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Tag Archives: pregnancy

  • Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Snacks

    Lemon Poppy Seed 1Breakfast? Snack? Desert? It’s all three! These delightful muffins will satisfy pregnancy cravings and support your prenatal health (and make your house smell heavenly!). Summer is leaving, but lemons are available year-round to make treats that remind you of those warm, sunny, laid-back summer days. The poppy seeds add texture and a little crunch while the quadruple citrus hit (extract, oil, zest, and juice) makes these muffins truly lemonicious!

    These are best right out of the oven (not pun intended!), but can also be stored in the refrigerator and saved to…

    -a crumble on top of vanilla ice cream

    -take as a small snack when on-the-go

    -re-heat and enjoy with coffee in the morning

    -add icing and serve as cupcakes (birthday parties, baby/bridal showers, thank-you gifts)

    These muffins are wholesome, delicate, perfectly sweet, a bit tart, and irresistible!

    Now for the pregnancy and postpartum health benefits:

    Poppy seeds are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that lowers LDL (the "bad cholesterol") and increases HDL (good cholesterol). The outer husk is a good source of fiber, which helps with healthy digestion and further reduces bad cholesterol.

    Poppy seeds are also high in pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, folic acid, and niacin. These seeds also have good amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, calcium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. Copper is used in the production of red blood cells. Zinc is a “co-factor” in many enzymes that regulate growth, development, and digestion. Potassium is a vital element of cell and body fluids that helps to control heart rate and blood pressure which is also a vital health check for expecting women, particularly in the latter stages of pregnancy.

    Lemon Poppy Seed 2Oat flour is the primary source of flour, along with some amaranth and corn meal. WebMD considers whole grains a pregnancy superfood and recommends including them as a staple in your diet. WebMD stated that, “Whole grains contain more fiber and trace nutrients than processed grains, such as white bread, white rice, and white flour.” The combination of whole grains and only 5 grams total of sugar guarantees you won’t be crashing after you eat these.

    Ingredients: (makes 9 medium muffins)

    ½ cup applesauce

    ¼ cup coconut oil

    ½ teaspoon lemon extract

    4 drops orange oil

    Juice and zest of 1 meyer lemon

    ¾ cup almond milk

    1 flax egg (1 tablespoons ground flax and 3 tablespoons warm water)

    ¼ cup maple syrup

    1 cup oat flour

    1-3 tablespoons poppy seeds (however many you like)

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    ⅓ cup amaranth flour

    ½ cup cornmeal

    ¼ teaspoon vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups.

    Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

    Whisk the baking soda, amaranth flour, oat flour, cornmeal, poppy seeds and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    In a small bowl, mix the applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, lemon extract, lemon juice, lemon zest and orange oil. Melt the coconut oil and stir into the wet mix.

    Fold the wet and dry mixes together. Pour into muffin cups. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden and set.

    Lemon Poppy Seed 3

    Nutritional Facts: (per muffin)

    calories: 212

    protein: 4

    fat: 9

    sugar: 5

    carbs: 30

  • Advice to New Moms -Be Yourself!

    link to Art Docent Program Home PageIf you are about to become a first time mom or if you are a new mom, here is my hand me down mom advice for you. Don’t cringe, because it’s advice you’re going to like, not critical unsolicited advice that by virtue of being a mother you will be sure to get a lot of anyway. Here’s my advice, do things your way. Don’t crumble to the pressure to be perfect, or try to be your own mother re-incarnated. You may not be wired to be just like that neighbor or friend who “seems” to do it all perfectly while sewing her kids’ clothes and posting cute Pinterest quality DIY birthday invite, party favors and everything in between. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy from pregnancy onwards trying to figure out how to live up to what you perceive is the perfect mom because, really, no one really is. We can only be our own best version and that’s usually much better than copying somebody else’s version.

