Friday, February 26, 2010

Week Six

Your Baby's Development

By week 6, your baby’s brain and nervous system are developing at a rapid pace. Optic vesicles, which later form the eyes, begin to develop this week on the sides of the head, as do the passageways that will make up the inner ear.

Your baby's heart will begin to beat around this time, and it may even be detected on ultrasound examination. And the beginnings of the digestive and respiratory systems are forming, too. Small buds that will grow into your baby's arms and legs also appear this week.

Because their legs are curled up against the torso for much of the pregnancy, making a full-length measurement difficult, babies often are measured from the crown to rump rather than from head to toe. This week, your baby only measures 0.08 to 0.2 inches (2 to 5 millimeters) from crown to rump!

Your Body

Common pregnancy complaints may hit in full force this week. You may feel extreme fatigue as your body adjusts to the demands of pregnancy. And tender, aching breasts and nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) may leave you feeling less than great. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any hour or all day, so don't be surprised if your queasy stomach doesn't pass by noon. Nausea isn't the only thing that has you running to the toilet, though — hormonal changes and other factors, such as your kidneys working extra hard to flush wastes out of your body, cause you to urinate more frequently, too.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leg Cramps

Cramps in your muscles are common during pregnancy. They may be caused by the weight you are carrying, circulation changes, or calcium deficiency.


* Regular exercise
* Adequate calcium intake
* When the cramp begins, bring your toes towards you, and massage the muscle

To try to prevent leg cramps, I'd recommend that you do a bit of stretching before bed. One of the easiest exercises that you can do is to take a large book, like a telephone book and stand on it. Place your feet on the book so that you can drop your heels off of one side of the book, thus stretching the calf really well.

You can also lean forward, placing your hands about shoulder height and distance on a wall. Take your right foot and step backwards, being sure that you place your heel on the ground so that you get that stretch. Repeat on the other leg.

Also try eating a banana a day! The potassium helps a lot!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week Five

Your Baby's Development

Until now, the embryo has been a mass of cells, but by this point in your pregnancy a distinct shape begins to form. The neural tube, which will eventually form into the spinal cord and brain, runs from the top to the bottom of the embryo. A bulge in the center of the embryo will develop into your baby's heart. At this time, the placenta develops. It is through the placenta and its fingerlike projections, called chorionic villi, that an embryo receives nourishment from its mother.

Your Body

Even if nausea hasn't hit you yet, you'll want to steer clear of certain foods when you're pregnant. Foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, may cause birth defects or even miscarriage. Here are some foods you'll want to avoid:

* soft cheeses such as feta, goat, brie, Camembert, and blue cheese
* unpasteurized milk and juices
* raw or undercooked meats, including hot dogs and deli meats
* raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse and tiramisu
* raw shellfish
* paté

Toxoplasmosis can also be spread from soiled cat litter boxes, so try to have someone else clean the litter box during your pregnancy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pregnancy & Vitamins

No one will be surprised to learn that most expectant mothers seek out the best nutrition and the best pregnancy vitamins. Women have used herbs and foods to support pregnancy, birth, and breast-feeding since the beginning of historical time. Here are a few choices that appropriate for any mother and baby.

Nearly seventy five years of clinical evidence leaves no doubt that folic acid (folate) supplements prevent neural tube defects and other defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Folic acid is a B vitamin. It is found in a wide range of foods in very small amounts, and it is added to many bread and grain products. The embryo needs this leader of the best pregnancy vitamins during the first 45 days after conception to grow a normal brain and spinal cord.

The problem is, folic acid deficiencies can't be corrected in a single dose of this important pregnancy vitamin. If a woman is deficient in this folic acid it's possible she won't know she's pregnant before the embryo already needs folic acid for normal growth.

This is the reason folic acid is the pregnancy vitamin any woman who can become pregnant should take every day. A recommended dose is 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) a day before pregnancy and 800 micrograms a day during pregnancy. If you are a woman and you have any plans ever to have a baby, think folic acid now.

Unlike folic acid, vitamin B6 is seldom deficient in expecting mothers. Supplementation with vitamin B6, however, can help prevent morning sickness. Vitamin B6 supplements are helpful for women experiencing gestational diabetes. They lower blood sugars by lowering the hypersensitivity reactions that underlie the disease.

Taking supplemental vitamin C in doses of up to 2,000 mg a day to stop a cold is fine. Just beware stomach upset and diarrhea if you take a very large dose. Expectant mothers generally don't need more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day.

Vitamin D is necessary to maintain healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. The main use of vitamin D as a pregnancy vitamin, of course, is for making healthy bones. Women who live in northerly latitudes or who never get exposure to sun are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Healthy bones in both mother and child require adequate calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D.

Scientists at the Medical College of the University of South Carolina writing in the May 2004 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that relatively high doses of supplemental vitamin D, up to 1000 IU a day, may be needed for bone health in pregnant women and nursing mothers who are unable to spend time in the sun. If you can't get sun, consider taking a low dose of vitamin D, no more than 400 IU per day after your first trimester. Observant Muslim mothers are especially likely to benefit from additional vitamin D.

The other fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K are rarely deficient and can't be considered pregnancy vitamins, but shortages can lead to serious symptoms. Vitamin A in doses of more than 5000 IU a day should be avoided in early pregnancy, but low-dose vitamin A supplementation after the first trimester helps the baby avoid parasites and viral infections later.

Vitamin E deficiencies can lead to tearing of the placenta. As little as 100 IU of mixed-tocopherol formula can help prevent this problem.

Vitamin K deficiency is also rare, unless the mother is taking a blood-thinning agent such as Coumadin. It's very difficult to take too much E or K, but it's not necessary to take a megadose (more than 20 times the RDA), either.

Getting enough calcium does more during pregnancy than helping make healthy bones. Calcium may reduce pregnancy-related hypertension and a dangerous complication called pre-eclampsia. Supplemental calcium is safe even in large doses, up to 2500 mg a day.

Calcium works with B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc to help the fetus mature to a healthy birth weight. Shortages of calcium, magnesium, and zinc are most likely to occur in the final trimester. It's best to start taking supplemental calcium, magnesium, and zinc in the 19th week.

Iron is important for healthy red blood cells. As the fetus grows, it develops its own blood supply. The creation of new red blood cells in both mother and child requires large amounts of iron.

Iron supplements are key to treating anemia in pregnancy, but you can't know you have iron-deficiency anemia without a blood test. Taking iron when you are not anemic is not good for you or baby - infectious microorganisms need iron, too. If you do have iron-deficiency anemia, folic acid supplements may also help.

The vitamins can also make pregnancy more comfortable. It's not unusual for pregnant women to experience painful leg cramps day or night. Eating foods that are rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, whole grains, and fruit (the same foods that provide folic acid) helps, but often isn't enough. If the diet is providing enough magnesium and calcium, then a combination of the pregnancy vitamins B-1 (thiamine) and B-6 (pyridoxine) usually relieves this form of distress.

Miscarriage is caused by many factors, but low levels of vitamin B-12 are high on the list of known risk factors. Taking a pregnancy vitamin supplement that contains the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12 may help. This vitamin also prevents certain kinds of anemia not related to iron deficiency.

When there is gestational diabetes, taking the best pregnancy vitamins, especially vitamin B-6. along with chromium, once again, in therapeutic doses rather than in megadoses, helps control blood sugars. This B vitamin also helps prevent complications of diabetes in pregnant women who are diabetic when they are not pregnant.

Many women experience gallbladder problems during pregnancy. Gallbladder ailments may be relieved by s-adenosyl-methionine, also known as SAM-e. A very small dose of SAM-e, as little as 20 mg, will help relieve gallbladder pain. It isn't necessary to spend a lot of money at the supplements store buying a higher dosage, but it's OK to take more, much more, even 800 mg a day, if it's already in your supplement.

Women can help their bodies make their own SAM-e by making sure they take a balanced B vitamin every day. Combining vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folic acid allows a woman's body to "recharge" SAM-e. It also prevents harmful levels of the chemical homocysteine from building up in the bloodstream. High homocysteine is surprisingly common during pregnancy, and deficiencies of B vitamins can even affect the baby during breastfeeding.

One last common condition of pregnancy that can be relieved by the best pregnancy vitamins is gingivitis. Folic acid helps, in the form of a folic acid mouthwash or a folic acid supplement.

Be sure that your supplement can be taken any time of day. You shouldn't have to take it with food.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is it safe to change cat litter during pregnancy?

Cat feces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that isn't serious for you but can pose a danger to your developing baby.

