Early pregnancy by Zita West

“I’m sure that without Zita’s advice and supplements I would never have survived filming at eighteen weeks. Zita is often called a fertility and pregnancy guru, and I’m definitely one of her followers. The guidance and support she has given me through both my pregnancies has helped me to stay healthy and positive and to relax and enjoy the whole experience – at least most of the time! If you would like some advice on anything to do with having a baby, Zita would be the first person I would recommend you turn to.”  Kate Winslet

Combining Western medicine and a holistic approach

For most women, pregnancy is a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs with many unfamiliar physical and emotional changes that can be both confusing and alarming. I have had the pleasure of working for over twenty years as a midwife, acupuncturist and author both within the UK’s National Health Service and now in my own private practice in London.

I am a firm believer in western medicine being combined with a holistic approach. Over the years I have treated thousands of women and I have observed first hand, the use and benefits of natural remedies and holistic therapies in pregnancy. Today’s women really do want to take control of their pregnancies naturally, and I think quite rightly are unwilling to
be passive and take a back seat in their antenatal care. Pregnancy is not an illness. It is a condition that requires information, advice and support.

First trimester troubles

The early weeks can be very stressful. I sometimes feel women need more time to adjust to their pregnancies at the beginning, rather than at the end. Every ache and pain can lead to worrying about whether the pregnancy will continue or not. The anticipation of breaking the news at work can be difficult to deal with, and additional stress can be caused by the feeling that one is eating or drinking something that is ‘not allowed’. Many women worry that their diet isn’t perfect enough but most underestimate the amount of carbohydrates needed in the early weeks – remember, faddy diets are an absolute no no at this time! I believe that help is needed most during the first trimester, but unfortunately the NHS usually are not able to see women until the 16th week. I also feel that women who have conceived through IVF are particularly vulnerable to anxiety and concern during these early stages.

With this in mind I have developed the ‘Zita West Pregnancy Programme’. Designed to fill the gaps left by GPs and the NHS, the programme provides a specialist ’back up’ service that is uniquely tailored to the individual. From the sixth week of pregnancy onwards, our team of experts provide step by step advice and regular checks right the way through until birth. Once you have had your baby we help with breast feeding workshops and give you information on how to get back into shape. We also tackle sleep deprivation issues and how to overcome them, and if you can’t get to the clinic, we provide post-natal support in your home.

What you eat in the early weeks is vital

One of the main focuses for me when I first see my clients is nutrition. This is crucial at the early stages of pregnancy, and yet excessive morning sickness can lead to certain micro-nutrients not being absorbed properly. Not only that, but if you constantly feeling like being sick, you probably don’t have much of an appetite!

Most doctors are not keen on the use of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy (although these days they do advocate the use of Folic Acid). They tend to feel that if you have a balanced diet, you don’t need supplementation. However how many of us can really say we have a balanced diet these days? If we do, there is evidence that the effects of pesticides and chemicals can negate the positive nutritional qualities of our food.

If morning sickness means that you don’t feel like eating much, I recommend that you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement designed for use during pregnancy to ensure you give your baby the best chances of healthy development. DHA is also one of my ‘pregnancy essentials’. DHA is made from fish oil that contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists have recognized that it has valuable roles in boosting the foetal growth rate and also for the developing brain of the unborn baby. I believe that DHA will become as important as Folic Acid in the future.

Here are my tips for early pregnancy:

  • Don’t smoke – it is associated with miscarriage, low birth weight and premature labour.
  • No coffee – this can cause miscarriage in 1st trimester and also affects absorption of certain minerals.
  • Try to avoid flying in the early early weeks – there is no research to support this but this is my advice due to effects from radiation.
  • No alcohol – the government recommend 2 units per week but bear in mind that if you have a drink you are giving your baby a drink.
  • Positive thinking and accepting reassurance from others, especially women who have experienced the trauma of miscarriage.
  • Consider a number of complementary therapies and treatments to help ease the symptoms of pregnancy. At my clinic we provide massage, acupuncture for common ailments, hypnotherapy for emotional problems.
  • Supplementation with DHA on a daily basis throughout the pregnancy and into lactation.
  • As much rest and relaxation as possible.

No woman needs to suffer pain or discomfort during pregnancy. There are a wealth of natural remedies and treatments out there that have proved their worth over centuries to give you a helping hand. Above all, be positive, try to relax and really enjoy your pregnancy!

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