Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to Avoid Constipation During Pregnancy

It is Murphy's law that just when you are able to get food into your body without having it come back up, that you suddenly find you can not get the food out of your body. Nearly half of all the women who are pregnant suffer from constipation during pregnancy.

As with all symptoms of pregnancy there is a reason for constipation. When you are pregnant your body creates progesterone which in turns relaxes the muscles of the bowels and causes your digestive tracks to work much slower. Your digestive track works slower to make sure your body absorbs the nutrients from your food for your baby. This can create constipation, which if it not kept under control, can lead to hemorrhoids.

There are some ways you can help avoid constipation throughout your pregnancy. Make sure you included plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber absorbs water and can help to soften your stools and speed their passage. Eat plenty of high fiber foods like whole grain cereal and oatmeal. Instead of eating white bread with your sandwiches, eat whole grain breads. Add some oat bran to your cereals or yogurt.

Fresh fruits are also an excellent way to get your fiber in. Melons and plums have a high amount of fiber in them as wells as dried fruits like figs, raisins, apricots and of course the well known favorite prunes. Prunes and prune juice have a like laxative effect and will help keep things moving properly in your body. Aim to eat at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. You can tell you are getting enough fiber if your stools are large and soft and you aren't straining to pass them. Keep in mind though that too much fiber can lead to diarrhea which can lead to dehydration so do not over do the fiber in your diet.

Also, drinking plenty of fluid will help you combat constipation. Fluids help keep digestive products moving through your system so it is very important for you to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Keeping up with your fluids is important especially if you are increasing your intake of fiber. Your body needs to water to soak up the fiber otherwise it can cause more constipation.

Also, make sure you are eating your yogurt if you can. Yogurt has a bacteria called acidophilus that helps stimulate the intestinal bacteria to break down food better. Look at your prenatal. Some of the prenatal that women take contain a lot of iron and iron can play a big part in constipation. Talk to your doctor to see if you can switch for a while to a different prenatal that contains less iron or at least stay off of the prenatal for a while until your constipation is under control.

Avoid foods that can lead to constipation. White bread and some cereals such as corn flakes can lead to constipation as well as white rice and bananas. If all this fails, give your doctor a call to see if there is something you can take to help keep you regulated. Most doctors will allow you to take Metamucil to help keep things moving.

Constipation is never pleasant but during pregnancy it can be even extra uncomfortable. Make sure you take the steps to avoid constipation. It will help make your pregnancy that much more enjoyable.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Healthy weight gain for pregnancy

Most doctors will tell you that you should gain anywhere between 25-30 pounds through out your pregnancy. You should aim to gain about 3.5 pounds during your first trimester, although more often than not most women find that they lose weight their first trimester. The culprit to this is morning sickness. Some women suffer from such a severe case of morning sickness they can not keep anything down. Chances are your doctor will not be too concerned if you lose a few pounds that first trimester as long as you gain steady throughout the next two trimesters.

Your second trimester is where you will probably put on most of your weight. Most women put on about a pound a week, so roughly four or five pounds a month which brings their second trimester weight gain to about 12-15 pounds. Some women put on more while others put on less. Do not be surprised if you put on a lot of weight one month and not so much your next.

For the 7th and 8th month you will should probably continue about a pound each week or so. Look to gain between 8 and 10 pounds those months. Most women find that their weight gain slows down in the 9th month. You might find your weight gain coming to a end as your due date draws nearer. This can be a sign that labor is on the horizon. Or, you may find that your weight gain continues especially if you are retaining a lot of water.

So where does all this weight go? It doesn't really make sense that you should gain between 25-30 pounds if your baby is only going to weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. Let's break down where the extra weight goes.

First, you have your baby. A average baby weights about 7 1/2 pounds. Some can weigh more and some weigh less. That amniotic fluid that your baby has been swimming in for the past nine months weighs about 2 pounds. Figure in about 2 pounds for your breast enlargement and 1 1/2 pounds for your placenta. Your uterus, which started off about the size of a golf ball has grown to weigh about 2 pounds. Your body should be producing about 4 pounds of extra blood by the end of your pregnancy and about 7 extra pounds of fat. Let's not forget the extra fluid of about 4 pounds that your body might be holding on to. All this equals to the grand total of about 30 pounds.

Now keep in mind this is just a estimate and not a guarantee of how your weight will fall. There are women who wind up having a 10 pound baby and others who have a 5 pound baby. The key is to maintain a healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Your body needs extra calories and it is best for you and your baby if those extra calories come from food that has a lot of nutritional value such as fruits, vegetables or protein. Staying away from junk for will help you curb your weight gain.

