when there's a baby growing in your belly, you know it's time to make some adjustments. The stunning reality is, everything you do, everything you think, eat, dream or dance will become part of the psychic and physical reality of the precious creature within. As the experts say, you have to raise your child from conception on.
Don't feed your baby cigarettes and alcohol, and fork over plenty of protein, whole grains, veggies and fruits through the placenta. Also, maintain the small one's watery home by loading up on fluids. You need 1 to 2 litres of water a day. Avoid the tap version: research shows those who drink filtered or bottled water have a lower miscarriage rate.
This is not the time to experiment with herbal remedies that aren't specifically allowed for pregnancy, and you will find that most aren't. It's not the moment, either, to be skeptical about mainstream medicine -- you need those regular visits to the doctor. A small percentage of women come down with pre-eclampsia, or toxemia of pregnancy, a potentially lethal condition that can be symptom-free. Doctors will ensure you take folic acid if you need it and do blood tests to determine if you're iron-deficient.
But definitely incorporate the wise admonitions of midwives and nutritionists. If you're vegan, you need vitamin B12 supplements to ensure your child doesn't suffer neurological damage. Morning sickness can be a sign of vitamin B6 deficiency. Taking 30 to 75 milligrams daily, along with frequent small meals high in protein often helps resolve nausea. An iron-free multivitamin-and-mineral formula should cover the rest of your B vitamin needs. If you end up needing iron, stick to iron aspartate or ferrous succinate.
A further option for treating discomforts (heartburn, headaches, insomnia, constipation) is homeopathy. It's considered completely safe during pregnancy. And if you're wondering about chemical or infectious exposures, call the Motherisk hotline at 416-813-6780 or www.motherisk.org.
Last, but far from least, if anything in your life is stressing you out, now is the moment to deal with it. Cool out. Nothing matters as much as the psychic state of the creature within. The latest research indicates that chronic high levels of stress hormones coming in from the mother can actually interfere with a growing baby's brain.
EXPERTS"The most important thing for parents to realize is that the unborn child is already forming his or her personality -- there is a little child in there, not a clump of cells. It really matters how parents treat themselves, each other and their baby. Talk, sing, dance and play with your unborn child."
THOMAS VERNY, MD, author, The Secret Life Of The Unborn Child and Tomorrow's Baby
"A high proportion of babies end up in a posterior position, which is not good for birth. Squat or sit in a forward-leaning position (support yourself with pillows) as much as possible to prevent this. Homeopathy and acupuncture have been used to move a baby that's in the wrong position. Evening primrose oil helps the cervix soften. Toward the end of pregnancy, use about 500 to 1,000 milligrams daily.'
JAN TEEVAN, registered midwife
"I recommend that pregnant women indulge cravings, but craving a lot of sweets can be a sign of needing protein. Nettle tea is safe to drink throughout pregnancy. It contains vitamin K, which helps prevent hemorrhage and miscarriage. Drink 2 to 3 cups daily. If you're using blood thinners, though, you need to stay away from vitamin K. Taken in the last six weeks of pregnancy, raspberry leaf tea helps prepare for labour.'
JUDITH FIORE, naturopath
"In pregnancy, the ligaments become lax and the body tightens the muscles in response, so stretching is important. Pregnancy stresses your feet. Soak them in Epsom salts and massage them by rolling them on a tennis ball."
JUDY ADLER, chiropractor