Some birds and other animals, as well as some raw, cured or undercooked meats, can also carry the parasite. Toxoplasmosis causes most severe damage to the fetus if a woman comes down with it in her first trimester.

Happily, the odds of contracting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy are low, and if you've had it once, you can't catch it again. What's more, it's rare for a woman to be infected for the first time during pregnancy and some experts argue that you're much more likely to catch it from eating raw, undercooked or cured meat than from your cat. Plus, if you live with cats, the likelihood is even higher that you've already contracted the disease and developed an immunity to it.

Experts recommend that pregnant women should avoid emptying the cat litter tray. Ideally it should be cleared every day by someone else. If you have to do it yourself, always wear rubber gloves and wash both your hands and the gloves thoroughly afterwards.

Wear gloves when you're gardening and handling soil or sand, too, to cut down the risk of infection from cat and animal feces. Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food and be very strict about food hygiene.

There is a blood test which can show whether you have had toxoplasmosis. If you are worried, speak to your doctor about it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Most women will experience food cravings at some point or another during pregnancy. In fact as many as half of all women will crave some type of cuisine or unusual food product during pregnancy. The most popular cravings include sweet and salty foods, while other women report craving spicy or fatty foods. Why all the cravings?

Causes of Food Cravings During Pregnancy

There are many reasons that women experience food cravings during pregnancy. Perhaps the simplest explanation is your body is working twenty four hours a day seven days a week to grow a healthy baby. Some cravings are simply the result of your body's needs for additional calories during pregnancy.

Other cravings may signal nutritional deficiencies. Some women for example, even vegetarians, might experience unusual cravings for steak and red meat during pregnancy. This could simply be a sign that their bodies need more iron to help support their growing baby. Many women will crave food they will loath or wouldn't dream of touching when not pregnant.

Many women describe their pregnancy cravings as overpowering. While scientists haven't yet established why cravings are so strong among pregnant women, they certainly acknowledge that food cravings during pregnancy are the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

Dealing With Cravings During Pregnancy

Many women find it simpler to give in to their pregnancy related cravings. This doesn't suggest you have to overindulge (say eat a whole chocolate cake). But, if you are carving sweet foods, why not indulge a little and enjoy a small treat? Typically this is the best way to deal with cravings. There is nothing wrong in most cases with indulging even bizarre cravings (pickles and ice cream for example). Hormones can do many interesting and wonderful things to the body, but also produce some rather bizarre food cravings. Just don't expect your partner to jump on the bandwagon and join you when you start eating foods that are out of the ordinary.

Occasionally women experience weird cravings that signal they are deficient in certain nutrients. Vary rarely women have strange cravings for substances that are bad including dirt or other undesirable substances. This condition, often referred to in the medical community as "pica" usually signifies that someone is deficient in iron. Substantial cravings for ice may be a sign of an iron deficiency. Still other women may experience chocolate cravings which may be normal or a sign that women need more B vitamins. Still other patients desire large quantities of protein. Fortunately protein is very good for pregnant women and in most cases there is nothing wrong with indulging your cravings.

If however you find you are craving clay or dirt (pica) consult with your doctor. Other common strange cravings among women with this disorder include coffee grounds, plaster, toothpaste, paint chips or other unusual substances. Your doctor can test you for a condition called iron deficiency anemia, and may recommend additional supplementation to help relieve your cravings. Whatever you do don't indulge in these weird cravings. Your body will not benefit by eating laundry starch or paint chips! Quite the opposite!

Remember, by and large most cravings are harmless and easily cured by a little attention to one's diet and occasional indulgence. There is no reason to deprive yourself after all during pregnancy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week Four

Your Baby's Development

Four weeks into your pregnancy, your baby (called an embryo) consists of two layers of cells — the epiblast and the hypoblast — that will eventually develop into all of your baby's organs and body parts. Two other structures that develop at this time are the amnion and the yolk sac. The amnion, filled with amniotic fluid, will surround and protect the growing embryo. The yolk sac will produce blood and help to nourish the embryo until the placenta takes over that role.

