Lunch & Learn Webinar

Naturally Nurturing: How Naturopathic Medicine Helps You and Your Baby Bloom During Pregnancy with Dr. Andrea Picardo, ND

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Andrea Picardo, ND

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Webinar Date and Time:
10/05/2023 12:00 pm

Dr Andrea Picardois is a Naturopathic Doctor and a Doula. She has worked in paediatrics, fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. She uses tools like nutrition, lifestyle strategies, evidence-based supplements, acupuncture, botanicals and homoeopathic to support her patients. Today, she will talk about support during pregnancy – nutrition, the benefits of comprehensive blood work, and naturopathic medicine for different concerns.


Q. What are some important tests to take during pregnancy?

A. You’ll have your basic bloodwork, the most evidence-based way to work. I like to test iron because it’s connected to pregnancy, postpartum, labour and delivery outcomes. 40% of pregnancies globally are iron deficient. It is important to test the iron storage form, ferritin. I like to order a transparent saturation to check iron deficiency, anaemia, or higher levels of ferritin associated with inflammation. Low iron increases the risk of pre-term delivery and higher risk of postpartum anxiety and depression.

There’s also the challenge of losing blood during labour and delivery, so making sure that we have enough stores to accommodate that. You’re also passing on your iron stores to the baby. Babies who have iron-deficient moms are going to be iron deficient as well. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in paediatrics, and it can impact long-term cognitive health. A simple blood test can avoid many complications.

I like to look at health history before conception—things like PCOS or metabolic disorders. For inflammation, looking at CRP or hs-CRP is helpful if you’re getting a requisition from your doctor. That can be a marker for cardiovascular inflammation. ESR or Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate can also be a very general marker of inflammation.

Vitamin B-12 is something that I like to look at, especially if a patient is vegan or vegetarian. Vitamin D is also a very big one. It’s an important marker that we don’t always look at. Suppose we are dosing vitamin D, which is one of the most common over-the-counter supplements. In that case, we want to make sure that we’re adequately doing so – taking enough to achieve the outcome but also not going overboard. Because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, it can accumulate in the body, and it can lead to toxicity symptoms. This will help with preventing problems for gestational-age babies, pre-term birth, and placental complications. Placental complications are five times more likely after 32 weeks if you are vitamin D deficient.

Another thing to look at is thyroid health. Our pregnancy hormones are very similar to our thyroid hormones. It’s more likely that the thyroid will go away once you’re pregnant. You want to aim for specific values. Research indicates that TSH should be at less than 2.5 to maintain a healthy pregnancy. I also like to look at thyroid antibodies if there’s a strong history of autoimmune concerns. If there is any autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, our thyroid antibodies will be elevated.

From a cardiovascular perspective, fasting insulin, insulin resistance and homocysteine can also be helpful because they’re related to how we build blood vessels and our blood vessels’ health.

And finally, blood pressure. With the switch to virtual care during the pandemic, people have not been having their blood pressure measured. If that’s higher, you also want to look at other values like liver enzymes and uric acid.


Q. How can naturopathic medicine help with the common struggles ( fatigue, nausea, constipation, insomnia) women face during pregnancy?

A. Screening for the markers I mentioned before is essential as they provide extended health benefits and help with fatigue. We do a very good workup, looking at health history and current health. Nutrition, digestion, sleep, energy, and stress are foundations for health. Tweaking nutrition and adding supplements for adrenal support is essential. The supplements have to be safe during pregnancy. Especially during different trimesters, there can be higher risk than others.

Nausea is very common. Sometimes it’s that typical morning sickness. But, there are milder forms of nausea, where you’re not necessarily vomiting, and there’s hyperemesis gravidarum, where you are vomiting throughout the day, causing you to lose weight because you can’t keep anything down.

Nutrition counselling, eating smaller portions throughout the day, aiming for higher protein and balancing blood sugar with meals and snacks can help with nausea. Soups and smoothies are easy on the digestive system and are helpful.

Reducing smells in the environment and finding a scent that you enjoy will help. Try sniffing rubbing alcohol or placing slices of lemon and ginger in a pot on the stove and letting that smell up the environment.

Supplementing depends from person to person. It is essential to individualize it. For example, while ginger is helpful, it can aggravate nausea for people if they struggle with heat in the digestive tract. We also use supports like vitamin B-6, salts, calcium, magnesium, slippery elm, Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) and acupuncture.

Constipation and haemorrhoids are other things that I see often. We try working with water, fibre, and lifestyle things like squatty potties or osmotic laxatives like magnesium.

About Dr. Andrea

Dr. Andrea Picardo is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Birth Doula based in Mississauga, Ontario. She is a registered member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND). She is in good standing with her regulatory body, College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO).
Dr. Picardo maintains a general family practice with a special interest in fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and pediatrics.

She is passionate about enabling others to reach their full potential. She believes in equipping her patients with the information they need and empowering them to make informed decisions about their health. She is ready to support her patients every step of the way to help them meet their health goals and feel heard.

She ensures that she is up to date with the latest research so that she can meticulously put together individualized and evidence-based treatment plans that take into account her patients’ complete health history and current lifestyle.

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND in Etobicoke - HealthBuddha

About Our Host

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Dr. Danielle has been a licensed Naturopathic Doctor for almost 20 years, practicing and living in the Halton region. She is deeply dedicated to helping her patients figure out the root cause of their health concerns and supporting them with foundational support like healthy eating, targeted supplementation, counselling, and lifestyle recommendations…  About Danielle O’ Connor