Having A Healthy Pregnancy For You & Baby

Top 10 Food Types to AVOID During Pregnancy

There are numerous lists circulating the internet concerning what you should eat during pregnancy. There are foods that are high in important nutrients and vitamins which help the growth of your baby. Some vitamins help your baby’s brain to develop, like folic acid. Some vitamins help your baby’s immune system like vitamin C. However, there is an even bigger list of foods which can harm your new bundle, and make your pregnancy a tad bit more complicated, and uncomfortable.

1. Seafood and fish with high amounts of mercury. *

In moderation, some foods can be consumed without negative affect on yourself, or your fetus. Mercury is one. In large amounts, Mercury can contribute to behavioral and developmental issues later on in your baby’s life. While Mercury is found in canned light tuna fish, shrimp and other seafood like Pollock, catfish, and tilapia, the levels are so low, that tuna is something you are still able to eat (no more than 12 ounces weekly) and produce a still, very healthy baby(According to FDA). However, the following foods have such high amounts of mercury; they should be avoided altogether during a pregnancy:
– Shark
– Swordfish
– King mackerel
– Tilefish

2. Under cooked seafood and other animal foods *

Ingesting meat or seafood that has not been cooked, or is under cooked can cause a food borne illness. To reduce your chance of falling victim to such illnesses, the following foods should not be eaten during pregnancy:
– Rare meat
– Raw oysters
– Clams
– Sushi

3. Unpasteurized foods*

Like consuming under cooked seafood and animal foods, the consumption of unpasteurized foods can also cause food borne illnesses and should be avoided during pregnancy:
– Unwashed fruits
– Unwashed veggies
– Unpasteurized eggs
– Raw cookie or cake dough
– Homemade egg nog
– Soft cheeses

4. Products made from unpasteurized milk*

As much as dairy is thought to be a pregnancy approved food group, there are some foods in this group that should be avoided. Foods made with unpasteurized milk are prone to listeria. “According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1,700 persons become seriously ill each year in the United States and among these, 260 will die. Although the CDC states that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected than non-pregnant healthy adults, the number of cases of listeriosis in pregnant women is about 17%.” Listeria in a pregnant woman can result in a miscarriage, still birth, premature delivery, or an infection in the newborn. Therefore, the following foods should be avoided during pregnancy:
– Brie
– Feta
– Camembert
– Roquefort
– Blue-veined
– Queso blanco
– Queso fresco
– Queso Panela

5. Caffeine, Caffeine, Caffeine*…

We all love our sodas, and coffees, however, while pregnant, caffeine is not your friend. When caffeine passes your placenta, it can affect your baby’s heart rate. *If you cannot completely avoid caffeine, limit your intake to less than one 12 oz cup per day.

6. Herbal Teas*

While it is still being researched, herbs are thought to have a negative impact on the developing baby. It is believed that herbal teas can be responsible for premature contractions. Before cutting this tasty beverage out of your diet, consult with your physician.

7. Hot Dogs, and Luncheon Meats*

There’s nothing like enjoying a yummy sandwich for lunch. However, deli meats and frankfurters may contain listeria. Let’s hold off on the sandwiches during pregnancy. Keep the baby healthy

8. Sweet ‘N Low*

While artificial sweeteners are not ideal for anyone’s diet, pregnant women who use these products are causing these byproducts to remain in their baby’s tissues.

9. Alcohol*

Pregnant women who consume alcohol increase the chance of having a baby with a birth defect. Drinking alcohol can also cause a miscarriage and even a stillbirth.

10. Liver*

It is ok to eat liver during pregnancy, but in moderation. Liver contains a large amount of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.

Sources

 http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/listeria.html
 http://www.momtastic.com/pregnancy/105633-the-top-10-foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
 http://arabia.msn.com/lifestyle/mother-child/217060/top-10-foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
 http://www.babycenter.com/0_vitamin-a-in-your-pregnancy-diet_675.bc

Choose Organic Foods When Possible

Studies have shown that 93% of blood samples from pregnant women and 80% from umbilical cord blood test positive for a variety of toxins commonly injected into genetically engineered foods crops, as well as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These toxins are all linked to hormonal disruption and a variety of other health issues.

