Pregnancy and Nutrition

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You are excited and feeling joyful when the pregnancy test is positive. You find yourself already caressing your stomach in hopes that your little one can feel your touch. The next nine months are going to be an exciting time for you and your baby. You have a human life growing inside of you and will feel him or her move as they get bigger. Your baby will soon be a bundle of adorable goodness that you can’t help but kiss over and over again. Pregnancy truly is a miracle.

To help this miracle along, it is essential for you to eat as well as you can throughout your pregnancy. The first three months might be a little difficult to eat balanced meals when you are dealing with food aversions and morning sickness. If you are one of the rare lucky ones whose stomach doesn’t so much as move during your first trimester, then you can take full advantage of eating healthy right out of the gate.

Making sure you eat balanced nutritious meals also lays down the foundation for your baby. A diet of junk food is not going to help your baby with bone development and organ formation. Potato chips will not help with brain development. Your baby and your body need calcium and vitamins to achieve all of this.

Eating well during pregnancy is going to help your baby eat well after it is born and on solid foods.  As your pregnancy progresses, some of what you eat will cross the placenta and the taste will be in your baby’s amniotic fluid. Babies swallow this fluid and their taste buds are so developed that even in the womb they are able to taste the flavors. Doctors believe that babies who are exposed to a wide variety of fruit and vegetables while in utero have less of a chance of being a fussy eater later in life. They believe that these are the babies who will eat their fruit and vegetables without putting up any fight.

Doctors also believe that moms who drink milk throughout their pregnancy have an easier time weaning their babies from formula or breast milk to regular milk.  This, however, is only one benefit, the other benefit of drinking milk throughout your pregnancy is all the calcium you will be giving your baby’s bones. Many doctors recommend that you drink at least one eight oz glass of milk, usually fat-free, a day. Calcium is a must have your baby’s bones and his teeth, even though you won’t see his teeth for at least a few months. If you’re not a milk drinker, you can get calcium from many other foods including: Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Dried Figs, Kale, Yogurt, Mustard Greens, Broccoli Raab, Soybeans, Rhubarb, Okra, Quinoa, Navy Beans, Oats, Broccoli, Cannellini Beans, and so many more vegetables that surely you will find something that is calcium-rich that fits your taste buds.

This isn’t to say that you have to stay away from all sweets or treats or occasional junk food all the time. You can indulge every now and then and thanks to cravings you may find yourself wanting sweets more often than not. You do have to keep it in moderation. Being pregnant should not be looked at as an excuse to eat whatever you want for nine months. But instead look at it as a way for you to prepare your baby for happy, healthy life. And that means that after your baby is born you both are happy and healthy.

Plus Size and Pregnant

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A majority of plus-sized women who are pregnant will experience a healthy pregnancy, but they are at risk of having a more bumpy ride than someone who is not overweight.

Women who are overweight, or have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, are at a greater risk of certain pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. No knows for sure why weight matters so much, as far as most doctors are concerned it is just one piece of the puzzle. The truth is most plus size women have completely uneventful pregnancies and deliver perfectly healthy babies as long as they eat well, exercise and watch their weight throughout pregnancy.

The biggest problem with being plus sized and pregnant is that you are at a greater for some of the following:

Studies have shown that overweight women have a higher rate of neural tube defects – problems with how your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop. These studies are unable to pinpoint exactly why overweight women are at a higher risk and have a higher rate. Some studies have shown that overweight women have lower blood folate levels than a woman who is of normal weight. Folate is needed especially in the early stages of pregnancy to help avoid neural tube defects. Because of this, if you are overweight your doctor may prescribe you a prenatal vitamin with 1000 micrograms of folic acid. In fact, if you are overweight and planning on becoming pregnant, you may want to start taking folic acid before you even conceive.

Gestational diabetes is another complication that overweight women are at a greater risk of developing. Gestational diabetes is elevated blood-sugar level during pregnancy. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimate that women with normal BMI which is between 19 and 24 have a 2% chance of developing gestational diabetes. Overweight women have a 6% chance of developing this condition and obese women or women who have a BMI of 30 or more have a 9% chance of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Remember though that if you are diagnosed with this, you can still go on and have a healthy pregnancy with a modified eating plan.

Almost 10% of obese and overweight women develop a condition called gestational hypertension. This is when your blood pressure becomes high with a reading of 140 over 90 or higher after your 20th week of pregnancy but you don’t have any protein in your urine.

Gestational hypertension is usually a small concern but it can put you at a higher risk for preeclampsia (which is indicated by high blood pressure AND protein in your urine), intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, placental abruption and stillbirth.  If you do go on to develop preeclampsia, your weight is probably not that big of a factor. In fact, if you are under 35 and overweight you have LESS of a chance of developing preeclampsia that a woman over 35 and a healthy weight.