Your Body

This week your baby continues to implant in your uterus, burying itself deep within the endometrium. Once implanted, your baby starts to produce a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which helps to maintain the lining of the uterus. It also sends a signal to the ovary to stop releasing an egg each month, which stops your monthly periods. Some women experience slight cramping and spotting of blood during this week while implantation is taking place, and they may mistake this for a period, as it often occurs around the time their monthly period was due.

hCG is the hormone that is measured in pregnancy tests. This week a pregnancy test will probably be able to detect your pregnancy! hCG also causes the symptoms of pregnancy, which can appear this week. Fatigue, tingling or aching breasts, or nausea might lead you to believe your period will be starting any day because the first pregnancy symptoms resemble premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But by the end of this week, your expected period will not take place. Your pregnancy is well on its way!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pregnancy & Sports

With it being Olympic time around here I thought it would make a perfect time to discuss sports and working out during pregnancy. Staying and being active and healthy during pregnancy is important to not only you, but to your baby as well. It also helps prepare for labor!

That said, before you decide whether to continue playing your chosen sport throughout pregnancy, consider the following factors:

* Your health and the risk status of your pregnancy
* Your stage of pregnancy
* The type of sport you play
* The degree of exertion required during play
* The risk of overheating during play
* The risk of injury during play.

You should discuss these issues with your doctor before you decide.

Your health and the risk status of your pregnancy

In some cases your doctor may advise you to avoid playing sports if you have a pregnancy-related medical condition like pre-eclampsia, or if you are carrying a high-risk pregnancy such as multiple fetuses. You may be asked to try low-impact exercises, such as walking or swimming, as alternatives.

Stage of pregnancy

Generally, the baby is cushioned in the amniotic sac. However, a hard blow to your belly could damage the placenta and affect the baby’s blood and oxygen supply.

During the first trimester, the baby is small enough to be protected by your pelvic bones. As your pregnancy progresses, the growing baby is no longer shielded by your pelvis, which puts it at direct risk if you fall or heavily contact another player.

Changes during pregnancy

There are many changes during pregnancy that may affect your sporting performance:

* Increase in body weight – as your body shape changes, the centre of gravity moves forward increasing the curvature of your spine. This makes rapid changes in direction difficult. The increase in body size can also make some activities uncomfortable (for example jogging), particularly in the last trimester.
* Loosening of all ligaments – during pregnancy your joints will gradually loosen up ready for the birth. This creates an increased risk of injury. Take care with contact sports and any sport that involves jumping and frequent changes of direction.
* Increase in resting heart rate – pregnancy increases your resting heart rate, so pre-pregnancy heart rate targets are not reliable. If you are a healthy pregnant sportsperson, your can monitor the intensity of exercise by your exertion symptoms. You should stop when you are tired; don’t exercise until you’re exhausted.
* Decrease in blood pressure – as the placenta grows, you develop more blood vessels. This causes your blood pressure to drop. From about the fourth month, try to avoid rapid changes of position. This includes changing from lying to standing and vice versa. This will help to avoid dizzy spells. Never stop suddenly, because it takes your heart longer to adjust and a sudden stop in movement may make you feel dizzy or faint. After the fourth month, avoid any leg exercises while lying on your back, because the weight of the fetus can reduce the return of blood to your heart.

Type of sport

Whether or not it is safe for you to participate in sport during your pregnancy depends a lot on the type of sport you play. General recommendations include:

* Non-contact sport – this is any sport that doesn’t involve the possibility of contact with another player, such as swimming, walking and jogging. In most cases, it is safe for pregnant women to play non-contact sports during the entire pregnancy, as long as they consult closely with their doctor and don’t over-exert themselves.
* Minimal contact sports – this is sport that involves minimal contact, such as raquet sports and netball. These sports are considered safe during the first trimester (first three months) with the possibility of continuing into the second trimester depending on the circumstances (ie the level of competition, fitness of the mother and state of the pregnancy). Consult closely with your doctor if you wish to continue playing into your second trimester.
* Contact and collision sports – contact and collision sports, such as soccer and basketball, are considered safe only in the first trimester.
* Lifting and straining – exercises that involve straining, such as lifting heavy weights, are also potentially dangerous (particularly in the later stages of pregnancy) and are not recommended.

Sports to avoid altogether

Some sports or activities should be avoided during pregnancy. They include:

* Scuba diving
* Parachuting
* Water skiing
* Martial arts
* Gymnastics
* Trampolining.

The risk of overheating during play

It is important to avoid getting overheated during pregnancy. Avoid exercising in hot or humid weather and in areas with poor ventilation. General suggestions include:

* Don’t play sports on hot or humid days.
* Avoid playing sports when you are ill or have a fever.
* Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after sport.
* Wear lightweight clothing.
* Interchange with other players as often as possible so you get plenty of rest breaks.

