Diet Duo: Recommended Diet During Pregnancy

Eating a healthy diet is extremely important during pregnancy. The food that mom eats directly affects the health and development of the baby. Health blogger Katie Moore has researched the topic and found some of the best things mom can eat as well as some things that should be avoided:

Important Dietary Considerations During Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant have increased nutritional requirements to help foster a healthy environment for her baby to grow in. A mother should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals. In addition to consuming meat, extra protein demands can be met by combining beans with grains, such as rice or corn, to make complete proteins. Extra folate or folic acid and iron should be incorporated into the diet, along with extra sources of calcium for good bone health. As well as increasing caloric intake with nutritious foods, certain foods should be eliminated from the diet during pregnancy.

Before making too manImagey changes, a mother should speak to her doctor about her current eating habits and go through the routine tests of checking for any health issues that could affect her pregnancy. A doctor is always the best resource for information regarding health questions and concerns for any aspect of pregnancy. Just as a mother-to-be will ask her doctor about delivery options, like pain medication and umbilical cord blood banking, a mother should begin asking her doctor for advice earlier in her term about her health and choices.

Folate, Iron and Calcium

Folate is an essential B vitamin important for neural tube fetal health. Synthetic forms of folate, called folic acid, are often found in fortified breads and cereals, in addition to prenatal vitamins. Excellent plant-based sources of folate include lentils, oranges, garbanzo beans and asparagus. Cabbage, wheat germ, cauliflower and spinach also provide significant amounts of folate.

During pregnancy, a woman’s stored iron and additional iron intake is shared with the developing fetus. Lean red meats provide an excellent source of iron, while liver should be avoided because of its exceptionally high content of vitamin A, which in excessive amounts may cause birth defects. Vitamin C should be consumed with iron to facilitate the absorption of iron.

 Additional calcium intake, along with vitamin D, is important for healthy bone and teeth development in the fetus and to ensure preserved bone mass for the mother. Calcium-fortified orange juice and milk with added vitamin D provide good sources of calcium. Additional sources of calcium include dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables are also excellent sources for calcium.

Mix fresh baby spinach leaves, small chunks of Monterrey Jack cheese, walnuts and tomato wedges– topped with your favorite dressing—for a salad rich in folate, iron and calcium. In addition to calcium, the walnuts also provide essential fatty acids, while the tomatoes add vitamin C and other beneficial antioxidants.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy. Raw or undercooked seafood should be completely eliminated from the diet according to recommendations. However, properly cooked fish adds omega 3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients necessary for the mother’s health maintenance and healthy fetal brain development. Most cooked fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Fish should flake easily with a fork and have an opaque appearance.

Other raw or undercooked foods to avoid include meat, poultry and eggs. Foods such as eggnog and Caesar salad dressing prepared with raw eggs should be eliminated from the diet to avoid potential contact with salmonella. Additionally, unpasteurized foods, such as certain types of low-fat dairy products, should not be consumed by pregnant or lactating women.

With all of these nutritional choices to make, a mother should have no problem finding meals to eat that she likes and satisfies her nutritional needs. The extra thought and preparation may seem difficult at first, but when a mother finally gives birth to a healthy baby, she will know that the extra work was worth it.

“Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.”

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Topamax Trouble

A recent recall of the anticonvulsant medication Topamax has raised concern among health care providers and pregnant women.  Topamax is used to treat seizures caused by epilepsy and related conditions.  The medication has been found to put unborn children at risk for severe birth defects.

The most commonly seen birth defects as a result of taking this medication are oral birth defects, including cleft palate.  The FDA has recently put warning labels on the medication, but the main concern is that many women have already taken the medication while being pregnant, without knowing the risk for complications.  The risk for birth defects as a result of taking this medication is increased if you are taking more than one seizure medication.  It is not known how Topamax risk compares to other medications.  If you are planning on becoming pregnant and have a condition that requires medication, discuss this matter with your doctor and take every care to ensure that the medication will not harm your baby.

Posted in Child Development (after birth), During Pregnancy, Fetal Development | Leave a comment

Preterm Labor Risk

A couple of weeks ago, the issue of the preterm delivery drug was addressed.  To follow up with that post, there have been some changes in price since the original monopoly.  The drug price has now been cut in have, and will cost $690 as opposed to $1500.  There are also some generic forms of the drug that are most likely going to be sold as well, despite the monopoly Makena currently possesses.

With all of the controversy about this drug, how much of it is worth your thought or concern?  This question can be answered with another question: What is your risk for preterm labor, and what can you do to prevent it?

Preterm labor occurs as a result of contractions that begin to open the cervix before the baby is ready, or any time before 37 weeks.  The following are the signs of preterm labor:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

Not every woman is at equal risk for preterm labor.  Not all of the causes of preterm labor are known, and in many cases it remains a mystery.  However, there are certain risk factors that increase a woman’s risk for preterm labor:

  • Previous preterm labor or preterm birth
  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Certain problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
  • Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
  • Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy, or gaining too little or too much weight during pregnancy
  • Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or domestic violence
  • Multiple miscarriages

If you do fit under one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean your going to deal with preterm labor, but it does increase your risk.  Also, there are many women that don’t have any of these risk factors, and experience preterm labor anyway.

There is no sure way to prevent preterm labor, but there are several things that you can do to reduce your chances for it:

  • seek regular prenatal care
  • eat healthy foods
  • manage chronic conditions
  • follow doctor’s plan for your physical activity
  • stay away from harmful or risky substances
  • manage stress
  • keep your teeth healthy

Not only will these things reduce your risk for preterm labor, they will also improve your health and your baby’s health throughout the pregnancy, and improve health outcomes for your baby throughout his or her life.