Eat only organic animal products. Animal products that are not organic may contain added hormones and are fed a diet of GMO grains and non-organic feed. These mimic hormones in the body and concentrate in animal fat stores.

We have learned that exposure and consumption of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and GMO foods can create hormonal imbalance through endocrine disruption and suppressed immune function. Conventional fruits and vegetables are regularly sprayed with these chemicals and then not only do we eat them daily, but so do animals that are raised for meat.

If you eat non-organic meats, you are being doubly exposed to these toxins. This is because xenohormones become more concentrated as they move up the food chain. Xenohormones are often stored in the fat cells of animals. The more fatty the meats you are consuming the more xenohormones you are consuming.

For example if you are eating 80% lean/20% fat beef, you may be consuming a variety of toxins that cow has stored in its fat. What was that non-organic cow eating? Well, conventional beef is raised in feedlots. They are fed corn and soy feed. On top of that, not only are these crops genetically altered they are sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. The cows eat this everyday. These animals live in horrible living conditions and are given antibiotics to stave off the spread of disease.

In February of 2011 the FDA released a report stating that 80% of all antibiotic sold in the US are sold to animal agriculture. Regular exposure to antibiotics may alter immune system function for you and your baby.

Why does this matter? Xenohormones are endocrine disruptors, not just for you, but for your baby as well.

Fluid Intake: Water!

Pregnant women should drink at least 10 cups of water a day. Dehydration can cause nausea and may cause contractions in the second and third trimester. Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you. Because your blood volume is going to increase greatly, your fluid intake will as well. You need to stay hydrated! Avoid fluids that contain carbonation, sugar or caffeine, those can be dehydrating. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices, some herbal teas, as well as milks are encouraged, but most of your fluid intake should come from fresh purified water.

Ditch the plastic water bottles though, as those contain toxins that may contribute to hormonal imbalances and can be passed on to your baby. Choose BPA free, glass or stainless steel water bottles when possible.

Once you are a breastfeeding mom, you will need to increase your water intake to 12.5 glasses of water a day. If water is boring you, try adding lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, or fresh mint sprigs for a burst of natural flavor!

The main goal to eating healthy in pregnancy is to eat a wide variety of whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible. Take nutritional supplements when necessary and be sure you are receiving healthy prenatal care from your midwife or doctor.

References:
1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080630200951.htm
2. http://life.familyeducation.com/protein/foods/48678.html
3. http://www.healthyreader.com/2008/05/13/12-most-contaminated-fruits-and-vegetables/
4. nrdc.org
5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/antibiotics-agriculture_b_830061.html?ref=fb&src=sp
6. Kitzinger, Sheila; The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2004
7. Olson, Cathe; The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook, GOCO Publishing, 2005
8. Largeman-Roth, Frances; Feed the Belly, Sourcebooks Inc., 2009
9. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html
10. Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004. Tracey J. Woodruff, Ami R. Zota, and Jackie M. Schwartz. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114826/
11. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20-common-foods-most-antioxidants

Folic Acid Vital For Preconception & Pregnancy

Folic acid is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. This is very concerning since it is critical to the proper development of a baby in the very first weeks of pregnancy. An estimated 1-2 in 1000 babies born in the United States are born with the neural tube defect known as spina bifida. Folic acid supplementation has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by up to 80%.

50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. It is important that you begin taking folic acid before pregnancy occurs, to help support proper development of your baby’s spinal column should you become pregnant. Folic acid also known as folate, folacin and vitamin B9, has also been found to support proper development of a growing fetus.

How Folic Acid Helps Your Body Create a Healthy Baby

Folic acid supplementation is essential in preventing spina bifida. During the first 28 days of pregnancy the spine (bone) should come together to cover the delicate spinal cord and surrounding tissues. A baby with spina bifida has an incomplete growth of the spine and is born with the spinal cord exposed, bulging out of the back. A baby with any type of spina bifida is at risk for serious problems including paralysis, infection and incontinence. Women who are trying to get pregnant should be eating foods naturally rich in folic acid and be taking a women’s multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that contains 800mcg of folic acid. If your multivitamin or prenatal vitamin contains that amount you should not need to supplement with an additional folic acid supplement.