    My advice to you and my younger self of 10-12 years ago is try to simply be the best mom you can be without driving yourself crazy. Being the best mom for you might mean that you splurge on a biweekly housekeeper to help you keep your sanity. It also might mean that your husband is the main cook in the house and you all do not fall in the traditional role criteria for Mom and Dad – that’s just fine too. Maybe you are the main breadwinner and both you and your husband work fulltime, so you child is in fulltime daycare. There are many excellent daycares our there that work out wonderfully for families (just be sure to vet them and be willing to pull the plug and change if for any reason you feel you should). It might mean that you hire a babysitter on your day off so you can recuperate and feel human again.

    Yes, being a mom takes sacrifices that 95% of the time you are glad to make. The hard part I find (and in talking with other mom friends it seems to be a theme), is feeling the need to live up to all of the mom standards that seem to be imposed upon us. As your kids get older to preschool and elementary school age, you will find there is tremendous pressure to volunteer. Now volunteering is a good thing and a tremendous benefit to not only your child but other children and can be very fulfilling. But if volunteering becomes an obligation that crowds our calendar out of other priorities and the energy we need to be a good mom at home with our own children, then the balance has tipped too far. Sometimes as moms we feel that it’s okay to sacrifice ourselves to the breaking point and the truth is that when we are totally burnt out and spent and even ill, we are of no use to anyone, including our families. So, it is okay to say no and to ignore the guilt when we feel we do not need to give more if we are not going to giving cheerfully.

    Also, you might find there are certain areas that you enjoy volunteering (and perhaps more gifted at) than others. I have found I enjoy teaching my kid’s reader’s workshop and some art classes, but I get antsy chaperoning for every field trip. My kids whine and complain when I don’t go on many of these field trips, but I tell them there are other moms that do that type of volunteering, but I do the other sort of volunteering in their art classes or reading workshops. The opportunities are endless for volunteering in the class, on the playground, on the soccer teams and for playdates of course. Don’t overcommit yourself or you will become bitter and there’s nothing worse than an unhappy volunteer or an unhappy mom. Choose how you can best contribute and leave your guilt on the doorstep.

    In addition to busyness the other area we need to stand up for as moms (this goes for moms of older kids too), is the right to embrace our own identity. Once a mom, always a mom and that is beautiful thing. In the beginning it’s a new and novel identity that we can revel in or sometimes feel we haven’t quite deserved (don’t worry, that feeling will pass soon!) But, as we give more of our time and selves to our children and families, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we have needs too. So, it is important, no matter how silly it may seem, to set a discipline early of not only taking couple time with our partners, and girl time with some friends, but also time alone to do something we really want to do even if it’s read a magazine and have a cup of coffee somewhere where no one will bother us for an hour or taking a little time out each day to walk or hit the gym. By doing this on a regular basis we will reconnect with our inner selves and have a renewed enthusiasm for our family and loved ones.

    Fashion is also a way to connect to our inner selves and something that we can choose to express who we are. A famous fashion icon (can’t remember who) once said something truly revolutionary- it was “if we change the way we dress, we can change the way we think.” The gist of the message was that if we truly dress to express our identity, not necessarily the trend or please our partners (which is not always a bad thing from time to time on a date night), but play with and develop a style that suits our personalities, than that fashion statement becomes a means to expressing our unique personalities in our lives. This is why actors and actresses wear a costume or dress the part for a play or a movie, because not only does it communicate to the audience who they are in their role, but it allows them to fully embody the identity they are portraying. It is the same with fashion and quite liberating and fun as well to experiment with our style and give ourselves permission to change our style, until we find something that truly makes us feel alive and show our truth.

    Pregnancy is wonderful opportunity to experiment with our style and go outside our comfort zone. The pressure is off because when you are pregnant, people are excited for you and your growing bump. The pressure to be thin becomes irrelevant (and should be). Also, you suddenly need to shop for a wardrobe of maternity clothes because you have outgrown everything in your closet. As your body changes, we can suddenly experiment with enhanced cleavage styles and empire waist designs that you might have never tried before. Have fun with it and play dress up on your new form with new styles and colors! Try out that maxi maternity dress or bold prints that were out of your former fashion comfort zone.

    Motherhood is a wonderful time in life but it can also be busy. Focus on the beauty of your children and don’t second guess your instincts. Follow your gut in making smart choices for your child and for yourself. But remember to embrace your unique identity and have fun expressing yourself in your maternity fashion choices.

  • Friendly Tips for your Pregnancy Journey

    Melissa Rycroft PregnancyIf it’s your first time to be pregnant, you may feel surprised by the enormous change and rate of change that your body, mind and hormones are going through. Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for years of maybe it happened by surprise or all of a sudden. Either way, it’s an enormous change to life as you have known it, even though it may be thrilling and exciting at the same time. Fortunately we have a good eight months (from the time we find out) to get used to the idea that we are adding a member to our household and to do all we can to make the necessary practical and emotional preparations to add a baby to the family.

    As a mom of three children in the maternity clothes business, I have talked to hundreds of moms over the years. There were a number of things that I wish someone told me when I was pregnant (each time!). Here are my learnings that are not meant to be judgmental or preachy, because you get enough of that when you are pregnant and as a mom, but just meant to help you along your path and to put in your back pocket for when you need the encouragement:

    First, don’t worry about everything being perfect. It’s admirable to strive high and create the perfect nursery and have your complete six months of clothing and gear ready to go for your child before it’s born. But apart from the bare necessities of a safe sleep area, diapers, blankets, sleepers and some onesies, you are going to be just fine. Remember there is online shopping when you do need that new nursing bra because the ones you bought during pregnancy don’t fit and you are too tired to leave the house. There is also diaper services if you opt for cloth diapers but don’t want to deal with cleaning them.  Fortunately for these hectic times in life we do live in a day and age when answers can be at our fingertips. However, don’t forget to let real live people help you too. Call on your neighbors, friends and any nearby family if you need them. Now is the time to cash in on any goodwill that people are willing to offer you, you do need it and deserve any help you can get and most people are happy to help out.

    Do make sure you do have a childcare arrangement in place before you hit the nine month mark. Fill out all the necessary paperwork for FMLA/maternity leave and inform managers and coworkers of your leave. Have a plan in place at work to cover for your absence and let people know your timeframe for leave, even if it is subject to change.  Whether it be an extended maternity leave or grandparents pitching in when you return to work, it does give you some peace of mind to have at least have a plan in place for the first few months for your baby’s care. It’s also stress relieving for yourself and those around you to have a clearly communicated leave plan so you don’t leave tasks hanging or yourself and others panicking the minute. This brings me to my next point and one that many women struggle with:

    There is no right or wrong answer to what you decide on with the BIG decisions of returning to work or staying at home with your child fulltime. It is a difficult decision and if you are not sure, then maybe opt for something in between – look to have a longer maternity leave if you can negotiate that or return part-time or set up a work at home arrangement or flexible work hours. Even with large corporations it often boils down to what you can work out with your manager and generally if you can bring it up a number of months in advance you will get a more favorable response than to spring it on them a few weeks before your maternity leave. Choosing a longer leave or a more flexible hour work week is often a good stepping stone before making a more definite fulltime work or fulltime stay at home decision. You may find something in between that is just perfect for you for a period of time. Although many people will have a lot of ideas on this subject, and it may be helpful to hear their ideas and personal experiences, it is ultimately your choice to make in harmony with your partner and your financial goals. Many fathers also take FMLA and extended leave for their newborns. Some Dads decide to stay at home or work out a more flexible work schedule. Explore your options fully and just go with the best decision for you and your family (and don’t worry about making the perfect decision). Do not let anyone guilt you about your decision to stay home or not stay home. They are both equally valid choices.

    There are many solutions to caring for your newborn from a fulltime nanny, daycare, grandparents pitching in or some combination of everything. If you are looking at caregivers it is a good idea to start interviewing in advance of your due date. If you are looking at daycare arrangement then embark on your tours of these facilities well in advance and go with your gut if you are not comfortable with a particular place or caregiver. Many daycare businesses have a waiting list, so it may be a good idea to get on the waiting list early, even if you find a better plan later an and drop off the list.  Remember you are allowed to change course at any time. No one is holding you to your decision and if they are, then they should not be as this decision is yours and your partner’s alone. You can be a good mother and work at the office, you can be a good mother and work at home, and you can be a good mother and stay at home with your child. There are good nannies and not so good nannies and some grandparents are excellent fulltime caretakers for their grandchildren while some do not have the energy, abilities or desire to take on this more involved role. You can navigate these steps and arrive at the best solution. Life is not perfect and it's not supposed to be - how boring would that be?!! We all do our best and our best is typically more than enough for the health and wellbeing of our baby, selves and family, even if it is not perfectly perfect. Children have turned out well with all varieties of paths for early caregiving.

    The next point of advice is the one that is often most ignored by both new and experienced moms. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. This advice extends to pregnancy. Now is a time when your body is under tremendous change. Every day you will probably notice something different about some part of your anatomy whether it be a tighter bra, a bigger belly, snugger shoes or a new food aversion or craving. The body you used to know so well is evolving into something totally alien that you are trying to understand anew each day, let alone dress! It’s difficult to even know what to eat! You may find your energy is a bit lower but then you may also find you have bursts of energy in your second trimester. Get used to tuning into your body and listening to what it tells you. What used to be normal is no longer normal when you are pregnant and that’s ok. Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a little slack. Go ahead and get that pregnancy massage and let your partner rub your feet at the end of the day. Buy some maternity clothes that are comfortable and make you feel pretty. Try to find time to take small naps when you are tired, even if it’s just on the weekend if you work. Do something nice for yourself each day, even if it’s something small.

    Although it is important to get your rest and scale back on activities when you feel tired, it is also helpful to take some form of physical exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block. It’s necessary to keep up your strength up during pregnancy and to maintain your health, blood sugar and to help with delivery (unless you are on bed rest of course).  Maintaining fitness will also help you bounce back that much easier after pregnancy and give you the energy to care for your baby (which can be a bit of marathon in the early weeks particularly if you are nursing around the clock).  In addition to the added benefit of helping you look good, exercise will help balance your serotonin levels and allow you to achieve a more positive mental outlook so that you feel happier, more joyful and peaceful as well as sleep better at night. Do be careful not to engage in any risky physical activities (remember your balance and stamina are not the same) and listen to your body at all times when you exercise so that you don’t overextend yourself or get dehydrated. Remember you are pregnant, so don’t try to break any records running marathons or playing tennis tournaments!

    Finally try and take some time out and smell the roses. This is a special time in life that you will always remember. Get some pretty photographs done while you enjoy your shape (sometimes we are so enormous in the last few months of pregnancy that we don’t want a camera anywhere around us!) Spend some time to bond with your partner and indulge in some date nights or a Babymoon if you can find the time, even if it’s something special nearby. You will always remember this special time together before you had your baby and the memories you created.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Happy Mother's Day!

    bouquet.jpg Photo by Angela Sadler

    Mother’s Day is around the corner this Sunday, May 11th. If you are pregnant with your first child, then you qualify as a mother! Let the celebrations begin! Mother’s Day is a day we Moms can all appreciate. It is a time when we think of our own mother as well as scramble to buy a card and appropriate gift her, our Mother-in-Laws and other “mother figures” in our lives.

    As a Mom of three, I know it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of this time in May with many school activities jam packed into schedules, Teacher Appreciation Weeks, School Performances and Open Houses, Dance and Music Performances, Art Shows and everything else nearly every day of the week and month, not to mention homework! These are the days I feel I need a personal assistant to tell me what to wear, where to go and to point me out the door – but that’s just the service we are providing for our children, right?!

    Although busyness and motherhood seem to always co-exist, with a healthy dash of craziness, Mother’s Day is a time when we Moms should pause, reflect and relax, even for a few hours (or moments) just to savor all that we have. We are blessed to be mothers and to be able to raise and nurture our children. We are one of the most influential people in our children’s lives who they look up to, even if it doesn’t always seem like it in the midst of a toddler meltdown at the grocery store or when hustling them in and out of car seats while juggling diaper bags and snacks. We will always be their mothers, even when they are grown up and maybe someday have families and children of their own.

    My kids get very excited about Mother’s Day and I know I should not take that for granted. They are very proud of their homemade cards and school craft Mother’s Day creations as well as any knick-knacks they may have picked up with their Dad at the store. Those homemade cut out glue-sticked cards and pictures are my favorite (I always promise to laminate them and maybe one day I will!)

    Mother’s Day is truly about being appreciated for all that we are in our children’s eyes (and our Partner’s eyes as a mother to our kids). It’s our time to be open to relaxing and receiving that love for a whole day (even a whole hour!) If you are pregnant, you are on your way to meeting your child very soon, so savor Mother’s Day (while it’s still quiet!) and maybe enjoy a kick in the tummy or a cute ultrasound picture of your baby. Sooner than you think you will have a pile of homemade cards to laminate someday!

  • 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.

  • Folic Acid during Pregnancy may reduce Baby’s risk of Autism

    Most of us have received the news flash that we should take our prenatal vitamins and in particular we should take our folic acid when we are pregnant. Folic acid is an important vitamin for helping prevent neural tube defects in babies. However, did you know that it may help reduce autism?

    Now this is even more relatable a reason for most of us as autism is almost always in the news, seemingly on the rise or at least on the rise in terms of diagnosis and is surrounded by a shroud of mystery and debate over how a child can get it or be born with it.

    A new study in Norway found a very strong correlation between a reduction in autism and women who took folic acid supplements four weeks before their pregnancy and through at least the 8th week of their pregnancy. Women who took Folic Acid daily during this time period saw a 40% reduction in autism in their children (when they were tested about 8 years later) as compared to the children of the pregnant women in the group who did not take folic acid for this time period. This is a huge reduction in autism!

    Apparently timing does matter. The earlier you can start supplementing with folic acid prior to conception, the better. The study found that in terms of autism risk that the folic acid supplements did not seem to have any impact beyond the 22nd week of pregnancy. The crucial time interval was from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into the pregnancy.

    Of course it does not hurt to continue on with folic acid throughout your pregnancy and who knows, maybe there’s further benefits or risk reductions that are yet to be uncovered from continuing with folic acid beyond the first trimester. However, what researchers have uncovered so far is enough evidence to start any woman even thinking about having a baby to be popping a folic acid supplement right away.

    So what is folic acid? It is the B vitamin that helps with the construction and repair of DNA molecules which is the genetic code that controls all of the body’s cells, including the brain cells. It is especially important to take it early in pregnancy during the development of the baby’s spine and nervous system to prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Doctors typically recommend that all women who are planning on getting pregnant to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from a multivitamin and continue taking this amount throughout their early pregnancy.

    Now with 1 out of 88 children diagnosed with autism we hope that this research will help us reduce the risk of childhood autism and increase awareness of our ability to potentially prevent this disability by supplementing with Folic Acid early in our pregnancy and even before. Knowledge is power so let’s empower ourselves and those we know with this scientific knowledge and preventative health measure of supplementing daily with Folic Acid if we are pregnant or hope to become pregnant. It’s an easy lifestyle adder that can reap benefits in our child’s health and well-being for a lifetime.

  • 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!

  • Happy Valentines Day!

    Lovely-Valentine-Day-2014-Heart-3We all know Valentine’s Day is about love – all types of love – romantic love, friendship love, family love and basically showing love to everyone who deserves it (or not!) whether they be a teacher, friend or someone you would like to know more (aka secret admirer).

    It’s a fun day of chocolate and hearts, candy, cards and romance. However I’m sure there are plenty of moms of school age kids out there who may feel a little burnt out by Valentine’s Day as it can become a bit of an “event” to prepare for with countless kids’ classmate valentines cards to oversee (as your younger child may want to painstakingly write out each classmates name along with a nice message while they are still mastering their letter formation skills). You may need to buy supplies and treats for the class valentine exchange as well as gifts for teachers, coaches, music instructors, grandparents and anyone else you might know. There are children’s class parties to organize, provide for and attend and help run and all sorts of extra after school events and parties to provide and participate in. Of course you need to remember to have cleaned/located/checked for fit or bought a red and pink shirts/dress for your child to wear to school for the day as you don’t want to be scrambling in the morning for the right valentine attire. Then maybe, just maybe if you are lucky, or have any energy left to change hats you might have a date night with your partner where you can look red hot to celebrate the romantic side of this love holiday. Of course that is provided you can squeeze it into the calendar and find a chipper babysitter who is free and dateless.

    Yes, it’s easy to go to the dark side of Valentine’s Day, and not as in dark chocolate, but let’s focus on the love, candy and flowers part. Let’s embrace this holiday for all the goodnes and sweetness it has to offer and not worry about our kids getting a sugar high for a few days. Remember everyone will not find you out if you have not done everything perfectly. It’s OK if you child has misspelled their friend’s name on their valentine card, the mother of the child will not hold a grudge against you for life and probably won’t even notice. If you have forgotten chocolate or sweets for the teacher, give her a cute IOU note with a big heart on it and bring her a little something next week. I’m sure she will have enough chocolate to OD on over the weekend!

    Cut yourself some slack on this holiday, so you can express the love it is really all about. Your kids will not know if you forgot to wash their red shirts and if they are a little crumpled that morning (they will most likely get candy and chocolate stains on it later). As long as there is a splash of pink or red or a heart, peace or love sign somewhere to be found on their clothing or accessories, it will do the trick. How about a bright red headband, scarf or red socks? Or last case scenario, grab a red sharpie and draw hearts on tee shirt. There’s always a way to improvise!

    So, you might wonder, where did this extra work come from? Apparently it’s been going on for a while. Americans began exchanging handmade Valentines cards in the early 1700s. Then in 1840 Ester A. Howland, a savvy Martha Stewart type entrepreneur, began selling the first mass produced valentine cards in America. Creative challenged types clamored to buy her pretty valentine cards which were elaborate with ribbons and colorful pictures on them known as “scrap.” Soon the valentine card industry soon took off and Howland was known as the “Mother of the Valentine.” Now Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular card-sending holidays of the year, second only to Christmas, with over 150 million valentines exchanged yearly. Interestingly women purchase 85% of these cards -I’m not sure if that is because we are more giving and expressive and simply enjoy the holiday more or if we are too tired to scrap together our own original creation. I’m guessing a lot of the buying our "85%" do is really done for kids and family members and all the classmates and teachers our kids give valentine cards and treats to. So, for all intent and purposes it has become the mom’s event to manage and participate in.

    The good news is if we want to be true to the Valentine tradition the entire month of February has long been celebrated as a month of romance. I think spreading it out is a better approach to Valentines as it takes the pressure off “the V-Day” itself. If you and your partner choose to celebrate another day in the month other than February 14th, even the last day in the month (just make sure it isn’t a Leap Year date but actually exists on the calendar), then that is perfectly fine. You can even have a different “family day” that you celebrate valentines with your kids other than their “class day” to deflate the pressure even more. Although for some, spreading out the love may bring more pain than joy. In short, you call the shots and do what’s best for you, just know there are options. I personally think Valentine’s Day should work around the Mom of the family, even if we have to find another patron Saint to affect this shift.

    So be sure to drink up the love, alcohol free preferably if you are pregnant, and find some sweetness or indulgence whether it be chocolate, a manicure or a pregnancy massage at the spa. Remember you have the entire month of February to honor this tradition!

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