Tag Archive | breastfeed

Benefits of Daily Probiotics

goodbacteriaProbiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

TIME – the Most Precious Commodity of All

breastfeeding momMost mothers are stressed when they have a new baby. I absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother – and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. Being tired is on my mind right now, because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six-day-old, she flat-out told me that, “this breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting? Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand on the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.”

The mom went on to explain that nursing every two hours was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breast milk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert; feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer like “the witching hours.” I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”

So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days.

  • If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have to get the show on the road once in a while), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other: Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week…whoops; I should have been more clear with my instructions.
  • Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTHING, isn’t it? So, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in! As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
  • Remember the saying “time is fleeting,” so are these stages!  Many times these cluster feeds will pass quickly and after a couple days you’ll have an entirely new baby.  It’s important to keep in mind that babies patterns change quickly and you won’t always be feeding around the clock. 

When I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations unrealistic as to how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Blog written by  Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC, 

Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Is it safe to continue breastfeeding if I’m pregnant with another child?

Many mothers choose to continue breastfeeding throughout pregnancy, while others decide to wean. The following ipregnantwithsonkissinnformation may help you decide what is best for you and your family.

Generally, it’s possible to safely continue breast-feeding while pregnant — as long as you’re careful about eating a healthy diet and diligently drinking plenty of fluids. There’s an important caveat, however. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren’t a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider may discourage breastfeeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor. In an uncomplicated pregnancy there is no evidence that continuing to breastfeed will deprive your unborn child of necessary nutrients. In addition, according to the LeLeche League International Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition 2003, page 407. “Although uterine contractions are experienced during breastfeeding, they are a normal part of pregnancy. Uterine contractions also occur during sexual activity, which most couples continue during pregnancy.” if you are having a difficult pregnancy and are at risk for preterm labor and birth, and in particular, have been advised to avoid intercourse during pregnancy, then weaning would probably be advisable.

It is important to have a healthy diet if you plan to breastfeed during pregnancy. Depending on how old your nursing child is, you may need an additional 650 calories a day if your breastfeeding child is under the age of six months, or about 500 if your child is now eating other foods. This is in addition to the 350 (second trimester) and 450 (third trimester) calories you need during your pregnancy. (No additional calories are needed during the first trimester as you work your way through morning sickness and some healthy foods are just not palatable. In malnourished populations, pregnant, nursing mothers do have lower weight gain and lower weight babies, as well as lower weight nursing siblings, than those who wean.

If you’re considering breastfeeding while pregnant, be prepared for changes your nursing child might notice. Although breast milk continues to be nutritionally sound throughout pregnancy, the content of your breast milk will change — which may affect the way your milk tastes. In addition, your milk production is likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses. These factors could lead your nursing child to wean on his or her own before the baby is born.

Your comfort may also be a concern. During pregnancy, nipple tenderness and breast soreness are common. The discomfort may intensify while breast-feeding. Pregnancy-related fatigue may pose challenges as well. If you want to continue breast-feeding while pregnant — or breast-feed both the baby and the older child after delivery — you may need additional support from loved ones or other close contacts. Also check with your health care provider about taking supplemental prenatal vitamins.

Info provided from Midwifery Care Associates and LeLeche League International, Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition, 2003.

Sara Walters, B, Breastfeeding During Pregnancy, Carmathen Wales UK; from New Beginnings, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, pp. 32-33

Oversupply of Breast Milk-What to Do

Concern about not having enough breast milk to feed your infant, is the number one reason that mothers wean their babies early, but having too much milk can also be a problem. When you consider the fact that a small percentage of women don’t have the capacity to produce enough milk for their babies no matter what they do, then
having too much milk is a relatively good breastfeeding problem to have, and is usually fairly easy to resolve.

When a mother has more milk than her baby can handle, the following behaviors may be common:
• Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and may become restless
• Baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast
• Baby may seem to bite or clamp down on the nipple while feeding
• Milk sprays when baby comes off, especially at the beginning of a feeding
• Mom may have sore nipples
• Baby may arch and hold himself very stiffly, sometimes screaming
• Feedings often seem like battles, with baby nursing fitfully on and off
• Feedings may be short, lasting only 5 or 10 minutes total
• Baby may seem to have a “love-hate” relationship with the breast
• Baby may burp or pass gas frequently between feedings, tending to spit up a lot
• Baby may have green, watery or foamy, explosive stools
• Mother’s breasts feel full most of the time
• Mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis (breast infection)

Moms who produce too much milk may experience a few seconds of intense pain as the letdown (or milk ejection) reflex occurs, because it is so forceful. The cause of the problem is usually a combination of an overactive letdown reflex along with a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Let’s say that the ‘average’ mother has one half ounce of foremilk (the thin, sweet milk produced at the beginning of the feeding that is high in lactose but lower in fat) and two ounces of hindmilk (the higher calorie, thicker milk that is produced as the milk lets down and moves through the ducts, collecting fatty particles). This ‘average’ mother’s baby will get a total of about five ounces of milk if he nurses on both breasts. The mother with too much milk, on the other hand, may have an ounce of foremilk and three ounces of hindmilk in each breast. This
means that the baby may get four ounces of milk on the first breast, and if you switch him to the other side, he may be so full that he will only get the ounce of foremilk that comes out at the beginning of the feeding. This results in a disproportionate amount of foremilk. Why is this a problem?

