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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Vitamin D

by Guest
Posted July 24 2010 01:22pm
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The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) says that pregnant woman, postpartum moms and babies in Canada are not getting enough Vitamin D. This is especially true for those that live farther north than 55° latitude (including many Northern Aboriginal Peoples) where there is limited exposure to sunshine, a natural source of Vitamin D. Darker skin tone can also interfere with the absorption of natural Vitamin D. Breastfed babies whose mothers are low in Vitamin D are most likely low in Vitamin D too. Vitamin D is important for cell growth and metabolism, as well as for healthy immunity. According to a 2006 study, low intake of vitamin D during pregnancy has been significantly associated with low birth weight babies.

Rickets – an illness that causes poor bone development – is still present in Canada’s North, but could be prevented with Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D is found in a few foods and most commonly in fortified milk and sunshine. The levels of Vitamin D from these sources may be inconsistent and not enough for breastfed babies and for pregnant and breastfeeding women. CPS recommends all exclusively breastfed babies receive 400IU per day and that babies living in the North receive 800 IU per day during the months of October through April. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to speak to their doctors about taking 2000IU per day.

If you are lactose intolerant, you still want to make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D, as these are important for your bone health and for the development of strong bones and teeth for her baby. The following foods are good sources of calcium and vitamin D:

  • Fortified soy or rice milk
  • Calcium set tofu 
  • Canned salmon (with bones)
  • Sardines
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Calcium fortified orange juice
  • Vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, kale, or bok choy

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Drug and Alcohol Use in Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted August 9 2010 11:00am
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If you take or are exposed to certain drugs, like marijuana or cocaine, you can also be harming you and your baby's health. It is thought that marijuana, especially combined with additional cigarette smoking, can slow down the growth of your baby and lead to low birth weight. Cocaine is associated with miscarriage, premature birth, poor fetal growth and placental problems.

If you are taking prescribed or over-the-counter drugs, you need to be very cautious and follow the directions as given by your healthcare provider. Please note the following precautions when using prescribed and over-the-counter drugs:

  • Don't stop using your prescription drugs without consulting your doctor. Discuss the relative risks and benefits of any prescribed drug therapy with your obstetrician as soon as you discover you are pregnant.
  • If you have an illness during your pregnancy or require drugs for any medical reason, your doctor may prescribe medication, choosing one that is least likely to be harmful to your baby.
  • Do not take over-the-counter drugs or naturopathic remedies, including drinking any herbal teas, without first consulting your pharmacist, the Motherisk Clinic or your healthcare provider.

Anything that you eat or drink while pregnant is shared with your baby via the placenta. If you drink alcohol, it will flow directly into your baby's bloodstream. This alcohol can affect the development of your baby's brain, major internal organs or overall growth.

If you had a drink or two before you even knew you were pregnant (as many women do), don't worry too much about it. But your best bet is to not drink any alcohol at all for the rest of your pregnancy. If you choose to continue drinking alcohol throughout your pregnancy, you should be aware of the following facts:

  • Even one drink can result in low birth weight and other problems in babies.
  • Heavy drinking (more than six drinks per day) is associated with high risks for a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This causes physical and mental defects in the baby. Binge drinking may be particularly harmful because of the high amount of alcohol in the blood at one time.
  • Women who drink heavily also tend to have poor nutrition which can further restrict fetal growth. 
  • There is no known amount of alcohol that can be drunk safely without potentially harming the fetus during pregnancy.

Did you know that alcohol produces more severe abnormalities in a developing fetus than heroin, cocaine or marijuana?

Ask your pharmacist, healthcare provider or the Motherisk Clinic, (416) 813-6780, if you have any questions.

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Are we ready to have a baby?

by Maxine
Posted July 14 2011 04:28pm
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Science shows that only about 50% of pregnancies are planned. As a couple, are you ready for a baby in your life? Consider the following questions, think about your responses and then discuss them with your partner.

Am I ready to be a parent?

  • Do I enjoy being with children?
  • What experience have I had caring for babies and young children?
  • How would I feel about having a child around all the time?
  • Do I have the patience it takes to raise a child?
  • Do I see myself as a father?
  • Do I see myself as a mother?
  • Can I manage a job and the responsibilities of a child?
  • What skills do I have that would help me to be a parent?
  • Am I ready to put the needs of a baby ahead of my routines or activities?
  • Can I support a baby financially at this point in my life? How will our financial situation change? Do we need to cut back financially?
  • Am I ready to devote the time it takes to be a parent?
  • Who are my role models as parents?
  • Do I have any health or work-related issues that cannot be changed and that may affect my ability to be a parent?

Am I ready for personal changes that having a child brings?

  • What kind of time and space do I need for myself?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I have?
  • What changes will I need to make about seeing friends, going out, relaxing time, and career or education goals?
  • Am I willing to delay or change some of the personal goals I have set?
  • Will I resent the changes I will need to make?

Am I prepared for the changes in our relationship as a couple?

  • How do we spend our time together? How will this be different with a baby?
  • What are our expectations about dividing the work around the home now? After a baby comes?
  • What are our expectations about dividing the care of a baby?
  • How do we make decisions as a couple?
  • Do we have any relationship issues that we need to resolve? Having a baby will not fix a rocky relationship.


Were you surprised by your reaction or your partner’s reaction to some of these questions? You may not be in agreement on all of these questions - couples rarely agree on everything. We know from our research with expectant parents who participated in our prenatal/parenting program The Parenting Partnership, (www.welcometoparenting.com), they were very surprised to discover just how different their views were on parenting. Much better to have these conversations before having a child than to be surprised afterwards, when stresses are high and hours of sleep are low.Discussing these various areas allows each of you to share any concerns and compromise around when the best time might be to add to your family. Talk with friends who have become parents. They are likely to tell you just how having a child changed their lives.


Did you go through this list of questions with your partner? Were you surprised with the answers? Let us know and share your experiences by leaving a comment below! 


If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!



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