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Most women start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as they discover they are pregnant, but the truth is prenatal vitamins and a balanced diet protect the health of your baby long before you even conceive.  While a good prenatal vitamin is not a substitute for a healthy diet, the benefits to you and your unborn child are many.

Pre-conception

Ensuring your body is at its healthiest before getting pregnant will provide your baby with the best possible start in life.  It is recommended that you start taking a prenatal vitamin before getting pregnant to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients essential to healthy fetal growth and development.

The benefits of minerals like calcium, iron, and folic acid in particular cannot be overlooked, and a prenatal vitamin contains all of these in amounts that many women find difficult to gain through diet alone.

Prevention of Birth Defects

Prenatal vitamins have been proven to help prevent certain types of birth defects.  In fact, taking a prenatal before and during your pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects by 50 – 70%.   Folic Acid which is considered to be the most crucial of all as it helps to protect your baby from neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.  These types of birth defects typically occur in the first 30 days of pregnancy at which point many women have yet to even discover they’re pregnant.  Again, why it’s important to begin taking vitamins containing folic acid prior to becoming pregnant.  In addition to providing protection from neural tube defects, folic acid is also thought to lower the risk of heart defects as well as cleft palate, and may also reduce the risk of preterm birth, and a condition called preeclampsia for Mom.  Recent studies have also shown that children of women with less iron intake throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding had five times the risk of developing autism than those whose mothers had sufficient levels.

Added Protection Against Miscarriage

Some studies suggest a link between iron deficiency and miscarriage.  Iron helps to build the placenta that supports and protects your baby throughout your pregnancy, and is also required to help structure fetal bones and tissues.  Ensuring adequate levels of iron may  help prevent preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Support Healthy Fetal Development and Protect Your Own Health

Minerals like calcium are required to support the development of your baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles.  If you aren’t getting adequate amounts of calcium while pregnant, your own stores will be diverted leading to potential health problems for you as your body will automatically supplement your baby’s calcium needs by drawing it from your bones.  This results in reduced bone density and puts you at an increased risk of osteoporosis.  Pregnancy and breastfeeding place tremendous demands on your body and can also deplete your omega-3 fatty acids.  Prenatal DHA can help replenish your levels of fatty acids which are found in high concentrations in your baby’s brain and eyes.  Studies show that infants born to mothers with higher blood levels of DHA have advanced attention spans well into their second year of life.  During the first six months of life, these same babies had attention spans that were two months ahead developmentally of those babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels.

Protect the Future Health of Your Baby

Prenatal vitamins along with a healthy diet may protect the future health of your child.  Although a definitive link has not been established, there is some evidence that suggests a lack of essential minerals during pregnancy can be linked to cognitive deficiencies, impaired growth, as well as attention deficit disorders and behavioral problems.

Lactation and Recovery

Once your little one has arrived your body will need to recover.  Since taking care of a newborn requires most of mom’s energy, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to cook healthy meals.   Keep easy, nutritious snacks around like fruits, nuts and fresh veggies to help fill in the gaps.  For good milk production, women need plenty of water and nutrients to keep up with the demands of a hungry baby.  It may not be easy to remember to take your prenatal once you are no longer pregnant, but it is equally as important as when you first started your journey into motherhood.

While prenatal vitamins are not meant to fully replace a healthy diet, they promote good nutrition to support a healthy pregnancy and ensure the proper development of your growing baby.

 

Beautiful pregnant woman smiling in kitchen

Thanksgiving is the lead in to the holiday season, which for some also happens to be the busiest time of year.  All of the planning, shopping and cooking can frazzle any super mom, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re pregnant.  Because pregnancy can often leave you exhausted and with a weakened immune system, we’ve dedicated today’s post to helping you and baby-to-be get through this most special day in the healthiest way possible.

Don’t Forget to Rest

We know, we know – how on earth can we expect you to rest when you’ve got 10 people coming for dinner?  Here’s the thing, making a baby is hard work and it takes a lot of energy.  The heart is working five times as hard as it did pre-pregnancy in order pump enough blood to you and your baby, and your kidneys are working overtime too.  In order to keep up the energy needed to support all of your body’s extra efforts, you will need rest so try to cut corners where you can.  Consider a potluck affair, make dishes ahead of time, or opt for canned gravy and store bought desserts as opposed to scratch.  This will limit the amount of time you spend on your feet.  Standing for too long while pregnant puts extra pressure on your already taxed uterus and can also restrict your blood flow by compressing veins.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Thanksgiving often goes hand-in-hand with outrageously delicious, yet-not-so-healthy foods and it can be tempting to over-indulge.  Your body and your baby both rely on nutrition in order to thrive so while we aren’t saying you can’t reach for any of the treats, just do so in moderation.

• Avoid salty foods as too much sodium can raise your blood pressure causing fluid retention and unnecessary swelling.

• Too much sugar can put you at risk for gestational diabetes; a serious condition resulting from elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It can also lead to premature delivery, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications.

• Avoid overeating.  With so much food at your fingertips and an appetite for two, it can be easy to overeat, however the digestion process takes longer during pregnancy leaving you uncomfortable and at risk of heartburn.

