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5 Questions Your OB Wishes Every Pregnant Woman Would Ask

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 our planet.

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.

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Q: What supplements should I take?

Dr. Suzanne: 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 dense.

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.

And 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 it.

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.

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Q: What is your elective induction rate?

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.


Come hear Dr. Gilberg-Lenz speak at our Spring Family Fest on April 9th in Los Angeles.

Dr. Gilberg-Lenz is part of the afternoon Ergobaby 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.

Find out more and buy your tickets here!

Photograph by: Twenty20

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