Tag Archive | pregnant

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

The Benefits of Red Raspberry Tea

Red Raspberry leaf tea is one of the safest and commonly used tonic herbs for women wanting to get pregnant or for women who are already pregnant. Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tones the uterus, improves contractions and decreases constipation. Most tonics need to be used regularly, for a tonic is to the cells much like exercise is to the muscles; it is not much help when done irregularly . But you will still  benefit even from occasional use of tonics during pregnancy, since they contain nourishing factors. The herb comes in forms of leaves to make teas or tonics as well as pill like capsules you can swallow. Most of the benefits given to regular use of Red Raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself; and to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant. There is rich concentration of Vitamin C, the presence of Vitamin E and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorus and potassium.

When to use: There are two basic points of view on the subject. There is agreement among many
clinicians that in the 3rd trimester frequent (2- 3 cups per day of tea or 1 – 2 cups per day of infusion) isred raspberry leaf tea
beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles.

The more radical point of view is that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st trimester and 2 cups in the 2nd trimester and switching to the infusion in the 3rd trimester ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. Some say it is advised to not use it in the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of miscarriage. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern, but check with your healthcare provider before using.

According to Susun Weed, author of “Wise Woman, Herbal for the Childbearing Year,” the benefits
listed below for drinking a Raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy are as follows:

  • Increasing fertility in both men and women. Red Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when
    combined with Red Clover.
  •  Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent
    miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.
  • Use raspberry leaf infusion to help facilitate placenta delivery. Chips of frozen raspberry leaf infusion
    sucked throughout labor help keep the uterus working strongly and smoothly.
  •  Easing of morning sickness. Many women attest to raspberry leaves’ gentle relief of nausea and
    stomach distress throughout pregnancy. Drink a cup or two of raspberry leaf tea or infusion each day.
    Sipping the infusion before getting up or sucking on ice cubes made from the infusion increases the
    strength of this remedy.
  •  Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and birth,
    Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful birth and prolonged recovery. It does not
    counter the pain of dilation of the cervix.
  • Red Raspberry Leaves do not start or encourage labor. It can help the contractions to be productive
    once true labor has begun because it strengthens the uterine and pelvic muscles but it is not an oxytonic
    herb (one that would induce labor). That being said, it’s important to talk with your midwife,
    obstetrician or herbalist before beginning drinking red raspberry leaf tea or taking a supplement. Some
    will recommend you wait until you are 36 weeks along before incorporating the tea into your health
    regime while others may encourage you to begin right away. Each situation and pregnancy is different
    so it’s best to get other’s opinions before beginning red raspberry leaf tea.

Tea recipe: To make a tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Strain. During the first two trimesters, drink 1 cup per day. During the final trimester, drink 2-3 cups per day.

Excerpts from Weed, Susun. “Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year.”http://www.motherandchildhealth.com/Prenatal/raspberry.html

Presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

www.midwiferycareassociates.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angeljmiller

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

Preconceptional Counseling and Care

Becoming a parent is a major commitment in life. It can be met with challenges, rewards and informed choices. Before you conceive, be sure to incorporate a healthy life-style to ensure optimal health for mom and baby. Receiving pre-conceptional counseling and care can lay the ground work for a healthy lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. Good health before pregnancy can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy, labor and birth. Obtaining good health care before you conceive will help you throughout your pregnancy. It also provides you with the opportunity to find out your risks, treat any medical problems that may affect the outcome of your pregnancy and adopt or continue a healthy lifestyle.

If you are planning to conceive, schedule a pre-conceptional visit with your healthcare provider. Included in your visit is a comprehensive history of your health including: Family history and risk factors, your medical history, surgical history, medications that you are presently taking including vitamins, supplements, OTC (over-the-counter) meds; your diet and lifetstyle and any past pregnancies.

Your preconception visit is a time for you to ask questions. Do not hesitate to seek advice, discuss your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to provide information and guidance to help you make informed choices in your healthcare to help you obtain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are planning to conceive should stop their form of birth control several months in advance. Even though methods vary in use, it may affect when your menses resumes and becomes regular. During this time you may also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure you are getting added vitamins and increased folic acid.

Your lifestyle includes diet, exercise, weight, substance use, living/working environment and infection history. Current immunizations are important to prevent any infections during your pregnancy that can harm you and your baby, even if you were vaccinated as a child (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus), you may not be immune now. If you are vaccinated prior to conceiving, you will be protected. The vaccine for mumps, measles and especially rubella should be given at least 3 months
prior to conceiving. During this period of time, you should use a reliable method birth control.

Optimal health at any time during your lifetime involves a healthy diet and the proper amount of exercise. Ideally, you should be in good physical shape and follow a regular exercise regimen before your conceive. If you are not used to being active, you should start an exercise program gradually.

Tobacco, alcohol and recreational (illegal) drug use is addictive and can harm you and your baby that can last a lifetime or even result in death. They can have detrimental affects on the organ formation, causing damage. The misuse of prescription medication can also harm the fetus. For the sake of your own health and that of your baby, now is a good time to cut back on smoking and alcohol and quit all recreational drugs. It takes time and patience to quit a habit, especially if you have had that particular habit for a long time. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest ways to get through the withdrawal state or quitting and to refer you to support groups. Your decision to quit may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but it will be one of the most worthwhile.

Does your work environment impose any hazards? If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to look closely at your work place and surroundings. Are you exposed to toxic substances, chemicals, or radiation? Discuss your level of exposure to specific substances with your employee health division, personnel office or union representative.

Exposure to lead or certain solvents, pesticides or other chemicals can reduce your partner’s fertility by killing or damaging sperm. Unlike women, who are born with a complete supply of eggs for their entire lifespan, men make new sperm on a daily basis for most of their lives. Unless the damage to a man’s reproductive system is very serious, he will probably be able to make healthy sperm against a short time span after his exposure to the harmful material stops.

Questions to Consider…
• Do I or a member of my family have a disorder that could be inherited?
• Do I need to gain or lose weight to prepare for pregnancy?
• Should I make any changes in my lifestyle?
• Could any medications I am taking cause problems during my pregnancy?
• Can I continue my present exercise program?
• Does my work expose me to things that could be harmful during pregnancy?
• Do I need to be vaccinated for any infectious diseases before I try to conceive?

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.