Lunch & Learn Webinar

You are pregnant, now what?! Tips from a Naturopathic Doctor to support you during those first few weeks of pregnancy with Dr. Denise Handscomb, ND.

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Denise Handscomb, ND

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Webinar Date and Time:
08/02/2023 12:00 pm

Q. What To Do In The First Few Weeks Of Pregnancy With Dr Denise Handscomb, ND

A. Dr. Denise Handscomb became a Naturopathic Doctor to educate her patients on optimising the health of themselves and their families. Her passion lies in supporting the health of future generations. She has also done additional training in prenatal and pediatric care, environmental medicine, hormonal health and digestive health.

Q. What’s the next step after you’ve gotten a positive result on a home pregnancy test?

A. First, it’s good to get bloodwork done. We like to confirm the pregnancy through a blood test and get HCG values. Depending on the patient’s health history, like miscarriage or symptoms like cramping or spotting, or if the HCG is not increasing at the level we want it to, I will also recommend taking a look at progesterone levels. From there, we can start prenatal support: ensuring you’re on the right prenatal vitamins and other additional supplementation. This can differ depending on your health history and just from a nutritional perspective during that first stage of pregnancy.

Q. How does one choose the right prenatal vitamins for them?

A. There are three tips that I like to mention when choosing a prenatal vitamin. The first one is the supplements’ dose of vitamins and minerals. Have your naturopathic doctor help you identify the doses that you need. For example, taking 1000 micrograms of B12, based on the recommended dose of that supplement.

Then, we look at the form of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement: making sure that they’re more active so the body better utilizes them. Like making sure the folic acid is in its five methyl tetrahydrofolate form.

The last thing is other ingredients, preservatives, and dyes. A lot of prenatal vitamins have extra ingredients, some of which you may not be able to pronounce. I always like looking for a prenatal with no preservatives, dyes, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, or gluten.

Q. Do prenatal vitamins make you nauseous, and what are some things you can do to manage nausea?

A. There are a couple of things you can do. The first tip is to keep your prenatal in a separate container in the fridge to reduce that big whiff when you open the container. Always take the prenatal with food, and usually a larger meal. Some nutrients can also be irritating to the stomach. So another mineral, such as magnesium, can also be used to help support the absorption of some of those irritating minerals vitamins in the prenatal vitamins. Taking an extra dose of magnesium with your prenatal may help to reduce nausea.

Q. Pregnancy brings a lot of changes to your body. What are some symptoms and changes people can expect to see?

A. There are lots of changes occurring in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone HCG will increase about eight to eleven days after conception and during the first trimester. And as it increases, you may notice feeling nauseous. You may feel breast tenderness and more fatigue. HCG will keep rising during the first trimester because it’s helping support progesterone production and stops menses from occurring. Progesterone is another one that will also be rising to help support the uterine lining to help with implantation and maintain the pregnancy during the first weeks before the placenta takes over.
With the rising progesterone, you may notice mood shifts, breast tenderness, changes in appetite, and, generally, how you’re feeling. Other symptoms to be mindful of are intense cramping, spotting or bleeding, or anything that doesn’t feel right. That’s when you should seek some medical attention. But otherwise, cramping, nausea and vomiting are very usual symptoms.

Q. What does a prenatal care plan look like for your patients?

A. We like to support women through all stages of pregnancy, starting even before conception. We help them through all the different milestones of the pregnancy and also through symptoms they may experience. We make changes in supplementation depending on the stage of pregnancy. Like adding in iron at a certain stage if they become deficient or calcium magnesium for support. At various stages of the pregnancy, we’re there to help support symptoms through various routes and ensure optimal wellness for both mom and baby. We also help support preparation for birth. That’s when acupuncture can also come into play. The postpartum period is also crucial. As soon as the mom feels well enough to come in to see us, we like to see them as soon as possible. I’ve had patients come in even a week after giving birth just to get on track, make sure they’re supporting themselves, and get the needed support during those first few weeks.

Q. How can patients manage their naturopathic doctor, midwife and OB-GYN to avoid confusion?

A. In Ontario, a naturopathic doctor can have a birthing position like a medical doctor. But, generally, you have your family doctor and OB-GYN or midwife as the primary care provider and choose one of them for actually delivering your baby. You can even have a doula who accompanies that primary care provider during the birth and help support the mom and the partner. During the actual birthing process leading up to the delivery, naturopathic doctors are a great support alongside the primary care practitioner.

About Dr. Denise

Dr. Denise is a Naturopathic Doctor, wife, mama of Charlotte, Lucas and James, fur-mama to her Labrador, Daisy, and Co-Founder of Abaton Integrative Medicine in Oakville. In her spare time, Dr. Denise loves spending time with her family, going to the family cottage and binge-watching Netflix with a glass of Cabernet in hand.

Dr. Denise became a Naturopathic Doctor to educate her patients on how they can optimize their health and the health of their family. Her passion lies in supporting the health of future generations and because of this she has completed additional training in prenatal and pediatric care, environmental medicine, hormonal and digestive health. Her treatment philosophy is assessing the body as a whole and providing a customized treatment plan that focuses on current health concerns, prevention, lifestyle, diet and overall general health goals. Dr. Denise’s comprehensive approach to practicing means she is able to utilize the various modalities of Naturopathic Medicine, allowing for an individualized treatment protocol.

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