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3 Tips for a Smooth Fourth Trimester

April 18, 2016

Once you've given birth, most of your focus is now on your new baby -- after all you've invested the last 9 months eating well, sleeping, and taking care of yourself. Nevertheless, it's important for moms to take care of themselves after birth known as the fourth trimester!

Once you give birth, you enter into a transitional period – not only is your body going through physical changes to return back (mostly) to it’s pre-pregnancy status, you now have a baby to care for (which unfortunately doesn’t come with an instruction manual)! This period after birth is often referred as the fourth trimester – and lasts for a few months.

Most of your focus is now on your baby, and making sure she is healthy – after all you’ve invested the last 9 months eating well, sleeping, and taking care of yourself. Nevertheless, it’s important for moms to take care of themselves! After all, we cannot serve from empty vessels. Here are a few ways to ensure that you can take care of your baby and yourself at the same time:

Breastfeeding

Many of us know the benefits associated with breastfeeding, especially ensuring that your baby’s digestive tract is populated with good bacteria from your breastmilk which helps decrease the risk of getting allergic conditions like asthma, allergies and eczema. There are some moms that struggle with breastfeeding and don’t realize that help is available. A midwife, doula, and lactation consultant can help attain a good latch, and can address any obstacles or complaints you may have. Skin to skin contact is a great way to help your baby bond with you, and will actually help with latching. It also helps with his temperature, breath and heart rate, weight gain and sleep.

If you’re breastfeeding it’s important to make sure you’re well hydrated and well fed. Breastfeeding uses up a lot of energy, so you’ll need to ensure you’re taking in more calories (about 500), and carbohydrates should be your main fuel source. This should be in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

Post-partum blues

After giving birth your estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, and around the 3-5th day the baby blues might happen. Many moms experience tearfulness, low spirit, anxiousness, fatigue, and forgetfulness. This is common, but many people don’t discuss it! Have your partner or family ensure you’re getting enough sleep, or have someone visit you while you’re taking care of your baby.

If the blues last for more than a week, then it may be postpartum depression. Your doctor may do a physical exam and run some blood tests to see where your hormones are at. Joining a support group may help you express your feelings with other moms who know exactly what you are going through.

Support

Women tend to place a lot of expectations on themselves to be supermom and accomplish everything – but that can be difficult to achieve when you’re sleep-deprived! As a first-time mom, it may be also difficult to anticipate everything that needs to be done. Accepting support from others, like your partner, family and friends can ease the burden of getting everything accomplished – and may even allow you to get a couple of naps in. A useful tip may be to place a note of all the house chores on your fridge, and have your support system help eliminate those from the list while you enjoy time with your baby (or get said nap). Remember that not everyone is cut out to support you – having people around who will give you confidence and decrease your stress are the best people to have around! If you have a small support system, you may want to consider hiring a post-partum doula.

Final Thoughts

The fourth trimester can be both a wonderful and stressful period for all moms and their partner. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well as your new baby. If  you’re wanting support, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor. Many (including myself) offer 15 minute complimentary consultations where you can determine if you want an ND to be part of your support team as you recover from giving birth to a beautiful baby!

Hydration and Hot Yoga

April 4, 2016

I remember my first hot yoga class, I was sweating like crazy and drinking my weight in water. Nowadays my hydration status is on point!

I remember my first hot yoga class — in between my shaky eagle pose and folding up my shirt sleeves and pant legs, I was sweating like crazy and drinking my weight in water. Thankfully five years later, I’ve become used to the heat, I wear a comfortable pair of shorts and tank top, and I always make sure my hydration status is on point… my eagle pose still needs some work though.

For every hour of exercise we partake in, our bodies require about 600-1000mL of fluid. The amount that we lose depends on how much we sweat, the air temperature and humidity. If we’re losing more water than we’ve taken in throughout the day and not taking anything in during exercise, we become more prone to dehydration.

There are three stages of dehydration – mild, moderate, and severe. The basic signs of dehydration are dry lips and mouth (usually happens because of mouth breathing), thirst and low urine output. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, general discomfort, headache, dizziness, nausea and cramping.

Many factors contribute to sweat loss: genetics, gender, body size, fitness, environment and intensity. Men have more sweat glands than women and therefore sweat more. Sweat losses increase in hot and humid conditions and well as in intense exercise. When we practise in high temperatures, it takes about 7-10 days for our bodies to acclimate to the heat. Salt loss is also higher in the heat, but will eventually acclimate as well.

