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Monthly Archives: June 2014

  • Are you Tired or Iron Deficent?

    As summer steams up, many of us start feeling a little lethargic. If you are living in a hot and humid area, it is easy to get the pregnancy doldrums that make our maternity weight feel like it is double, even if you aren’t expecting twins. For many women the hot weather is not the only cause of pregnancy fatigue, it may also stem from a lack of sufficient iron in your diet.

    Research shows that only one in five women begin their pregnancy with sufficient iron levels. No matter the geography, iron is the most common and widespread deficiency in women around the world and the leading cause of fatigue in women. Other symptoms from low iron are poor concentration and quick mental fatigue as well as a low tolerance for exercise and physical exertion.

    During pregnancy women’s iron requirements double and without the proper diet and supplementation iron reserves can continue to deplete with each subsequent pregnancy. Studies show that as many as 50% of pregnant women are iron deficient and 20% of non-pregnant women. Clearly we all need to be getting more iron in our diet or at least supplementing more.

    If your diet has 15mg of iron and 30mg of iron supplementation you are probably meeting your iron requirement during pregnancy. If you are not meeting your iron requirement, an easy way to add more iron to your diet is to eat more iron-enriched cereals and grains (read the labels) as well as snacking on dried fruits such as raisins and prunes. Also, foods in the bean family such as lentils, chick peas and soybeans are all high in iron as well. We all know that dark leafy greens like Popeye recommends such as spinach and collards are rich in iron and very good for you.

    Other foods high in iron are red meat and egg yolks. But even if you are a vegetarian or a vegan there are still plenty of iron rich food options for you. Talk to your doctor about a supplement (or have a blood test) if you suspect you may be low on iron in your diet, particularly if you are pregnant.

  • Product of the Week – Maternal America Megan Denim Shorts

    Every girl needs a pair of awesome denim shorts of the summer and pregnancy is no time to skimp on this must-have summer wardrobe item. If you are looking for a pair of just above the knee, super comfortable and stretchy denim maternity shorts along with a stylish blue stone wash that looks great with absolutely every top, blouse and shoe, then look no further than The Maternal America Megan Denim Shorts.

    Megan Maternity Denim Shorts by Maternal America

    I speak from experience when I say that these shorts are my hands down favorite pair of not only maternity shorts, but summer shorts in general. I got these super comfy maternity shorts when I was pregnant with my third child six years ago and wore them all the time until it was too cold to wear them (my baby came early November). I kid you not when I say they are STILL my favorite pair of shorts and I still wear them through the summer and they are not stretched out of shape at all although I am 35 pounds lighter, and mostly in the belly! They do not look at all like maternity shorts and they have survived countless washings and look as good as new. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone I am still enjoying my denim maternity shorts five years post-baby!)

    The only tell-tale maternity sign to these shorts is a wide elastic waistband that fits like a dream and will ease under your belly when it becomes “Super-Size.” However this waistband is truly a miracle because it will fit your belly at nearly any size and is not so wide that it screams “maternity” and it is easy to cover up with an un-tucked top.

    These shorts are a great postpartum choice when you are on the way down after your baby but not quite into your regular spring and summer clothes. But you just might find, like me, that you still just love the way they look and feel even when you are at your pre-baby weight and body. These shorts will still be there for you should choose to wear them and nobody will ever know they were your maternity shorts, let alone your favorite maternity shorts!

  • Is your Baby getting enough Vitamin D?

    Breastfeeding your baby is a great way to not only bond with your baby but to give them the very best customized nutrition and antibodies that they need to be healthy.  However the one vitamin that you may be lacking in providing through your breast milk is vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important part of both your pregnancy diet while your baby’s bones are developing and your breastfeeding diet as your baby continues to grow and develop.

    If you do not get enough Vitamin D in your diet when you are pregnant your baby may develop a condition called rickets from soft bones. Also by getting enough Vitamin D while you are pregnant you increase your chances of having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy.

    While breastfeeding it is important that you eat a healthy diet as your nutrient intake is what feeds your baby the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy as well. Depending on how much vitamin D you are getting with your diet and sun exposure, you may or may not be providing enough vitamin D for your baby. If you do not have enough vitamin D in your diet, you will need to give your baby a vitamin D supplement (and you should probably a supplement for yourself too).

    Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a number of factors including:

    Not enough sun exposure outside.

    Having dark skin

    Being overweight or obese

    General recommendations for Vitamin D for pregnant women by the Vitamin D Council are 4,000-6,000 IU/day. Researchers found that moms that took at least 4,000 IU a day where more likely to have uncomplicated births and their newborns were likely to have enough vitamin D when he or she was born. Women without enough Vitamin D in their diets were more likely to have premature births, develop gestational diabetes, have preeclampsia and more likely to have a C-Section.

    The Vitamin D Council’s recommended intake of vitamin D for babies is 1,000 IU/day.  If you are getting enough vitamin D as a breastfeeding mother, then your baby is also getting enough vitamin D and does not need a supplement. If you baby does need a supplement you can give them prescription vitamin D drops directly or add them to food or drink for your baby.

