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What to do in the first few weeks of pregnancy?

Education & Associations



  • Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine



  • Ontario Association Of Naturopathic Doctors

  • Canadian Association Of Naturopathic Doctors

  • College of Naturopaths of Ontario

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Abaton Integrative Medicine

Oakville, ON, Canada

Hours of Operations:

  • Monday:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday:10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday:9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday:9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday:Closed
  • Sunday:Closed

Hi, I am Dr. Denise. I am a Naturopathic Doctor, wife, mama of Charlotte, Lucas and James and Co-Founder of Abaton Integrative Medicine. On the rare occasion I can find a few minutes to myself, you will find me at home with my family binge watching Netflix, glass of Cabernet in hand, taking a little too much advantage of online sales.

I became a Naturopathic Doctor to educate my patients on how they can optimize their health and the health of their family. My passion lies in supporting the health of future generations and because of this I have completed additional training in prenatal and pediatric care, environmental medicine, hormonal and digestive health. My 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. My comprehensive approach to practicing means I am able to utilize the various modalities of Naturopathic Medicine, allowing for an individualized treatment protocol.

I am extremely passionate about my work, which makes me a student for life. I also love connecting and meeting new people so you will find me participating in community events. If you ever catch me out at an event or at one of my favorite local restaurants (as my hubby and I are foodies) don’t hesitate to say hello!

I look forward meeting you and accompanying you as you embrace the benefits of leading a holistic and healthy lifestyle.