Posted in During Pregnancy, Fetal Development | 4 Comments

Oh the Possibilities!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about giving birth, I picture a hospital room full of medical staff, and a doctor delivering my baby.  It is probably safe to say that this is the idea most people have about giving birth.  While this is the most common way, it is not the only way!  There are several other birthing options that you could consider.  Below the locations and care provider options are listed:

  • Hospital-doctor, family practitioner (for low risk pregnancies)
  • Home-midwife
  • Birthing Center-midwife

Before your baby arrives, it is also helpful to create a birth plan.  This is a one page statement of your preferences for your babies birth.  Such preferences include who you want to be there, preferred positions (walking, standing, squatting, hands and knees, etc.), whether or not you plan to use pain relief, and other details about the birth.  There is a lot more to giving birth than going to the hospital for a few (or more than a few. . .) hours of labor.  There are so many things to consider, and choices to make!

Posted in During Pregnancy | 2 Comments

Positive Parenting

The way you interact with your baby has an immense impact on his or her development.  The CDC has recommended a few ‘positive parenting tips‘:

  • Talk to your baby. It is soothing to hear your voice.
  • When your baby makes sounds, answer him by repeating and adding words. This will help him learn to use language.
  • Read to your baby. This helps her develop and understand language and sounds.
  • Sing to your baby.
  • Play music. This helps your baby develop a love for music and math.
  • Praise your baby and give him lots of loving attention.
  • Spend time cuddling and holding your baby. This helps her feel cared for and secure.
  • The best time to play with your baby is when he’s alert and relaxed. Watch your baby closely for signs of being tired or fussy so that you can take a break.
  • Parenting can be hard work! Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is easier to enjoy your new baby and be a positive, loving parent when you are feeling good yourself.

The role of being a parent is not an easy one, but it is rewarding.  Following these recommendations, and doing everything you can to be a good parent will ensure the best possible outcomes for your child.

Posted in After Pregnancy, Child Development (after birth), Infant/Child Safety | 6 Comments

Newborn Nutrition

The topic of nutrition for your newborn is probably something you have talked with friends and family members about throughout your pregnancy, and something you have thought about even more.  You have likely asked yourself:  Am I going to breastfeed?  If so, for how long?  What is the best thing for me and my baby?

According the the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is the best option for the baby as long as the mother is healthy, and babies should be breastfed for at least 6 months to get maximum benefits.  The AAP recommends that if possible, breastfeeding mothers breastfeed for 1 year.  The World Health Organization recommends 2 years.  Ultimately, the amount of time you breastfeed will be unique to you and your child, so do what is best for you! If you are planning on breastfeeding, good for you, and good luck!  There are many challenges associated with breastfeeding, but if you can stick with it, both you and your baby will be happier because of it.

There are many reasons why many women cannot breastfeed.  It could be that you will not be able to produce enough milk, you are taking medications that could affect the baby, you have a severe infection that could harm the baby, or various other reasons.  If this is the case, do not feel as though  you are failing as a mother.  You are not!  The fact that you have given birth to a beautiful baby girl or boy is an incredible thing, and you have the ability to provide for  you baby in the best ways available.

Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, when should your baby start eating normal food?  There is not an exact age that will be accurate for all babies as to when they can start eating solid foods.  The typical and recommended age is about 6 months.

Click here to access a recommended nutrition timeline for your baby.

Click here to access a blank food chart to fill out for your baby. This may be helpful for follow-up doctor’s visits.

There is no set plan for newborn nutrition that will work all across the board, and so it is important to provide for your baby’s needs as they are unique to your baby.  As always, discuss any concerns about your baby’s nutrition with  your doctor as well.

Posted in After Pregnancy, Child Development (after birth) | 1 Comment

Preterm Delivery Drug

There have recently been some changes in the pricing of a drug that prevents preterm delivery.  This increase could affect you if you are currently pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant in the future, or at least within the next 7 years.  The popular preterm delivery preventive drug, Makena, has only cost about $10-$20 each for each dose in the past. However, a drug company called KV Pharmaceutical recently gained monopoly on the drug.  Since they are the only company that will be selling the drug, the price for each dose will now be $1,500.  The FDA approved this drug to be sold exclusively through this company for the next 7 years, but has no say in the pricing, which is determined by the company.  It seems all to clear that this company is unfairly raising the price of this drug in order to make money.

Preterm delivery is a significant concern for expecting mothers.  It  is important to know and recognize the signs of preterm labor:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

Among those who are identified as at risk, receiving a preterm delivery drug can save a baby’s life.  It is estimated that because of the this drug, 10,000 premature births will be prevented each year.  There is no question that this drug holds extreme value in our society, but how much should we be willing to pay?  Should there be restrictions placed on the margin allowed between cost of production and profit for pharmaceutical companies?

Much of the burden of the increased cost is going to fall on insurance companies, and in turn, on us as consumers of health insurance.  There will likely be an increase in copays and premiums.  Some insurance companies, such as Medicaid, will not be able handle the increased burden, and may not be able to pay for the drug for their clients, or will have to enroll less people in their coverage.  We cannot now know the extent to which this increase will affect us as a nation, but there is no doubt that there will be an impact somewhere.

The development of a drug to stop preterm labor has been an incredible breakthrough.  The increase in its price is currently an unpleasant fact.  Thankfully, insurance companies and organizations will continue to offer the drug, and do everything they can to provide coverage for mothers that will need this drug.  The drug is not for every expecting mother, and is also not for every expecting mother at risk for preterm delivery.  The need for this drug is to be determined by your doctor.

Posted in During Pregnancy, Fetal Development | 7 Comments