The Latest on Using Alternative Therapies During Pregnancy
Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
During a pregnancy, parents are especially interested in optimizing health and minimizing risk to their developing offspring. Many mothers-to-be are worried about side effects of medicines and so avoid taking any medicines at all.
Although many pregnant women believe “natural” products can be safely used to relieve nausea, backache and other annoying symptoms, it is wise to check with a practitioner first. He or she will not recommend a product or therapy until it is shown to be safe AND effective. This holds doubly true in pregnancy, since there are two patients, mother and baby involved.
There are few studies performed on natural remedies in pregnancy.
Mothers-to-be are understandably reluctant to sign up for experiments involving their unborn babies. Also, manufacturers of vitamin and herbal supplements are not required by law to sponsor expensive testing of their products. Even when properly done studies exist, the results can be confusing since so many things can affect the development of a baby.
Some alternative therapies are safe and effective during pregnancy.
In fact, some therapies have been shown to be even more effective than traditional remedies. For nausea in early pregnancy, acupuncture, acupressure, ginger root (250mg capsules 4 times a day), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, 25mg two or three times a day) work well. For backache, chiropractic manipulation holds the best track record. For turning a breech baby, exercise, hypnosis and traditional Chinese treatment (burning an incense-like substance on the fifth toe) have proven benefit. A certain homeopathic treatment seems to work for labor induction as does evening primrose oil for cervical ripening. However, conventional methods are more reliable for these. For pain relief in labor, epidurals are most effective, but injections of sterile water near the sacrum work surprisingly well, as do immersion in a warm bath and high tech nerve stimulator called TENS. Relaxation techniques, patterned breathing, emotional support and self-hypnosis are already widely used alternative therapies in labor.
The jury is still out on…
Many herbs, vitamins and supplements seem to hold no risk in pregnancy, but very few have been shown to actually supply any measurable benefit. The most commonly used of these is red raspberry leaf tea.
Definite pregnancy No-No’s
The following substances have the potential to harm a developing baby when used in a concentrated formulation (not as a spice in cooking). Some are thought to cause birth defects, and some to encourage early labor.
Avoid these oral supplements: Arbor vitae, Beth root, Black cohosh, Blue cohosh, Cascara, Chaste tree berry, Chinese angelica (Dong Quai), Cinchona, Cotton root bark, Feverfew, Ginseng, Golden seal, Juniper, Kava kava, Licorice, Meadow saffron, Pennyroyal, Poke root, Rue, Sage, Saint John’s wort, Senna, Tansy, White peony, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yellow dock.
Large doses of vitamin A can cause birth defects.
Avoid these aromatherapy essential oils:
Calamus, mugwort, pennyroyal, sage, wintergreen, basil, hyssop, myrrh, marjoram and thyme
If your baby has been exposed
Luckily, the chances are greater that the baby will NOT be affected than that it will. If you have a concern, you can find additional information at the websites listed here. Your practitioner might be able to provide further reassurance.
NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
Alternative Medicine News Online: www.altmedicine.com
Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Colds and Pregnancy
- Dental Care During Pregnancy
- Exercise During Pregnancy
- Genetic Screening
- Genetic Screening - Early Pregnancy
- Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby
- Heartburn During Pregnancy
- How Smoking Affects You and Your Baby During Pregnancy
- How to Cope With the Physical Discomforts of Pregnancy
- Medicine Guidelines During Pregnancy
- Prenatal Care: Your First Visit
- Prenatal Ultrasound
- Prenatal Vitamins
- Sex During Pregnancy
- Sleep During Pregnancy
- STDs: What You Need to Know
- The Latest on Using Alternative Therapies in Pregnancy
- Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
- Travel During Pregnancy
- Vaccination During Pregnancy
- What You Need to Know About HIV Testing
- When to Call Your Health Care Provider During Pregnancy
- Depression During Pregnancy
- Finding a Comfortable Position
- Increasing Calcium in Your Diet During Pregnancy
- Increasing Iron in Your Diet During Pregnancy
- Oral Glucose Test During Pregnancy
- Assisted Delivery
- Cesarean Birth
- Contraception During Breastfeeding
- Group Streptococcus and Pregnancy
- Pain Relief Options During Childbirth
- Premature Labor
- True Versus False Labor
- Vaginal Delivery After Cesarean Birth
- What to Pack for the Hospital
- Your Birth Day: What to Expect During Labor