When it comes to taking the weight off, do not be surprise if your body hangs on to it especially those first days after delivery. Once you are home keep this in mind that it took nine months to gain that weight so gives yourself at least a good nine months to take it off.

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Gestational Diabetes

You are twenty eight weeks pregnant! Congratulations, you have made it to your third trimester with a picture perfect pregnancy. You go in to see your obgyn for your appointment and the bomb drops. You have gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy complications that women face. It is when pregnant women have high blood sugar levels during their pregnancy. It is not really known what can cause gestational diabetes. Some experts say that overweight women have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, but there is not much evidence to support this.

What is known about gestational diabetes is that one of the only cures is to deliver the baby. After delivery your blood sugar level will go back down to normal. The common treatment for gestational diabetes has been insulin shots. Just as if you had diabetes when you were not pregnant, you would have to take shots each day. Some women find though that by changing their diet, they are able to manage their gestational diabetes without having to give themselves a shot of insulin.

If you are looking to make dietary changes your doctor will probably refer you to a nutritionist. They will look at several factors when designing a meal plan for you. First they will look at your weight before you got pregnant and how much you have gained since them. Next they will look at your activity level and your blood level. Then they will work with you to design an eating plan that has just the right amount of carbohydrates.

Some of the guidelines you should follow are to spread your carbs out through out the day by eating three small meals and two to four snacks. Breakfast might be a meal where you will want to eat less carbs since they can cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. Instead eat a protein filled breakfast with eggs, or even meat. Giving up sweets is one of the best things you can do if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and will make your meal plan easier to follow.

It is also important to that you do not skip meals or try going on a low carb diet. This is going to cause your blood levels to fall to low levels and can leave you exhausted and legatheric. Chances are you will have to test your blood sugar levels regularly to make sure you are at a safe level. Some women are so sensitive that they can tell when their levels are low and know what steps to take to correct it.

Not taking the steps to keep your gestational diabetes under control not only puts you at a risk of developing type 2 diabetes's later in life, but you are also putting the life of your baby at risk. Babies born from moms who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes tend to be larger than those who aren't. Most doctors will not let a women go past her due date if she has gestational diabetes and a few will not even let them go as far as their due date before inducting them. Larger babies could mean more delivery complications and increase your chance of a c- section.

Gestational diabetes is so common these days that no one bats an eye if you say you have it. By eating a healthy diet and watching your sugar level, you will be able to control your blood sugar level and continue with your perfect pregnancy.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Inducing Labor - When and Why This Might Be a Good Choice for You

There are several reasons why a doctor might choose to induce labor during a woman's pregnancy. This article will discuss safe methods of inducing labor and the reasons why it is practiced.

Inducing labor is fairly common. If it is more risky for the woman to stay pregnant than delivering the baby then the pregnancy may be induced. Approximately 450,000 births are induced. The reasons vary from overdue babies, chronic high blood pressure in the mother, pre-clampsia, gestational diabetes, intrauterine- growth restriction and Rh- isoimmonization.

If your doctor is considering inducing your labor at your next visit he will probably do a pelvic exam. This will include an evaluation of how ready you are for an induction. The Bishop score might be used to determine whether or not you are ready to be induced. The doctor will look at dilation, effacement, station, consistency and position of the cervix. This helps the doctor to decide if he should induce labor.

Sometimes doctors will ripen the cervix before labor is induced. This means that medication is used to help the cervix soften, thin and dilate.

The two most common ways doctors do this is by using Prepidil Gel and Cervidil. In most cases this is done the day before induction. This is done in the hospital so that the baby can be monitored.

If labor is induced first the cervix is ripened and then the doctor will give you oxytocin (Pitocin) intravenously. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes contractions. A pump connected to the IV controls the amount you are given. This medication is increased gradually until contractions begin. You will be monitored while receiving this so that you don't get too much of it. You will also be monitored for your baby's reaction to your labor.

The medication will help start contractions so you can go into labor. Each woman's labor is different. It might take longer for one woman to go through the process from the ripening of the cervix to the birth of her baby than another woman.

Inducing labor also does not guarantee a vaginal delivery. In some instances, the induction doesn't work. When that happens a C-section is usually necessary.

If your labor is induced I hope this information will help you understand the reasons why and how it is done.

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Choosing Where To Deliver - Pregnancy

In general, your choice of where you deliver will be linked to your care provider. The majority of physicians take care of women in a hospital setting, where most birth in the US take place. Midwives also take care of women in a hospital setting, although they also deliver babies in birthing center.

Hospital birth

There are three potential advantages to choosing deliver in a hospital. First, if you are among the 30-40 percent of women over 35 who require a cesarean delivery, there will be no need for you to be moved from home or the birthing center. Although most cesarean deliveries are not urgent, in which case the delay will not cause you or your baby any harm, in an obstetric emergencies, time can be of the essence. The second advantage is that you will have more pain control options. Although many first time mothers wish to avoid epidural analgesia, you may not know what type of pain relief you want until you are actually in labor. If you are highly motivate to avoid an epidural analgesia, freestanding birthing centers and home birth are geared toward supporting you with out pain medicine. A third advantage is that a hospital birth may be safer if you have significant medical problems such as diabetes or blood pressure problems, which may affect you or your baby. It is also safest to deliver in a hospital if you've' had a cesarean section previously, because of the small risk of the uterus rupturing.

Birthing center or home birth

If you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy, the risk to you and your baby of delivering in an alternative setting is low. For women who have strong preferences about the use of oxytocin or continuous fetal monitoring delivery at a birthing center may increase their chances of avoiding these interventions, In addition, because epidural analgesia is not usually available you are likely to receive more intensive labor support for your pain. While some believe that delivering in a frec standing birthing center will reduce your likelihood of a cesarean delivery or episiotomy, your care giver's practice style is probably a more important determinant than where you deliver.

Getting The Most From Your Prenatal Care

The most important principle in choosing a care provider is to find someone you feel comfortable with. Ask questions early on about things that are important to you for example, the rates of episiotomy, cesarean delivery, and forceps or vacuum delivery. When thinking about your care giver's cesarean delivery rate, be aware that interpreting cesarean delivery rates is very complicated, even for statistical experts. Physicians who care for higher risk patients are likely to have very high cesarean delivery rates, which are explained by the high· risk nature of their patient population. However, in low-risk patients, recent studies suggest that either too high or too low cesarean delivery rates may indicate a problem.

Your care provider's philosophy about pain control in labor is also important. Unless you share his or her view, avoid a care provider who has strong feelings about what type of pain control you should select in labor.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tips to Overcome the Anxiety of Fertility Treatments

With fertility treatments come many side effects. Most couples are willing to undergo these side effects in order to realize their dreams of having a child. Nonetheless some of the side effects of infertility treatments are more challenging than others.

Infertility has side effects on both partners. The more you understand these side effects, the better prepared you will be to cope with them should they occur.

There are multiple side effects associated with the use of fertility drugs to enhance ovulation and IVF procedures. Among the more common side effects include:

• Enlarged ovaries or ovary hyper stimulation.

• Thinning of the uterine lining that may impede pregnancy or cause complications.

• Increased risk for multiple gestations.

• Various mood disorders associated with fluctuating hormone levels and infertility treatment.

• Possible link to infertility treatments and certain forms of cervical cancer, though some studies supporting this link are questionable.

There are of course other side effects associated with infertility treatment. Many of these are emotional side effects that come with attempting procedures that come with no guarantees. The financial burden and associated stress associated with infertility treatment for example can be devastating for some couples. It isn’t uncommon for couples to shell out thousands of dollars for infertility treatments, only to realize after several attempts they will not be able to conceive successfully.

The emotional ups and downs that come with fertility treatments are also daunting for some patients. There are no guarantees again when it comes to fertility treatments. Even if a woman does become pregnant in some cases she may still suffer a higher than average risk for pregnancy complications or miscarriage. There is also a very small body of research suggesting that children who are conceived through assisted reproductive technologies may have a slightly higher than average risk of succumbing to certain diseases, though more studies are necessary to confirm or disprove this.

Some couples get so caught up in the process of trying to conceive they forget to connect with one another. This can be harmful to an otherwise healthy and loving relationship.

Fortunately there are steps you can take to minimize to burden associated with infertility treatments. It is important that couples communicate frequently with one another during the procedures and process of fertility treatments. Couples should also seek supportive counseling or other support measures to help them cope with the ups and downs associated with fertility treatments. Connecting with other couples that have experienced similar circumstances can prove extremely beneficial and rewarding for couples undergoing infertility. Most times your healthcare provider can recommend local support groups for couples undergoing infertility. There is also a wealth of support and information services available online to help couples cope with infertility.

Again in this case couples best recourse is to seek out guidance and support from other couples that have experienced similar problems.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gaining Weight Too Slowly During Pregnancy

Just as gaining too much weight can be harmful to you and your baby, not gaining enough weight can be harmful also. There are some women out there who are so terrified at gaining weight that they eat next to nothing during their pregnancy. Please do not do this, you could be depriving your baby of the vitamins and minerals it needs and you increase your chances of having a small baby. Babies who are underweight at delivery are at a greater risk for health problems than babies who are of average weight at delivery.

If you find that you have gained nothing during your first trimester, do not worry. Some women do not gain anything during those first three months and some even lose some weight thanks to morning sickness. Your baby's needs are relatively tiny at that point. It is when you are in your second and third trimesters that you should make sure you are gaining weight according.

If you find that you are not gaining as much weight as you should, you should try to fatten up your diet. Increase your fat intake by a serving or too. This will increase your calorie intake but won't decrease your appetite. Do not increase your fat by more than a serving or two. There are better and healthier ways to increase your weight gain.

If you are one of the lucky few women who do not gain weight easy, you might not want to foods with the lowest amount of calories. You can still eat healthy but you want to up your calorie intake. Try eating avocados and more cheeses along with some beans too. Indulge in some snacks also. Try to add at least three snacks into your schedule. Make sure you have a decent amount of calories but not so many calories that your ruin your appetite for your next meal. If you are not allergic to peanuts, try some apple slices with peanut butter or some whole wheat crackers which some low fat cheese slices.

Take some time out of your busy life to relax. Not gaining enough weight could be a sign that you are doing too much. You could be burning up the calories you eat instead of using them to nourish your baby. Try cutting back on your exercise if you have an exercise routine. You also want to make sure you eat after a workout to replace the calories you just lost. If you are working while you are pregnant and it is a stressful job, make sure you take the time out of your busy day for lunch and snacks.

Throughout all of this, check in with your doctor. Your doctor may want to run some tests to make sure that you do not have a thyroid condition or any other undiagnosed medical problem that might keep you from gaining weight. You may also want to keep track of what you eat so you can show your doctor and talk about any changes that might need to be made to your diet. You may not be eating enough and you may find that you need to eat more.

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Gaining Weight Too Fast During Pregnancy

Any obgyn will tell you that the recommended weight gain for pregnancy is 25-30 pounds. Some women will gain more, some will gain less. But how can you tell if you are gaining too fast during your pregnancy. Too much weight gain can increase your chances of a c section and put you at risk for being overweight after.

Some doctors say that if you put on more than 3 1/2 pounds in your first trimester and are of a normal weight you are putting weight on too fast. If you are overweight and put on more than 2 pounds, you are gaining too fast. Keep in mind though that even if you gain a lot in your first trimester, it doesn't necassararily mean you will gain a lot your whole pregnancy.

Some women gain a lot in the first trimester because morning sickness has them only able to eat carbs and nothing else and still end their pregnancy gaining no more than 25 pounds. If however you find that your weight gain is still not slowing down once you enter your second trimester, there are some tips you can try to help slow it down.

First, cut out the useless calories. It is never a good idea to diet while you are pregnant but if you are gaining too much you do need to slow down the rate at which you are gaining. Apply some basic calorie cutting strategies such as using skim milk instead of whole milk, taking skin off your chicken and grilling or broil instead of frying or sautéing. You will also want to cut out most of your sweets. These are empty calories that are providing no nutritional value to you or your baby.

Next, cut down on the fat you are taking in. Look at what you are eating and how it may have hidden fat in it. Some salad dressings can be loaded with fat, so you might want to try putting your dressing on the side. Watch how much oil you use when you are cooking or when you are going out to eat and stick to good oils such as extra virgin olive oil.

Get active! You could be gaining weight faster because you are not active. As long as your doctor gives you the go ahead, start a walking program. Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body and your baby. Not only does it help with your weight gain, but some women and doctors swear that walking through out most of your pregnancy could help ease the pains of childbirth. If you can not walk due to weather conditions you might want to look into joining a prenatal exercise class.

Lastly pay attention to what you are eating. So many people don't pay attention to what they eat and find that they are overeating without even realizing it. How many times have you sat on the couch watching a movie and decided to have some potato chips only to realize that you have eaten the whole bag? Try to keep all your meals at the table and take your time while eating.

Even though you are eating for two, gaining just enough weight will not only make delivery and recovery easier for you, it will also make getting the weight off after pregnancy come off that much faster.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

Almost every woman knows the basic of what they should and should not do during pregnancy. They know that caffeine should be cut back; they should not smoke, drink alcohol or spend time in any hot tubs. However more and more studies are being done to see if pregnant women should avoid certain foods for the duration of their pregnancy.

It is essential that pregnant women eat a well balanced meal at all times to provide their growing baby with the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that the baby needs to grow. There are some foods though that needs to be avoided due to the risk they pose to not just to the mother, but also to the growing baby.

For starters, raw meat needs to be avoided due to the risk of toxoplasmosis and salmonella. This means no more rare steaks, or rare burgers. Pregnant women should take caution and make sure that all of the meat they eat is cooked well done. Cold deli meat should also be avoided because of the risk of listeria. Listeria can cross the placenta and can cause an infection or blood poisoning to the baby. Keep in mind though that deli meat can be reheated until it is steaming and this will help reduce the risk.

Speaking of listeria there are other foods that can contain this bacteria. Some soft cheeses such as brie, feta, and gorgonzola. These cheeses are commonly made with unpasterized milk. Unpasterized milk often contains listeria, so pregnant women need to make sure that any soft cheeses they are going to eat are made with pasteurized milk.

Fish has always been a subject of debate for pregnant women. While some forms of fish contain essential nutrients that are needed by the baby, others contain a high level of mercury. Any fish with a high level of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and fish used in sushi should be avoided through out pregnancy. Studies have linked mercury to developmental delays and in some cases brain damage. Tuna also contains a lot of mercury but canned, chunk light tuna has a lower amount of mercury and can be eaten in moderation. Raw shellfish also should be avoided through out pregnancy.

Raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs is a no no during pregnancy. There is a potential exposure to salmonella. This means no raw cookie dough, no brownie mix, and some homemade sauces such as hollandaise, Caesar dressing and blue cheese dressing. When dining in a restaurant, it would be wise to ask any sauces or dressings contain any raw eggs. Most restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs in any raw egg recipe but one should still double check.

There has never been a more important time to be careful what a woman eats then when she is pregnant. Some of the above foods have been linked to miscarriages and other birth defects. If you are pregnant and you have already indulged in a few of the foods you should not have, do not panic. Chances are, you and your baby are fine but take extra care to avoid these foods in the future.

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Food Cravings During Pregnancy

Do pickles and ice cream sound good to you? How about red peppers and peanut butter? If these do, you are probably a pregnant woman who has just gone looking for that ice cream carton you know you have buried in your freezer. More than three quarters of all pregnant women experience cravings at some point. The most common cravings are for sweets, dairy products and salty foods although there are some weird cravings out there. Some women have been known to put black olives on cheesecake, while others have been known to dip fruit in salsa. As bizarre as some cravings can be, they are mainly perfectly safe.

There are old wives tales that believe what you crave could be a good indication of the sex of your baby. If you are craving sweets you are having a girl. If you crave meats or cheeses, it is believed you are having a boy. Cravings are something that most women love most about pregnancy. It is when a woman is craving dirt or clay that an alarm should go off. If you should find yourself craving dirt, soil, or chalk call your doctor right away. Not only could these be harmful if you do eat them, but chances are they are a sign of iron-deficiency anemia.

Most doctors believe that cravings can be nutritionally based. That is to say the cravings are a message from your body on what it needs to eat. If you are craving salts foods it could be because your body needs more sodium as your blood volume increases. If you are craving fruit, your body might need more vitamins C. The problem is sometimes the message gets lost on the way to our brain. You may find yourself craving something sweet and instead of getting berries or fruit, you find yourself gulping down snicker bars by the cart full. Cravings can be the downfall of your weight gain especially if the message is getting scrambled. There are some ways though you can help curb your cravings.

For starters, eat a good breakfast. Eating a good breakfast can prevent cravings later in the day. You also want to try and make wise choices by looking for healthier alternatives. If you are dying for potato chips try eating some soy crisps. Instead of ice cream, try frozen yogurt. If you feel like candy is calling your name, snack on some frozen grapes. If you want something salty try pretzels, or even rice cakes to satisfy that urge. A good substation for soda would be some fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.

Next, think small. If you are craving chocolate, you do no need to reach for a king size bar. The snack size bar will satisfy your craving just the same. If you want a brownie, have one; just do not eat the whole pan. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a few of your cravings as long as you know not to over do it.

Giving in to your cravings during pregnancy does not make you a bad person and it is not something you should beat yourself up about and feel guilty about. Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy and denying yourself all the time might make you resent being pregnant. Indulge when you want to, just make sure you make wise choices and do everything in moderation.

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