Folate in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted July 23 2010 01:30pm
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Experts have found that mothers who have adequate levels of folic acid in their bodies may be less likely to give birth to children with neural tube defects (NTDs). As well, folate may also help in preventing a number of other health problems that can be experienced during pregnancy, including anemia, birth defects, and complications such as preeclampsia and spontaneous abortion. After the birth of a child, folate may also help a mother’s body get ready sooner for another pregnancy.

Although it occurs naturally in food, a typical woman of childbearing age gets just 0.2 mg of folic acid through diet alone. Because many pregnancies are unplanned and NTDs occur very early in a pregnancy—often before a woman knows she’s pregnant—experts recommend that all women of childbearing age take in between 0.4 mg and 1.0 mg of folic acid every day. And women who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes or who have a family history of NTDs should take in more, as much as 5.0mg daily. After giving birth, many women appear to suffer folate deficiency for as long as 6 months; these women, in particular, should think about supplementation. However, always consult your doctor before starting folate supplements. Folic acid levels that are too high can possibly lead to an increased risk of multiple births, neurological disorders, and breast cancer.

With a little preventative action, such as storing food in the fridge in tightly covered containers and cooking in small amounts of water for as little time as possible, folic acid can be preserved in the foods we eat. 

Excellent sources of folate include: 

Cooked fava, kidney, roman, soy and white beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils, spinach, asparagus, orange juice, canned pineapple juice, peanuts, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, romaine lettuce, enriched pasta and bagels made with enriched flour.

Good sources of folate include: 

Cooked corn, sprouted mung beans, broccoli, green peas, brussel sprouts, beets, oranges, melons, avocado, eggs, walnuts, cashews and English muffins made with enriched flour.

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Iron in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted April 25 2011 03:17pm
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Pregnancy is a precious time – you and your baby are growing together. However, this time of rapid growth naturally puts higher demands on your bodies basic nutrient requirements. Have you had you iron levels checked?

During pregnancy iron is critical because it helps make hemoglobin – a blood protein that carries oxygen to other cells for both the mother and the fetus, and aids in the process of disease resistance in the fetus. When demands for iron exceed the supply the mothers body is depleted. When this happens it causes fatigue, weakness/poor endurance, trouble with concentration, paleness, or sometimes a quickened heartbeat. So if you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to have your health care professional test your iron levels at your first prenatal appointment.

Iron needs nearly double in pregnancy. But how much is enough, or too much? The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for a pregnant woman is 27 milligrams (mg) per day. But be sure to ask, taking more than necessary can make you feel nauseated, cause constipation, heartburn or even diarrhea.

Here’s how to make sure your diet is pumped with iron:

  • Choose red meat, poultry, salmon and eggs for a good source of heme-iron, the type of iron found in animals. It’s better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plants.
  • Choose plant-based foods such as berries, broccoli, green leafy vegetables (like chard and spinach), green beans, tomatoes, and artichokes.
  • Remember tomato sauces and tomato juice also contains iron. Choose whole-grains (for example millet), iron-fortified breads and cereals, and bake with wheat germ, brewer’s yeast and molasses.
  • Add parsley or seaweed to your favorite dishes to provide a little extra iron.
  • Cook non-gmo tofu for a great vegetarian source of iron.
  • Sprinkle dried fruits and nuts on your morning oatmeal for an iron top-up.
  • Cook in a cast-iron pan: your food will absorb iron from the pan.

If you’re still feelings symptoms of anemia, ask your doctor or midwife about taking supplements, which you should swallow on an empty stomach with orange juice for better absorption. Note that dairy, and caffeinated drinks interfere with iron absorption.

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Depression in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted August 9 2010 10:52am
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While pregnancy may be a happy time for women, it’s a myth that pregnant women do not become depressed.


However, this myth can prevent women from talking about her feelings or from finding help for it because they are ashamed. Women should talk to their partner, doctor or midwife about this as soon as they sense it is happening to them.

If a pregnant woman says she is feeling down or depressed, it is important for her, and those around her, to pay attention. If these down feelings are combined with constant sadness or losing interest in the things she normally does, she is clearly showing some of the warning signs of depression. Studies show that about 15% of pregnant women experience major or moderate depression during pregnancy.

Keep in mind that if a woman has had a depression before becoming pregnant or has a relative who has faced a depression, she may be more prone to a serious depression during her pregnancy.

Mood swings, fatigue, and trouble eating and sleeping can be typical at certain times in many women's pregnancies. However, they are also signs of depression in pregnancy if they continue for longer than what is normally expected. Other signs of depression are:

  • Always feeling sad.
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and of being worthless.
  • Thinking often about death or suicide; not being able to concentrate or do the things she ordinarily does.
  • A change in eating habits more or less that than what is normally expected in pregnancy.
  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep a lot.

Pregnant women who are depressed are more likely to slide into unhealthy practices, just when healthy practices are needed most. For example, women may skip their regular prenatal check-ups, or they may not eat well or rest enough or use substances such as tobacco or drugs.   All of these can lead to having the baby too early or to the baby not being a healthy weight when born.

It is important for a pregnant woman to talk to her doctor or midwife about depressive feelings or signs. In many cases, it is helpful if her partner goes along to this appointment because he needs to be part of the treatment plan. She can sometimes treat minor depression by doing things like eating well, getting regular exercise, making sure she gets enough sleep and deals with her stress (through relaxation exercises, yoga, etc.). If her doctor thinks the depression is serious, medication may be prescribed. In such a case, she will want to discuss with her doctor and pharmacist all the side effects and implications for her mental health and the baby's development.

