I will be honest, as health care practitioners we usually have a firm grasp of what we do, a good handle on the specialities of those who work with us directly but we can be a bit fuzzy on those not in our immediate circle. Naturopathy was that way for me for a long time. I had a strong sense that I would benefit from it, but wasn’t exactly how.
It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I really started to consider natural health much more seriously. All of a sudden I became much more critical of anything that touched our skin, went into our mouths or was part of our home. As a working mom, who is self employed, I also became much more focused on preventative health because well, if Mama doesn’t work, Mama doesn’t get paid. It made sense then when my daughter started to exhibit signs of eczema that I clearly wasn’t getting under control myself (does anyone?), that I turned to naturopathy.
Dr. Alexsia Priolo came highly recommended from our clinic osteopath. She and the team at Aspire Health are well versed in all things Mama and baby. They weren’t even phased when my daughter ran out of the office at least three times screaming that she had to poop and insisted on keeping their bathroom door open because she is scared of automatic flushing toilets. Perfect fit!
Alexsia’s focus is strongly rooted in healthy lifestyle including nutrition, sleep and balancing stress. Supplementation only enters the conversation as an adjunct or support to treatment which aligns with my philosophy of reducing toxins in the home and body while still respecting traditional Western medicine. She is client focused, evidence based and proactive which makes her well equipped to discuss health and pregnancy heading into these cold winter months.
1.You do a lot of work expectant mothers, postnatal conditions and young children. How did you become passionate about working with this group of clientele?
I’ve been working with children for over a decade – first in a recreational setting, and now in a clinical setting. I truly believe that the foundation of children’s health begins two years before they’re born which is why I’m so passionate working with women and expectant mothers because I want to help women achieve their health goals so they can raise happy and healthy children.
2. What is role of a naturopathic doctor during pregnancy and what can pregnant women expect from an appointment at Aspire Health?
One of the principles of Naturopathic Medicine is ‘Docere’ which means doctor as teacher. It’s easy for doctors to dispense medical advice and send patients on their way, however Naturopathic Doctors truly want to educate their patients and give them the tools they need to achieve health.
With pregnant women, I aim to help make the pregnancy as stress-free as possible. This includes going over nutritional requirements during each trimester, how to minimize toxic load during pregnancy, symptoms management such as nausea and muscle cramps, and even preparing for labour using acupuncture.
An initial visit at Aspire Health is typically 60 minutes long, and I go over a woman’s entire health history. Using all the information that I’ve gathered during the intake, I form a individualized and manageable treatment plan to help achieve our goal of treatment. Follow-up visits can be anywhere between 15 to 60 minutes, and I like to see women during each trimester with particular emphasis in the third trimester to help prepare for labour.
3. With flu and cold season upon us, what is safe during pregnancy often becomes very confusing. What recommendations do you have for safe prevention and treatment of common illnesses this time of year?
A healthy immune system is paramount to health. A woman can never go wrong with a probiotic because more than 70% of our immune system is located within our gut. By feeding ourselves high quality ‘good’ bacteria, we are strengthening our immune system and decreasing our chances of getting sick. Other fantastic, yet simple ways to help stay healthy during pregnancy is continue taking your prenatal which has Vitamins C and D, eating a whole food diet which includes natural antimicrobials such as garlic and thyme and drinking fluids like bone broth, getting enough sleep, and practicing self care.
4. Healthy nutrition is paramount during pregnancy but is often challenging for a multitude of reasons. What nutrients and foods do you see as most important and when does supplementation play a role?
Diet plays a huge role in all of my treatment plans, because what we’re eating can truly influence our health.Nutritional needs can differ between each trimester based on common symptoms experienced. A basic supplement that a woman should be taking throughout pregnancy and during the postpartum period is a high quality prenatal vitamin.
Here are some of the nutrients important during pregnancy and why:
Folate – This is so essential to development during those critical first weeks, which is why so many doctors recommend supplementation before women even become pregnant. Not only does it reduce the risk of neural tube deformities, it promotes healthy cell division.
Calcium – Requirements double around week 12, women may want to consider supplementing due to higher requirements and due to the reduced risk of pre-eclampsia.
Iron – Due to increased maternal and fetal needs, women should have adequate ferritin levels, which may also help prevent preterm delivery, low birth weight and developmental delays.
5. After delivering my daughter, I got very little feedback on my own health with the exception of a very brief 6 week follow up. What guidance can naturopathic medicine offer to support new postnatal moms?
Making the transition to a mother is quite significant! At this point, women are navigating a new and unfamiliar stage of life. The phrase “it takes a village” not only applies to raising a child, it’s also about supporting and educating new moms!
By week 1: I encourage my moms to book a session with me to talk about their birth experience and the prevention of any complications.I strive to talk about breastfeeding, nipple care and nutrition.
By weeks 3-6 postpartum: Topics range between boosting milk supply, mastitis, contraception and sex discussion, and even a mental-emotional check in.
By 3-6 months: We begin to delve into common concerns such as hair loss, joint aches, pelvic floor, breast milk, and energy and mental health.
Often times new mothers become so overwhelmed with making sure that their baby is thriving, that they sometimes forget about themselves. I aim to support women during this new journey and give them the tools that they need to be a successful mother and woman.
Dr. Alexsia Priolo can be reached at:
Toronto West Professional Building
2425 Bloor Street West, Suite 205
Toronto, ON, M6S 4W4