The risk of injury during play

When you are pregnant, the changes going on in your body can make you more likely to injure yourself. For example:

* Hormones such as relaxin soften ligaments, which increases your risk of joint injuries.
* The extra weight places additional strain on joints and muscles.
* Your growing belly affects your balance by pushing your centre of gravity forward.

Pregnant women, sport and legal issues

According to anti-discrimination laws, it is illegal to discriminate against a woman who plays sport on the grounds of pregnancy or potential pregnancy. For example, a female athlete could have grounds to sue if she wasn’t selected for the team because of her pregnancy.

For further information on these complex legal issues, consult with your lawyer, the Australian Sports Commission or Sports Medicine Australia.

See your doctor immediately

If you experience any of the following symptoms during or after exercise, you should stop and contact your doctor immediately:

* High heart rate
* Dizziness or faintness
* Headache
* Contractions
* Bleeding or amniotic fluid leakage
* Nausea
* Shortness of breath
* Back or pelvic pain
* Decreased fetal movements
* Severe and rapid swelling of your face, hands or ankles.

Any illness or pregnancy complication should be fully assessed and discussed before you start or continue an exercise program.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week Four

Your Baby's Development

Four weeks into your pregnancy, your baby (called an embryo) consists of two layers of cells — the epiblast and the hypoblast — that will eventually develop into all of your baby's organs and body parts. Two other structures that develop at this time are the amnion and the yolk sac. The amnion, filled with amniotic fluid, will surround and protect the growing embryo. The yolk sac will produce blood and help to nourish the embryo until the placenta takes over that role.

Your Body

This week your baby continues to implant in your uterus, burying itself deep within the endometrium. Once implanted, your baby starts to produce a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which helps to maintain the lining of the uterus. It also sends a signal to the ovary to stop releasing an egg each month, which stops your monthly periods. Some women experience slight cramping and spotting of blood during this week while implantation is taking place, and they may mistake this for a period, as it often occurs around the time their monthly period was due.

hCG is the hormone that is measured in pregnancy tests. This week a pregnancy test will probably be able to detect your pregnancy! hCG also causes the symptoms of pregnancy, which can appear this week. Fatigue, tingling or aching breasts, or nausea might lead you to believe your period will be starting any day because the first pregnancy symptoms resemble premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But by the end of this week, your expected period will not take place. Your pregnancy is well on its way!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food & Your Pregnancy


Green, Leafy vegetables such as collard greens, swiss chard and spinach - these are loaded with vitamins A, C, K, folic acid and iron and are good for growing healthy tissue. Leafy greens are also high in magnesium and vitamin B12. Before conception, mothers can add a folic acid supplement as well as add leafy greens to their diet plan to help prevent neural tube defects.

Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are a healthier substitute than white potatoes. They contain large amounts of vitamins A and C as well as a good amount of dietary fiber.

Blueberries - These healthy berries contain vitamin C, manganese and are chock full of antioxidants. Blueberries are versatile and are an easy addition to yogurt, ice cream, and cereal for snacking or to add to any meal of the day.

Apples - An easy fruit to throw in your bag for quick snacking, apples contain fiber and vitamin C. You might consider eating an apple a day since apples have just been shown to reduce the incidence of asthma in children when mothers ate 4 or more apples each week.

Lean Organic Chicken Breast - With 87% of your daily recommended amount of protein in just one cup of cooked chicken breast, you will also be getting plenty of selenium, niacin and vitamin B6 when you add lean organic chicken to your pregnancy diet plan. Chicken also contains some omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Nuts- These are a quick protein source to take with you during the day. Choose almonds since they are high in vitamin E and manganese and cashews for their magnesium.

Lowfat Organic Yogurt - One of the best sources of calcium that your baby needs for his or her bone development, organic yogurt is also rich in protein. Organic yogurt contains good bacteria and is the perfect food to add to your diet if you are taking antibiotics.

Whole Grains - Look for breads that are high in fiber (4-5grams per slice) and enriched with folate or folic acid.

Cereals - Find cereals that are low in fat, high in protein and fiber (at least 5gm per serving) and enriched with folate to be sure you are getting plenty of this crucial mineral to prevent neural tube defects.

