1. Get adjusted: Recent research reinforces that the chiropractic approach to fertility is the same approach that has encouraged so many to adopt the chiropractic lifestyle: a safe and natural option which has a focus on whole body wellness. Recent chiropractic research into fertility offers hope and encouragement to those seeking a natural option for wellness.
The nervous system controls every function of the body and specific spinal adjustments allow for optimal function. The nervous system has regulation over hormone balance which is an integral part of conception. It is essential to have hormones balanced prior to conception for a well balanced pregnancy. Alignment and nerve supply are essential to maximize body balance and harmony. Many structural alignment issues can be corrected prior to conception which will allow for a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy a mother’s body is basically functioning for two and subluxations in a spine can cause stress overload to a mother’s nervous system. This may be detrimental to the health and well being of the mother as well as the baby. What a great way to start life with a balanced nervous system from the beginning. For Moms and babies the opportunities are endless with great chiropractic care.
2. Optimal Nutrition: In addition to working with a naturally-oriented health care practitioner for routine tests and monitoring, one of the best things a woman considering pregnancy can do is give herself six months to a year to “clean up” her diet and lifestyle. Laying the foundation by putting herself in optimal shape nutritionally prior to conceiving will go a long way in minimizing the chance of miscarriage, or developing other complications of pregnancy and delivery. Specifically reduce or eliminate alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine shifting from a diet based on processed nutrient-deficient white foods: sugar, white bread, pasta, pizza and bagels to one that contains more organic natural foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean source of protein and healthy fats. (5) Eating a diet rich in colorful organically grown vegetables and fruits will provide an adequate intake of antioxidants to fight off the damaging effects of free radicals. Juicing organic vegetables is a great alternative if one can’t seem to consume the recommended 4 ½ cups of veggies and fruit per day. Avoid all genetically modified food. (6) Also avoid uncooked meats. BestRawOrganic.com has the current list of fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest in pesticide levels.
3. Minimize Exposure to Toxins: Do what is reasonable to “green” your home and minimize exposure to toxins in your food, cleaning products and personal care products. If remodeling is planned and or a new home is being constructed, try to select no VOC paints, sustainable wood as opposed to composites and resin based products. Allow out – gassing of new materials etc. If at all possible: buy a mattress and bedding that is free of PBDEs and Antimony. (7) The fetus is not as protected by the placenta as we once thought due to its immature and porous blood brain barrier and the exposure pound for pound is greater than for those of adults. Also, switching to feminine hygiene products that are organic, non-bleached cotton (Seventh Generation, Organic essentials, glad rags or sea sponge tampons).
4. Exercise: Begin or continue an exercise routine. A recent study looked at the impact of exercise during pregnancy on the heart/cardiovascular health of infants. It was found that mother’s who exercised during pregnancy essentially increased the heart/cardiovascular health of the infant. The theory is that as the heart rate is increased in the mother, so it is in the neonate which in turn strengthens both the mother and babies hearts.
5. Weight Control: Obesity during pregnancy increased the incidences of neural tube defects, diabetes, premature labor, cesarean sections and preeclampsia. Getting weight under control via a healthy diet emphasizing good quality protein, additional zinc and B vitamins, exercise, increased water consumption, additional fiber and essential fatty acids, can be effective and inexpensive strategies for enhancing fertility.
6. Detox: If a woman’s toxic load has been high (has taken many prescriptive, or non prescriptive medications, has multiple amalgam fillings, or works or live in a chemically-laden environment), she might want to consider a detoxification or cleansing program. No detox program should be done within 6 months of conception. Detoxification essentially “dumps” the toxic substances into the body and time is needed to heal and clear the system. Standard Process and Metagenics have good cleanse systems.
7. Gut Health: If a woman has had a history of yeast infections and or frequent antibiotic usage during her formative years, she may want to consider a natural treatment of yeast. A yeast free diet along with herbs and other treatments will help ensure a healthy population of beneficial bacteria in mom which has been shown to positively impact a newborn’s immune system. (6)
8. Dental Amalgams: If a woman has mercury based amalgam dental fillings, prior to becoming pregnant, she may want to consult a dentist familiar with safe procedures for their removal. See the 6 month rule in the detox section.
