD, on the autism spectrum, or with other neurological issues that have low cholesterol levels. This is quite bizarre because children normally have higher cholesterol levels (around 200) because they need those building blocks to build brains and make connections. Eating healthy fats such as fatty fish, avocados, olives, olive oil, and nuts provides the right building blocks that a mother needs to make a healthy baby’s brain.
There are many simple things that expectant mothers can do even before conception, not only while they’re pregnant, to prepare for a healthy pregnancy and baby. It is important to optimize fatty acids for your baby’s developing brain. It’s important to get your vitamin D levels into a good range. And it’s also important to focus on gut health so that your baby will have the right healthy bacteria when it’s born.
We routinely help women do just that in functional medicine. So the short answer to the question is: Yes, functional medicine is a great fit for any woman thinking about getting pregnant or who is currently pregnant.
Want to learn more? Check out our website for other articles, a recommended reading list, and many other resources to help you on your health journey.
Take care and be well.
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.
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