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Pregnancy Health

  • Make-ahead Healthy Muffins

    made ahead muffinWe all have those times when we find ourselves opening and reopening the fridge trying to find that little something to snack on. We get busy and want something that’s quick and delicious. But sometimes we don’t make the best choice. It’s common to make unhealthy choices when we haven’t planned out meals or prepared snacks for the day. You can make these healthy muffins on a Sunday and have a healthy choice waiting for you every day of the week. They are a quick on-the-go snack that is also a fun treat. These muffins are sweetened only with fruit and have just 5 grams of sugar each. The addition of walnuts also gives a fun crunch and a great energy boost.

    Almost everybody has noticed the boom in “Gluten Free” products. As you might know, this does not automatically make the product healthy. Most gluten free items are based off of white rice flour and potato starch--both of which do not do much for your health. These muffins are gluten free, but instead of using the standard blend of white rice and potato starch, they contain  amaranth, oat and brown rice flour.

    Amaranth has the most protein, iron, magnesium, and fiber of all the gluten free grains. It is also a good source of calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-6 and lower in carbs than most grains. It seems like the number one flour to use--so why even bother with oats and brown rice, right? Well, for gluten free baking, if you only use one flour, the flavor can sometimes be overpowering and the texture too dense.  You also miss out on the benefits of other grains. Quinoa is a grain similar to amaranth that also packs quite a nutritional punch, but it is about twice the price of amaranth.

    With all of these wonderful health benefits, you are sure to feel good about eating this treat.  If you want more of a dessert, you can reheat one and drizzle honey on top and enjoy with a cup of herbal tea.

    muffins

    Banana Nut Strawberry Muffins (makes approximately 11 medium muffins)

    3 small overripe bananas

    Juice of half a lemon

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp baking soda

    ½ cup amaranth flour

    ½ cup brown rice flour

    ½ cup oat flour

    ¼ tsp salt

    ¾ cup chopped walnuts

    2 egg whites

    1 cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F on convection. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

    Peel the bananas and mash them in a medium bowl. I recommend using the head of a  whisk to mash quickly. Add in the lemon juice, vanilla, and egg whites. You can also put all these ingredients in a blender to speed up the process.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, salt, baking soda, amaranth or quinoa flour, and brown rice flour.

    Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the chopped strawberries and walnuts. Fill the paper liners with batter almost to the top. You can also gently push in more strawberry slices if you see any bald spots. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on how big the muffins are.

    Let them cool completely before removing paper liner, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

    Nutrition Information: (per muffin)

    Calories: 154

    Carbs: 23 grams

    Fat: 6 grams

    Protein: 4 grams

    Sugar: 5 grams

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved.

  • Snack on these Valentines-Themed Beans!

    Brownie pic

    As Valentines Day fast approaches chocolate is on the brain. Pregnancy is no time to lose all your vices, or at least not the healthy ones. Who knew that a yummy brownie desert, that looks and tastes truly decadent, could be so healthy? Well there are a few secret ingredients involved, but no one will ever know the difference (not even you when you taste them!)

    The main super healthy ingredient hidden in this brownie mix is black beans. Just a half cup of cooked black beans is packed with essential vitamins for your healthy pregnancy diet. Here's the break down in vitamins and minerals for the half cup of cooked black beans:

    30% recommended daily amount of folate (aka folic acid, very important!)

    15% recommended daily amount of magnesium

    16% recommended daily amount of manganese

    10% recommended daily amount of iron

    8 grams protein

    8 grams fiber

    Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! The combination of protein and fiber helps to steady the digestion processes and regulate blood sugar. This is very important as pregnancy is often a time when blood sugar spikes and expectant mothers are often prone to gestational diabetes. Healthy snacks like these actually help you maintain a steady and lower blood sugar.

    It is always important to include lean protein in your diet, but even more so when you’re pregnant.  The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of our bodies.  During pregnancy, these amino acids are providing the same cell-building tasks for your growing baby. The magnesium in black beans also helps with this synthesis of protein.

    Protein is also responsible for red blood cells--which as you probably know transport nutrients and oxygen to and from cells.  Red blood cells also control blood clotting, particularly those in and around the uterus and placenta.

