Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and confusing
times in a woman's life. To find out what expecting patients should ask their
OB and why, we sat down with one of the top OB-GYNs in the country, Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, who
is an expert in women's and integrative health and has been in private practice
of obstetrics and gynecology in Beverly Hills since 2000.
Dr. Suzanne isn't your ordinary OB-GYN. She's a down to
earth mom and wife who is board-certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine
and completed a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist degree that compliments her
medical practice by allowing her to offer a multi-faceted approach to
healthcare, pregnancy and childbirth. She's appeared on numerous talk
shows like Dr. Oz, The Today Show, Headline News and more. In addition to
co-founding the Cedars Sinai Medical Center's Green Committee, Dr. Suzanne is
passionate about promoting healing within our bodies, families, communities and
Here are the five questions she wishes every mom-to-be
would ask their OB.
Q: When should I
begin prenatal care?
Dr. Suzanne: I
wish patients came to their OB six months before they've even conceived. I
provide preconception consultations for my patients and actually, I hesitate to
take new patients who are already pregnant. It's so important that women find
their team well before conceiving. I mean, think about it, when you're pregnant
you are at your most vulnerable. So many tests can be done ahead of conception
to understand your specific health needs and create an optimal health care plan
for you and your baby. You need to know "Am I at risk for diabetes? Do I make
enough vitamin D?" This is epigenetics. These are things patients and doctors
need to know before a baby is conceived.
This is specific to the person. More people are learning about things like gene
mutations and how they can interfere with the body's ability to absorb
nutrients. Again, this is why it is so important to see your OB before you're
pregnant—to understand your needs. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA,
folic acid, calcium and magnesium are all important during pregnancy. We tend
to absorb more nutrients from food than we do from supplements, so dark green
leafy vegetables and beans are great food sources because they're so nutrient
Q: What changes
should I make to my diet and exercise habits during pregnancy?
Dr. Suzanne: I
don't know where this standard of "eat 300 more calories per day" stuff came
from. I mean, what is this? We are one of the most well-fed societies and will
not be deficient if we don't eat a prescribed number of calories per day. I'm
not here to be the food-police, but I do recommend eating with common sense. Add healthy fats and proteins to your diet. Even vegans have excellent sources
of these nutrients that aren't animal-based.
You know, eating well also helps
control nausea. The old advice about keeping a sleeve of crackers by your bed,
that's ridiculous. All it does is gives the patient an immediate glucose hit
that drops a short while later, leading to more nausea. Simple carbs are the
worst. If you must have those crackers though, add a quality fat like nut
butter to them. It will stabilize your blood sugar and help with nausea far
better, especially during those early months where you just feel like crud.
as for exercise, pregnancy is not the time to start something new. I tell my
patients to exercise in a way that honors their fitness level and just do
something every day. But be realistic. If you're going to hot yoga and the room
is hotter than 90 degrees, your core temperature is going to be over 100
degrees, which means you are, excuse the visual, cooking your baby. If you had
a fever over 100, you'd definitely call your doctor, so think of it in those
terms. If you did it and you didn't know, and you're OK, it's fine. Just be
smart about what you're doing.
So often the wrong question is being asked by patients.
Q: What about
beauty? Can I paint my nails, wear makeup and color my hair?
Dr. Suzanne: I
feel like patients trick themselves into thinking certain things are safe if
they get the "OK" from their doctor. That's not what we are here to do. Think
about it: your skin absorbs whatever you put on it, and that includes nail
polish, makeup and hair dye. If you're OK with your body basically drinking
those chemicals, then that's totally fine for you. Some people aren't OK with
Now is one of the greatest times to be pregnant because there are so many
options for beauty products that are more natural and safer for our bodies.
When I was pregnant 18 years ago, that stuff didn't exist! Nowadays
consumers have demanded better and they're getting it. Just remember, hair
color companies are definitely not going to do a study to measure how safe
their products are. If it makes you anxious, stay away. If it doesn't, that's
fine too. My advice for hair color is to avoid dying your roots where there's
high-absorption through the scalp, and instead go with lowlights and highlights,
since your hair shaft is already dead.
Dr. Suzanne: So
often the wrong question is being asked by patients. They ask "What's your
C-section rate?" But what does that really mean? It's proxy for "Are you going
to cut me open or are you going to honor my body and my pregnancy?" So the real
question is to ask about an OB's elective induction rate, as in, how often do
they induce a pregnancy for no reason at all? Nature has a specific cycle that
works and it's not our job to interfere with that in a healthy pregnancy. I
would be concerned as a patient if my doctor had a high number of elective
inductions. Convenience is not a reason to induce childbirth.
Dr. Gilberg-Lenzis part of the afternoonErgobaby Mama Panel: "You've Got This: Cultivating A Healthy Pregnancy and Postpartum Shift." The panel includes Lactation Consultant: Jennifer Lezak,; Midwife: Debbie Allen ND, LM; Pediatrician: Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP.