Most women know the importance of eating a balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle when pregnant, and yet in a recent study has showed only 10 per cent of Australian women ate the recommended daily serve of fruit and vegetables during their key childbearing years.
The new study has found that making healthy lifestyle changes in the months before getting pregnant can lead to fewer complications in birth.
University of Queensland School of Public Health researcher Professor Gita Mishra is calling for better understanding of the steps you can take before conception to ensure a healthy labour.
“The evidence overwhelmingly showed healthier pregnancies when women were able to make positive lifestyle changes before conception, such as eating well, being more active or quitting smoking,” Professor Mishra said.
“Women with a lower body mass index before conception lowered their risks of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth and stillbirth.
“Higher levels of physical activity before conception resulted in lowered risk of gestational diabetes. “Also, we know from our own research that women who have a diet high in fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts before conception have lower rates of gestational diabetes.”
However only 10 per cent of women eat the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables during their key childbearing years, according to the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.
Women usually develop gestational diabetes in their second trimester, many of whom don’t have diabetes before becoming pregnant. But around 30 per cent of women who have diabetes when they are carrying a baby develop it after they are pregnant, according to the National Childbirth Trust.
Gestational diabetes can lead to your baby growing larger than usual and thus delivery being more difficult, polyhydramnios (when there’s too much amniotic fluid in the womb, which can cause premature labour or problems at delivery) and premature birth. Symptoms of gestational diabetes - many of which are the same as high blood sugar - can be controlled by making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle.
The researchers found that whilst most women cut back on alcohol and cigarettes when trying to get pregnant, they don’t make an effort to up their intake of fruits and vegetables, and they’re less active than women who aren’t planning on having a baby. Professor Mishra believes women need to be better educated in these areas in order to do away with these inconsistencies.
“This isn’t about pressuring women at an individual level or making them feel guilty,” she said.
“It’s going to take a huge social shift to tackle the obesity crisis and improve the nation’s eating habits, and to do that we need population-level health initiatives supported by all levels of government.
“The message that everyone needs to hear, whether they are planning a pregnancy or not, is that women who are active and eat more fruit and vegetables will have a much healthier pregnancy and baby.”
For hundreds of year’s Chinese medicine has physically supported women before giving birth. Acupuncture is utilized to assist the women’s body to get ready for the birthing process. Acupuncture facilitates the healthy progression of key physical markers such as relaxing of pelvic ligaments/cervical dilation and regular uterine contractions.
Suggested treatment starts in week 34-36 with weekly treatments up to the due date. Current research indicates there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions, 31% reduction in the epidural rate; 32% reduction in emergency cesarean delivery; and a 9% increase in normal vaginal birth for women who used acupuncture for pre birth. Simply worded, my clients who had weekly acupuncture tell me their labor was shorter and proceeded smoothly. Acupuncture for the Third Trimester of Pregnancy and Post-partum can be very helpful with:
Preparation for labor
Induction of labor
Working with you to understand and prepare you for pregnancy and birth, is just one of the many ways Traditional Chinese Medicine is different but complimentary to Western Medicine.
Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an Acupuncture or Herb treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here.