Guest Post: Top 5 Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Hello and welcome to all new and returning readers! I am happy to share a post written by another mama blogger who understands how important pregnancy nutrition is. I have posted about it recently and taken a class. There cannot be enough emphasis on this subject. See below for Katie’s contact information. Please note she is not a medical professional and any nutrition and pregnancy questions should be saved for your provider. Someday, that will be me! Until then, enjoy.

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Top 5 Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

An otherwise enjoyable pregnancy is often complicated by a number of symptoms and serious disorders. Whether it’s your first or fifth pregnancy, there is always more to learn about the best nutrition practices. The following tactics will help immensely with your pregnancy diet and beyond. Use what you learn to build a healthier you for decades to come!

1. Adopt a Research-Based Diet
If you’ve neglected eating healthy in the past, it’s time to make a change for the better. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of help in the process. The American Dietetic Association reports that caloric needs during pregnancy range from 2,500 to 2,700 calories. This is only a 300-calorie increase that should happen in the and the more efficient absorption of nutrients reduces the supplement requirements.

2. Eat Your Micro-Nutrients
Prenatal vitamins are commonly prescribed by the doctor as standard practice. However, food sources of those essential micro-nutrients are just as good and in some cases better. Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, for instance, is made easier in meals with fat calories. Take a look at some of the essential micro-nutrients and their food sources.

Folate Acid
The folic acid found in supplements and fortified foods is a synthetic analogue of folate. This vitamin plays an essential role in preventing birth defects and carrying the pregnancy to term. About 800 micrograms are needed daily. Get this amount primarily with peanuts, spinach, beans, asparagus, and oranges. Supplement the rest with fortified grains.

Calcium
Lack of this mineral is implicated in pre-eclampsia and general fatigue. You need 1,000 mg each day for prevention. Dairy products, spinach, salmon, and meat stocks are excellent sources.

Vitamin D
This vitamin plays a role in calcium uptake and the synthesis of many compounds in the body. You need about 600 IU daily, all of which can be obtained from food and exposure to sunlight. Fish is an excellent source. Milk, asparagus, and eggs also have appreciable quantities.

3. Healthy Eating Habits
Many medical professionals believe that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Some of the more common advice during pregnancy addresses prevention of nausea and other digestive upset. Eat in an upright position. Have smaller meals with frequent snacking in between. Save beverages until after the meal. The best piece of advice I ever received was to thoroughly chew every bite before swallowing. Your teeth are the first step to proper digestion!

4. Invest in the Right Appliances
Busy or fatigued, the right appliances will help mom get the best nutrition without cooking all day. I found a digital, programmable rice and vegetable steamer to be absolutely essential. It still gets a lot of use today!

5. Include Your Health Care Team
Your doctor and other providers are great sources for more information. They will also have more specific suggestions for tips based on your specific needs. They can make other healthy suggestions when it comes to delivery—information about pain management, cord blood banking, and immunizations. You should also share changes in your diet or any problems experienced with your friends and other students in pregnancy classes. They may know solutions or resources that haven’t cross your mind.

With these simple steps and the support of your loved ones around you, you will soon experience the joys of motherhood and experience an easier recovery with this healthy outlook.

Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

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Two Classes Down

This weekend I finished two of my four classes I am taking this semester. Medical terminology went so well. I had initially thought it would be difficult but it was rather easy. I am certain that must be because I already work in the medical field and recognize many terms and I have a degree in English so roots, suffixes and prefixes were not difficult to learn. The most difficult section was on the urinary system. This was the only section I got a B on a quiz so I am very happy and proud to say I got an A in the course!

Pregnancy nutrition was also great. I loved reading the material, though it was more difficult that I had first anticipated. I struggled in a few areas and while grades are not official yet, I’m pretty sure I have a B. YAY! Even though this course is separate, I start Infant Nutrition today with the same book and professor. Five more weeks and then I will only have one class for the last half of the semester. I cannot believe how quickly the last 5 weeks went!

I will be posting a few discussions from pregnancy nutrition over the next few days. It is SO important that if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are already expecting that you ensure that you are getting enough calories, taking the right vitamins and minerals, and even getting a little exercise. I did not take some of those things as seriously when I was pregnant and while I was still healthy, as was my baby, I will certainly be more adamant about it next time.

Article Review: Eat More Fish!

This is the article critique I submitted for my pregnancy nutrition class. This covers a very important subject of eating fish while pregnant. Did you eat fish while pregnant? If so, did you follow your doctors recommendation of only two servings a week? What kind of fish did you enjoy?

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A common discussion among pregnant women, their providers and the birthing world in general is whether or not fish is healthy to eat while pregnant and breastfeeding. Consuming fish regularly provides docosahexaenoic, or DHA, plus omega-3 fatty acids which are needed in any healthy diet, especially that of an expecting mother. An article printed by The Telegraph, a British newspaper, titled “Pregnant Women Should Be Allowed to Eat More Fish”, reports that women should be consuming more than the recommended amount of fish during their pregnancy to encourage vital brain development in their unborn baby while also receiving the benefit of this necessary fatty acid.

“Docosahexaenoic acid, an essential fatty acid, [is] thought to be important to the development of infants, particularly [in] regards their eyes and brain” (MedicineNet, 2012). This is a brief definition of DHA and why it is important during pregnancy. Since 2004, the Food Standards Agency along with medical professionals have recommended that women consume no more than two servings of fish per week, or 12 total ounces, which the article acknowledges that recommendation is “ultraconservative” (Gray, 2010). This suggestion is also seen in our text on page 114 which was printed a year after this article was released.