Many herbal products, including St. John's Wort, have not yet been studied carefully for their effects on pregnant women. Mom should not take any herbal products without first consulting with her doctor, pharmacist or the Motherisk Clinic.

About 25% of women who are depressed during their pregnancy will have what is called a "postpartum depression," which is a depression after the baby is born.

It’s normal for a woman to feel a little sad or anxious in the first two weeks after the baby is born. Everyone should pay attention and help during this period. If she has constant or signs and symptoms of depression, there is cause for concern. Both parents should speak to her doctor or midwife about this to determine how to treat the depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat if it is caught early before the With symptoms become deeply rooted.

If a mother is depressed during baby’s first year of life, it can make it difficult for her to become emotionally attached to baby and vice versa. Fathers and others need to ensure she gets the help she needs for her depression. Dads may also need to step in and help her relate to the baby in whatever way she can while she recovers. Dads also need to give extra loving care and stimulation to the baby to keep baby's development on track.

For more information on Depression in Pregnancy:



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Couple's Emotional Rollercoaster

by Maxine
Posted August 9 2010 11:42am
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Thrilled one day about the new baby that’s coming, scared the next about not knowing what to expect. Does this sound familiar? Pregnancy is a huge, life-changing event for almost every couple. During that time, emotions are sometimes up and sometimes down. Most pregnant couples notice that they are dealing with a lot more than they thought they would. They are experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.

Even when a pregnancy is planned, couples are often somewhat surprised that they have actually conceived. They may have been trying for several months or even years to become pregnant. While trying to become pregnant, they make plans and change their daily life to prepare for this huge event. However, when they do become pregnant, the timing may not be perfect. Every pregnancy is unique and no one can guess what emotions each parent will feel during the pregnancy.

Couples who didn’t plan their pregnancy often find it hard to believe they're actually pregnant – there are a lot of unplanned pregnancies – as many as 30-50%. This disbelief can last for several months. When it finally sinks in, the couple can feel all sorts of different emotions. Typically, the partner who accepts the pregnancy first may have difficulty coping with the other partner who is taking more time to accept the pregnancy.

Emotional ups and downs during pregnancy are normal. However, they can cause both moms and dads to worry if they are unable to deal with them. Here are a few guidelines to help you with emotions that are pretty typical during pregnancy.

A very worrisome fear is that something will be wrong with the baby.
This is really two fears. The first fear is that the baby will have something very wrong, physically or intellectually. The second is a worry that as parents, you will be unable to give such a baby the care and affection needed. Unfortunately, simply knowing that the chances of having such a baby are very low usually does not help ease this worry. The best thing to do is to talk about these fears with one another. Try not to keep them to yourself. These worries are pretty typical and float up at least once with most parents, and for some parents they become a major preoccupation.

If you feel that something will go wrong with your baby to the point where it is interfering with your enjoyment of your pregnancy or life in general, discuss your worries with your doctor or midwife with whom you feel the most comfortable.

Sometimes parents worry that they will embarrass themselves during labour and delivery.

They're fearful of saying or doing something to hurt their relationship with each other or their doctor. This is stressful for parents. Prenatal classes will help prepare you to go through labour and delivery in a way that works for you. Don’t worry about what you might say or do in the hospital. Medical personnel have seen it all and are very patient.

Regardless of whether or not the pregnancy is planned, most parents wonder what they got themselves into.
Sometimes the timing is wrong, or parents worry that they will never be good parents. These worries are normal. They typically come and go throughout the pregnancy. The best way to deal with them is to talk to your partner about them. Worries like these don’t usually last.

Some parents have bad dreams that play out deep fears.
You may dream that your baby has died or has a disability. Some parents even have dreams where they harm their babies. No one really knows why these dreams occur. Some experts think these types of dreams are a way parents mentally prepare themselves to handle experiences they fear. Others think they may express feelings parents may not be aware of. All experts advise parents against believing that these dreams will come true. Believing it will only result in feeling guilty or frightened. These bad dreams occur in many pregnancies, so if they happen to you, don’t blame yourself or think that it’s a bad sign.

(Discuss the dream with your partner, and if you continue to be worried about the dream, talk about it with your midwife and your doctor.)

A couple's emotions often change together.

If one is down, the other goes down. This is very common in many couples. When this happens, each partner has to deal with his or her own emotions as well as the partner’s. It may take a while for a couple to figure out that they are triggering each other’s moods. Each partner needs to decide when to maintain a little emotional independence and when to share the other’s emotions.

Some parents know they are not ready to become parents and that bothers them.
Typically parents bury such feelings because they don't want to admit that they have such “bad” thoughts. Or parents hide how they feel to avoid letting their partners know. The parent with the deep regrets hopes that the feelings will go away or magically disappear when the baby arrives. This almost never happens. Keeping these very important thoughts and feelings to yourself will affect your relationship with your partner and your baby. If you find yourself in this situation, talk to a doctor or midwife with whom you feel most comfortable. These feelings are more common than most people recognize. They will help you find the guidance you need without judging you.


How did you manage your emotionas as a couple through your pregnancy? What are you doing now to get over the emotional struggles? Let us know by leaving a comment below! 

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