Dr. Jenna Priestap Supports

Languages Spoken

  • English

Service Delivery Formats

  • In-Person
  • Virtual

Videos

Dispelling Menstrual Myths With Dr. Jenna Priestap, ND

How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help You Thrive Postpartum with Dr. Jenna Priestap, ND

Education & Associations

Association

ASSOCIATIONS

  • Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We define normal as having a regular cycle every 28 to 34 days—calculated from the first day of bleeding to the next first day of bleeding. The period itself lasts four days to seven days. As for the flow, to quantify it, it’s 50 to 80 millilitres. As for blood clotting, they shouldn’t be any bigger than a dime. To measure it, if you use regular pads, or tampons, those hold about five millilitres each. So that equals 10 to 16 regular pads over the whole period. If you use the super absorbent ones, those hold about 10 millilitres each. Also, there shouldn’t be any pain whatsoever. If we were to quantify it where zero is no pain and ten is the most, your maximum should be at two or three. This only applies to cramping. Other than that, you shouldn’t be experiencing headaches or acne.

If your period is holding you back from anything, like taking a day off work or school because your cramping is too bad, you should seek help. If you have pain, it shouldn’t be more than two to three. Another common symptom is diarrhoea and vomiting from the cramps and the pain. If you’re experiencing that, you should seek help instead of just trying to power through it with a Tylenol or a heat bag.

When you go to your doctor or seek help, they’ll do a pelvic ultrasound, which is great. This is done to make sure there aren’t any fibroids or cysts on your ovaries. They may also get bloodwork done to assess if there’s a thyroid issue. Once these concerns are ruled out, many women are told to get on the pill. But that just turns off your hormones. Going on the birth control pill is a great band-aid solution, but once you want to try and get pregnant and go off the birth control pill, everything that you were experiencing before comes back. We want to look at your hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is important for the first half of your cycle. Then it’s progesterone, that’s important for the second half. If there’s an imbalance between one of them, the characteristics of your period will show it. For example, having more estrogen dominance could lead to extreme breast tenderness, clotting, and heavier bleeding. If you have more of a progesterone deficiency, you’ll start spotting, especially before you expect your period. We want to be looking into overall inflammation. If you have high inflammation, you will have an increase in cytokines. Cytokines help your uterus contract, which is important. However, when we have too much of them, it will work on not only the uterus but also the surrounding tissues, such as your colon, causing diarrhoea. Your diet and even certain products can cause inflammation. Stress is another contributor. Cortisol, your stress hormone, and progesterone come from the same parent hormone. When your body senses it’s in danger, it will pick survival over procreation. Overall, inflammation, stress, and the estrogen-progesterone balance are important to look at.

Women are cyclical beings. When we’re in the luteal phase of our cycle, which is the second half, we want to be more rested. However, when we’re functioning in a normal society, we don’t end up doing that. This causes irritability. However, again, it shouldn’t interrupt anything in life. Even things like breast tenderness or weakness can happen to a degree. You should be enjoying your life all month long with the proper support. If your period is interrupting that, instead of toughing it out, seek help.

Getting an initial assessment with a naturopath will help because everybody’s different. You need to see what you specifically need, so you can get the proper support and speed up your results. Also, try to reduce the inflammatory foods you’re consuming. The foods you’re craving before your period—sugar, grease and processed foods increase cytokines, making your period worse. Reducing stress is another big one: identifying the stressors in your life. And again, this can be where a naturopath can help if sometimes you don’t see the stressors happening and how your body responds to them. You don’t realise that certain things that are coming up are more of a stress response.

A key takeaway would be that you don’t have to suffer. I want women to understand what they need, what they should be experiencing, and what they don’t have to go through anymore. I often find that women tend just to soldier on and keep pushing through things, and it doesn’t have to be like that. If you are ever concerned about something, reach out to someone. That’s the best thing you can do.

One is that your healing should be done at six weeks. In reality, these six weeks correspond with the physical recovery after you have your baby and deliver the placenta. Getting rest is essential because you leave a plate-sized wound in your uterus, which should fully heal by six weeks.

