• Integrative and Functional Medicine for New and Expecting Mothers

    by Dr. Payal Bhandari
    on May 7th, 2018

As any mother will tell you, pregnancy comes with a whole host of changes to a mother’s body. More than just the expected changes, there are a variety of other complications, and interrelated processes tugging on each other and causing a watershed of effects in virtually every one of the body’s systems and structures. Indeed, there is no greater single event which changes the body so extensively.

These changes don’t stop at birth, but continue for weeks, or years afterward. Some are permanent. With Mother’s Day around the corner, we wanted to put together a list of some of the best integrative and functional medicinal treatment options for new and expecting mothers.

Massage Therapy

Therapeutic massage has a long history of improving general health and wellness. Massage therapy can reduce muscle tension and joint pain, as well as realign the structural and physical supports that keep the body in harmony. Structurally speaking, pregnancy is a strenuous time for mothers. Bones and tendons stretch and distend to allow for widening hips, but the effect is so pervasive that even one’s feet widen, often permanently. The body is under duress, so a physical realignment and massage can be just the thing to resolve some of the discomfort and keep the body properly aligned.

Beyond the structural benefits, massage therapy is also wonderful for reducing stress. Despite the joys that come with motherhood, there can often be a great deal of stress and mental agitation. That’s true both pre- and post-partum. Therapeutic massage is a great drug-free way to lift that stress, and help restore and support mental well-being.

Massage therapy has also been shown to increase white blood cell counts. As such, even a single massage boosts immune response, which is good for both mother and child. That immune support is even passed to babies through nursing!

Nutrition

Most mothers have heard the expression ‘eating for two’, and there’s a good deal of truth to it. However, there are some serious risks to foodborne illness, so keeping careful track of your nutrition is very important for an expecting mother. Fish, red meat, poultry, dairy — plenty of foods which come with a serious increased risk which outweigh any of their theoretical benefit.

On the other hand, the nutritional needs of pregnancy are specific, fickle, and integral to good health. Any expecting mother should be working with a certified nutritionist to ensure that her dietary needs, and those of her unborn child, are being properly met. A nutritionist can guide an expecting mother past those risks and pitfalls as well.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

As we’ve stated, motherhood can come with a great deal of stress. It’s often inadvisable to treat that stress with medications, and the practical realities of parenthood sometimes prevent a mother from sleeping or exercising regularly. As such, stress can become a more lingering, more pervasive concern.

A simple, efficient, and reasonably quick way to manage that stress can be found in mindfulness based stress reduction. Whether through guided meditations or through the daily practice of mindfulness, that stress can be realized and allowed to dissipate freely. The practice of mindfulness contributes to overall mental health, and, as a lifelong shift in outlook, brings a contentment and sense of well-being that will be welcome to any parent.

Are you interested in reducing stress? Click HERE for a copy of our 10 Essential Tips for Reducing Stress ebook! Written by Dr. Payal Bhandari, this guide provides natural and innovative remedies for reducing stress and living a happier, healthier life.

Thyroid Disorders and Hormone Imbalance

Pregnancy involves a wide variety of hormonal changes. Thyroid disorders are particularly detrimental, with one in eight women expected to develop a serious thyroid condition in their lives. This sort of issue is best treated from a functional medicinal perspective, since so many different, interrelated systems can affect the physical processes involved in hormone production.

The most common approach in mainstream Western medicine is to simply supplement or stimulate the appropriate hormones, but these medications can be hazardous during pregnancy. The body is meant to fluctuate dynamically, and an integrative approach can help support that ongoing dynamism by addressing the interplay of various systems rather than treating a hormone imbalance as a bullseye.

Integrative and Functional Medicine at Advanced Health

Integrative medicine takes a holistic approach to wellness which encourages a consideration of all the various lifestyle factors and conditions which can contribute to, or detract from, overall health. As far as pregnancy is concerned, an integrative approach is best able to support a new or expecting mother, as it can incorporate considerations of stress, sleeplessness, nutrition, exercise, changes to habit and routine, and other elements, as well as a clear and consistent study of the various mechanisms and systems of a pre- or post-natal body.

Functional medicine, for its part, helps with the physical structures of the body, which pregnancy can distend or displace. Changes to bone structure, tendons, and musculature which can all be stretched or stressed from pregnancies can be supported and those tensions eased through a functional approach.

At Advanced Health, these two schools of medicine are combined to create comprehensive, personalised treatments which are extremely well suited to supporting new and expecting mothers.

This Mother’s Day, treat yourself to a therapeutic massage, guided meditation, or nutrition counseling. Contact Advanced Health today to make an appointment, or to set up a consultation.

Author Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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