Beans and Legumes - Beans such as pinto, red and black beans as well as lentils are packed with fiber, protein, folate and tryptophan. These beans also contain a little known mineral called molybdem which helps to detoxify sulfites (a substance often added to processed foods such as deli meats and salads.)

Don't eat:

Raw meat such as sushi, seafood, rare or uncooked beef, or poultry because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

Raw eggs, or foods containing raw egg such as Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard, unpasteurized eggnog, or Hollandaise sauce because raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella.

Soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, Brie, Camambert, and Latin-American soft white cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco because they may harbor harmful bacteria.

Fish containing accumulated levels of mercury in their fatty tissues such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish. When a pregnant woman consumes large amounts of mercury, her baby may suffer brain damage resulting in developmental delays (for example, delays in learning to walk or talk).

Fish containing high levels of an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their fatty tissues such as bluefish and striped bass, and freshwater fish such as salmon, pike, trout, walleye from contaminated lakes and rivers. According to the March of Dimes, consumption of large amounts of PCBs by pregnant women is linked to decreased attention, memory, and IQ in their babies. Check with your local Health Department to determine which fish in your area are safe to eat.

Be Cautious

According to the March of Dimes, deli meats have led to outbreaks of a form of food poisoning called Listeriosis, that is particularly harmful to fetuses. While the risk is low, you may want to thoroughly reheat deli meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (including hot dogs) or avoid them altogether.

Minimize the amount of liver you eat. According to the March of Dimes, animal liver contains very high levels of vitamin A. While vitamin A is good for you, women who consume too much may risk a higher incidence of birth defects in their babies (however, studies are not conclusive). Since you're probably already taking prenatal vitamins and eating other vitamin A-containing foods, it's better to be safe and not consume liver on a regular basis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended has that pregnant woman maintain their vitamin A intake around 8,000 IU and that vitamin A be taken in the form of beta-carotene, which is not considered toxic.

According to the FDA, consumption of artificial sweeteners is safe for the general public. No studies show conclusively that it's harmful to consume artificial sweeteners during pregnancy. However, this is a personal decision, and for your peace of mind--and just to be on the safe side--you might decide to limit your consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy. Instead, substitute fruit juice with sparkling water when you need a light, refreshing drink.

According to a 1999 U.S. Health and Human Services press release, raw sprouts have led to some incidents of salmonella outbreaks. They advise that pregnant women eat sprouts that are cooked, or avoid eating them altogether.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week Three

Your Baby's Development

Even though you may not feel that you're pregnant yet, you have a baby growing and developing inside of you! Although your baby was just conceived, he or she is working overtime. The fertilized egg goes through a process of cell division. About 30 hours after fertilization, it divides into two cells, then four cells, then eight, and continues to divide as it moves from the fallopian tube to the uterus. By the time it gets to the uterus, this group of cells looks like a tiny ball and is called a morula.

The morula becomes hollow and fills with fluid — it is then known as a blastocyst. Near the end of this week, the blastocyst will attach itself to the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation. The implantation in the uterus creates an essential connection — the endometrium will provide the developing embryo with nutrients and will remove wastes. Over time, this implantation site will develop into the placenta.

Your Body

Adequate intake of certain nutrients, such as folic acid, protein, calcium, and iron, is essential for nourishing your baby. A folic acid supplement — which, ideally, you've been taking since before you conceived — is particularly important because folic acid helps prevent defects of the neural tube (the structure that gives rise to the brain and spinal cord), which forms very early in pregnancy.

Your intake of protein, which is used to create new tissue, should increase during pregnancy. In addition, calcium is necessary for the development of bones and teeth, so make sure you're getting a good dose of dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and legumes. Iron is essential during pregnancy as you support the continual increase of your baby's blood volume. Good sources of iron include red meat, legumes, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Morning Sickness: Please oh please let me stop puking!

Pregnancy morning sickness occurs in 50 to 80% of new mom's to be. It's unfortunate that for many, the morning sickness will strike all through the day and not just in the morning. Most cases of morning sickness occur between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy and lasts until the 14th to 16th week, but may last all through pregnancy, and leave many women actively searching for the elusive morning sickness cure.

We hope the following tips and tricks can help get rid of, or at least decrease your sickness!

* Vitamin B6 - 50 mg. daily. Vitamin B6 has been scientifically shown to help morning sickness. You can find Vitamin B6 at your local drugstore or health food store. Just recently, companies have started to incorporate therapeutic doses of Vitamin B6 into their products to help you cure your morning sickness. One is B-Natal TheraPops are cherry flavored lollipops which have been shown to help cure morning sickness for many women. Another Vitamin B-6 enriched product is called Morning Sickness Magic. Morning Sickness Magic is a herbal remedy containing Ginger, Vitamin B-6, Red Raspberry Leaf and Folic Acid.

* Try eating plain crackers or dry cereal before you get out of bed in the morning.

* Ginger in capsules form 250 mg. three times daily can be beneficial. Ginger has long been associated with alleviating nausea. You can also get the benefit of using ginger by chewing on crystallized ginger or sucking on ginger hard candies.

* Drink flat, room-temperature ginger ale to settle your stomach. Although no one knows why (there’s not enough ginger in commercial ginger ale to have an effect), it works for many nauseated moms-to-be. Don’t drink ginger ale with fizz, though. The bubbles promote the production of more stomach acid—just what you don’t need.

* Refresh with citrus: sniff a slice of lemon. Some pregnant women report that, for unknown reasons, it helps with morning sickness. You might also try drinking water with lemon or another lemon-based drink. Grate a bit of grapefruit, orange, or tangerine rind and add it to your tea.

* Take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon honey in cold water before bed.

* Wear motion sickness bands on your wrists.

* Put three drops of lavender essential oil and one of peppermint in a diffuser or humidifier to scent the air.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Top 10 signs of pregnancy

If you're extremely tuned in to your body's rhythms, you may begin to suspect you're pregnant soon after conception. But most women won't experience any early pregnancy symptoms until the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, several days after conception. Others may notice no signs of pregnancy for weeks and begin to wonder "Am I pregnant?" only when they miss a period. Below is a list of some of the first signs of impending motherhood. You may experience all, some, or none of these symptoms of pregnancy:

1. Food cravings. Yes, it's a cliché, but food cravings sometimes can be a sign of pregnancy. Don't rely on them as a sure symptom (it may be all in your head, or even a sign that your body is low on a particular nutrient), but if cravings are accompanied by some of the other symptoms on this list, start counting the days from your last period.

2. Darkening of your areolas. If the skin around your nipples gets darker, you may have successfully conceived, though this may also signal a hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.

3. Implantation bleeding or cramping. About eight days after ovulation, you may experience implantation spotting, a slight staining of a pink or brown colour, as well as some cramping. You might also see some spotting around the time you expect your period; this is caused by the egg burrowing into the endometrial lining.

4. Frequent urination. Once the embryo implants and begins producing the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), you may find yourself going to the bathroom more often.

5. Fatigue. Feeling tired? No, make that exhausted. High levels of the hormone progesterone can make you feel as if you've run a marathon when all you've done is put in a day at the office. Fatigue is a hallmark of early pregnancy, though probably not a surefire symptom on its own.

6. Tender, swollen breasts. If you're pregnant, your breasts will probably become increasingly tender to the touch, similar to the way they feel before your period, only more so. Once your body grows accustomed to the hormone surge, the pain will subside.

7. Altered sense of taste. You may notice that your sense of taste changes. Some women say they have a metallic taste in their mouth, others that they cannot stand the taste of coffee, tea, or a food they usually like.

8. Morning sickness. If you're lucky, morning sickness won't hit you until a few weeks after conception. (A lucky few escape it altogether.) But as early as a couple of days following conception, you may begin feeling nauseated and queasy. And not just in the morning, either -- pregnancy-related nausea can be a problem morning, noon, or night.

9. A missed period. If you're usually pretty regular and your period is late, it's worth trying a pregnancy test. A missed period is the surest sign of pregnancy in a woman of childbearing age who usually has regular periods.

And finally ...

10. A positive home pregnancy test.
If you've waited to test until at least the first day of a missed period and a blue line appears in the test window, you're most likely to be in the family way. Make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the good news, and head on over to our pregnancy area. Congratulations!

Week Two

Your Baby's Development

This may sound strange, but you're still not pregnant! Fertilization of your egg by the sperm will only take place near the end of this week — read more about fertilization in the Your Body section below.

Although you'll have to wait to find out what color to paint the nursery, your baby's gender will be determined at the moment of fertilization. Out of the 46 chromosomes that make up a baby's genetic material, only two — one from the sperm and one from the egg — determine the baby's sex. These are known as the sex chromosomes. Every egg has an X sex chromosome; a sperm can have either an X or a Y sex chromosome. If the sperm that fertilizes your egg has an X chromosome, you'll have a girl; if it has a Y chromosome, your baby will be a boy.

Your Body

Your uterine lining, which will nourish the baby, is developing, and your body secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates an egg to mature. At the end of this week, you will be at the midpoint of your menstrual cycle (if you have a regular 28-day cycle), and ovulation will occur (your ovary will release an egg into the fallopian tube).

This is when you're most likely to conceive. If you have sexual intercourse without protection around the time that you ovulate, you can become pregnant. After your partner ejaculates, millions of sperm travel through the vagina, and hundreds make it to the fallopian tube, where your egg is waiting. One sperm generally succeeds in penetrating the egg, and fertilization takes place. When that happens, you will be pregnant — although you will not be feeling any body changes just yet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Old Wives Tales : Sex Of The Baby

Whether you believe it or not, every woman will hear some magical way to determine the sex of her child. Scientifically, the only ways to find out whether your baby will be a girl or a boy is to have an ultrasound performed sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy or, if you're having an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling done, you can ask about your baby's sex. If you are thinking of getting pregnant and want to learn more about the latest scientific methods on this subject, take a peek at How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby.

Alternatively, you can wait until your baby is born and see for yourself. However, if you want something a bit more fun (although not necessarily very reliable), here are some old wives tales that claim to be able to determine the sex of your baby. You can try some for yourself and see if everyone is predicting the same sex of your baby.

Carrying High, Carrying Low

The way you are carrying during your pregnancy is one of the most oft cited ways of determining the sex of your baby. The general story goes that, if you're carrying low, you're having a boy. If you are carrying high, then you must be having a girl. Science says "NO, NO, NO!" to this: the way you carry is determined by muscle and uterine tone as well as the position of your baby. But who's to say that boys don't like being lower in their mom's stomach while girls prefer a view from the top?

What Your Urine Says

This next test to determine a baby's sex may not be for everyone, although it is very simple. Just take a sample of your urine and mix it with Drano. Depending on the color change of your urine, you will have a boy or a girl. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on what color equals which sex. So, if you do decided to try this and your urine turns bluish yellow, brownish, brown, black or blue you will be having a boy. If your urine looks more greenish brown, green, blue or doesn't change at all, then you're having a girl. But be warned: if you decide to do this test, there could be some pretty harsh fumes produced - not to mention the possibility of an explosion!.


One belief that has been around for some time, and even had some acceptance in the medical community at one point, is that the fetal heartbeat differs for boys and girls. If you're having a girl, then the fetal heart rate will be above 140. A boy will have a heart rate below 140. However, that pesky science has reared its little head again to say that this is complete fiction. A baby's heart rate is not affected by its sex until it is born, when a girl's heart rate will increase considerably compared with boys during labor.

Craving Something…Sweet?

Many people believe that your cravings are caused by the sex of your baby. So, if you can't get enough chocolate, you could be having a girl. Does the idea of drinking straight lemon juice sound delicious to you? Then those sour cravings are a result of the little boy inside of you. However, if you go by the scientists, then some of them will claim that you're not even having cravings because cravings just don't exist.

Weight Gain

Thankfully, this one doesn't refer to your weight gain. The belief is that, if your husband puts on weight during your pregnancy, then you will be having a girl. If he doesn't put on a pound, then you're carrying a boy.

Is Her Face Round and Full?

Some say that the shape and fullness of your face during pregnancy can indicate your baby's sex. Every woman gains weight differently during pregnancy, and every woman experiences different skin changes. If people tell you that because your face is round and rosy you are having a girl, they might be right - but it's just as likely that they are wrong!

At-Home Tests

Here's a test that you can do next time you change or get out of the bath. Look in the mirror at your breasts. If the right one is larger, you're having a boy! A larger left breast indicates a girl (if they're the same size, does that mean you're having one of each?).

Hold a pendant over your hand. If the necklace swings back and forth, you're having a boy. If it is more of a circular motion, then it's a girl. This can also be done by suspending a ring on a string above your belly.

Do you have acne? Some believe that getting acne during your pregnancy indicates you're carrying a girl. Maybe the acne is caused by twice the amount of female hormones?

Pick up a key. If you've picked it up by the thinner end, you're having a girl. