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Integrative medicine in pregnancy

Pregnancy is such a rewarding but challenging period in a woman's life.  The anticipation of new life, the changes to your body and the preparation for birth are not to be underestimated.  While a good midwife or obstetrician is crucial for good antenatal care dure pregnancy, it's important to not lose sight of the rest of a woman's health needs, as well as the woman herself! That's why the support of an integrative medicine practitioner can be so important.

Integrative medicine is a branch of medicine which recognises how important all facets of an individual are in maximising their health. In pregnancy, this means focusing on the woman's mental, physical and spiritual health are as well as dealing with any problems that have arisen as a result of the pregnancy. An obstetrician may do an excellent job of treating anaemia in pregnancy with medication and a naturopath may expertly treat a woman's anxiety about labour with essential oils, but isn't it important to keep the big picture in mind? Unlike just traditional medicine or complementary medicine, integrative medicine uses every tool in the box to provide the best care possible.

Integrative medicine is also evidence-based. This means that an integrative medicine practitioner will only suggest medical treatment which has sound scientific evidence behind it. However, unlike many doctors who focus on western medicine only, an integrative medicine doctor won't discount the evidence if it supports complementary medicine. Considering how much is at stake during pregnancy, having an expert in integrative medicine on your side offers the reassurance of science with the holistic care of complementary medicine.

How does this play out in pregnancy? Say you're one of the 10% of pregnant women who have high blood pressure at some stage of your pregnancy. Integrative medicine would involve working with your doctor or midwife to investigate the high blood pressure, review medication and keep both you and your baby safe. Crucially, it would also involve considering what else may be contributing.

Perhaps you're anxious about parenthood, which is increasing your blood pressure. Aromatherapy or supportive counselling may not only manage your anxiety but also bring your blood pressure down. Lower back pain from the hormone changes in pregnancy and increased weight of your growing baby may be contributing, so a chiropractor may be of assistance in reducing your pain. While you could see these options out on your own, under the care of a practitioner of integrative medicine you can get evidence-based guidance about which treatments are safe during pregnancy.

The benefits of integrative medicine don't end with pregnancy. The postpartum period can be confronting due to concern for both the mother's and the newborn's wellbeing. Again integrative medicine can provide complete, scientifically sound care that focuses on the individual mother and newborn. Considering all of these benefits it's no wonder that integrative medicine is becoming more popular in Australia, both during pregnancy and beyond.