    If you as a breastfeeding mother are taking a supplement of 6,000 IU of vitamin D each day, then your baby does not need a vitamin D supplement as your breast milk will have enough. If you are not taking a supplement (or you are taking less than 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D) and not getting a good amount if sun exposure, then you need to give your baby a vitamin D supplement.

    If you are getting a good amount of skin exposure to the sun each day, then you are probably getting enough vitamin D to make your breast milk rich with vitamin D. However most mothers are not able to get enough skin exposure every day to meet this requirement and do need a supplement 5-6 days a week. When you are not getting enough sun exposure for a number of days your breast milk will quickly clear itself of vitamin D unless you are taking a supplement.

    The upper limits for Vitamin D intake is 2,000 IU/day for babies and 10,000 IU/day for pregnant women. So, unless you are over supplementing, it is hard to exceed these limits. Formula milk varies with how much vitamin D in the formula. Most formula milk has between 40-100 IUs of vitamin D per 100 calories. You will need to figure out how much formula your child has a day to add up the vitamin D IUs they are getting. Based on this result you can figure out if you need to supplement your baby with vitamin D or not and how much to supplement. Remember to adjust your supplements as your baby’s intake of formula may increase over time.

    Although exposing your skin to the sun is a great way for pregnant and breastfeeding women to increase their vitamin D supply for both themselves and their babies, you also want to be careful not to burn. Although skin exposure for your baby will increase their vitamin D directly, your baby’s skin is extra sensitive and should not be exposed directly to the sun for at least the first six months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even after 6 months you will need to be careful of your baby’s sun exposure, especially in the hot summer months as burns can happen quickly to your baby’s sensitive skin.

    Vitamin D supplements are a good subject to bring up with your pediatrician. However it is also good to educate yourself on this subject as well so you can have a very informed conversation with your doctor on how to best supplement your baby if needed.

  • New Research Supports Vaccinating your Child on Time

    The vaccine controversy has raged for a number of years, particularly with celebrities sharing personal cases of why they have chosen not to vaccinate or why they are in favor of delaying vaccinating their child.  New research may add more fuel to the fire of that argument or at least more support for following wide spread agreed upon practices by the medical community to vaccinate your child in a timely manner as recommended by your doctor.

    Current statistics show that one in eight children have been under vaccinated due to parent’s concern over vaccines and refusing or delaying their child’s vaccines. These parents are concerned that their child may be receiving too many vaccines at one time or for their young age or their child's small size.

    By inspecting the data more closely, it has been discovered that the opposite is true. A recent study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that the risk of an adverse reaction to a vaccine, such as a fever or in extreme cases, a seizure, increased in older toddlers from 16-23 months old, versus younger children 12-16 months old (which is the recommended age range for receiving the vaccine). This research suggests that delaying vaccinations was not a safer choice, as many presumed it might be. Instead the younger children with less well developed immune systems actually had fewer side effects from the vaccine despite having less robust immune system than the older toddler, who was more likely to have a side effect.

    In the editorial written by Dr. Kristen A. Feemster and Dr. Paul Offit , she stated in response to these findings, “vaccines are recommended at certain ages and intervals to optimize the immune response, ensure protection when a child is most at risk for disease acquisition, and minimize adverse events.” Her editorial goes to state that this type of research supports the well-established safety and timing of the current vaccine schedule for children.

    Avoiding the vaccines altogether is even riskier as more and more cases of measles are cropping up across the United States from children and young adults who have never been vaccinated with sometimes fatal results. This is a risk that many parents do not take into consideration when choosing to delay or refuse vaccines as many may think that these older less frequent diseases, such as measles or whooping cough, are no longer a threat. As more parents refuse vaccines, there is a much greater likelihood of a breakout from these older diseases which can quickly become more widespread in an unvaccinated community. The risk is even greater in today’s global economy with diseases passing quickly across borders with people traveling more frequently and with air travel.

    While you are pregnant, this is a good time to do your research and talk with your pediatrician about any concerns in vaccinating your child. If you have not yet chosen a pediatrician, this is the time to interview and choose one that you are comfortable with – remember this is a doctor who you will be visiting quite often in the early months and years of your child's life and perhaps for the entirety of their childhood and early adulthood. This person will be your trusted advisor for many a well-child visit and any time your child gets sick.

    It is important that you do your own research as well with vaccinating so you know where you stand when decision time comes up. Celebrities with well stated public opinions on these matters are just one data point and who are usually not medical experts. So do not give undo weight to their opinion over well conducted clinical research. Your pediatrician is the best place to start if you have any questions or concerns about vaccinating your baby and making an informed decision on your approach to vaccination.

  • The Magic of Maternity Swimwear

    One must-have item that every pregnant woman needs in her wardrobe this summer is a maternity swimsuit that she loves. The criteria for loving it is that you will actually wear it and maybe look forward to wearing it, and that it does in fact fit comfortably and can be worn in the water without coming off or showing through.

    Many expecting women think that they really don’t need a maternity swimsuit, but the truth of the matter is that you will be hotter than hot this summer as you are running on a pregnancy thermostat, which always runs hotter than your normal pre-pregnancy temperature with elevated levels of progesterone flooding your veins. The reason they say you have a “bun in the oven” is because you are in fact cooking and yes, you are the oven.

    There is probably a good chance most of us will be near water at least some point this summer and there is no more relaxing activity or safer exercise for a pregnant woman than going in the pool and actually swimming or even just wading around. Your baby is swimming inside you all the time, so why not join him and her with your own water aerobic workout, swim a lap or two or simply move around in the water and enjoy the buoyancy of a lighter belly at last. In fact it will probably be the only time where you actually feel both cool and weightless, and that in itself is reason to invest in a very nice maternity swimsuit.

    The other misconception pregnant women often have, and myself included for my first pregnancy, is that you don’t actually need a maternity swimsuit. This, my friends, is an 'ole wives tale because either they don’t remember how uncomfortable it was to wear a regular swimsuit while pregnant (including buying one size up which just makes you feel bad and still doesn’t fit just right) or they probably didn’t make maternity swimsuits when those “ole wives” were around anyway. Anyone who has tried to squeeze a second to third trimester body into their pre-pregnancy swimsuit knows that it just doesn’t work and is very uncomfortable. Plus, by the end of those nine months that swimsuit is pretty much shot anyway with spandex that does not spring back into place, ever.

    Maternity swimsuits are really the best invention since sliced bread. Once you try one on, in the right size, you will have a "Hallelujah" moment. Finally, at last, someone got it right! You are not fat and your body is not bigger with the same proportions, you just have completely enlarged Dolly Parton proportions that can often include not only the expected belly and chest parts but also the bottom, just to help balance out that center of gravity in the front no doubt. Plus your breast are extra sensitive, so don't even think about minimizing swimsuits nor does your tummy need any pressure. Be respectful of the bump and honor it, you do have a living being down there after all who is only getting bigger by the minute and needs to breate. Also the thought of restrictive clothing of any kind is both suffocating and nauseating to most pregnant women.

    Maternity swimwear, when done well, is genius. It can have you actually looking good in your swimsuit, maybe even sexy if you allow yourself to admit it. Plus it is made to stretch and stretch and stretch comfortably where needed without falling off in the pool or getting carried away in a tidal wave (not that you should be doing any aggressive wave jumping at this point!)  As a result you can actually save money by not having to buy a new ill-fitting non-maternity swimsuit every 2 weeks or show excessive cleavage or worry about wardrobe malfunctions while enjoying the club pool with mixed company or chasing a toddler in the baby pool.

    Good fitting, well made and deliciously styled maternity swimwear is your right, your privilege for being pregnant in the summer time. It's your reason to get in the pool and move those achy joints while looking good at the same time. Enjoy your pregnancy and your summer with the right maternity swimsuit!

  • Why the French Look so Fit so soon after Pregnancy

    Now we have new evidence not only why French Women don’t get fat but why they bounce back so quickly after having a baby compared to most of us in the United States and other countries.

    In most countries, the US included, women are often sent home ASAP after the baby, sometimes as soon as the next day following delivery. Once at  home women are left to fend for themselves for both caring for their baby, breastfeeding their newborn and recovering from birth both physically and mentally.

    In France, however, women see their gynecologist within the first month of birth for a full checkup and discussion session. They then routinely get twelve half hour sessions with a specialist in postnatal physiotherapy to rehabilitate their pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. This specialist also checks the abdominal muscles for any damage or separation caused during pregnancy and French postpartum women are then given exercises to tone them up.

    Many of us develop “mommy tummy” following delivery that oftentimes never fully goes away. This is the horizontal roll of fat along your stomach that hangs down in two sections if you bend over. The technical name for this is abdominal diastasis and it is often an indication that the abdominal muscles have not fully closed back together again after childbirth. This separation is caused during pregnancy when the front abdominal muscle that wraps around the baby starts to pull apart. In France this abdominal area is checked before women even leave the hospital and they are then given a set of exercises to heal the damage. In most places in the US, women are overlooked in this department and sent home fully oblivious to any damage caused to their abdominal muscles and pelvic floor during pregnancy nor are they given any instructions on what to do about it.

    Oftentimes women unknowingly exercise these stomach muscles too vigorously too soon after birth, like doing sit-ups or running (particularly if they used to be super fit before they were pregnant and are eager to resume their fitness routines), which further contributes to increased separation and damage of this muscle. In France women are shown how to strengthen their pelvic-floor muscles to close the gap and then introduced to more advanced abdominal exercises.

    Knowing this, it is a good idea to ask your doctor to check your abdominal muscles before leaving the hospital to determine if you have any separation and, if so, to understand the degree of it. It is common to have more of a problem if you have had more than one baby or if you had a big baby.

    If you do have a gap ask your doctor to prescribe for you some basic stretching exercises to help to begin closing this gap. Ask your doctor to show you how to feel the gap when you lie on your back so you can also monitor the progress at home.

    Even if we don’t live in France we can at least reap some of these postnatal benefits by educating ourselves on what they are doing so well. We can also speak up to our doctors for the same rehabilitation advice so we can be healthy and happy postpartum and lose the "mommy tummy" for good!

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