The article goes on to say that women should actually be consuming three portions of fish a week to ensure proper DHA and omega-3 fatty acids intake (Gray, 2010). Our text, unlike the article, describes the types of fish which are higher in mercury content and should be consumed less, if not at all. Those fish include swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark, as well as no more than six ounces of “white tuna” a week. There is a danger to the fetus if too much mercury is consumed, however there is a number of other fish with less mercury content and high in DHA.

DHA has been nicknamed a “brain food” of sorts. “Women who consume adequate amounts of EPA and DHA during pregnancy and lactation tend to deliver infants with somewhat higher levels of intelligence, better vision and otherwise more mature central nervous system function than do women who consume low amounts of these fatty acids” (Brown, 2011). The article touches on this topic briefly while also stating that some research has found no correlation with better academic abilities in children later in life (Gray, 2010). Regardless, it is important to emphasize the importance of DHA consumption and how eating fish while pregnant is not nearly as bad as others have made it seem. When I was pregnant with my son, I avoided fish. I was only basing my decision off of what had been recommended to me by my doctor. Also, my husband is highly allergic so avoiding it was not difficult. However, later in my pregnancy I did enjoy a number of salmon meals. I know that I was not receiving an adequate amount of DHA despite taking a daily prenatal vitamin. I have gained a much better perspective on fish and how important it is while pregnant. I will ensure I consume enough DHA next time by taking fish oil and eating more than one serving of fish per week. Our text states that taking fish oil daily is safe and beneficial (Brown, 2011).

The only reference the article makes to data proving that not taking in enough DHA, or the recommended 340 grams per week, showed children were born with a greater risk of having low verbal intelligence (Gray, 2010). How high was that risk? Were these children exposed to any other teratogens while in the womb? Was the mother taking a regular prenatal vitamin? These are all the questions, and more, I asked myself as I read that statement. Studies like this can be a great stepping stone in determining whether or not fish can or should be consumed while pregnant. However, it is not clear on any of the other circumstances surrounding those women and their babies with lower verbal intelligence. There are many other factors which could cause a child to be delayed verbally. This is the first I have read that a lack of DHA could be one of those factors.

This article brings up a great point, encouraging women to eat more fish and that it is less dangerous than previously thought. The information provided is true in that consuming an adequate amount of DHA is very important while pregnant. However, our text still only recommends two servings versus three servings listed in the article. I consider myself to be less conservative and agree with the article. I do not think the information in our text is as accurate, despite it having been published a year after this article. I am not sure if that is because doctors must still only be recommending two servings or if the author of our text is biased. Our text even states, “Fish and seafood are by far the richest food sources of EPA and DHA (Brown, 2011)”. If DHA is so important for the developing baby then why is our text still only recommending two servings per week? In this case, our text does not support the recommendation presented in this article.

I would recommend other pregnant women read this article so that they receive information on this subject from different perspectives. Only she can decide what is right for her and her baby. I already find myself wanting to share this information with the labor and delivery nurses I work with as a means to create healthy discussion about something that is really important. I would tell them that they should read the article and consider the fact that most fish do not have a high content of mercury and that adding that natural form of DHA to their diet would be very beneficial. I would also share the research given about how good DHA is for brain development, which I think supersedes any other discussion about it. For me, that is a done deal. I will be taking in more DHA either through fish or fish oil. I would add more information about the brain development and how DHA specifically affects a positive result, especially in pregnancy. This is the first I have heard, even after having a baby of my own, that DHA specifically targets brain and vision development which would have been nice to know ahead of time.

 

References:

MedicineNet, 2012. Definition of DHA. Retrieved on September 6, 2012 from:

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23903

Brown, J. E. (2011). Nutrition Through the Life Cycle (4th Ed). Belmont, CA:Wadsworth.

Gray, R. (May 30, 2010). Pregnant Women Should Be Allowed to Eat More Fish. The Telegraph. Retrieved on September 6, 2012 from:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7782834/Pregnant-women-should-be-allowed-to-eat-more-fish.html

Preconception Nutrition

Below is my first discussion post for my pregnancy nutrition class. Preconception nutrition is something which is barely talked about and needs more light given to it.

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The state of health between two people preparing for pregnancy is very important for conception and fetal development. Managing a healthy lifestyle prior to becoming pregnant involves both the man and the woman making a conscious effort to eat a well balanced diet, taking vitamins, and exercising to increase the chances of conception and influence a healthy pregnancy.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, emotional health prior to conception is just as important as physical health. Stress, anxiety and depression can delay conception and ensuring there is general mental stability will increase the chances of pregnancy. This is especially important for women who are already at risk or have experience with anxiety and depression, as well as a mother who has experienced mental issues postpartum. In 2008, Health.com published an article and explained that women who have experienced postpartum depression are 50% more likely to experience it with or after the next pregnancy. I have personal experience with anxiety, as I have dealt with it over the last 10 years. When I became pregnant in 2009, my mental health was stable. However, three months after I had my son, I began to experience the debilitating effects of anxiety. I was terrified of almost everything and anything that could happen to my son. I talked to my OB and received help.

Preconception health is not very different from normal daily nutrition, however there are more important vitamins to incorporate into the diet like iron and folic acid. These vitamins are found in other foods, but most people do not eat enough of it for healthy preconception and pregnancy. In my opinion, the five most important aspects of preconception nutrition include exercise, taking prenatal vitamins, having a discussion with your PCP regarding pregnancy, ensuring mental health is stable and being up-to-date on immunizations.

Reference:http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188759,00.html