There are a number of professionals that you can enlist to help you work towards the healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience and gentle postpartum transition you are hoping for.
Having the support of a knowledgeable and trusted caregiver during pregnancy is vitally important to ensure your health and the health of your baby (or babies). Whether a family physician, obstetrician or midwife, if you have asked the right questions in order to confirm that your goals and birth preferences pretty well align with theirs and you feel good about it, you are on the right track.
But what about that nagging feeling that there could be more to prenatal care than the periodic visits to determine nothing seems out of the ordinary? That nothing is wrong? What if optimal health is something you value? Or you are hesitant to take any pills in fear of what impact it can have on your infant, even for an underlying condition? Could the aches and pains be better managed? Do you struggle with anxiety or depression? Do you want to do everything in your power in hopes your baby will have the best start possible?
Even if you lucked out with the most compassionate, forthcoming & passionate care-giver you have ever met (and many are just that and more), there is no doubt that there can be limits to their practice. When does their care end? Are they available to you emotionally? Can it be challenging to get in to see them last minute? How accessible are they?
While the knowledge and expertise of your care-provider should never be replaced, it can certainly be complimented in many ways. There are a number of professionals that can contribute much to the well-being and optimal health of pregnant, birthing & postpartum women.
Whether their specialties are considered complementary medicine, alternative medicine, traditional medicine or just a more holistic approach, the following professionals have much to offer you and your family. Their services can begin and end whenever you see fit and are often covered by many insurance plans. Sometimes those benefits can run out quickly and so if cost is ever an issue, gift certificates are usually available and can be gifted to expecting and new mothers instead of (or in addition to) baby gift registry items etc. I don’t know about you, but I would have appreciated an extra chiropractic or acupuncture treatment or even one day with a postpartum doula SO much after my children were born.
Chiropractors offer an amazing service to pregnant, laboring & postpartum women and their families. Chiropractic care is considered a more complementary type of medicine and focuses on the disorders of the musculoskeletal & nervous systems. Think pain in your back, neck, joints, limbs and head. No doubt, some or even all of those body parts are screaming at you while your growing child is displacing most of what is inside of you. Chiropractors use gentle spinal manipulations to restore mobility and loosen muscles, allowing tissues to heal and the pain to lighten.
In pregnancy, labour & in postpartum, chiropractors can help women maintain a healthier pregnancy, relieve discomforts and work to hopefully help baby get into an optimal birthing position.
A Webster Trained Chiropractor is one who has been specially trained in the Webster Technique or trained to facilitate the mother’s pelvic alignment and nerve system function. Misalignments can restrict the amount of room a baby has inside the uterus, which can make it difficult for the baby to get into an optimal birthing position. Breech and posterior positions can make laboring more challenging and more often leads to interventions. Having a chiropractor support you throughout your pregnancy and even right up until the day you go into labour is a massive step in the right direction.
In postpartum, chiropractors can also be instrumental in helping a woman’s body re-adjust to as close to it’s pre-pregnant state as possible and without question a chiropractor will know a pelvic floor specialist if you have a major issue with Diastasis Recti (separation of abdominals) or other postpartum challenges.
Naturopathy looks at the healing powers of nature. Practitioners use nutrition, behavioural changes, herbal medicine, homeopathy & acupuncture to promote wellness. Naturopaths more or less look at the big picture. The mental, physical, emotional & spiritual aspects of your life are taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan. Naturopathic care can offer many solutions to common and more complicated concerns in pregnancy, birth & postpartum. Headaches, fatigue, nausea, vitamin deficiency, anxiety and many other pregnancy complaints can be overcome or managed through naturopathic care.
Many naturopaths provide homeopathy as a service. Homeopathy functions much in the same way as a vaccine does. A substance that causes adverse reactions when taken in large doses can be used in small amounts to treat those symptoms. Highly diluted energetic remedies stimulate the body’s vital force to heal itself. Many midwives promote the use of certain homeopathics in labour and birth.
Acupuncture & Acupressure
Acupuncture is 4000 years old and is a natural treatment that helps to balance Qi (the universal life energy in the body). It can reduce stress, increase energy, improve sleep, decrease discomforts, help prepare the body for fertility and also for labour. In acupuncture, certain parts of the body are stimulated, most often with a needle to help treat conditions.
Acupressure is a technique that generally utilizes the same areas of the body as acupuncture but pressure is applied as opposed to tiny needles. Acupressure is believed to assist with relieving nausea, back pain, labour pain, headaches and also to help naturally induce labour. In labour there are points on the buttocks, hands, ankles and feet that can have pressure applied to them. They can sometimes assist with vomiting in labour, ‘failure to progress’ or ‘unestablished labour’, a cervical lip and also induction.
In aromatherapy, essential oils are used to promote healing. These oils are concentrated extracts from roots, leaves, seeds or blossoms of plants. Aromatherapy is often used in pregnancy and in postpartum promoting calm, relaxation, reducing stresses and even nausea, constipation and heartburn. Many products are utilized throughout birth as well, not only for their relaxing and calming effects but a number of products also help to reduce fear and boost contractions or ease pain.
One must be cautious as many products contain therapeutic chemicals and it is wise to discuss any purchases or usage with a certified aromatherapist.
A Birth or Postpartum Doula
While a doula can in no way provide you with any medical advice, she will absolutely be in your corner emotionally. She is available anytime day or night to listen to you as you process the many emotions of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period.
In birth, a doula can help support families in having a safer and more positive birth experience. In general, women who have birth doulas were are likely to have a cesarean section, pitocin to speed up labour, use pain medication and also less likely to rate their birth experience as negative. She will help you navigate your way through your birth by helping you to ask the right questions, by suggesting positions and comfort measures to promote a shorter and more efficient labour and reduce anxiety and stress by normalizing the process and being the calm in the room.
A doula’s work in postpartum is to promote rest & recovery, calm & relaxation and to reduce anxiety and stress. She can cook you a healthy meal, tidy your home, help tackle that breastfeeding latch, give you a chance to take a nap or bring you a tea and some flowers while you nurse. That goes a long way both physically and emotionally as a new mother. Women who have postpartum doula support feel more secure and cared for, are more successful at adapting to new family dynamics, have greater breastfeeding success, greater self-confidence, less postpartum depression and a lower incidence of abuse.
A doula is also a great resource for all things birth and postpartum. She will have a long list of trusted practitioners she can recommend to you to help you overcome any challenges or unique circumstances.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold & silver. – Mahatma Gandhi
While all of these professionals are respected as practitioners within the birth world, be sure to consult your primary caregiver before undergoing any treatments in complementary, traditional or alternative medicine.
Have you found alternative or complementary medicine has benefited you in your childbearing years? Tell us about it.
- The Apothecary http://www.the-apothecary.ca/Aromatherapy-101_ep_3.html