Building Your Pregnancy Care Team
by Kate Daugherty, MS, Functional Nutritionist
The early days of pregnancy are a rollercoaster. Your hormones start to go ALL KINDS OF CRAZY and bring a whirlwind of emotions that range from fear to anxiety to elation. Outside of emotions, you’re also likely to experience physical symptoms that I liken to the-worst-hangover-that-lasts-for-weeks.
The excitement of a new pregnancy can bring with it a laundry list of “to-dos” that you want to cram into the next nine months. There WILL be time for picking out the perfect name, designing the cutest nursery, and swooning over teensy-tiny clothes. However, one of the best things you can do for a healthy and successful pregnancy is to start building YOUR personal care team sooner rather than later.
Having people you trust will not only help you to manage the physical changes, but also provide a safe haven for the emotional weight of pregnancy.
Here are some of my recommendations for a rockstar pregnancy care team...
Traditional Chinese Medicine is especially helpful EARLY in pregnancy for managing first-trimester woes when everything else feels off limits. An acupuncturist can use various modalities to ease nausea, mitigate bloating, relieve headaches, and improve energy.
It can help helpful to establish a relationship prior to pregnancy, so you feel comfortable and understood when you’re not feeling your best. Further, an acupuncturist with experience in fertility can be a major asset in the conception journey.
Local Pick : Layne Bronson at ONYX Acupuncture
#2: MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY
The emotional toll of growing a child is real. You’re likely to have periods of increased worry, intrapersonal tensions, and new challenges as both a new mother or when expanding your family. A therapist can help you work through NEW emotional challenges as well as address childhood trauma that may arise with pregnancy.
Don’t feel like you’re “too late” to start building a relationship with a therapist. It can be helpful at ANY stage, and may carry forward well into the postpartum period.
Local Pick : Kristen Milliron at The Facility Denver
#3: PERSONAL TRAINING
A personal trainer who understands pregnancy changes by trimester can help you navigate modifications to exercise to keep you safely active from preconception to delivery. Staying active in ANY capacity has documented benefits for a healthier pregnancy AND a healthier child. If finding someone to work with 1-on-1 isn’t feasible, consider online programs like BirthFit or MamasteFit.
Local Pick : Deanna Chiem at CoreProgression South Denver
Manual manipulations can be helpful later in pregnancy as the belly grows and changes posture, increases spinal pressure, and causes round ligament issues. Monthly appointments can begin at onset of discomfort, and may increase to weekly further into pregnancy.
When looking for a pregnancy chiropractor, ask about Webster certification. These doctors are specifically trained in perinatal care.
Local Pick : Dr. Andrea Toppin at Washington Park Chiropractic
Each stage of pregnancy has different nutritional needs. At your OB, you’ll get very non-specific information about “what to avoid” and general encouragement to “eat healthy”. They leave out how to manage aversions, how to meet nutritional needs using foods, and (importantly) don’t understand the personal nature of eating. Working with a nutritionist throughout pregnancy means you get 1-on-1 help when challenges arise to confidently face each new stage with the education and support you need.
For individual learning, I highly recommend starting with Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols, RDN.
Local Pick : Kate Daugherty at The Facility (that's me!)
#6: MASSAGE THERAPY
The ultimate in self-care is treating yourself to bodywork. For more passive care, massage therapy can soothe achy muscles, help move lymph, and provide a dedicated time of relaxation. As you grow, it can be increasingly uncomfortable to lay on your belly. A prenatal massage therapist understands this-- and provides special tables/pillows/positions to make it the best experience.
Local Pick: Liz Martin at MamaJane Massage
#7: PELVIC FLOOR PHYSICAL THERAPY
Around the beginning of the second trimester is a great time to establish care with a Pelvic Floor Specialist. Plan on a birth prep appointment, on-going exercise and hands-on treatment, as well as postpartum follow-up. They will evaluate you and can help with everything from constipation, painful sex, diastases recti and more. Don’t let the “pelvic” part fool you- your physical therapist will help with ALL manner of aches, pains, and limitations.
Local Pick: Dr. April Dominick at Revitalize PT
#8: BIRTH DOULA
A birth doula is specially trained to provide support during the labor and delivery process. They cover all areas of 'support' including physical, emotional, informational, and ADVOCACY. A 2017 Cochrane review found that if a birthing person has continuous labor support (such as that from a doula), both mother and baby are more likely to have better outcomes.
Working with a doula from early in pregnancy means you get specific guidance on mindful birth prep, what to expect during labor, and can clearly dictate your desires for the birth process. If finding a doula for in-person support isn't feasible, consider working with a GentleBirth Doula for virtual guidance.
Local Pick: Ann Campbell at Middle Space Doula
Final Thoughts on Building a Pregnancy Care Team --
Your care team will be personal to you. Consider which areas you need the MOST support (physical, emotional, informational) and pursue filling those needs first. We are lucky to have a wealth of information available to us via social media and the internet; although sorting through what's helpful versus what's bogus can be the biggest challenge!
Rely on others in your social circle for recommendations and REACH OUT if you have specific questions I can help answer. Let me know if you have others to add to this list!
Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let's look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here.
CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!