    They hold a variety of phytonutrients (both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) which help fight cancer, decrease risk of heart disease, and reduce effects of aging.  In fact, black beans have more antioxidant activity, gram for gram, than any other bean. The flavonoids found in this “magic fruit” prevent the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.

    They also provide a great base for healthy brownies!  You can’t even tell these have a whole can of beans in them.  They are moist, fudgy and loaded with antioxidants and minerals from the cacao.  Notice that is cacao, not cocoa.  Cacao is the less processed powder and is much higher in nutrients.  Cocoa is more processed, but less expensive and still contains valuable nutrients.  Whichever one you choose (cacao or cocoa) you will be sure to enjoy this very yummy desert!

    black bean brownies

    Almond Bean Brownies (16 servings)

    1 15 oz. can rinsed and drained black beans

    about 13 pitted Medjool dates

    ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk

    ½ cup almond butter

    ¼ cup maple syrup

    ¼ cup coconut oil

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 egg

    ¾ tsp baking soda

    ½ cup cacao or cocoa powder

    ½ tsp salt

    1 3.4-4 oz bar of dark chocolate

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F on convection.  Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.  Put the beans, dates, almond milk, almond butter, and vanilla in food processor or blender.  Blend until super smooth (approximately 3-5 minutes).

    While this is blending, whisk together the cacao/cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Melt the coconut oil and maple syrup.  Add the maple syrup and coconut oil mixture to the food processor and blend to combine.  Add the egg and blend until combined.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Chop the chocolate bar in small pieces and add to the batter.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

    Nutrition Facts (Per serving)

    Calories: 198

    Protein: 5 grams

    Carbs: 24 grams

    Fat: 11 grams

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved.

  • Benefits of Broccoli!

     

    We knew broccoli was good for us but we had no idea just how good. Broccoli is an excellent vegetable choice to add to your prenatal diet as it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

    One cup of cooked broccoli has about…

    250% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K

    40% the recommended daily amount of folate

    140% recommended daily amount of Vitamin C

    Vitamin K does not receive a lot of publicity and is sometimes referred to as “the forgotten vitamin” but it is important for many functions, including preventing blood clots. It is also a key partner to vitamin D in building strong bones. If you are deficient in vitamin K, then vitamin D does not work optimally in your body. These two vitamins complement one another and you need to have a sufficient amount of each vitamin for them to work effectively in your body.

    We all know folate (aka folic acid) is a top priority for all expecting mothers, particularly in early pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, everyone from your doctor to your next door neighbor is encouraging you to increase folic acid in your diet. It has been proven that folic acid can actually prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in your baby which is ample reason to increase your intake.

    According to Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, when broccoli is lightly sautéed in oil, it loses almost none of its water-soluble nutrients because it is in contact with oil, not water (as opposed to steaming). They also absorb the phytonutrients in oil and garlic. This is an excellent opportunity to add double your nutritional value by cooking in olive oil, a very healthy fat.

    Indole is also formed when broccoli is cooked. According to research in The Journal of Nutrition, this organic compound helps kill precancerous cells before they turn malignant.  Vitamin K, folate and Vitamin C are all essential for a healthy pregnancy and broccoli is a great source of all of these!

    Basic Broccoli Method:

    2 medium bunches of rinsed broccoli

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 tsp thyme

    3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

    Desired amount of salt and pepper

    Put a large pan on medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic. Chop the broccoli and set aside in medium bowl (makes approximately 6 cups).

    Once the garlic has lightly browned in the oil, add the chopped broccoli and stir. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover the pan with a lid and check every few minutes until it is as cooked as you like.

    DSC_0030

    You can either eat it just like that, or make a delicious quinoa salad!

    Quinoa Broccoli Salad (1-2 servings):

    1 cup cooked broccoli

    1 cup cooked quinoa

    ¼ cup pasta sauce

    1 cup chopped kale

    ½ cup garbanzo beans

    Toss all ingredients in a bowl and you’re good to go. This recipe can easily be doubled or even quadrupled for a family meal! The addition of raw kale adds even more of those essential vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.

    DSC_0251

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved

  • 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.

  • Attention Expectant Moms – Drive Carefully!

    Drive Safely! Drive Safely!

    A new study by the Canadian Association Journal cautions that pregnant women, particularly those in their second trimester, have a significantly higher risk of getting into car accidents than women who are not pregnant. Although the cause is still uncertain, it did find the risk of getting into a serious accident rose 42% during the middle trimester of pregnancy.

    Although I usually attribute such news or assertions to stereotypical data skewing, this research does seem to have some valid data behind it to warrant a cause for concern. The study leader, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, told NPR that he suspects the normal symptoms that accompany pregnancy and which may be more pronounced during the second trimester such as fatigue, insomnia and stress, are likely the reason for this uptick in driving accidents.

    This would make sense as numerous studies have shown that fatigue is as big or sometimes bigger culprit than alcohol in many motor vehicle accidents. Also, pregnant women oftentimes have to deal with nausea, morning sickness and even under eating and unusual diets during this time. Physiologically expectant woman have increased hormones associated with pregnancy, namely progesterone and estrogen, which can lead to looser tendons and ligaments, thus further lack of coordination and reaction time when driving a car.

    Now hopefully this study does not give us one more thing to be paranoid about during pregnancy as we already have such a laundry list of “don’ts” but increased awareness and vigilance is not a bad thing. Dr. Redelmeier tells NPR, that telling pregnant women to be careful drivers “seems like incredibly banal advice to give. I realize that. But every one of our crashes in the study could have been avoided by a small change in driver behaviors.” Those small changes included minimizing speed and distractions (not texting or reading email while driving or talking on cell phones while driving) and simply taking care to follow traffic rules could have avoided an accident.

    Maybe skipping that morning coffee has increased the risk as well (they didn’t check out that variable)! In any case, go ahead and grab your keys and drive where you need to go, but just be a little extra careful to pay attention as you do have a baby onboard.

  • Diet matters for a Healthy Pregnancy

    A recent study led by Englund-Ögge with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Institute of Clinical Sciences at the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gottenburg, Sweden showed the diet was very important for a healthy pregnancy and for lowering the risk of a preterm birth. Dr. Linda Englund-Ögge told Reuters Health in an email.

    "Diet really matters when it comes to preterm delivery and it is very important for pregnant women to choose or to increase the intake of an overall healthy diet consisting of fresh and raw vegetables, fruit, whole-grain products, certain fish and to drink water."

    In recent years there has been more interest and more research done concerning maternal diet how it affects the risk of preterm delivery. In this study 66,000 Norwegian women participated between 2002-2008 to study the effects of diet and maternal health. Those who had a “Prudent Diet” consisting of cooked vegetables, salad, onion/leek/garlic, fruit and berries, nuts, vegetables oils, water as a beverage, whole grain cereals, poultry and fiber-rich bread had the lowest instance of preterm birth. Those with a “Western Diet” which included more salty snacks, sweets and chocolates, French fries, white bread, ketchup, sugar-sweetened drinks, pasta and processed meat products had a much higher instance of preterm birth.

    There were a total of 3,505 preterm deliveries. The researchers found that women who adhered most closely to the Prudent Diet were 11 percent less likely to have preterm deliveries compared to women who didn't follow the diet as closely.

    "We would like for doctors, midwives and all others who work with pregnant women to reinforce the important message that pregnant women should be encouraged to eat a balanced and healthy diet," Englund-Ögge said.

    "There are modifiable risk factors that people can address to enhance their pregnancy outcomes," Dr. Louis Muglia told Reuters Health.

    Based on this study, he said, a balanced diet with more foods rich in vitamins and other micronutrients probably facilitates a full-term pregnancy. Additionally women that followed the prudent diet were also more likely to have other beneficial lifestyle habits which would contribute to good pregnancy outcomes. These women were more likely to maintain a healthier weight, smoked less and avoided alcohol.

    "So I think there are a lot of things that go along with that prudent lifestyle that increases the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and reduces the likelihood of a preterm birth as well," Muglia said.

    This research is helpful in relying the message that we assumed for years, that as expecting moms we can positively affect our developing baby’s health by eating healthy foods during pregnancy and following a healthy lifestyle. The research noted that even the women in the “Prudent Diet” category did indulge in Western eatting from time to time and did indulge in sweets sometimes as well, but it’s the overall diet pattern that mattered the most. This is good news for all of us as it’s impossible to be perfect in pregnancy or anytime!

  • Walking is as good as Running, maybe Better

    New research out by the Life Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discovered that walking is one of the best things you can do for your body, sometimes even better than running. This is good news for many expecting women and new mothers who are looking for a form of exercise that is safe and easy to do with their constantly changing bodies.

    The study showed that while walking can be less vigorous than running, if you expend the same energy walking as you did running (this means you would have to walk vigorously and for a longer period of time than you would run for the same effect), you could potentially affect even more positive health changes than running for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, diabetes risk and cardiovascular heart disease. In fact, the more you walk, the greater the benefit.

    For many pregnant women, running is no longer a safe or comfortable exercise option as ligaments are loser during pregnancy along with increased weight and a shifting center of gravity which throws off balance. Running is also not doable for most women postpartum as your body is still healing and vigorous exercise in general is not recommended in the early weeks and even months following delivery. Running is particularly unadvisable for nursing moms who may suddenly have a heavy milk supply and a fuller chest. Tight sports bras are not a good choice as they can cause clogged ducts and mastitis. Walking, however, is an excellent way to ease back into exercise without hurting yourself while also allowing you some bonding time with your baby outdoors. Pushing a stroller while walking gives you the added strength and cardio workout that is even better exercise than walking alone.

    The study noted that to achieve the full benefits walking you need to clock in 10,000 steps a day. The good news is that these steps can be spread over the course of the day and you will probably find many of your day to day chores, errands and daily activities can expend up to half of that step requirement. However, if you are not used to walking this much, you should start slowly and gradually build up to this amount as you are safely able to do so. Also, make sure you invest in a good pair of walking or cross training shoes with adequate support for your joints to lessen the impact. Proper athletic shoes will help you avoid injury and comfortably walk further. (Please note that 10,000 steps of vigorous walking while pregnant should only be done with your doctor’s ok, and not for those who are early weeks postpartum.)

    Pregnancy is a great time to make positive changes in your health and fitness routines for life. You will need the stamina not only for labor when you deliver your baby in the coming months but also for caring for your newborn which can be a marathon in itself. So if you are not on bed rest and you are in good enough health to slip on your walking shoes, look into clocking a few more steps into your daily routine. Also don’t forget to hydrate frequently and avoid getting overheated by taking breaks as needed. Happy walking!

  • Tylenol during Pregnancy may be linked to ADHD

    It seems there are so many rules during pregnancy that it gets very confusing about what we need to take, like Folic Acid, and what we should avoid, like alcohol, caffeine and many pain medications. Now the latest research has uncovered that many seemingly benign over the counter pain relievers, including Tylenol, that are often prescribed to pregnant women, may not be as safe as we thought.

    A new study from Demark published Monday in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics now suggests that over-the-counter pain relievers with acetaminophen when used during pregnancy may be associated with ADHD behavioral problems in children. Although this is new research and the study authors were careful to state that “exhibiting ADHD-like behaviors” is not necessarily the same as being diagnosed with ADHD. All the same, it is cause for concern and for caution in taking medication containing acetaminophen as the active ingredient. This news is especially alarming since Tylenol has long been considered one of the safer medications pregnant women were advised to take for a fever, headache or the many aches and pains of pregnancy.

    If you have taken Tylenol during pregnancy do not panic. The study suggests that the risk is more highly associated with taking acetaminophen for long periods of time and particularly later in pregnancy. The women in the study that reported used acetaminophen pain relieving medications for 20 weeks or more had a 50% increase in requesting ADHD medication in their children later on. It is too early to assume that this is a cause and effect relationship but there is certainly enough evidence to avoid Tylenol and any medication containing acetaminophen during pregnancy if possible or at least to be very cautious in dosage and how long it is taken during pregnancy.

    This study reminds us to be extra vigilant about medications during pregnancy and to be sure to consult your doctor if you have any questions about any medication. No question is a stupid question for your doctor. Also it is important to do your own research on medications in addition to consulting your doctor as studies such as this one are very new and may not have made the rounds to all the medical communities. It is also important to have these conversations with your doctor to inform them of new information that may not have been known when they were in medical school and is not yet common knowledge.

    This study is also a reminder that we cannot assume that what we did prepregnancy exercise-wise, work-wise, or medication-wise is also safe during pregnancy and nursing postpartum. Also, it is a constant re-evaluation of what is best as our bodies are constantly changing during pregnancy, so nothing is static. If you are having pain issues there are many non pharmacological ways you can explore to deal with pain including massages, baths and acupuncture to name a few. While we do not want to be paranoid about everything we do, it is also better to err on the safe and conservative side during pregnancy when in doubt.

    Knowledge is power. It is important to do your own research during pregnancy and make your own informed decision about everything you decide to do. The end of day do not stress over your choices, just know you did the best you could do which is really what parenting is all about. None of us is perfect and guilt gets us nowhere, but informed decisions are the best way we can be the responsible and loving parent for our child that we all want and strive to be.

  • Lifestyle Factors you can Change to avoid Miscarriage

    Obviously during pregnancy, the last thing you want to worry or even think about is a miscarriage. I know for me it was almost a feeling that if you don’t think it, it won’t happen, just stay positive, right? Obviously stress is something that you want to lesson to make your pregnancy journey safer and better overall. However, there are times I believe reliable information about what we fear, may actually be helpful and allow us to be more empowered to make better health and lifestyle decisions during our pregnancy. This is why I would like to share some research by scientists in Denmark recently published in International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology on miscarriage and how we can avoid it.

    In this study it was determined that miscarriages during pregnancy could be lowered by as much as 25% by modifying or avoiding high risk behaviors duing pregnancy. These risk factors included factors including lack of exercise or too vigorous (or risky) exercise, too much alcohol consumption, smoking(at all), drinking coffee, overtime and evening work schedules, regular heavy lifting, weight gain, and advanced maternal age. Of course if you are already pregnant and at an “advanced maternal age” there’s not much you can modify about that factor but there are plenty of other risk factors we can affect in our lifestyle to reduce our risks and improve our pregnancy health and our baby’s health.

    Apparently weight was an important factor for pregnancy viability and pregnancy health as well as the baby’s health. If you were overweight before you were pregnant then you do not need to gain the recommended 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. You can gain far less but you will need to be extra vigilant about healthy calories so that your baby (and you) get the nutrients you need. Talk to your doctor about your weight and do not avoid the subject or wait for them to bring it up. New research shows that doctors in the United States are less likely to bring up a pregnant woman’s weight gain if she is gaining too much than they did in previous years. Obviously it is not always a popular subject and one that is often the last thing mentioned before the end of the visit if at all. As a result of less emphasis on our weight gain and pregnancy diet, our pregnancy obesity rates have skyrocketed in recent years and this factor is affecting rates of healthy pregnancies overall. These health risks include stillbirth rates, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), gestational diabetes (leading to higher weight babies and childhood obesity), more complications during labor and delivery and a harder time losing the weight after pregnancy. Instaed of feeling guilty, we need to address the problem directly with our doctor and admit if we are having problems with our pregnancy weight and ask for help.

    As a mom of three I understand the problems with weight gain during pregnancy. I had severe morning sickness with all three of my babies yet I gained more than the recommended weight with my first two pregnancies, particularly the first. It seemed high carbs and sugars were the only thing my body could keep down or that seemed appealing whenever the sickness would subside. Even though I stayed active during my pregnancies it seems that food choices and quantities would really drive my weight gain more than I could offset those calories with exercise. I also admit that I was guilty of over indulging in sweets as all my forgiving stretchy pregnancy clothes seemed to hide the extra pound or two that was rapidly creeping on. On the other side, you definitely do want to gain enough weight if you are underweight or not gaining enough to support your pregancy and development of your baby. It is a delicate balance and seems unfair that pregnancy is a time we should need to worry about our weight at all. My recommendation is to be proactive in talking to your doctor and even getting a dietician referral if you have any difficulties or questions with your weight. It is never too late to be proactive about your pregnancy health.

    Obviously exercise is good for us during pregnancy and promotes a healthy pregnancy, so it is important to keep a regular safe exercise regime that your doctor approves and to be flexible in adjusting your routine during each stage of your pregnancy. Pay attention to your body and make sure you are not over straining it by lifting too heavy of a weight (and this includes childcare routines where children 40 pounds or more are lifted and carried). Also make sure that you hydrate regularly as your body requires more water and you may need to take more frequent breaks, particularly if you feel you are overheating or your heart rate is too high. If an exercise involves more balance, like tennis, be extra careful as your center of gravity is constantly shifting and your ligaments and tendons are looser during pregnancy. This is maybe a time to just "practice" a safe sport and not compete if you are the competitive type!

