Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

A healthy pregnancy can be achieved by following simple tips for exercising, eating healthy, reducing stress, and receiving prenatal care and advice from medical professionals including chiropractors and midwives.

What type of foods should pregnant women eat the most of, and what is in prenatal vitamins that make them important to take during pregnancy?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Those are good questions. I tend to be not super focused on what they eat. I always talk to expecting moms and find out, you know, make sure that they’re eating enough, but most people have a pretty good idea of what their diet should be. So, there’s no special diet. Just listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. And make sure that your diet is balanced. And honestly, the stuff we learned as kids about the four food groups really hasn’t changed all that much in our adult life.

If you know that you have diet challenges and your diet is less than stellar, you might need some supplements, particularly when you’re considering becoming pregnant, so they look at a lot of the prenatal vitamins. And generally, what you’ll see in a lot of those is mostly folic acid, the B vitamins, calcium, iron, and vitamin D are the four major ones that are usually put into a prenatal vitamin. You also might look at some other things where there might be additional dosages of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, iodine, and copper.

My whole thing is that if your diet is good and you have a well-balanced diet, and you’re taking in all these nutrients, you shouldn’t really need a lot of supplementation. So, what we recommend is maybe doing what’s called the seven-day nutritional profile, which is very simple. If it goes in your mouth, it goes down on paper, and you write it down. And the other thing you can do is you can seek a professional registered dietician. You can work with a doula or midwife, and they can help you with certain nutritional concerns. You know, I have some training in it, but to be honest with you, Liz, it’s not my area of expertise. I don’t do nutritional consults. I’ll generally refer that out to a registered dietician or another health professional. I’ll give some general advice, and I can assess their diet, and if I think that they really need someone to look at it, I’ll always make that referral.

What type of exercises should pregnant women be doing to stay healthy?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Oh, that’s a softball. That’s an easy one. Safe ones, of course. I’m a huge fan of prenatal yoga. We have a nice relationship with a prenatal yoga center over on 72nd Street. If you weren’t doing much yoga before you were pregnant, or you weren’t doing much exercise before you were pregnant, I wouldn’t recommend just going all-in and starting exercising like a crazy person. But, generally speaking, walking is a great way to start. Prenatal yoga is excellent with proper instruction. We also work with another group that, for a little bit more advanced, they have a program where they just work with expecting moms. They do boot camps out in Central Park. Sometimes they’re even out there in the winter. They’re pretty dedicated, but it’s really run by an exercise physiologist, who is one of the nicest ladies I’ve met. In a controlled setting, even a beginner can learn how to exercise safely.

Again, not primarily what I’m going to be taking on in my office. I’m not really here to teach people how to exercise and things like that. I have a much more narrow focus in the pregnant women in my practice, but generally exercise is always going to be good. I wouldn’t recommend starting marathon training while you’re pregnant, but as long as you have some experience with exercise, you can continue to do what you want to do, safely, in most cases, as long as there’s no risk of falling, and you’re not putting out so much energy that you can’t breathe and you start to put stress on the body. So, moderate exercise in just about any form, is going to be safe for the expecting mom.

I think you’re an expert here, so here we go. How can chiropractic care help ensure a healthy pregnancy?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well that’s a good question, and yes, that’s something that we focus on in our office. The primary thing that we use in chiropractic with the expecting mom is the Webster Technique. A Webster Technique is a regular chiropractic technique that’s really a system of corrective adjustments to optimize the alignment of the hips, pelvis, lumbar spine, in relationship with the round ligaments, the uterosacral ligament, and the broad ligaments. So, all these ligaments basically suspend the uterus inside. What we’re working towards is really optimizing the amount of space the baby has to enhance fetal positioning.

What that means is a lot of moms will be coming to me in their latter part of the pregnancies telling me that the baby’s not in proper position and so they’ve heard that the Webster Technique can help with that. In many cases, all the research shows that if you do the Webster Technique up until delivery, very often, it’ll result in shorter delivery times, less need for intervention, optimizing fetal position, which results in less pain and a quicker birth. So, chiropractic is huge in that, and this research has been coming out of the Webster camp for many, many years. That’s the great part about that.

The other thing is that, look, expecting moms are gaining weight, their center of gravity is moving forward. That increases the amount of back pain, neck pain, sciatica that they see. They’re not allowed to take medications. So, once these changes happen, and the center of gravity does move forward, loading up the spine, it can cause some pain. If you’re in pain, you’re not going to sleep well. We all know that pregnant moms need their rest. Everyone needs their rest. So, feeling better is going to improve the quality of sleep, which is also vital to proper growth and development of the fetus inside.

The other thing that happens during pregnancy is the body secretes a hormone called relaxin, which is designed to loosen up the ligaments to allow the baby to pass through the pelvic girdle at the time of delivery. Now, this opens up a really cool window where moms who have scoliosis or other alignment issues, when this hormone is circulating through the body, it’s actually easier to make corrections, because things are actually looser, and the body responds amazing, especially if there’s a history of scoliosis. It’s like this little window of time opens up where you can have a more profound effect on those type of alignment situations. So, it’s really an amazing thing to have chiropractic care during pregnancy because there are so many benefits.

Working women, and women with small children, can be on their feet quite a bit and pulled in many directions. What are some tips these busy women can follow to maintain a healthy pregnancy?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, whether you’re busy or not, pregnancy can be pretty tough. I see some folks who are stay-at-home moms and folks that are out in the working world. They all seem to be occupied and a little bit nervous about the same types of things regarding their pregnancy. There’s really no major secret. You’ve got to live. You know, some of the working moms may have a little bit more stress, but that just makes it more important to be under chiropractic care and work with stress management. As you know, chiropractic, I can’t make the stress go away, but I can help the body with the physical manifestations of stress.

You know, women have been birthing children for tens of thousands of years, so that’s nothing really new. It’s just a matter of these stress levels that they have. And look, when you’re stressed out, your body goes into sympathetic overdrive. It’s definitely going to be much harder to deliver that baby. There’s an expression, “You can’t drop a baby when you’re running from a tiger,” so when the body’s in stress, it is very hard to deliver a baby because the body doesn’t want to do that when it’s in fight or flight. It wants to be in a safe, relaxed environment.

So, making sure that you have a low stress environment, trying other techniques, meditation, exercise, stretching, finding comfortable sleep postures, using supports when necessary. There are a myriad of things that we can do, but the primary thing is just keep your mind focused on the prize, you know. You’re going to have this beautiful baby, and yeah, you go through a little bit of a tough time, but it doesn’t matter who you are, you’ve got to maintain low levels of stress in order to have a healthier pregnancy.

Based on your experience, working with pregnant women, do you have any other tips for a healthy pregnancy?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Again, the main thing is keeping your stress level low, exercising, getting enough rest, eating well, working with a doula or a midwife. You know, I find fear is the biggest thing that gets moms stressed out. They don’t know what’s coming so they’re nervous. When you work with an expert, someone who’s been dealing with expecting moms for a long time, a doula, a midwife, a pregnancy chiropractor, you know, we’re going to be able to answer a lot of those questions and set your mind at ease. I find that the lower the stress level, usually the easier the pregnancy.

So, keep on exercising, keep on eating well, get plenty of rest, see your chiropractor, work with a doula or midwife, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, ask somebody else.

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