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Pregnancy creates the magic of new life in our bodies and is part of the miracle of life itself. Pregnancy is ideally a time of bliss, vulnerability, femininity, creativity, strength and change.
Ideally, optimal health for you and your baby is achieved by planning for the event and optimising your nutrition in advance. Depending on your health status, plan a 6 month dietary and cleansing programme before you conceive. You may need to plan 12-18 months in advance of conception. It is wise to cleanse the colon, liver and kidneys, and to be consistently eating highly nutritious foods so that maturing eggs are at peak condition. Men require 3 months of cleansing and good nutrition because this is the time period for creating and storing sperm.
Some don't have any forewarning and a pregnancy happens before you have made time for this intense work. It is now time to build the body and to shed some bad habits concerning food, smoking and alcohol consumption. But this is not the time to attempt any actual cleanses. In the early stage of pregnancy the placenta has not developed; you do not want to expel toxins from your tissues that will go straight into the growing foetus.
Once the placenta has grown (by the third month) and your baby has its own line of nutrition and detoxification, you may or may not be able to attempt gentle and minor cleansing programmes, guided by a professional naturopath, nutritionist or herbal practitioner who has experience and skill working with pregnant women.
The very best nutrition is vital whilst building another human being. Do not consume fish, meat and dairy products raised on synthetic hormones as these can complicate and unbalance the body's own carefully balanced hormones (choose organic options to avoid these). Do not take stimulants like tea, coffee and alcohol and do not smoke. These disrupt – amongst other things – the baby's nervous system, sugar balance and circulatory system. Seek out a diet that suits you but contains plenty of whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Dr Schulze's Superfood Plus is a popular choice for many women at this time.
Safe herbs during pregnancy
Many herbs will be "off limits" during pregnancy but remember to cook with culinary ones to boost general health and immunity. If you become constipated then seek a practitioner's advice on this as some colon herbs will be too forceful, and not safe during pregnancy. However, relieving constipation is of extreme importance during pregnancy due to the implications of auto-intoxication. Start early to increase your water intake, drink fresh fruit smoothies and take a psyllium and arrowroot based bowel "mover"!
Rather than drinking tea and coffee, choose instead herbal teas. A simple daily choice of nettle loose tea will be nutritious and iron-rich. Chamomile loose tea is soothing and calming.
To aid immune health as mentioned above use culinary herbs on a daily basis. Use plenty of thyme, turmeric, basil, coriander, mint, parsley and oregano.
Iron, calcium and magnesium levels should be met by eating lots of seaweed or by taking kelp tablets and drinking 3 cups of strong nettle tea daily. Folic acid and iron are often given to women at the onset of pregnancy. You will also find excellent folic acid and iron sources in the food drink Superfood Plus. Folic acid in particular is vital in the first trimester and is important for healthy bone formation in the foetus.
Hopefully you will be able to breastfeed your baby.
Ensure, if possible, that you feed your baby the colostrum – the clear liquid that arrives roughly 1-2 days before the milk. This lays down vital immune components crucial to your baby's well-being. British women breastfeed their babies less than other European women, but a breastfed baby gains vital life-long immunity factors as well as intense physical and emotional nourishment. Longer suckling periods also help to form good brain cells and mouth palates.
A breastfeeding mother requires plenty of fluid intake. Water is important as are safe herbs taken as teas that support nutritious breast milk. If you feel very tired, you may benefit from broader pick-me-up safe herbs that can be selected for you by an experienced herbalist. If you suspect that you may be anaemic it is important to treat this quickly – but check with your doctor before taking an iron supplement.
Plenty of rest is important while recuperating from labour and the 9 months of pregnancy. You have to have the energy to care for and feed this new bundle of joy. Longer suckling periods and broken nights of poor sleep will eventually be very draining. We emphasise the necessity of creating the occasional block of time for yourself. You can gain a night of complete and undisturbed sleep when you know you don't have to keep eyes and ears open. Good food is, of course, vital, and if you are looking for a good ready-prepared source, Superfood Plus continued after pregnancy will be ideal.
Practise pelvic floor exercises. You should have learned these first during pregnancy to make labour easier. These exercises help maintain a healthy womb, along with bladder and rectal control. To do them, simply sit, stand or lie down – my midwife said, 'Do them while you're washing up!' – and squeeze your hammock muscles as if you were trying to stop urination. Squeeze even harder, count to 12 slowly, then slowly relax again. Breathe evenly and naturally. Repeat the whole process 10 times. A lot of women rush around too soon after birth. This makes it very difficult for the uterus to return to its right size and correct position, and may also lay the foundations for prolapse later in life. It is important to rest as much as possible for at least 10 days in order to allow this process to take place. During this time, these pelvic floor exercises are best done lying down. After 6 weeks have the position of your uterus checked.
Post natal depression
This is a sad fact of life, but it is also a condition where herbs can really help very quickly. For instance, agnus castus can rapidly help re-balance hormone instabilities, not least helping slightly "weepy" feelings. Please consult a herbal practitioner.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.
To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.