Benefits of taking folic acid in the 1st trimester of pregnancy:

  • Helps to prevent cleft palate
  • Promotes proper development of the brain and skull
  • Cuts neural tube defects by up to 80% (spina bifida)
  • Important for red blood cell production
  • Supports healthy homocysteine levels
  • Supports proper cell division
  • Supports healthy bone formation
  • Helps prevent depression
  • Together with vitamin B12, folic acid helps manufacture DNA and brain neurotransmitters

Folic Acid and High Homocysteine Levels

Three important B vitamins including folic acid, B6 and B12 help to break down the amino acid homocysteine in the blood; too much homocysteine may cause miscarriage due to the blood clotting more than it should. These three main vitamins can be used by the body to convert homocysteine amino acids into other products in the blood, to keep it from clotting unnecessarily. Women with a MTHFR Gene Mutations (especially the C677T variation) are much more likely to have higher than normal homocysteine levels in the body all of the time, but many cannot absorb or convert the folic acid in most supplements to methylfolate as it normally should. Women with MTHFR gene mutations should speak with their doctor about taking a specialized prenatal multivitamin that contains methylated versions of Folate and B12 known as Methylfolate and Methylcobalamin.

Cervical Dysplasia, Oral Contraceptives and Folic Acid Deficiency

Abnormal changes in the cells of the surface of the cervix is known as cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is generally regarded as precancerous and is determined by Pap smear. Many healthcare practitioners agree that many abnormal Pap smears reflect folic acid deficiency rather than true dysplasia, especially in pregnant women or women taking oral contraceptives. This is because estrogens antagonize folic acid.

Some researchers theorize that oral contraceptives may interfere with folate metabolism. Through testing, even though serum folate levels may be increased, folic acid levels within the cervical tissue may actually be deficient. Clinical observation and testing has shown that red cervical blood cell folate levels are typically decreased, while serum levels may be normal to increased in women diagnosed with cervical dysplasia. Oral contraceptives may stimulate the synthesis of a molecule that inhibits folic acid uptake by cells.

Clinical studies show folic acid supplementation of 10mg per day may improve and normalize Pap smear results in women diagnosed with mild to moderate cervical dysplasia. Research has shown that folic acid supplementation can prevent progression of cervical dysplasia even while still continuing oral contraceptives.

If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate cervical dysplasia, talk to your doctor about supplementing with folic acid for 3 months before beginning treatment options, so that you can see if your next Pap smear comes back normal. Treatment options for cervical dysplasia are cone biopsy (abnormal cells of the cervix are removed), LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure, electricity removes abnormal tissue), cryosurgery (freeze abnormal tissue), and laser removal of abnormal tissues. All of these procedures may damage the ducts which secrete cervical mucous. Lack of cervical mucous may make conception more difficult because sperm need cervical mucous to reach the ova (egg).

Foods Rich In Folic Acid

The name folic acid is derived from the Latin word folium, which means “foliage.” This is because many dark leafy greens have been found to be rich in folic acid. Many foods are rich in folic acid. When trying for a baby be sure your diet includes many foods rich in folic acid.

 

Brewer’s yeast
blackeye peas
lentils
kidney beans
asparagus
mung beans
lima beans
Navy beans
rice germ
wheat germ
grapefruit
beet & mustard greens
tomato
avocado
papaya
bell peppers
broccoli
kale
squash
fennel
cucumber
cooked spinach
cauliflower
okra
asparagus
collard greens
turnips
cabbage
liver
walnuts

Important Note: Green and black tea has been shown to inhibit folic acid absorption. Avoid consuming more than 1-2 cups of green and black tea while trying to conceive and eliminate drinking it in early pregnancy.

Folic Acid Supplementation

Women of Childbearing age: 400mcg per day
Women Trying to Conceive: 800mcg per day
Pregnant and Lactating Women: 800mcg per day

Be sure that your multivitamin or prenatal vitamin contain vitamin B12 as well. Folic acid should always be supplemented with vitamin B12. Estrogens, chemotherapy and alcohol can interfere with folic acid absorption, so if any of those are of concern to you, speak with your doctor about how to ensure you are getting enough folic acid daily, especially if you are trying to conceive.