    If you smoke, then pregnancy is an excellent time, reason and motivation to quit.Alcohol and coffee consumption have long been a hot topic in pregnancy circles. Although some doctors say a small amount of alcohol or caffeine is OK during pregnancy, no one seems to know exactly how much is OK. If you want to err on the safe side it is probably best to tee-total on both alcohol and caffeine or at least to strongly limit your intake. You will have plenty of time to enjoy a cocktail or two as well as extra mochas in years to come. There are always other options to choose from for beverage choices such as an alcohol free beer or decaf latte or tea.

    Work schedules and stress are not always easy factors to control. One major way to reduce the risk of miscarriage is to pay attention to our physical and emotional stress level and get the sleep we need. The study did find that night and overtime schedules increased women’s health risks during pregnancy as well as heavy lifting jobs. If these factors are a issue for you then you might want to check out your company’s pregnancy, health and maternity leave policies as there may be allowances for you to alter your high risk job demands during pregnancy, especially with your doctor’s permission. Sometimes you can work directly with your manager to work out a flex-time schedule or work at home schedule that allows you to take more rest. Or, you may need a doctor’s note to excuse you from certain tasks, such as heavy lifting on the job, or to get an early maternity leave. If you cannot, then you may need to re-assess if the job and its hours and determine if it is worth the risk of your pregnancy health.

    Pregnancy is a time to be selfish about your health and your baby’s health and not a time to be “tough” about taking on undo physical and emotional challenges that could challenge you and your baby's health. Your body is making a baby which takes a huge amount of energy and strength and affects not only your hormone levels but your physical abilities and needs. You will need more sleep as well as better nutrition, and more friendly work hours. Do not be afraid to speak up for what you need at home or at work, even if you feel like a wimp asking for extra time off or permission to get out of a physically demanding job. You can make it up when you are not making a baby. As everyone knows, pregnancy is not for wimps!

  • Our Breast Milk is Smarter than We Thought

    Just when we think we know everything healthy and nutritious and miraculous there is to know about breastfeeding and our baby’s health, we find out something new. A new study just uncovered even more amazing news about the mother’s body, it’s uncanny knowledge and ability to know our baby’s gender and produce customized milk for our baby girl or baby boy. (We already know it produced milk for the exact age of our child, be it premature or full-term, or a toddler a year or more after birth if we still nurse).

    Interestingly, a common theme in humans, monkeys and other mammals is that there are a variety of differences in the quantity and type of milk that is produced for our babies depending on their gender. Baby boys tend to get richer or denser milk which has more fat and protein in it, providing them with more energy while baby girls tend to get milk that is produced in greater quantities. (Didn’t we always say baby boys were pumped full of adrenaline and our baby girls calmly nursed forever?)

    Last Friday this research was shared at the Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. Although it is not clear why human mothers produce such different milk for their girl or boy babies, there is evidence that this customized milk is developed while the baby is still in utero. This does give mothers more reason to try and breastfeed our baby with our individualized formula which our body intelligently produces for our child.

    "Mothers are producing different biological recipes for sons and daughters," said Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.

    "While the food aspects of milk to some extent are replicated in formula, the immuno factors and medicine of milk are not and the hormonal signals are not," Hende said.

    As new research continues to uncover more interesting facts about mother’s breast milk, it is clear that breastfeeding is the optimal food choice for our baby. As we continue to learn more about our body’s ability to produce the ideal milk formula for our infant, we are encouraged about how this new scientific knowledge can also help other infants who are in need of specialized breast milk and who cannot get it from their mothers.

    “Getting a better understanding of how milk is personalized for specific infants will also help hospitals find better matches for breast milk donated to help nourish sick and premature infants in neo natal units”, added Hinde.

    It’s powerful knowledge to know that you are your baby’s best nutrition source and you are your baby’s perfect biological match, not only for giving birth but for continuing to feed, nourish and nurture your unique child.

    If you are having trouble nursing, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can contact a lactation consultant or even a mother’s support group like La Leche League in your area to find the support that you need to help you nurse your baby successfully.

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