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Top 3 Pregnancy Reads

by Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC

Given the MILLIONS of books out there on pregnancy and childbirth, it can be hard to decide where to invest your time as you prepare for this new adventure!

Here is a list of my top 3 favourite pregnancy reads that I recommend to my clients.

The list is short & sweet but packed with great information to help you feel prepared!


1) MAGICAL BEGINNINGS, ENCHANTED LIVES: A HOLISTIC GUIDE TO PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH

By: Deepak Chopra M.D.

Available on Amazon for about $21

Why I love it: This book combines the latest in evidence based medicine and the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine in a way that only Deepak Chopra can. Providing a holistic and spiritual approach to pregnancy and childbirth, including simple exercises you can do in your home to help you feel more connected and aware during all stages of your pregnancy and 4th trimester.

2) INA MAY’S GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTH

By: Ina May Gaskin

Available on Amazon for about $20

Why I love it: Ina May Gaskin is single-handedly responsible for reviving the midwifery movement in North America, with more than 30 years of experience she is a veritable guru. This book starts with a fantastic collection of birth stories written by women from every walk of life that really help to normalize the whole process of birth and inspire incredible confidence in what a woman’s body can do. The second half of the book is full of information from Ina May on everything from inducing labour to pain management to orgasmic birth, all with an emphasis on restoring woman’s faith in their ability to navigate natural childbirth

3) THE NATURAL PREGNANCY BOOK:YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO A SAFE, ORGANIC PREGNANCYAND CHILDBIRTH WITH HERBS, NUTRITION AND OTHERHOLISITIC CHOICES 

By: Aviva Romm M.D.

Available on Amazon for about $20

Why I love it: As an MD with many years of experience in alternative medicine, Aviva Romm is staple in the field of holistic women’s health. This book provides a knowledgeable introduction to the world of natural remedies during pregnancy.


BONUS: MY FAVOURITE BOOK FOR BIRTH PARTNERS

THE BIRTH PARTNER: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTHFOR DADS, DOULAS, AND ALL OTHER LABOR COMPANIONS

By: Penny Simkin

Available on Amazon for about $25

Why I love it: I consider this book to be an essential read for anyone who is attending your birth. It covers every topic from how to prepare for labour right up to newborn care, in a wonderfully inclusive way. It provides invaluable information on every possible birth path including medical interventions so that you and your partner are in the know before you need to make decisions. The also has pages marked for quick reference, so it’s great to have on hand during that birth itself.

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Herbal Medicines during Pregnancy

by Dr. Sarah Winward, ND IBCLC

There is a lot of wisdom in traditional herbal medicine, but with health food store selling more products than most people know what to do with, it’s hard to know what to take. This is why, if you are using herbal products, it’s important to have a practitioner, like a Naturopathic Doctor, who is knowledgeable and who is familiar with what is safe during pregnancy. Here, we’ve provided you with some good information and a place to start!

(This doesn’t replace individualized medical advice!)


Herbs that you may want to keep on hand during your pregnancy

Red Raspberry leaf

Why? Nutritive- nutrient dense, high in vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium and magnesium; uterine tonic- helps prepare the uterus for labour

How? Drink as a tea, 2-3 cups/day

When? Last trimester of pregnancy to help get your body ready for labour

Research: Shortens labour and leads to fewer interventions

Traditional wisdom: Speeds childbirth


Stinging Nettle Leaf

Why? Nutritive tonic, also high in vitamins and minerals, including chlorophyll, vitamin A, C, D and K, and iron; contains protein, helps to bring in mother’s milk, anti-inflammatory

How? Combine with red raspberry leaf to drink as a tea

When? Can be consumed safely throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding

Research: No clinical trials, but experiential and observational evidence show benefit in anemia, preventing postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia

Traditional wisdom: Pregnancy tonic, improves kidney function, prevents postpartum hemorrhage, reduces hemorrhoids, increases milk supply


Cranberry

Why? Urinary antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, preventing and treating urinary tract infections by blocking the ability of E. coli to stick to the lining of the bladder

How? As an extract in capsules form or as juice (not cranberry cocktail), 1-2 cups/day for preventing UTI, consider capsules for an active UTI

When? Good to have on hand for the first signs of a UTI/bladder infection, combine with increased fluid intake to help flush the urinary tract. **If symptoms don’t resolve in 1-2 days, or if you develop severe symptoms (fever, low back ache, visible blood in urine) contact your health care provider immediately.

Research: Preventing and treating UTI, safe for use in pregnancy

Traditional wisdom: Preventing and treating UTI


Ginger

Why? Antiemetic, helps with morning sickness, anti-inflammatory, carminative- soothes pain from gas/bloating

How? Fresh or dried root steeped in hot water, drink as a tea 1-2 cups/day

When? If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting in pregnancy. Caution with doses higher than 2 g/day as this is traditionally considered an emmenagogue (brings on your period).**If you are having very severe or frequent vomiting, contact your health care provider

Research: very strong evidence in favor of use in nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Traditional wisdom: warming tonic, useful in nausea and vomiting in pregnancy


Chamomile

Why? Promotes relaxation, relaxes the nervous system, relaxes the smooth muscles of the digestive system, soothes pain from gas/bloating, anti-inflammator

How? Drink 1-2 cups as a tea, especially soothing in the evening

When? Can be consumed throughout pregnancy, at any time but especially if you are feeling nervous or anxious**Caution with this herb if you have a ragweed allergy, they belong to the same family of plants

Research: Sedating, sleep inducing, some evidence in treating mild anxiety, decreases gas and soothes digestive spasms

Traditional wisdom: nervousness, muscle spasms, gas and colic


What to Take & what to Avoid

Safe Herbs

  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Senna (Cassia senna)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Ginseng (Korean) (Panax ginseng)
  • Raspberry Leaf (Rubus ideaus)
  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
  • Bilberry Fruit (Vaccinium myrtillus)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

*Despite these herbs being listed as safe, it is important that you advise your medical practitioners regarding any supplements that you are taking. These herbs can have other adverse effects such as raising blood pressure that may be important in your individual case. This list may change based on ongoing research and safety studies.


Unsafe Herbs

  • Dong quai (Angelica sinesis)
  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • Arnica (Arnica montana)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
  • Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • Guggul (Commiphora mukul)
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
  • Chaparral (Larrea tridentate)
  • Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)
  • Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus)
  • Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Boldo (Penmus boldus)
  • Poke root (phytolacca Americana or Phytolacca decandra)
  • Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)
  • Pasque flower (Pulsatilla spp)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Pau d’arco (Tebebuia avellanedae)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Thuja (Thuja accidentalis)
  • Tylophora (Tylophora indica or Tylophora asthmatica)
  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

*Please do not take any of these herbs unless prescribed by a licensed practitioner that will carefully monitor your health and the health of your baby. This list may change based on ongoing research and safety studies.

This article is meant to provide information only, it does not substitute for personalized medical advice.

Are you preparing for your best possible birth? 

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