Category Archives: Pregnancy

Pregnancy May Not Be Healthy If You’re Pregnant

You can’t eat cheese, fish, or pretty much anything else when you’re pregnant. After all, you have to worry about the baby. You definitely can’t sit in a hot tub with all the bacteria, and you don’t want to cook your baby. Some say that you shouldn’t exercise too hard, while others say you can keep up whatever routine you were using before. It certainly does seem like everybody has something to say about you being pregnant.

As for the government, among their many recommendations, you will find that the EWG (Environmental Working Group) has their own list of grocery items that have nutrients that can supposedly cause harmful issues for kids 8 and younger and pregnant women. Specifically, they focus on breakfast cereals and snack bars.

The EWG conducted a review of over 1,550 cereals and 1,000 snack bars. They found 114 cereals that were fortified with a 30% or greater value of vitamin A, zinc, and/or niacin. 27 of the most common snack bars came with a dose of 50% or more of adult recommendations.

Granted, if you look at your average prenatal, you will find a whole host of high doses of various vitamins. So you would think that getting it through your food would be a good thing. But Renee Sharp, a research director and co-author for the EWG, says, Heavily fortified foods may sound like a good thing, but when it comes to children and pregnant women, excessive exposure to high nutrient levels could actually cause short or long-term health problems. Manufacturers use vitamin and mineral fortification to sell their products, adding amounts in excess of what people need and more than might be prudent for young children to consume.

Vitamin A is specifically fat soluble, and because of that, it is more likely to lead to toxicity. Your body stores it. On the other hand, if it’s a water soluble vitamin, it is naturally more likely to be released. If you get too much vitamin A, it can lead to side effects like liver damage, skeletal issues, and hair loss. For pregnant women, this can also result in fetal defects. This is why doctors don’t recommend certain acne medications when pregnant.

You would assume that your daily prenatal would be specially formulated with exactly what you need and none of what you don’t, but you may want to think twice about that. You may want to run your prenatals by your doctor. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. Read your labels carefully, and you may want to focus on foods rich in beta carotene such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and cantaloupe.

Most of all, read the labels.

Is A Vegan Diet Safe During Pregnancy

Brandy Norwood was one of the most public celebrities to be a vegan during her pregnancy. Granted, some of the celebs we see are also anti-vaccine, meaning it’s safe to say that there’s more going on. But when it comes to being vegan, there are a lot of people who are healthier. They eat more fruits and vegetables, and they have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other similar problems.

Still, there are those who will take pregnancy as the perfect excuse to say but that’s not really good for you or the baby. Yes, you do need slightly more calories when you are pregnant, and you also need plenty of vitamins and minerals. When I think about that, a diet full of more fruits and vegetables sounds like the perfect diet for pregnancy.

Australian blogger Loni Jane Anthony ate 10 bananas a day as part of her vegan diet while she was pregnant. There were plenty of people happy to criticize her, but the 25 year old delivered a healthy baby boy, gaining 40 pounds during her pregnancy. She lost 22 pounds just 2 days after giving birth, which tells me a good amount of that was just the water weight and the baby that you could associate with pregnancy. So is a vegan diet during pregnancy really that bad?

According to Mary Rosser, MD, an OBGYN at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, it’s perfectly healthy. Rosser cautions, But a plant based diet should be well planned out to ensure you’re consuming all the important nutrients that meet your needs and your baby’s needs. It’s a true point for any pregnant woman, but they suggest that without meat, you may have to be more aware of nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, and calcium. Obviously, some also have concerns about protein, but there are plenty of vegan protein sources if you are aware.

Vegans can get all of these nutrients from plant sources ranging from beans to nuts, soy, fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and things such as fortified orange juice. Most doctors provide extra vitamins and mineral supplements anyway during pregnancy.

Once the babies are born, they find that vegans tend to lose weight, much like Anthony did, because they are usually very educated about their pregnancy and aware of what they’re eating. With that investment, they may be less likely to gain excess weight than another woman who thinks of herself as ‘eating for two’

At the end of the day, vegan can be a great diet during pregnancy.

How Pregnancy Brain Works

I was told by my sister that she forgot things at work, and she blames pregnancy brain. I have heard a number of women say that when they were pregnant, they actually became more absent minded and forgetful. So it’s certainly not just her. As with many other parts of the body, unfortunately, the brain may be restructuring and remodeling itself, causing this type of situation.

Mothers rejoice though, it’s not early onset Alzheimer’s, and researchers are taking it seriously enough to look into it. In 2010, Yale scientists examined fMRI scans of new moms’ brains. They saw small, but significant structural changes to the hypothalamus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, which are involved in motivation and reward.

Despite what you might think (you only think of being absentminded), pregnancy brain changes may actually be positive. Yes, we have growing pains, but Adam Franssen of Longwood University explained that he actually thinks that moms may be smarter.

Longwood specifically studied various rats to find significant differences in the brains of those who were mothers and those who were not. According to his research, rat moms had larger neurons with additional neuronal branches, and they were:

  • Better at problem solving through navigation tests
  • Better at stress management
  • Better at recognizing emotions
  • More efficient at foraging food
  • Better memory and better prospective memory in particular (preparing for things that may come up)

Obviously, these are rats’ brains. I’m not forgetting that. However, it shouldn’t be particularly surprising that there are tests popping up showing that humans seem to be seeing the same results. Are you smarter since becoming a mom?

