Category Archives: Prenatal nutrition

Omega-3 fatty acids: An essential oil to consume during pregnancy

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most seafood and algae. They are called essential fatty acids since the body cannot synthesize them and therefore need to be consumed through one’s diet.

Omega-3 is especially important during pregnancy as it plays a vital role in the developing brain and retina of the fetus. Studies have also shown that Omega-3 fatty acids could help determine the length of gestation and prevent prenatal depression. When omega-3 fatty acids are consumed in adequate amounts throughout pregnancy, the fetus gets a healthy dose and therefore pregnancy outcomes improve.

To make sure the fetus is correctly supplied with the adequate amount of Omega-3, doctors recommend that pregnant women consume at least 200 mg of DHA (a key component of omega-3) every day. This can easily be achieved with 1 to 2 servings of seafood every week. Despite the organic mercury and harmful toxins found in seafood, this recommended amount won’t be harmful to the fetus.

Unfortunately, seafood is not always available or a possibility for all pregnant women. For this reason, alternate sources of DHA are available. These supplements include fish oil capsules or vegan options, providing a range or 150–1200 mg/d of DHA. Many prenatal vitamins contain up to 200 to 300 mg of DHA, enough to cover the weekly requirement. So be sure to talk to your doctor about your prenatal vitamins and don’t be afraid to eat seafood once or twice a week. Just make sure they are fresh and are thoroughly cooked.

What you should know about prenatal and postnatal vitamins

About to expect a baby or just had a newborn? Chances are you’ll soon start looking for a prenatal or postnatal vitamin pack to get the nutrients the both of you need for good health. A healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs, however even if you are eating healthy, you may fall short on some key nutrients -which is where supplements come in.

During breastfeeding, your body needs more of all the nutrients that a well-balanced diet can offer. Taking prenatal vitamins even after pregnancy is a recommended option. They work well as postnatal vitamins, since your breast milk will continue to provide important nutrients for your baby. Make sure your supplements include essential nutrients such as folic acid, iron, Vitamin D, fish oil, and calcium.

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The history of prenatal stimulation

Prenatal stimulation and the effects that external factors such as music could have in maternity have been studied about for years. Chinese culture and several philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius spoke about prenatal responsiveness, its relation with fetal environment and behavior, as well as the fetus’ cerebral function.

According to several studies done since the 1920’s, babies are able to perceive and react to outside stimulation. Therefore, prenatal stimulation can help develop the senses even before birth. Some of these studies are:

• Albrecht Peiper, a doctor from Leipzig University, he used a speaker to stimulate a baby’s hearing in the womb and found fetal reaction
• Psychologists David Escanda and Donal Hebb affirmed that early stimulation changes the brain, after stimulating the fetus’ hearing and seeing a sensorial reaction
• Rene Van de Carr developed a method of prenatal stimulation after watching fetal reactions to abdominal touch

On the other hand, Dr. Brent Logan, headmaster of the Prenatal Institute in Seattle, and Dr. Thomas Verny, founder of the North American Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Association, have dedicated their lives to investigate the effect that external environmental factors have on the fetus and prenatal stimulation. They both have published and designed methods to stimulate the baby’s development from the womb.

Nowadays, and thanks to technology and scientific research, we know that a baby is able to react to a wide range of outside stimulation. It’s recommended that you use some stimulation techniques to help your baby before {he/she} is born.

Caffeine intake and its risks

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), caffeine intake must be limited to less than 200 mg per day or, ideally, cut it out completely. Caffeine traspases through the placenta, meaning your baby is completely exposed to it. Besides, it takes your little one much more longer to process it, so {he/she} is exposed to its effects much longer than you. Studies have shown that consuming over 400 mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy acan cause cleft palate, low birth weight and preterm birth. Consuming it in smaller doses is associated with baby’s increased heart rate and increased activity; it’s also associated with lower calcium and iron levels, which are already low during pregnancy.

On the other hand, reducing your caffeine intake will also help you avoid insomnia, headaches and heartburn. The longer you’ve been pregnant, the longer it will take for your system to process caffeine, which means that its effects will be stronger than usual. We know that giving up coffee can be hard. The good news is you don’t have to give it up cold turkey. You can still enjoy one or two cups of coffee or caffeinated tea a day, just make sure not to surpass the limit of 200 mg of caffeine. You could also try drinking decaf to curb cravings, but keep the amount of caffeine consumed low. Remember that decaf still contains some caffeine although a lot less than regular coffee.

Some caffeinated foods or beverages include: tea, coffee, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate and desserts. To guarantee your baby’s healthy development, lower the intake of any caffeinated food and beverages. If you’re big on tea or coffee, you could start reducing your intake or try decaf. Remember that sometimes there’s caffeine in food you’re not expecting to contain it, so it’s better to double check and keep track of your daily caffeine intake.

Weight gain during pregnancy

Your ideal weight during pregnancy is given by your Body Mass Index (BMI), which comes from your height and weight. Your weight gain should depend on how much you used to weigh before getting pregnant. For example, if you were underweight before being pregnant, you’ll gain around 12 and 18 kilograms. On the other hand, if you were above your ideal weight, you’ll gain around 7 to 12 kilograms. It’s estimated that around 50% of women gain more weight than recommended. This could be due to anxiety or cravings, which are very common during pregnancy. A bit of extra weight will do no harm, but gaining more than recommended could result in your baby being too big, which could complicate the birthing process.

In order to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, it’s recommended to watch what you eat, and exercise according to your physical abilities. It’s important to know that your baby’s healthy development does not depend on how much you eat; it depends on how well you eat. So, remember to consume lots of fruits, veggies, and proteins during pregnancy. If you have cravings you can create some delicious and nutritious treats that satisfy your sweet tooth while adding a nutritious punch. For example, if you’re craving chocolate, why not prepare some strawberries dipped in chocolate. This way you can quench your desire while eating food that will benefit for your baby. Remember that eating twice as much is not necessary. Instead, aim for healthier nutrient-filled meals,  that boost your baby’s development.

Risks of alcohol during pregnancy

According to WHO (World Health Organization), around 276.000 newborns die each year due to some birth defect. The birth defects could be an effect from the environment, genetics, or an infection. Although it’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for the anomaly, alcohol consumption is the main cause that could have been prevented.

The consequences that come from alcohol consumption are also known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FAFB). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAFB) is the gravest and it embodies a series of physical, learning and behavioral issues. Some symptoms or signs of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are: facial and hearing abnormalities, heart, bone and kidney issues, intellectual disability, low birth weight, small head and short height,  vision impairment, and language delays.

There’s no cure for this syndrome, however, early treatment and intervention could reduce the fatalities and enhance the baby’s development. For example, behavioral therapy, special education, early diagnosis (before the baby is 6 years old), a stable and peaceful environment, and parents who are trained to deal with this issue could all make a huge difference on the baby’s future development.

If you’re pregnant, remember that alcohol consumption isn’t safe at any stage. Alcohol must be completely cut through your whole pregnancy.

Fluid retention

Why do we retain fluids during pregnancy and how can we prevent it?

Swelling is common during the third trimester given that you carry a larger quantity of liquids in your body. But, why does your body retain so much liquid? One of the reasons is that your uterus keeps growing and places pressure on your blood vessels. These blood vessels are important to get the blood from your limbs to your heart and since blood gets a harder time flowing, your body retains more liquid. For this reason, you might experience swollen ankles and edemas.

Swelling due to liquid retention should not be alarming, but you should pay attention: if it’s accompanied by headaches, high blood pressure, or an alteration in your vision and these could indicate preeclampsia. You should go to your doctor as soon as possible since it can be risky if not attended on time.

To ease fluid retention, follow the tips below:
•Get moving! Make sure to get some physical activity that requires legwork for at least 20 minutes
•Keep your legs high for at least 20 minutes twice a day. You could do this while you watch TV
•Avoid sun and heat
•Don’t use heels that are too high or socks that are too tight
•Sleep on your side
•Eat potassium, since it helps reduce liquid
•Limit sodium intake and excessive amounts of salt in your food

Remember that liquid retention and swelling is completely normal during pregnancy, but could be reduced with the above tips. Just remember if you experience swelling along with other symptoms, this could be a sign of preeclampsia, so consult your doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Fighting indigestion

Your body goes through a wide range of changes during pregnancy, including hormonal fluctuation. This causes your body and digestive system to relax, which is why indigestion is so common during pregnancy, accompanied by abdominal distention, reflux, and heartburn.

The further you are in your pregnancy, the bigger the chance of suffering from indigestion. Symptoms tend to intensify during the third trimester. The following tips could help keep these pesky symptoms at bay.

As fake as it might seem, constipation does have a bright side. While it could be inconvenient, your baby takes this opportunity to get even more nutrients, since your digestive system becomes slower to process food. So, you could try some alternatives to feel better and manage the symptoms.

1. Avoid caloric food and overeating. Be mindful of your weight during the first trimester, since gaining too much of it could worsen your stomach ache as your belly grows
2. Try keeping your feet elevated, or taking a walk after eating instead of lying down right away. This will let your body work on your digestion
3. Wait for at least two hours after dinner before going to sleep, and make sure to eat a light dinner
4. Avoid carbonated drinks and food that is slow to process (like fried food and cake)

The benefits and risks of fish

It’s recommended that pregnant women eat food rich in omega 3, bit it’s also important to avoid seafood with high levels of mercury. So, the question is: Should you or should you not eat fish during pregnancy?

According to the FDA, a pregnant woman should eat about 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week, given its wide range of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, protein, and omega 3. These nutrients are key for your baby’s brain development. However, there’s seafood that contains high levels of mercury, which could have a negative effect on your baby’s development. The important thing is to be able to tell the difference between fish high mercury and fish that doesn’t.

Why be careful?
It has been proven that food with high levels of mercury is related to a baby’s delay in development. Also, remember to eliminate consumption of raw seafood since it could contain harmful bacteria. This is why it’s key that you pay attention to your seafood consumption during pregnancy.

Here’s a list of fish and seafood that you can consume due to their wide range of nutrients and low mercury levels:

•Haddock fish
•Wild salmon
•Tilapia fish

Don’t forget to avoid raw fish and eat a maximum of 12 ounces of fish per week!

Foods to avoid

When it comes to your diet during pregnancy it’s recommended to eat certain foods and avoid others since their consumption could have repercussions on your baby’s development. It’s important that during your pregnancy you pay close attention to the food you eat or plan on eating.

Some questions you could ask yourself as a cautionary measure are: Is this food prepared with clean hands and instruments? Is it well cooked? Is it in good condition? Has it expired? Does it contain too much caffeine? Do these fish contain high-mercury levels?

Here’s a list of things you should AVOID eating or drinking during pregnancy:
•Raw fish or seafood, or fish and seafood with high levels of mercury
•Raw meat or raw poultry, for example: sausage, salami, pork sausage, cured ham and turkey
•Unpasteurized cheese or milk
•Raw egg (be it cake batter, mayonnaise, homemade sauces or any other food that contains raw eggs)
•More than 200 mg of caffeine a day
•Raw sprouts
•Unpasteurized fruit juice
•Pre-cooked salads and foods (they could contain an expired or uncooked ingredient)

Don’t forget to  talk to your doctor if you have any questions!