When we practise in the heat, we’re more prone to dehydration because of the air temperature and humidity. When we lose about 2% of our body weight through sweat, our performance may become impaired because we’re running out of fuel and fluid – and we’ll begin to notice gut problems like nausea and vomiting. Therefore, it’s best to listen to our bodies during practise – if we need to pause during dancer’s pose and sip some water, or move into child’s pose do it!  Our bodies aren’t designed to handle dehydration, so we should ingest small amounts of fluid periodically throughout our practice.

Ideally, after we finish our practice, we should be replenishing about 150% of what we’ve lost over the next 2-4 hours. During this time our bodies will continue to sweat and we’ll experience fluid loss from urine. When we sweat, we don’t just lose water, we also lose electrolytes. These are ions that help regulate our muscle and nerve function. Some examples of electrolytes are sodium (the main electrolyte lost), chloride and potassium. When they have been depleted, signs like muscle twitching and weakness may appear. It’s important to also refuel with electrolytes because of losses through sweat, and they encourage fluid intake and absorption. Therefore, post-practise we should be ingesting water and snacking on something that contains salt because it will help our body retain water and prevent dehydration.

There’s such a thing as drinking too much water, so we want to make sure that we’re not gaining our weight in water during practise. To help prevent drinking so much, it’s best to ensure that we’re hydrated before practice. Keeping a bottle of water around the work area will encourage drinking throughout the day, and if plain water isn’t for you – adding fruit or herbs or even drinking herbal tea will help disguise the taste!

Part 2: Snacking and Hot Yoga

Part 3: Muscles and Hot Yoga

Part 4: Detoxification and Hot Yoga

Third Trimester Nutrition

March 21, 2016
third trimester nutrition, pregnancy naturopath, toronto naturopath

You’ve reached the homestretch! The third trimester lasts between 28 weeks to birth. Much of the nutritional needs have remained the same, but due to the rapid growth of a baby a few recommended daily intake of nutrients have increased.

Protein

During the third trimester, a baby’s weight triples, thereby increasing the need for protein. Amino acids (what proteins are made of) are required for the building blocks of cells and thus help with growth and development. At this time, it’s important to ensure that a mother is including protein at each meal and snack throughout the day. Moreover, protein has a protective effect against gestational diabetes, as protein can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Amount required: an extra 10g per day based on a woman’s body weight

Where to find it: Poultry, red meat (aim for lean and grass-fed), eggs, legumes, chia seeds, quinoa

Calcium

Baby’s bones are continuing to develop during the third trimester, reinforcing the need to adequate calcium. Because calcium can be taken directly from a mother’s stores, it’s important for moms to replenish their stores so as to not feel symptoms such as cramping (discussed in second trimester nutrition).

Amount required: 1000mg/d

Where to find it: Dairy products, sesame seeds, leafy greens

DHA

We spoke about the need for essential fatty acids in during the first trimester. DHA is needed as it’s essential for cognitive, neuro, and visual development. It’s especially important in the third trimester as brain development is happening at an incredible speed and neural connections are beginning to form.

Amount required: 1.4g/day of combined omega 3

Where to find it: Salmon, sardines, fish oil, chia seeds

Iron

Along with a tripling weight, the baby’s blood volume has also increased. Iron is critical at this stage as the baby begins accumulating iron from the mother to build a store that will last from birth to the first six months of life. Because babies are accumulating iron from the mom during the, it’s important that women maintain their iron stores through nutrition or supplementation to decrease their risk of anemia, and decrease their child’s risk of pre-term delivery, low birth weight, etc.

Amount required: 27mg per day, especially important during the 2nd and 3rd trimester

Where to find it: Lean grass-fed meats, spinach, lentils and beans

Zinc

Zinc is required for immune system development, which is important at this stage as the baby is getting ready to leave the womb and enter our world which is full of germs (both good and bad).

Amount required: 11mg/day

Where to find it: Lean grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds

Next Steps

For more information or support in regards to your pregnancy, book an appointment with me or your nearby Naturopathic Doctor! We would love to help keep you (and your baby) happy and healthy during your pregnancy!

Before you go

First Trimester Nutrition

Second Trimester Nutrition

Tips for a smooth fourth trimester