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Along with many other things, pregnancy can bring along with it a number of permanent changes to the female body as well as some temporary health issues and changes. Gestational diabetes is just the start. Frankly, the last thing we want to hear is that with all of the other health concerns and complications we see, there may also be something wrong with the pregnancy itself.

Gestational diabetes is not your normal health issue associated with pregnancy, it is a pregnancy complication. It is something that most women don’t anticipate or plan on, and have no reason to. It’s not the worst news though. In fact, it can be quite manageable, assuming of course that you are getting the proper treatment and otherwise. If you catch it early, it doesn’t have to be such a big deal.

Up to 10% in the US annually are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. In short, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to process glucose. Your blood glucose levels naturally rise to less than healthy levels, and they can cause various complications if it’s not caught and treated early. Those women who do develop gestational diabetes also have a 25% chance of developing diabetes at a later point in their lives. So they should be screened regularly for signs of diabetes as a whole.

Realistically, gestational diabetes can affect anyone, or at least any pregnant woman someone. The hormonal changes in the body that are unique to the pregnancy weaken the receptors that insulin binds to in order to metabolize sugar. If insulin can’t bind, then the body can’t process that sugar, causing what we see with diabetes.

So who gets gestational diabetes? There are some risk factors that make some more likely to suffer negative side effects than others.

It can happen during any pregnancy, but women who have risk factors beforehand are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. These types of risk factors could include:

  • Family history of diabetes (especially if they are first degree relatives like parents or siblings)
  • A history of gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies
  • Overweight prior to pregnancy
  • Over the age of 25 during pregnancy
  • Minority ethnicities including African American, Latino, Native American, South or East Asian, and Pacific Islanders
  • Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian syndrome)
  • A diagnosis of pre-diabetes prior to pregnancy
  • Pregnancy with twins or other multiple babies

We have seen many medical innovations, and now, screening for gestational diabetes is as normal as it has ever been. Patients with diabetes (pregnant or not) are actually often asymptomatic. Therefore, preventative screening is undergone, typically around 24 to 28 weeks. If you have risk factors for gestational diabetes though, you may want to get tested earlier on. Your doctor can help you to determine the best test for you.

Gestational diabetes typically resolves itself after pregnancy. However, it can cause some serious complications nonetheless, and every case is unique. It is vital to treat it and treat it early. With a gestational diabetes pregnancy, you could experience:

  • A large baby over 9 pounds
  • A more difficult delivery with a higher risk of maternal or infant trauma
  • The need for a C-section
  • Preeclampsia
  • Fetal cardiac or gastrointestinal deformities
  • Neonatal respiratory problems
  • Neonatal hyoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Once you are diagnosed, you can take steps to protect yourself and treat the problem, not allowing it to get too serious. With close monitoring of both you and your baby, you can measure the need for daily insulin injections. You may also need closer testing in general across the board.

I’m sorry to say that there is no magical formula for prevention or perfect treatment. However, staying healthy with good dieting and healthy exercise is one of the methods that seems most effective so far.

Don’t Diet While Pregnant

We’ve all heard so much about not gaining too much weight while pregnant, it’s easy to forget that there is also the other extreme. Yes, it’s important to eat healthy while pregnant, and that means eating healthy. I’m not talking about calorie cutting. I’m talking about getting enough nutrients to fulfill your daily needs, getting enough extra calories for the baby (though of course not too many), and not going to any extremes. Believe it or not, this is not actually the time to create entire lifestyle changes for yourself. It’s not the time to obsess about not getting fat. If you have been running 10 miles a day all along and you don’t have any pregnancy complications, great, your doctor probably won’t have a problem with you continuing to do that. However, again, pregnancy is not the time to start a whole new rough exercise routine.

To be moms are easily egged on by unrealistic magazine photos and celebrities who go from pregnancy to bikini body in just weeks or less. You will only be pregnant for 9 months, but your baby will deal with the way your pregnancy set them up for the rest of their lives. Doctors may recommend different amounts of weight gain for different women, but not gaining enough can be extremely dangerous for your baby too.

You don’t need to eat for 2, but you can’t eat to lose weight every week either. Of course, prenatal vitamins give you some of your vitamins, but they’re also blamed for a lot of the nausea and other symptoms of morning sickness along the way. The ultimate irony is that babies born to mothers who did not gain enough weight during pregnancy were more likely to suffer childhood obesity. They were almost as likely to see this problem as babies of obese mothers. Go figure.

In short, when you don’t eat enough, the fetus goes into starvation mode. When the body learns this lesson so early on, some would say that it becomes permanently encoded in the infant, setting them up for a lifetime of more struggles.

There are naturally times when the mother does not have as much control over this. It’s not necessarily her fault. If this is the case for you, I would strongly encourage talking to your doctor and going to them for support. If you have a history of eating disorders or other body image issues, you should definitely be talking to your doctor, both before and especially during your pregnancy.