The Importance of Eating Well for The Placenta
What a miracle pregnancy is. Did you know that when you get pregnant, you are not only growing a new baby, you are also growing a whole new organ called the Placenta. So, as you struggle with nausea, sore boobs, fatigue and food cravings, your body is tirelessly working in the background to grow your baby and this vital lifeline between you both. That is why it is important to eat healthily and feed this vital organ all it needs to support your pregnancy going forward.
What is the Placenta ?
The Placenta starts growing not long after fertilization, when the blastocyst implants in the uterine wall. It is composed of fetal and maternal tissue. At this point, it secretes a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and it is the presence of this hormone that indicates if you are pregnant or not when you get tested.
Like a tree, the Placenta grows roots deep into the lining of the womb, accessing nourishing supplies of blood and nutrients to feed the growing baby. If the lining is poor, the placenta cannot grow a good root system as it is unable to get the nutrients it needs to grow itself and sustain the pregnancy going forward. This can cause issues to arise during the pregnancy. This is why it is a good idea to prepare and look after your body, eating healthy and nutritious foods for a couple of months before you get pregnant. This will lay down the path for the healthy outcome of your pregnancy and helps you avoid complications later on.
What does the Placenta do ?
From around Week 10 the Placenta is fully formed and takes over the role of feeding and nourishing your baby. It connects to your baby via the umbilical cord and acts as the baby’s lungs, taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. It also supplies the baby with nutrients and antibodies and removes waste.
Around this 10/12 week mark, the Placenta also takes over the production of Progesterone and if you have morning sickness, it will usually cease when this happens. If your morning sickness continues, it is because you have higher concentrations of a protein called GDF15 but this is a good sign that the Placenta is doing its job.
How to look after your Placenta
In the first couple of months of pregnancy, the baby will draw it’s nutrients from your body so it’s important that you are in tip top shape. Some important nutrients are;
- Folate this vital supplement protects against neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and is especially important to take in the first trimester. It can be found in wholemeal bread and fortified cereals but you’ll get your RDA with a supplement as well.
- Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli and kale.
- Choline – this is essential for production of cell membranes and cell division and can be found in foods including bananas, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses, soya beans and wholegrains
- DHA Omega 3 – DHA Omega 3 is a crucial component of the brain, eyes and nerve cells and can be found in foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs and oily fish. Taking a supplement will ensure you build up a ready supply for when your baby reaches week 28 and goes through the rapid development phase.
- Vitamin D – helps your baby’s bones and teeth grow. It also helps your body to absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, like salmon, milk and cereals that have vitamin D added to it
- B vitamins – these help the body convert food into energy and are important in early pregnancy because they play a part in the formation of new cells. They can be found in a variety of foods including wholemeal bread and cereals, cheese, eggs, fish and lean meats.
- Iodine – assists in the production of the thyroid hormones aiding brain development. It helps to maintain cells and maintains a healthy metabolic rate. Fish, shellfish and edible seaweed contains the most. Note: most seafoods should be avoided during pregnancy, so it is recommended you take a supplement to get your RDA. Most good multivitamin and mineral supplements for pregnancy will include this.
- Zinc – is vital for tissue growth and repair, the immune system and the processing of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Found in beef, nuts wholemeal bread, fish, meat and dairy products
Common Placenta issues
Sometimes issues can arise with the Placenta during pregnancy. If you have any of these issues, your doctor will monitor it closely. Issues that may arise are;
This is when the placenta locates itself at the bottom of the womb, close to the cervical opening. When this happens, you may have to have a C-section.
This is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus during pregnancy or birth and can be a serious situation. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding and back or abdominal pain.
When the Placenta is embedded too deeply into the uterine wall it is called Placenta Accreta.
When part of the placenta is still inside the womb after childbirth, it is known as Retained Placenta. You may need a procedure to be performed if the Placenta isn’t completely expelled naturally.
If the Placenta cannot supply adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, this is known as Placental Insufficiency and will result in complications arising in the pregnancy. Your doctor will monitor this condition throughout pregnancy.
If you are trying to conceive, you have most likely heard of Castor Oil Packs. They can be used for so many things but they are great for fertility. If you would like to know how to make them and use them, then this is the blog for you !
I first became aware of Castor Oil as a remedy for constipation. I then came across it as a remedy for problems with the reproductive area, especially endometriosis and cysts.
A castor oil pack is a piece of wool or a cloth soaked in castor oil which you can apply to the skin. The cloth may be cotton flannel or any material that will soak up a lot of liquid.