Both Fertilica Women’s Whole Food Daily Multi and Baby and Me Prenatal multivitamin contain 800mcg of folic acid/folate.

Can you take too much folic acid?
Some women worry that if they take other nutritional supplements that contain folic acid alongside their multivitamin, they will be taking too much folic acid. How much folic acid is too much? Well, studies using folic acid to treat cervical dysplasia have shown that high doses of folic acid at the upper limit of 5-10 milligrams, taken daily, is well tolerated by the body. To put this in perspective, most prenatal multivitamins contain 800 micrograms of folic acid. 1000 micrograms equals 1 milligram, so even if you combine a couple nutritional supplements that contain folic acid, you are still consuming far less than 5-10 milligrams.

References:
1. Murray, Michael T. N.D. (1996). Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements – The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press.
2. Largeman-Roth, Frances RD. (2009). Feed the Belly – The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc.
3. Folic Acid. (n.d.) Retrieved online from: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/folicacid.html
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002461/
5. Lynch, Ben. N.D. (Feb. 24, 2012). MTHFR C677T Mutation: Basic Protocol. Retrieved online from: http://mthfr.net/mthfr-c677t-mutation-basic-protocol/2012/02/24/

The Importance of Protein During Pregnancy

Proteins are required for building and repair of the body’s tissues. This includes a growing baby in its mothers womb. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of the body’s cells, including those of your baby. Protein is also an excellent source of energy.

At first it may be hard to get enough of your daily requirement of protein, since you will need to be consuming at least 70-90 grams of protein a day. Typically an adult woman needs to eat 45-50 grams of protein a day. This is a big difference at first. As time goes by you will find that you may not feel well if you do meet your protein intake each day. You may become fatigued, have higher than normal brain-fog, you may feel generally out-of-sorts, become irritable or feel sick. Learning ways to get enough protein without being overwhelmed will pay off.

Below are some foods and their protein content in grams. Get creative with your protein, add foods to smoothies to get a lot of protein in one delicious meal. Snack on high protein foods throughout the day. The chart below should help you to see what food have the highest amount of protein. Write down what you are eating everyday for a week, make sure you write down the amount (for example l cup of cottage cheese) of everything. At the end of each day tally how much protein you approximately ate. This will let you see if you are getting enough protein each day, as well as show you what you are eating. Are you creating enough healthy variety by including all kinds of foods?

Animal Proteins in GramsSteak, sirloin 26
Ground meat 20
FertiliWhey Protein (1 scoop) 16
Venison 26
Buffalo 13
Bacon (1 slice) 21
Ham 2
Turkey breast 26
Roast beef 21
Chicken, light 26
Salmon 18
Scallops 14
Oysters (2 oz.) 8
Crab 13
Cottage cheese (½ cup) 14
Cheddar cheese (1 oz.) 7
String cheese (1 oz.) 6
Mozzarella (1 oz.) 7
Goat cheese (1 oz.) 6
Jarlsberg cheese (1 oz.) 7
Blue cheese (1 oz.) 6
Whole milk (1 cup) 8
Skim milk (1 cup) 8
Low-fat plain yogurt (1 cup) 10
Low-fat fruit yogurt (1 cup) 10
Frozen yogurt (½cup) 3
Egg (1) 6
Vegetable Proteins in Grams

Peanuts (1 oz.) 7
Walnuts (1 oz.) 4
Peanut butter (2 T.) 8
Sesame seeds (1 oz.) 5
Sunflower seeds (1 oz.) 6
Flax Seeds (1 oz.) 6
Tofu (6 oz.) 12
Kidney beans (½ cup) 8
Lentils (½ cup) 9
Chickpeas (½ cup) 10
Split peas (½ cup) 8
Pinto Beans (1/2 cup) 7
Oatmeal (1 cup) 6
Almonds (1/4 cup) 6
Quinoa (1/4 cup) 6
Millet (1/4 cup) 7
Whole-wheat bread 5
White pasta (l cup) 7
Brown Rice (1 cup) 5
Black Beans (1 cup) 14
Spirulina (1 Tbsp) 4

All are 3 ounce servings unless otherwise noted.