• Steer clear of soft cheeses and deli meats.  Many of the softer cheeses are unpasteurized which means they are more likely to contain a bacteria called listeria.  Deli and smoked meats can also carry this. Listeria is dangerous as it can lead to listeriosis infection. Moms will experience flu-like symptoms but it is a much more serious risk for your baby.

• Most of us know to pass on the alcohol,  as it crosses the placenta and can therefore affect your developing baby. Drinking during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillborn babies, and worse.  Children born to mothers who consume excess alcohol during pregnancy can be born with a cleft palate, heart defects, and other developmental problems.

Instead, fill your plate with healthy foods like Vitamin A rich sweet potatoes and squash; calcium, Vitamin C and folate filled broccoli; leafy greens like spinach, kale and turnip greens, and of course protein packed turkey which is also jam packed with healthy B Vitamins.

Speaking of Turkey

You may be an old pro at turkey prep by now, however your body’s immune system has shifted its focus to protecting your baby now.  This means you could fall victim to certain bacteria that wouldn’t have affected you in the past.  To avoid becoming ill, thaw your turkey in the fridge instead of on the counter or in the sink.  Wash it thoroughly before cooking using lemon or vinegar water to help kill any bacteria on the skin.  Cook to an internal temperature of 180 F, and to be on the safe side, opt for stove-top stuffing this time around.

Leftovers

One of our favorite things about Thanksgiving is the turkey sandwiches we get to indulge in the following day. It’s important to remember that your body is more susceptible to bacteria during pregnancy which means you’ll need to take extra precautions when storing your leftovers.

• It is recommended that you refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking.

• Use shallow containers to store food as it allows it to cool quickly and evenly.

• Eat all leftovers within four days.

Above all else, enjoy this time with family and friends. This time next year, you’ll have one more thing to be thankful for – your beautiful baby, and we can think of anything else to me more grateful for!

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sleeping tips for new moms

Sleep deprivation is often part of being a new mom.  We all know it’s temporary, however getting through the day caring for a newborn and a family can be challenging on little sleep.  With the holidays around the corner, you may be adding even more to our already full plate.  Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this time of sleeplessness.

1.  You don’t have to be Martha Stewart- or even a close second

Repeat after us, “I am not Martha Stewart”.  Say it, own it, feel it, believe it!  Unless Architectural Digest is sending a photographer over to shoot your home for their holiday edition, your house does not need to be perfect.   Do you really need Christmas lights on every tree, bush and window around your house?  Let’s not forget how that worked out for the Griswold family in Christmas Vacation!  Expectant moms will need to reserve their energy leading up to the big day, and new Mommies are already short on shut-eye. The last thing you need to do with baby’s nap time is worry about holiday decorations.  If you insist on channeling your inner Martha, at least ask for some assistance.  Call a friend or two and have them come over to help you get your home holiday ready.  At least then you can squeeze in some good quality girl time.  Otherwise, put up your tree, hang a wreath on your door and get some rest!

2.  Learn to say “no”

Rather than stress yourself trying to find the time and energy to attend every holiday event that you’re invited to, narrow your commitments down to those that are mandatory. You may be accustomed to party hopping at this time of year but this Christmas is different.  You are not superwoman and it’s ok to gracefully decline party invitations.  The hosts will understand.

3.  Sleep when your baby sleeps

Any midwife or OB-GYN will tell you the key to fighting off postpartum sleep deprivation is to sleep when your baby sleeps.  It’s very tempting to do chores, laundry, hang out on Facebook or online or even watch a favorite show.   While we think it’s important to have some mommy refresh time, catching some z’s  is more important.  Sleep deprivation is real and can even be dangerous for you and your little ones.

4.  Say “yes” to help

Accept any help you can get.  Whether it’s a family member, friend, or babysitter, accept the help, so you can get a few hours of sleep.  You can even get help to simplify your life during the holidays.  Shop online or hire help to wrap presents.  Take turns with your spouse in keeping the little one and give yourself a few good hours of sleep.

5.  Remember- this is only a season

Not all children are alike, but at some point your child will begin to sleep through the night.  It may not be at 6 or even 8 months old, but it will come. Some babies sleep through the night earlier than others.   If your baby is crying all night for more than a couple of nights in a row, talk to your pediatrician as there may be a medical reason such as acid reflux or too much gas and it can be treated.

6.  Be aware of Postpartum Depression

Sleep loss can lead to mood changes, and new moms are at risk for baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression.  Getting as much rest as you possibly can, plus a healthy diet, especially if you are nursing, can help combat postpartum depression.  Studies have also shown that supplemental DHA Omega-3 can help with mood balance and is especially important during lactation and recovery.

7.  Dream-feed before bed

Dream-feeding or parent-initiated feeding while baby is still asleep can sometimes take away that first middle of the night feeding.  If baby’s belly is already full, they may sleep for a longer stretch.  The key is to keep your little one asleep but allowing him or her to get a little snack right before you head off to bed.

Those of us moms who have already survived sleep deprivation can agree, this time will pass before you know it.   Motherhood is not for wimps, but it is worth every minute.

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