Mothers face unique stresses and challenges. Extra support before and after children are born can greatly assist mothers to play their crucial role and help their babies be the best they can be.
Rainbow Health Centre’s Anna Lusty specialises in pre and postnatal naturopathy. She’s recently returned to work from maternity leave, so has expertise both as a healing practitioner working with mothers and as a mother herself.
Anna is passionate about helping women with the whole process, from preconception and fertility, through the various stages of pregnancy and then during the postnatal care stage too.
‘I would say that as a naturopath, I am willing and able to work with any anybody’s health wherever they’re at in their life cycle, and whatever the medical issues they’re dealing with,’ she said, ‘But in terms of wellbeing and health, there’s a lot of research coming out about the importance of the first one thousand days of a baby’s life.
‘I think a big part of that is supporting the mother and the family through that time. Making sure that the child has all their needs met is really important, but we can’t forget that supporting the mother is crucial too. It’s a precious time in a person’s life.’
At what stage should mothers first come and see you?
‘I think preconception care is really important,’ said Anna. ‘So much can be done at the preconception stage to ensure the health of the mother through every step of the process.
‘For example if you are going into pregnancy with all of the nutrients you need in your system, as fit and healthy as possible, then at every stage of pregnancy and labor and then post-birth, you’ve got the best opportunity to respond to each of those phases.
‘No one’s got a crystal ball, so we don’t know how each individual mother and child will fare. But if you’re putting in the nutrients and developing skills around stress management and mindfulness, and getting well practiced at coping with a full life from before it’s going to set things up to be managed better, whatever may arise.’
Anna says her approach is both holistic and individual. ‘Yeah, absolutely,’ she said, ‘So, you know, we’ve all got different genetic backgrounds that predispose us to different outcomes. But there’s a lot that we can do to moderate our particular kind of genetic predisposition.’
What about during pregnancy?
‘Looking at the three trimesters, there’s different nutrients at different phases that are required for the ideal development of babies,’ said Anna. ‘It’s important to make sure you support each phase of development to the best of your ability.
‘The first trimester is such a huge phase of development. That’s where the preconception care comes in, to really make sure that first trimester is as smooth as possible. That’s definitely a time that can be more uncomfortable in terms of morning sickness and those aspects of pregnancy.
‘Herbs and nutrients can help moderate that phase, and ensure the mother is able to cope as well as possible. Through the second and third trimesters, different herbs and nutrients can be emphasized. This is also a phase where you can focus on things like fitness and mindset to prepare yourself for birth and beyond.’
Honour the bubble
In the postnatal phase, Anna says mothers and babies should be able to exist in something of a bubble, if possible.
‘It’s often described as the fourth trimester, after the baby’s born, and our culture encourages women to get back into everything as soon as possible; fitness routines and get careers and so on, throw themselves back into life straight away, whereas I think it’s really important to try and keep those first weeks as a really quiet time for both mother and baby so that the mother can recover and the baby can be eased into the world.
‘There’s a growing realization that some of the more traditional practices in cultures where the mother is allowed a time of confinement, away from the demands of the world – that really can set up a much more balanced dynamic in the home and the family, and give the mum more opportunity to restore and recover her well being.’
Avoiding post-natal depletion
Anna believes that supporting the mother appropriately through all of the phases of pregnancy can greatly help to prevent post-natal depletion from arising.
‘This is something one of our local doctors, Oscar Serrallach, has written a lot about and brought into the awareness of integrative medicine. Women can certainly be at risk of postnatal depletion if they’ve not been given the opportunity to recover. It’s such a demanding role in life, bringing new people into the world.’
Your clients must appreciate your experience of these things as a mother yourself? It’s great that you’ve been able to see both sides of the story. ‘Yes, definitely,’ said Anna. ‘It’s deepened my appreciation for the challenges that families face.
‘I think we need to support families more in our culture, then what has been occurring in our modern world.’
You can find Anna Lusty at Rainbow Health Centre in Lismore.