However, when you have a baby, you are completely cracked open spiritually and emotionally, so there’s more that goes on. A lot of women get caught up in thinking that they should be fully healed and feeling like themselves by six weeks when, in reality, even though conventional care ends, at that point, there’s a lot more to come for that first year. This is where naturopathic medicine can be a perfect support.

Another big one is that postpartum depression and anxiety are only going to be only going to show up in the first six weeks. In reality, you can get postpartum depression anxiety through the whole first year. With care ending at six weeks, there are a lot of women that are basically left in the dark and soon begin to feel like there’s something wrong with them. Mood disorders and postpartum anxiety and depression are not just in your head. Physiological reasons and nutrient deficiencies correlate with an increased risk of postpartum depression or anxiety. The nutrients that you use to create your beautiful baby, when depleted, increase your chances of postpartum depression and anxiety if they’re not replenished.

There are a couple of things that I recommend. One is setting boundaries: Discuss with your partner what it will look like when you’ve had the baby. Like, whether or not people are allowed to come over unannounced. Having people drop in unexpectedly can be an additional stressor. In such situations, your partner can be your voice.

The other thing is your nutrition. This is where I love freezer meals. Your energy and mood are going to be controlling your blood sugar. You want to focus on nutrient-dense foods with plenty of healthy fats and protein. Avoid refined sugar. I know people mean well when they come over with doughnuts and cake. But eating it will make your blood sugar drop and make you feel even more tired and irritable. Looking for either a meal service or freezer meals will be a huge help.

Another thing that will help is working with a practitioner to have your nutrient levels tested. Iron, for example, is important for blood production. When you have a baby, you are making a baby’s worth of blood. Iron deficiency has a 66% correlation to an increased risk of postpartum depression and anxiety.

There’s something called a complete blood count where they look at your red blood cells, how many are there, and how much haemoglobin it is. This checks, especially for anaemia. Ideally, this should be checked within the first three months to mitigate any risk. Besides that, iron, b12 and vitamin D are important for energy and mood.

I always say that on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is no energy at all and 10 is the most, you should be at a minimum of 6. Anything below 6 needs investigation. You should be functioning at this level even if you have four kids.

The other thing that I recommend is a thyroid panel, not just TSH. TSH tells you about the message from your brain to your thyroid and how hard it needs to push to get it to work. But, we really want to look at postpartum thyroiditis and check for antibodies—anti-TPO and anti-thyroid globulin. This ensures that the thyroid is functioning and isn’t impacted by all the postpartum changes.

I like to keep it simple—focus on eating whole foods and avoiding refined sugar and inflammatory foods. If you are sensitive to dairy, for example, the last thing you want to be doing is consuming it and overburdening your system. It’s important to think ahead and focus on those healthy, well-cooked foods. Instead of eating a raw salad, for example, have a stew. Stews, soups and stir-fries are foods where the nutrients are easily absorbed. This way, you nourish your body well.

Location(s)

Private Practice of Jenna Priestap

Cambridge, ON, Canada

Hours of Operations:
Working Hours are not available
N1R 5S2

Dr. Jenna Priestap, Naturopathic Doctor in Kitchener

Dr. Jenna Priestap is a licensed naturopathic doctor who is extremely passionate about women’s health and has a special interest in maternal health. She thrives on helping women regain confidence, energy, and self-love after pregnancy (even years after). Dr. Jenna believes that every woman should have a health expert to confidently turn to with any issue and receive unlimited support (because let’s face it- being a woman and/or mother is HARD) and hopes to be that person for you.

After an in-depth consultation where Dr. Priestap intently listens to all of your concerns, she uses multiple modalities including (but not limited to): acupuncture, botanical medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counselling, and nutrition to formulate a protocol specifically tailored to treat the root cause of your concern.

Dr. Jenna Priestap graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with Dean’s Honours List distinction. She fell in love with naturopathic medicine and attended the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine where she had her first daughter during her third year of studies. It was then that she realized how much naturopathic medicine could help the underserved mothers of the world and a love for helping moms ignited. She graduated in 2018 and has since had another daughter she enjoys chasing around.

Jenna’s hobbies include playing with her daughters, gardening, and enjoying nature

She is a registered member and in good standing of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors.