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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Importance of proper nutrition during pregnancy

Women go through many transformations during pregnancy, physically and emotionally and now more than ever you need to make good nutrition a priority. Nutritional needs change throughout your pregnancy but here are some general guidelines you should follow throughout the nine months, and beyond.

What to eat?

So now you’re eating for two, no not really.
Your baby depends on the food you eat for its growth and development. Eating frequent, small meals with whole grain and an extra emphasis on calcium, protein and vegetables is the best way to manage your weight while getting natural vitamins and minerals essential to good health.

An additional 400mg of calcium is essential during pregnancy, you need it for muscle function and bone development, what your body doesn't have readily available your body will breakdown from bone to get what it needs. Calcium is needed during pregnancy, instead of using dairy (saturated fat and allergenic) to achieve your extra calcium add: dark greens, legumes, whole grains, soy, seafood and seeds that contain lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber that keeps your bowels moving.

Protein is essential for almost all tissue development and repair, hormones, enzymes and antibodies.

Morning smoothie 1Litre, 285calories:
• 1 1/2C Filtered Water    • 1C Blueberries    • 1/2C Raspberries
• 1 Scoop (30g) Protein powder (whey isolate)    • 1Tbsp flax seed oil

Weight gain during pregnancy
Everything is trial by error it seems. During the 50's women were only permitted to gain 15lbs during a full-term pregnancy, and still allowed to smoke and drink. In the 80s friends of mine were allowed to ‘gain as much as you want’ thinking it was good for the baby. Now the attitude is to keep your weight gain within a healthy range to avoid complications. Remember losing weight during pregnancy is not an option, you need to keep a healthy weight gain throughout the pregnancy so that you and or your developing infant to remain healthy. Gaining too much may also make you more uncomfortable, especially during the third trimester.

Here is a general guideline for healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
• 27-37 lbs- If at a healthy weight prior to pregnancy (2300-2500/day)
• 28-35 lbs- If underweight prior to pregnancy (2500-2800cal/day)
• 15-25 lbs- If overweight prior to pregnancy (2500-2800cal/day)

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy does have it’s drawbacks, it takes a lot of effort to lose the excess weight after pregnancy, you may experience increase edema, increases C-sections, increase of UTI infections during pregnancy and premature labour and it does put you at risk for gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Gestational diabetes can put you and your child at risk for diabetes occurring later in life. Keeping your weight within a healthy range is the best plan.

Water is the best option at any time of life, but especially in pregnancy. It’s the oil that keeps our engine going, so try to drink at least 2L/day of caffeine free liquids. Fruit juices are ok in small amounts but add a lot of calories without the fiber and are high on the glycemic index. Other caffeine free liquids include: decaffeinated green tea, peppermint, ginseng, lemon, chamomile and Rooibos teas.

Caffeine content in 8 ounces
• Black tea, 40mg     • Oolong tea, 30mg    • Green tea, 20mg (high in antioxidants)
• Herbal Infusion, 0mg

It’s normal for most health care providers to suggest folic acid and a daily multivitamin prior to and during pregnancy. It’s very important that you get as many nutrients as you can during this time, but remember that supplements are not a replacement for nutrient dense whole foods, they’re more of a back up plan.

Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D are important if you have a low calcium intake in foods, a vegan or have low bone density. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids helps maintain your immune system you could take up to 4000mg/day, pending on your current health status. Taking a good probiotic during pregnancy is very important, it maintains a healthy gut flora for Mum, which is important to your immune system and your baby’s, keeps Mum regular and reduces incidence of infant skin issues (eczema) by more than 60%*.

Even an uncomplicated pregnancy can result in some stress during pregnancy. Stress can however be particularly harmful during pregnancy, thus it is important that you work to reduce your stress and anxiety levels during pregnancy as much as possible.

Negative Effects of Stress During Pregnancy
There are many negative side effects of stress during pregnancy. Cortisol released during periods of stress have been shown to cross the placenta into the developing infant. Studies have shown that high levels of cortisol may contribute to an increased risk of premature delivery or low birth weight babies. Still other studies suggest that overly high stress levels can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and produce chronic anxiety and issues with brain and emotional development in the infant. It is important that you minimize your stress and anxiety during pregnancy to provide your baby with an optimal environment in which to grow.

Stress management includes caring for yourself, feeling rested and regularly finding healthy outlets to relieve stress and anxiety. Most women will not suffer any ill effects from stress during pregnancy, especially when they take adequate steps to cope with their stress.

1. Get plenty of sleep.
It’s essential that you allow your body to recover at night, without a good nights sleep you can feel even more overwhelmed the following day. Ways to help you start your bedtime are: take a relaxing bath or have a cup of chamomile tea prior to bed, eliminate ambient the light in your room and if necessary use ear plugs to keep out sounds that may interrupt your sleep. Use a body pillow to aid your sleep if your baby belly makes it a bit uncomfortable to sleep on your side.

2. Exercise regularly.
Low impact exercise like yoga or pilates helps you burn off stress and maintain energy. Even walking 20 minutes two times a day will help with circulation and edema and help you sleep better at night. If you take a subway bus or streetcar to your office get off a stop or two before and walk in, do the same at night and you've already worked in 40-60 minutes of exercise without even trying.

3. Meditate.
Deep breathing and calming your mind is an immeasurable coping mechanism and reduces acidity in your body by releasing CO2. Sit quiet on the floor or your favourite chair, focus on your breath and breathe from deep in your stomach in through your nose and out through your mouth. When your thoughts wander to the daily chores, bring them back to your breath. "Breath in relaxation, breathe out stress"," breathe in health, breathe out illness", repeat what your feeling and you'll feel better and think clearer with more oxygen in your blood. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes a couple of times a day, it helps with stress, fatigue and concentration throughout the day.

4. Talk it out.
Discussions with your partner can help you cope with stress and comfort you in times where your anxiety seems to be taking the best of you. With your excess emotions and hormones you may lose perspective and your partner can bring an objective point of view, without being judgmental. Remember your partner is there to support you and make sure you and baby remain healthy.

5. Reduce your workload.
Focus on what you can get done everyday at the home or at the office, delegate what you can’t get to. Raising a flag for help if you’re overloaded is better than not being able to deliver on deadlines. Don’t feel bad that you have to share your workload, no one is superhuman.

Focus on balance during pregnancy, balanced diet and balanced lifestyle and you'll remain healthy during your pregnancy with a happy healthy infant in return.

*DouglasLabs InfantSkin study