Perhaps the most common complication for overweight women is a longer time in labor and the possible risk of a cesarean section. Nearly 26-35% of deliveries are cesarean delivery. You are at a bigger risk if you have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or gestational hypertension or have a large baby.

Eating healthy throughout your pregnancy and working with your doctor to manage your weight will help reduce these risks and increase your already high chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Planning Ahead to Eat Right While Pregnant

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Planning ahead when it comes to food could mean the difference between making wise choices and making irrational choices. It helps us learn how to undo our bad habits and being pregnant is a great time to try and change any bad habits you may have. The best way to break bad habits and to form new ones is to plan ahead and then begin practicing the good habits you decided to have.

Plan for snack attacks especially if you’re not going to be home and are working. Make sure you take some healthy food with you to work so that you can resist the temptation of going to the vending machine and taking getting a candy bar. Throw some nuts or packs of cheese and crackers into your purse in case hunger that hits you through the day.

Always make a list, and stick to the list, when grocery shopping. Many people discover that when they go to the supermarket with just a rough idea of what they need they usually wind up forgetting something important or they wind up buying much more than they needed! Take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week and buy what you need, and only what you need, for the meals (and snacks) you planned.

Speaking of planning meals, that is an excellent way for you to take control of your eating habits. Plan for meals you can realistically prepare. Don’t plan for meals that you don’t have the time to prepare. Don’t plan meals with new and untried recipes or unusual ingredients. You’re only going to stress yourself out.  Look for recipes that are easy and quick to make. Don’t try to make something where you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients and need to shop at a gourmet cooking store. Especially if you work, whether part time or full time. The last thing you want to do is come home after a long day and then frustrate yourself with a complicated recipe.

Also, planning your meals out for the week tends to help you be a little more organized for the week. It’s no secret that pregnant women tend to forget things and this is due to their changing hormone levels. Taking the time to plan your meals for the week will help you stay a little organized and save you a lot of time…and money. If you already know what you’re making for dinner, you don’t have to worry about coming home after a long day and standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to make. And with meal planning, it’s easy to prepare raw foods and store them in the refrigerator so that all you need to do is take out the storage containers, mix a bit of this and that, then add a meat and cook.

You also want to make sure that get yourself into the habit of using vegetables as your main dish. Instead of doing chicken breast with a side salad, make your salad your main dish and the chicken breast a side one. Whenever possible, buy your vegetables as fresh as possible, even if that means making two trips to the grocery store during the week. The fresher the vegetable, the better they are for you and your baby. The same holds true for fruit. Keep plenty of fruit on hand, especially if you tend to crave sweet stuff throughout your pregnancy. Instead of reaching for a candy bar, you can reach for a piece of fruit dipped in yogurt.

Planning ahead for the week or month will help you stay on track with your eating and decrease the risk of you making the wrong choice if a craving should hit you.

How to Eat for A Healthy Pregnancy

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You just found out you’re pregnant. Never has it been more crucial to eat well. Because not eating well during your pregnancy can increase your risk of complications while pregnant and during birth. And, eating well has never been easier during pregnancy than it is now.

First, understand that once you hit the second trimester, you should be eating about 300 more calories a day. Calories provide you with the extra energy that your body needs to have the best environment possible for your baby to grow in. Now, these extra calories don’t give you permission to chow down on every food in your line of sight. After all, it is only an extra 300 calories that you’re getting. A glass of milk or one banana equals 100 calories and a slice of whole wheat bread, an ounce of cheese and a half of cup of grapes equals 200 calories. See how much more you are eating than if you decide to eat a donut instead?

In addition, you need at least three servings of protein each day. The protein contains amino acid which is one of the most important building blocks for your baby’s tissue.  Protein is very easy to come by and your options are endless. You can drink 3 glasses of milk, and you can have 2 cups of yogurt along with 3 ounces of cheese.

Next, you need at least four servings of calcium every day. Calcium is going to help grow your baby’s bones and help protect yours. There are many options you can choose from for foods high in calcium, including:

  • Seeds. Seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses.
  • Cheese. Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium.
  • Yogurt. Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.
  • Sardines and Canned Salmon.
  • Beans and Lentils.
  • Almonds.
  • Whey Protein.

Aim for at least three servings of vitamin C. Your body does not store vitamin C so you need a fresh supply of it every day. You can eat fruit or almost any vegetable to get your vitamin C. You also want to make sure you get three to four servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruits. Most of these veggies and fruits will also count toward your vitamin C intake, so that is double the benefit.

Make sure you should get in one to two servings of all other fruit and vegetables that are not known for their vitamin A and C value but are still good for you all the same. Apples,  banana, and onions are just a few that are in this category.  Eat six or more servings of whole grains and legumes because these are filled with vitamins E and B and they help you battle constipation. Try eating brown rice, whole wheat bread and even air popped corn to get your servings of whole grains and legumes in.

Perhaps one of the most important nutrients you and your body need is iron. Your body’s demand for iron will never be greater than it is while you are pregnant, so make sure you are able to keep up with it. Not enough iron could lead to anemia, which results in you being very tired and foggy headed, so make sure you are getting enough iron.  If you feel that you aren’t, talk to your doctor and he might be able to prescribe you an iron supplement.

It is always a good idea to eat well every day.  However, when you are pregnant it is essential that you eat well every day.

How to Cope With Food Aversions

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Do you find yourself suddenly feeling queasy at the thought of the leftover pasta that you couldn’t get enough of the other night?

Food aversions are a normal part of pregnancy and the flip side to food cravings. Nearly 85% of all pregnant women suffer from food aversions.

Food aversion is when the food you normally are able to look at, smell and eat suddenly send you running in the opposite direction. They appear in the first trimester and usually trigger morning sickness. Some women find that the problem disappears by the start of their second trimester right around the same time morning sickness disappears. Other women find that their food aversions stay with them their whole pregnancy and a few women find that foods they developed aversions to throughout the pregnancy stay with them even after they deliver.

Just like with food cravings, your hormones are likely to blame for your food aversions. Some people believe that just as food cravings are your body’s way of telling you that you need a certain food, food aversions are your body’s way of protecting you from eating anything that can harm your baby. This might be why a lot of women report that they experience aversions to alcohol and coffee. The theory is still under debate though because so many pregnant women are turned off by food that is healthy for them and their babies. And really, none of their opinions matter because you are the one suffering from food aversion!

Try not to fight a healthy aversion. Consider it a blessing if the mere thought of your normal morning cup of coffee turns your stomach upside down. Cutting back on caffeine is much easier when your stomach rebels than at any other time. The same goes for cigarette smoke. Many women have said that the first clue they had that they were pregnant was the fact that the smell of smoke sent them running for the bathroom. Others say that the first clue they were pregnant was when they had actually felt sick when thinking about having a glass of wine with dinner.

If you find that you have aversions to healthy food, try to work around it as best as you can. Don’t force yourself to eat food that you have aversions to.  It isn’t a pleasant experience; instead, try to look for alternatives. Some women find the thought of salad or anything green revolting. If you’re one of them, you might be wondering how you are going to get the nutrients and vitamins you need. One alternative is to try and drink some vegetable juice. While drinking vegetable juice isn’t the same as eating vegetables it has its benefits when you can’t look at your veggies. You can also try eating different colored veggies like peppers or carrots.

If it is a protein like fish and chicken that make you sick, get your protein in other forms. Cheese, yogurt, eggs, green leafy vegetables, and nuts are fantastic protein alternatives. Or you can try and hide your meat in dishes. Stir chicken into a casserole or mix some seafood into a pasta dish. This way you can still get your protein in, and with less of a risk of getting sick.

Just like with morning sickness, don’t beat yourself up if you cannot eat as healthy as you would like while you are dealing with food aversions. Chances are that once you enter your second trimester, they will disappear and you can eat more of a variety of foods.

How to Avoid Constipation During Pregnancy

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It must be Murphy’s law that just when you’re able to get food into your body without having it come back up, you suddenly find you can’t get the food out of your body.  Nearly half of all the women who are pregnant suffer from constipation.

As with all symptoms of pregnancy, there is a reason for constipation. When you’re pregnant your body creates progesterone which in turns relaxes the muscles of the bowels and causes your digestive tract to work much more slowly. Your digestive tract works slower to make sure your body absorbs the nutrients from your food for your baby. This can create constipation, which if it not kept under control, can lead to hemorrhoids.

Here are some ways you can avoid constipation throughout your pregnancy:

Make sure you include plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber absorbs water can help to soften your stools and speed their passage. Eat plenty of high fiber foods like whole grain cereal and oatmeal. Instead of eating white bread with your sandwiches, eat whole grain bread. Add some oat bran to your cereals or yogurt.

Fresh fruits are also an excellent way to get fiber. Melons and plums have a high amount of fiber in them as well as dried fruits like figs, raisins, apricots and of course the well known favorite prunes. Prunes and prune juice have a laxative effect and will help keep things moving properly in your body. Aim to eat at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. You can tell you’re getting enough fiber if your stools are large and soft and you aren’t straining to pass them. Keep in mind though that too much fiber can lead to diarrhea which can lead to dehydration so don’t overdo the fiber in your diet.

Also, drinking plenty of fluid will help you combat constipation. Fluids help keep digestive products moving through your system so it’s very important for you to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Keeping up with your fluids is important especially if you are increasing your intake of fiber. Your body needs to water to soak up the fiber otherwise it can cause more constipation.

If possible, eat yogurt. Yogurt has a bacteria called acidophilus that helps stimulate the intestinal bacteria to break down food better. Look at your prenatal vitamins. Some of the prenatal vitamins that women take contain a lot of iron and iron can play a big part in constipation. Talk to your doctor to see if you can switch for a while to a different prenatal vitamin that contains less iron or at least stay off of the prenatal vitamins for a while until your constipation is under control.

Avoid foods that can lead to constipation. Some of these include:

  • White bread
  • Some cereals such as corn flakes
  • White rice
  • Bananas

If all this fails, give your doctor a call to see if there is something you can take to help keep you regulated. Most doctors will allow you to take Metamucil to help keep things moving. What you don’t want to do is take an over the counter laxative just because you’re a bit uncomfortable. Remember, you must keep your body healthy so the baby is getting what it needs to grow.

Constipation is never pleasant but during pregnancy, it can be even more uncomfortable.  Taking steps to avoid constipation will help make your pregnancy that much more enjoyable.

How Eating Well Can Help During Pregnancy

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There are many aches and pains that come with pregnancy.  There was a time when many doctors just brushed them aside and said that is part of pregnancy, but now more and more doctors are recommending a well-balanced diet to help ease those aches and pains.

Here are just a few pregnancy ailments that a good diet can help:

Tooth and gum problems.  To help keep your teeth healthy and your baby’s teeth healthy, make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin C.  To satisfy your need to chew on something, keep some sugarless gum near you or chew on some nuts and cheese.

Dizzy or Lightheaded. It’s not uncommon for many women to feel dizzy or lightheaded during pregnancy, especially if they have gone too long without eating. This is why its so important to eat throughout the day.  Keep your snacks as healthy as possible and stay away from junk food and processed foods. These foods will give you a quick rush of energy but ultimately leave you feeling worse than you did before you ate them.  Keep yourself hydrated with regular tap water.  Snacking and drinking will help boost your blood sugar and keep you hydrated which can help you combat dizziness.

Leg cramps. Sometime during your second trimester, you may find yourself awakening in the middle of the night to leg cramps. Leg cramps can come from not getting enough calcium. Some say that the leg cramps is a shortage of magnesium while some say that dehydration can be the cause. Either way, make sure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium. If you suffer from leg cramps you might find it helpful to drink a glass of milk or have a piece of cheese before you go to bed at night. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated.

Swelling. Another pain in pregnancy. While severe swelling could be a sign of preeclampsia, there is a certain amount of swelling that is normal and healthy during pregnancy. In fact, more than 75% of all pregnant women experience some sort of swelling. The most common cause is too much water retention. Staying away from salty foods and drinking extra water will help you keep the swelling to a bare minimum.

Dry skin. Some women experience dry skin, which can be cured by making sure you drink plenty of fluids to increase moisture. If you have flaky skin, eat more omega-3 rich foods or seeds and nuts. There are some who experience skin discoloration and too much blotchiness could be a folic-acid deficiency.  This is another reason why it is so important to make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamins.

Hair – too much, too little, too limp. Some women are blessed with a great head of hair, others find that their hair is suddenly limp and hard to manage. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and that affects the hair. Throughout pregnancy, it is important that you get enough vitamin A, B and C. Vitamin A will keep your hair and scalp healthy. Vitamin B will help with your hair growth and vitamin C is needed for strength. Make sure you are getting enough of this in your diet.

Eating healthy throughout pregnancy not only ensures your chances of a healthy pregnancy but it will also help you avoid some of the more uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy too.

Pregnancy Symptoms During the Third Trimester

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When you get into the third trimester, the honeymoon period is over and fatigue sets in all over again. You may not get morning sickness anymore, but because you’re carrying a baby, and your body is changing, you’ll tire more easily.

You might notice a faint or dark line going straight down the middle of your stomach. Don’t be alarmed. This is known as the linea nigra. It goes away after you give birth, so it’s not permanent.

Your belly button may protrude at this time because your stomach is filled to the brim with your lively little baby. This will go back to normal after you give birth, so don’t worry about it at this time.