HOW DO CASTOR OIL PACKS HELP THE UTERUS ?
- They will help to detoxify the uterine cavity.
- Using the pack will help to reduce inflammation.
- It will help to get rid of stagnation and circulate oxygenated blood to the pelvic area.
- The oxygenated blood will help to improve the lining of the uterus in preparation for implantation.
- It may help to resolve endometriosis and fibroids and prevent the build up of endometrial tissues outside of the uterus.
- It will improve circulation to the uterus which will help prevent menstrual cramping.
- It will help to break down scar tissue and cysts.
CASTOR OIL AND YOUR LIVER
In Chinese medicine, the liver system regulates the menstrual cycle and encourages a smooth flow of blood. It helps to promote hormone balance.
The Castor Oil Pack helps to detoxify the liver. Place your Castor Oil Pack in the upper right hand side of the abdomen.
Do not use on the liver if you are pregnant. Follow the guidelines by applying the Castor Oil on the 7-10 days before ovulation.
How to use your castor oil pack
- Lie down on a large towel or sheet.
- Place the castor oil pack on the area around the belly button for digestive issues or down in the pelvic area for menstrual issues.
- Place a small plastic sheet or clingfilm over the castor oil pack. This helps to heat it and press it against your skin.
- Place a hot water bottle on top and leave the pack on for about an hour.
- Gently remove the pack with a warm damp cloth.
- You can store the castor oil pack in the original container which you used to soak cloths. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use them again. Reuse each castor oil pack up to 30 times.
Alternatively, just apply the castor oil directly on to your abdomen, throw on an old pair of pyjamas and put your hot water bottle on top of that.
If you don’t have a hot water bottle, put the castor oil on at night time and head straight to bed and let the magic happen !
Trying to Conceive ? When to Use Castor Oil Packs
So, if you are thinking about having a baby but haven’t yet started trying to conceive, use 3 times a week for up to 1 hour. Do not use during the bleed.
If you are actively trying to conceive, only apply the pack during the follicular phase, that is, from the end of menstruation to ovulation. For most women, this will be day 5/6 to day 14 of your cycle.
IF YOU ARE DOING IVF
Use castor oil on your lower abdomen just before retrieval, and continue using it if taking the birth control pill.
Do not use Castor Oil when you are doing oestrogen shots, or after embryo transfer.
FRESH OR FROZEN EMBRYO TRANSFER AND IUI’s
If you are doing a fresh or frozen transfer or if you are doing IUI, do not use once you start taking Lupron, Estrogen, Clomid or Femara. And do not use it after embryo transfer or after ovulation if doing IUI.
ON YOUR PERIOD
If you have bad menstrual pain, Castor Oil is good to reduce the inflammation by getting rid of the clots from the lining. But be aware that it will increase blood flow to the uterus, making your period heavier.
How to Create a Castor Oil Pack
What you will need
Castor oil (hexane free)
Medium container or bowl
Cut the cotton flannel into rectangular pieces, about 12 inches by 10 inches. You can also cut them into strips or smaller squares depending on where you’ll use them.
- Use at least three to four pieces of cloth to make a pack.
- Pour castor oil into the container. You should be able to completely soak a piece of cotton flannel in the castor oil.
- Drop one piece of the cloth into the oil until it’s completely soaked.
- Use the tongs to pick up the cloth in the container. It should be dripping with castor oil.
- Lay the soaked cloth flat on the plastic sheet.
- Soak the other two or more pieces of cloth in the same way.
- Add the oil-soaked cloths flat on top of the first one.
- Once you’ve soaked and layered each cloth, you’ve made a castor oil pack.
WHAT ELSE CAN CASTOR OIL PACKS BE USED FOR ?
Castor Oil can also help with;
- soothing sunburn, insect bites, or allergic rashes.
- It can help with digestive issues like constipation.
- Helps boost your circulation especially of the lymphatic system.
- It is thought to help support the liver.
- It can be placed directly on strained joints or muscles to reduce inflammation.
- Apply to acne, dry skin, rashes, boils, age spots, and warts to improve complexion and boost moisture.
Cautions and Side effects with using castor oil packs
Some people may be allergic to castor oil. It may cause a skin rash or reaction when used on the body. If you haven’t used a castor oil pack before, do a patch test by rubbing a few drops of castor oil into your skin and leaving it on for 24 hours. If you don’t have any reaction, a castor oil pack should be safe to use.
- Do not use Castor Oil packs when you are menstruating. They are good for inflammation but will make your period heavier.
- Avoid them during the two week wait of your IVF cycle.
- Avoid using them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Do not use on broken skin.