9. Supplements: Also in anticipation of conception, it makes sense to begin taking a natural and comprehensive pre-natal multi-vitamin mineral supplement. Any pre-natal should have at least 800mcg of Folic acid which has been shown to decrease the incidence of Neural Tube Defect up to 70%. Adding mercury free source of EFAs (Omega 3s) is also important. DHA is an Omega 3 which influences brain development. (Note in pregnancy it is important to discontinue fish oil use at week 37 or sooner and resume no sooner than 1 week post-partum)
10. Watch the Fish: Minimize consumption of large fish. For mercury levels of fish check: www.gotmercury.org. Most fish have 0.2 – 0.3 mcg of mercury. Sharks, swordfish and tilefish have 1.0mcg. Nordic Naturals has a great list of the mercury levels in fish and supply a free reference card for your wallet upon email.
11. Test Vitamin D Levels and add additional Vitamin D3 if necessary. Many studies are supporting the use of higher levels of Vitamin D. Remember that sunshine is a free natural source!
12. Vaccines: Discuss with your chiropractor the idea of avoiding the flu shot and any other vaccines for one year prior to conception. The yearly flue shot as well as the new Swine Flu vaccination both contain Thimerosal (a mercury containing preservative). It is also important to educate about why declining a Hepatitis B shot at birth is a sound choice for a healthy mom.
13. STDs: STDs are associated with an increase in miscarriage, premature delivery, fetal malformations, neonatal infections and developmental abnormalities.
14. Avoid Hot Tubs, Saunas and Tanning beds: If you are considering pregnancy or think you might be pregnant avoid high temperature hot tubs, saunas and tanning beds as they increase core temperature and should be avoided. If the mother’s core temperature goes higher than 100.4 in the first trimester it can increase the risk of developing neural tube defects.
15. Water: Get a good home water filter system and drink from a stainless steel water bottle instead of buying water in plastic. Heated or not, soft plastic bottles release phthalates. LifeWithoutPlastic.com is a wonderful source of non-BPA products.
16. Indoor Air: The CDC reports that indoor air pollution is quickly becoming a top health hazard. Open you windows to create some ventilation. Sleep in a darkened room with no TV or computers. Computers and TVs emit Electro Magnetic Radions (EMFs). Use cell phones only when necessary and keep the phone in your purse instead of your pocket. (10) Using a corded headset is a better choice. Avoid setting your laptop or iPad on your lap.
A number of houseplants can absorb dangerous toxins in the air including benzene, PVCs, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and formaldehyde, according to a recent two-year study by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America. Other suggestions would be a HEPA filters and Rock-Salt lamps.
17. Dry Cleaners: Find a “green” dry cleaner. Perchloroethylene used in dry cleaning may cause tremors, numbness, and with higher levels coma and death due to respiratory paralysis.
Once pregnant, continue the first 17 things and avoid ultrasounds, unnecessary testing (if the outcome of the test will not change the destiny of your pregnancy or care, then decline the testing), decline induction (neurological ramification in the neonate), general intervention (like epidurals/pain medication/elective C section), episiotomy and early cord clamping.
Consider the long term benefits of doing it naturally for mom and baby. Other things to consider are hiring a Doula (she can be your advocate in the birth), delaying cord clamping (it is beneficial to the baby and the mother), placental encapsulation (aids in hormonal balancing, milk production & may reduce post partum depression) and breastfeeding exclusively.
- MacDorman, et al, Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the US www.cdc.gov/nchsi.databrief/db09.htm
- Exposure of the US Population to Bisphenol A and 4-terriary-octyphenol: 2003-2004, Environmental Health Perspectives; Volume 116; Number 11, January 11, 2008
- Maternal residence Near Agricultural Pesticide Applications and Autism spectrum Disorders Among children in the California Central Valley. Environmental health Perspectives; July 30, 2007; Molecular Psychiatry, November 10, 2005
- Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. Environmental Health Perspectives; February 2006; Organic Foods vs. Supermarket Foods: Element Levels; J of Appl. Nutrition, 45 , 1993 35
- Perez, PF et al, Bacterial imprinting of the neonatal system lessons from maternal cells. Pediatrics, March 2007: 119(3)e724-32
- Associations between indoor environmental factors and parental-reported autistic spectrum disorders in children 6-8 years of age. NeuroToxicology.
- Resources regarding the biological effects of EMFs August 2007 (available on www.bioinitiative.org), and the 2009 special EMF issue of the Journal of Pathophysiology. Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution, Camilla Rees, Magda Havas, PhD
Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485. www.communitychiropractic.net