Independent health store advice on natural support for conception and pregnancy

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Naomi Murray, co-owner of Botanica Health in Tunbridge Wells.

Pregnancy woes seem to be so much more prevalent than when I had my first child 25 years ago. I guess we had less information and we went with the flow. We did our best to eat well, took a pregnancy supplement and just carried on.

Now, with social media, more health experts, magazine articles and new research it can be a bit of a minefield and can add to the anxiety that a first-time mum-to-be can already experience.

But with new information available to us we have the choice to act upon this new-found knowledge whilst ensuring our pregnancy is as relaxed as possible.

I remember a friend told me as she was journeying through IVF treatment that her consultant reminded her that the most important thing to keep in mind was to try to stay relaxed. And as we so often hear it is not uncommon for a woman to fall pregnant naturally after she has given up on IVF. Perhaps when the body is in a less stressed state it is able to function much better.

Optimise nutrition before conception

One of the most vital steps to take is to ensure that the body is nourished with optimal nutrition to allow conception and for a healthy pregnancy to follow. It is not advisable to adopt a weight-loss diet, especially a low-fat regime where the body is deprived of the necessary fats and proteins required for hormone production. Instead, provide the body with the right foods and nutrients to help optimise fertility:

  • Avoid processed foods and instead consume natural food stuffs, preferably organic.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense carbohydrates from vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots and fruits.
  • Add healthy fats into the diet with butter from grass-fed cows (more vitamin D), olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, grass-fed meat and avocado.
  • Avoid margarine, low-fat foods and vegetable cooking oils such as sunflower oil or corn oil.
  • Eat your greens! Think broccoli, kale, watercress, leeks, spinach and green beans.
  • Consume adequate protein from eggs, cheese and free-range meat.
  • Stay hydrated.

Practise self-care

It is commonly known that smoking, alcohol and too much caffeine isn’t advisable before or during pregnancy, but there are some other important factors to keep in mind.

  • Calm down! It is easier said than done but low stress levels are important for you and the baby – walk, meditate or practise yoga.
  • Sleep like a baby, before you have the baby. Adequate sleep and rest are essential for supporting immunity and general health.
  • Use chemical-free toiletries. The skin is the largest organ, so anything that goes on also goes in. The more natural the better.
  • Check that any medication or supplements you might be taking are safe during pregnancy.

Vitamins, supplements, herbs and pregnancy

Folic acid is one of the main supplements advised during pregnancy for baby’s heart health and to prevent neural tube defects. Recent studies have now linked excess folic acid to tongue tie in babies. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, or B9. Many midwives are now advising to supplement with folate, the natural form, to reduce this risk. A high quality food source multi-vitamin, like the TerraNova Prenatal Multivitamin Complex, is more advisable than a synthetic variety.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are all important for foetal development. Vitamin K2 is found in natto, cheese (especially Gouda), butter and egg yolks. This often-forgotten vitamin is vital for the structure of healthy bones and teeth. Check your B12 status especially if you are a vegetarian.

A good probiotic is beneficial. A baby’s gut bacteria develop according to the gut flora of the mother. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce the risk of Group B strep. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are all good natural sources of probiotics. Clipper Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea is helpful to take during the last trimester – generally one to three cups a day. Studies show that raspberry leaf tea strengthens the uterus, supports labour and reduces the risk of excessive bleeding after childbirth.

Preparation for a healthy next generation starts before conception. Now is your perfect reason to reduce all unnecessary stress and eat like a queen!

Botanica Health Store

Botanica Health was established in September 2011 by Naomi and Alan Murray.

Naomi is a health and lifestyle advisor and Alan is a sports injury specialist.

Naomi’s father is Scotland’s longest practising medical herbalist.

The store specialises in herbs and minerals and has a team of therapists providing additional support to customers. To contact the store, visit www.botanicahealth.co.uk, email info@botanicahealth.co.uk or call 01892 458289.

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