Anemia in Pregnancy; Signs to Watch For

 Pregnant woman Anemia in Pregnancy; Signs to Watch For

Pregnancy is such an exciting and special time, especially after a long struggle with infertility. It is as important to take good care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy, as it was to care for your fertility health prior to conception. Pregnant women can be at risk for certain nutritional deficiencies, so it is key in pregnancy to be sure to eat adequate amounts of pregnancy-supportive nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin D, folate and iron, etc. Iron is one common nutrient pregnant women are at risk for being deficient in, a deficiency that can lead to anemia, because of the demand for the mother’s body to make more blood. Healthy iron levels in pregnancy are necessary in order for the mother’s body to make blood for her baby.

What Causes Anemia During Pregnancy?

Iron-Deficient Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen through the body. During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 50% to meet the needs of the baby! This increases the mother’s body’s iron needs too. It’s very common for pregnant women to become low in iron at some point during their pregnancy.

Anemia can also be caused by a folate or B12 deficiency during pregnancy. This is typically related to poor diet choices. Making dietary improvements and using a high quality, whole food prenatal vitamin containing folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12 can protect you if you’re affected.

Signs You Might Be Anemic During Pregnancy

Look for the following body signs of anemia and work with your Ob/Gyn or midwife if you’re at risk:

fatigue, weakness
dizziness or lightheadedness
shortness of breath
low blood pressure
heart palpitations
frequent headaches
pale skin, lips and nails
brittle nails
trouble concentrating
cold hands and feet

While not very common, severe anemia can increase your risk of pre-term delivery, low birth weight or anemia in your baby, and postpartum depression.

How To Get Iron, Folate and B12 from Food

Pregnancy-related anemia is often easily managed through dietary improvements and nutritional supplements. You may be able to manage anemia simply by increasing your intake of the right kinds of foods. Foods such as:

  • If you like meat: grass fed beef, organic poultry and liver (chicken or beef) can boost your iron and B12 levels.
  • If you prefer vegetarian foods, good plant sources of iron are listed below and be sure to also include vitamin C rich foods that aid with iron absorption like oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and green peppers…

    beets
    spinach
    nettles
    spirulina
    dulse seaweed
    beans
    pumpkin seeds
    molasses
    asparagus

    If you have anemia related to folate deficiency, folate is available through foods like:

     

    dark leafy greens
    avocado
    citrus fruits
    Brussels sprouts
    beans
    peas
    lentils

     

    If you’re low in B12, B12 is only available through animal foods, and in small amounts in seaweed and blue green algae (spirulina). Pregnant vegans may need a B12 supplement to make sure their needs are met.

     

About Iron Supplements

Your doctor may advise you to take an iron supplement (ferrous sulfate) to reduce anemia in pregnancy. However, for some women, ferrous sulfate can cause constipation, another pregnancy problem.

If this sounds like you, an herbal iron source can be considered to support iron levels without causing constipation. A few good choices are: Nettle (Urtica dioica) tea or infusion, spirulina, or Floradix Herbal Iron (with ferrous gluconate, B2, B6, B12 and C).

Note: The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for iron for pregnant women is 27 milligrams (mg) a day. Herbal iron sources and supplements may contain lower milligram amounts, but often they are better absorbed.

Ensure Your Health

Pregnancy-related anemia has risks. Properly managing it can ensure your health and the health of your baby. Including a wide variety of whole foods in your pregnancy diet can certainly help! When looking for supplements, make sure they are first approved for use during pregnancy and always consult with your Ob/Gyn or midwife if you’re unsure.

References:
– Anemia in Pregnancy. (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/anemia-in-pregnancy#1
– Pearson, K. (2013, Sept.). 7 Awesome Things Your Body Does During Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/pregnancy-changes_n_3790822.html
– Anemia During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. (2016). Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-concerns/anemia-during-pregnancy/
– Romm, A. (2016). Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not? Retrieved from: https://avivaromm.com/herbal-medicines-in-pregnancy-safety/
– Iron & Pregnancy: Vibrant Health Comes from Iron Rich Blood. (2016). Retrieved from: http://floradix.com.au/Iron-Pregnancy.html