In addition to the fatigue, you might feel short of breath from time to time. This is partially because you’re tired, but also because the baby is taking up so much space in the last trimester!

This, paired with the fact that your lungs are working overtime to carry plenty of oxygen to your baby through your blood supply, leave you feeling winded easily. Just take your time and understand you might be slower during this period.

Your weight will soar during this time because the baby is growing rapidly. This is normal, but you want to watch the extreme weight gain. Talk to your doctor about maintaining normal growth during the third trimester.

Your back will hurt because of the added strain on your body, but make sure you’re not experiencing a bladder or kidney infection. These are common during pregnancy, and you’ll likely notice a burning sensation when you go to the restroom.

Heartburn is one symptom that most pregnant women complain about during pregnancy – especially the last trimester. Your uterus is pushing our stomach up, causing food to come back up.

This makes sleeping very uncomfortable. One way to fix this is to try sleeping in an upright position during the last trimester, or elevating your head and chest a bit more than you used to.

One symptom that has a fine line of normalcy is vaginal discharge. Some is normal – but if you’re noticing a ton of it, then you need to head to the doctor to make sure it’s not amniotic fluid leaking.

Remember, we are BSideU for Life! Come to our offices for support as you experience this last phase of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Symptoms During the Second Trimester

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This is commonly known as your honeymoon period of pregnancy because it’s generally the time when the bad symptoms subside and you feel fantastic! You’ve probably heard about how a pregnant woman starts to “glow” during pregnancy. This is when it happens.

The baby fluttering begins. This is when you suddenly feel the baby move. It feels like a butterfly is captured in a jar and its wings and softly fluttering around inside.

At first, you might wonder if your body had a simple spasm, but then you’ll get used to it and realize that it’s the baby moving around in you. Don’t be alarmed when you don’t feel it – it simply means the baby is being still.

As you approach the last trimester, you might even experience your baby having a case of the hiccups. You’ll know because it’s a consistent blip as opposed to random movements in your womb.

Constipation might start to be an issue during the second trimester. Some women experience it, and others don’t. Talk to your doctor about a safe remedy for this problem. You don’t want to add hemorrhoids to your list of symptoms.

The areola around your nipples may darken during this time. This is perfectly normal and should be no cause for alarm. Not everyone will experience this, so if your stay the same color, that’s fine, too.

Your breasts will probably grow quite a bit during this time, though. And so will your stomach. This is when people start to realize you’re pregnant, so if you haven’t told anyone yet, now’s the time!

As your body expands, you might start noticing stretch marks appearing on your stomach, and sometimes other areas like your upper thighs. You can use topical lotions with vitamin E or coconut oil with vitamin E to help your body maintain a flawless appearance.

Aside from the baby moving, you might also feel another type of symptom – false contractions known as Braxton Kicks. This doesn’t mean you’re going into labor. They’re not as strong and they’re inconsistent.

And you might begin to feel leg cramps – especially at night when you’re sleeping. This is common and painful, but it does go away. Some women drink milk or extra water to help alleviate this, but if one strikes, just massage it and wait for it to go away.

Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be. We are BSideU for Life! so contact us and we can be there with you, offering guidance and answers to your questions.

First Signs That You Might Be Pregnant

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One frightening thing you may have heard about in the news are women who suddenly feel as if they ate something bad, head to the emergency room, and leave with a baby they didn’t know they were carrying.

This is highly unusual and in most cases, you’re going to have plenty of signs that tell you it’s time to go in for an official blood test to confirm that you’re pregnant.

The most common sign is a missed period. If you’re consistent with your menstrual cycle and you suddenly miss a month, you need to get an at home pregnancy test or come by the clinic and see if it confirms your suspicions.

Sometimes, it’s just an irregularity, so you may not be pregnant. And sometimes it’s too soon for an at home pregnancy test to confirm the diagnosis, so you may want to either wait one more month or go in for a blood test at this point.

Some women will have a very spotty period – or it might be very short compared to how their usual menstrual cycle works. Cramping is normal, too – and neither of these symptoms means you are miscarrying. It’s part of the implant process where the egg nestles into the lining of your uterus.

Initial symptoms may also include mood swings like crying or getting angry. Even extreme happiness can occur – because your hormones are all over the map. If you find yourself crying for no reason, it could be that you’re pregnant!

Some of the common symptoms of pregnancy mimic your menstrual cycle symptoms. Swollen, tender breasts are a good example of this. You probably experience this a week before your period as part of your PMS symptoms, but it happens when you become pregnant, too.

Think you might be pregnant? Come to our office on have a pregnancy test done to know for sure. Remember, we are BSideU For Life!