Foremilk is high in lactose, a normal and necessary milk sugar that in large volumes causes gassiness and discomfort, frequently with green, watery or foamy stools. Over a period of time, undigested lactose can irritate the lining of the intestines, causing temporary secondary lactose intolerance and possibly small amounts of bleeding into stools that can be misdiagnosed as a food allergy. Adjusting breastfeeding to increase the amount of fat the baby receives (“finishing” the breast before switching) usually corrects the problem.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce and cope with an overabundance milk supply:
1) Offer only one breast at each feeding. Let your baby nurse as long as he wants to on that side. If he has nursed less than 15-20 minutes on that breast, and wants to nurse again in less than an hour or two, put him back on the same breast until he has stayed on for at least
15-20 minutes.
2) If he does nurse for 15 minutes or so on one side, don’t offer the second breast unless he seems to want it. He probably got all the milk he needed on the first side. Many babies (especially newborns) will take the other side if you offer it, not because they are hungry, but just because they love to suckle. If the other breast gets uncomfortably full before the next feeding, express just enough milk to relieve the discomfort, but not enough to empty it completely.
3) Try altering your nursing position. Lean back slightly, and hold him so that he is facing your breast, and straddling your leg, with his head elevated above our nipple. Lying on your side may be helpful as well. You also may try lying on your back, with your baby lying on top of you. In all of these positions, the force of gravity will reduce the flow of milk and let your baby control his intake more easily. If your baby is very small, try using the football hold, but make sure that his head is higher than the rest of his body. In any of these positions, you may want to use a towel or cloth diaper to catch the leakage,
because there will probably be some as the excess milk dribbles out of his mouth.
4) Try to relax during the letdown. Usually the milk will spurt out in forceful sprays in the beginning, and then slow down. You may want to catch the initial forceful sprays in a towel, put him on the breast after the sprays have settled down into steady drips. You many also want to express a little milk into a cup before you put him on the breast. Save this milk – it’s great for cereal later on. If your baby starts to choke or gag during a feeding, take him off the
breast, express a little milk, and then put him back on after he calms down.
5) Babies who gulp and choke when their mom has a forceful letdown will often swallow air. Burp him often, especially if you hear him continuing to gulp during the feeding. Don’t be surprised if he spits up a lot, especially while your supply is adjusting. Spitting up most often occurs in babies who are gaining weight well, but are taking in too much milk at a feeding. It’s usually more of a laundry problem than medical problem. However, if your baby spits up forcefully after every feeding, isn’t gaining weight well, or has other signs of illness such as fever or diarrhea, it may indicate a medical problem and you
should consult your healthcare provider.
6) Try to avoid pumping or expressing your milk unless you absolutely have to. Pump or express only if you need to relieve the fullness, because if you pump to empty your breasts, you may be more comfortable temporarily, but you will be sending your body the signals to make more milk.
7) Drink a cup of sage tea at bedtime. Sage contains a natural form of estrogen that can decrease your milk supply. Discontinue use when your supply begins to level out.
8) Usually within a week, you will notice a significant decrease in your supply as it adjusts to meet your baby’s demands without overproducing. You may findthat you need to use a pacifier if your baby wants to do a lot of ‘comfort sucking’.

If you do have a fussy baby who needs to nurse for comfort, offer the same breast during a two- hour period instead of switching sides every few minutes. Five minutes on one breast, then five on the other can result in him taking in too much foremilk, leading to symptoms of intestinal discomfort.

Usually, the problem of too much milk will resolve as your baby matures
and is able to handle the flow better, and also as your body settles down to make the milk your baby needs and not a lot extra. Like all other breastfeeding problems, this too shall pass.

excerpts from breastfeedingbasics.com

Water, Water Everywhere-How Much should you Drink?

Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Most individuals seem to know that drinking water is good for them, but maybe don’t know exactly why and have a hard time reaching their intake goals each day. We know all the excuses:

– I don’t like the taste
– I simply forget
– I can’t drink that much
– Who has time for that many bathroom breaks!

Well, we are going to inform you on why you should always have a water bottle nearby, how much you really need to drink and some tips to help you reach that goal.

Why You Should Be Downing That Water

Water is the most important nutrient for your body. From flushing out toxins, transporting nutrients throughout your body, and other vital actions, water necessary for every single system in your body needs water to function.

On average, water makes up 60% of our body weight. Even slight dehydration can prevent your body from carrying out normal bodily functions, draining your energy or even causing a headache.

5 reasons why you should have a glass of cool, refreshing H20:

1. Drop a few pounds: Remember just a moment ago when we said water is necessary for every function in your body. This includes breaking down fat for weight loss. Also, water is calorie free and is often an appetite suppressant. In fact, most people often confuse hunger for thirst.

2. Drink for your health: Drinking the right amount of water improves the health of your heart, and can even lower your risk of a heart attack. Also, increasing your water intake can improve digestive health by aiding in the breakdown of food. And, most of you probably already know that drinking water is one of the best things you can do for healthy skin – giving it a glow from the inside out.

3. Energy: The first all natural energy drink is water! Test it out next time you’re feeling a little sluggish by having a couple glasses of water.

4. Headache prevention: Know those dull headaches that come in the afternoon, especially after sitting at your desk all day? You’d be surprised how many of those headaches are caused by a slight dehydration.

5. Cleansing: Flush out all those unhealthy toxins!

Now that you’re sold on why to drink more water, let’s talk about how much – and how!
For years we’ve been told to follow the “8 by 8” rule – drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but for some people that just is not enough water. Here’s a new formula to use when calculating how much water you need. Simply divide your weight (in pounds) by two to give you the number of ounces of water you should strive to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., strive to drink 80 ounces of water daily.

Dietary recommendations: The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

If you drink a lot of caffeine, exercise or your job requires a lot of physical activity, you may need to consume even more water to replenish your body.

Whoa, that’s a lot of water!

Need some help reaching your new water intake goal? Try these tips:

1. Get a reusable bottle and figure out how many times you must empty it through out the day to reach your goal.

2. Have a glass of water before (and with) every meal.

3. Keep a pitcher of water in your office, at your desk or in the fridge – this will also help track how much you’ve already had for the day.

4. Add lemon or lime slices, or mint leaves to give your water a light, refreshing taste. (Hint: the mint may need to soak in the water up to 12 hours to give it any flavor.)

5. Set a daily alarm on your cell phone to remind you of your water intake goal.

6. Go slow. If you rarely drink water and just the thought of your recommended intake makes your bladder a little uneasy, take a few days or even a week to work your way up to that magical number.

Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves, thus increasing your fluid intake needs.

Illnesses or health conditions. Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases you should drink more water and may even need oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade or Powerade. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.

Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day

Other Sources of Water
Although it’s a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don’t need to rely only on what you drink to satisfy your daily fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.
For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent to 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice also are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is one of your best bets because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying safely hydratedIt’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, it’s most likely you are already dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience either.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:
 Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
 Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
 Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace that bottle often.

Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet.

If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s best for you.

Posted by Living Well Today on June 17, 2009
Excerpts from Mayoclinic.com/health/water

Infant Development Enhanced By Eating Fish While Pregnant

Both higher fish consumption and longer breastfeeding are linked to better physical and cognitive development in infants, according to a study of mothers and infants from Denmark. Maternal fish consumption and longer breastfeeding were independently beneficial.

“These results, together with findings from other studies of women in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, provide additional evidence that moderate maternal fish intake during pregnancy does not harm child development and may on balance be beneficial,” said Assistant Professor Emily Oken, lead author of the study.

The study, which appeared in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by researchers from the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the Maternal Nutrition Group from the Department of Epidemiology at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. These findings provide further evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and compounds in breast milk are beneficial to infant development.

The study team looked at 25,446 children born to mothers participating in the Danish Birth Cohort, a study that includes pregnant women enrolled from 1997-2002. Mothers were interviewed about child development markers at 6 and 18 months postpartum and asked about their breastfeeding at 6 months postpartum. Prenatal diet, including amounts and types of fish consumed weekly, was assessed by a detailed food frequency questionnaire administered when they were six months pregnant.

During the interviews mothers were asked about specific physical and cognitive developmental milestones such as whether the child at six months could hold up his/her head, sit with a straight back, sit unsupported, respond to sound or voices, imitate sounds, or crawl. At 18 months, they were asked about more advanced milestones such as whether the child could climb stairs, remove his/her socks, drink from a cup, write or draw, use word-like sounds and put words together, and whether they could walk unassisted.

The children whose mothers ate the most fish during pregnancy were more likely to have better motor and cognitive skills. For example, among mothers who ate the least fish, 5.7% of their children had the lowest developmental scores at 18 months, compared with only 3.7% of children whose mothers had the highest fish intake. Compared with women who ate the least fish, women with the highest fish intake (about 60 grams – 2 ounces – per day on average) had children 25% more likely to have higher developmental scores at 6 months and almost 30% more likely to have higher scores at 18 months.

Longer duration of breastfeeding was also associated with better infant development, especially at 18 months. Breastmilk also contains omega-3 fatty acids. The benefit of fish consumption was similar among infants breastfed for shorter or longer durations.

Women in the U.S. have been advised to limit their fish intake to two servings a week because some fish contains high traces of mercury, which has demonstrated toxic effects. Information regarding mercury levels was not available in this population, but most women consumed cod, plaice, salmon, herring, and mackerel, fish types that tend to have low mercury content. In this study, consumption of three or more weekly servings of fish was associated with higher development scores, so in this case the nutrient benefits of prenatal fish appeared to outweigh toxicant harm.

“In previous work in a population of U.S. women, we similarly found that higher prenatal fish consumption was associated with an overall benefit for child cognitive development, but that higher mercury levels attenuated this benefit,” says Dr. Oken. “Therefore, women should continue to eat fish – especially during pregnancy – but should choose fish types likely to be lower in mercury.” Information on mercury levels in commonly consumed fish is available at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html).

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Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.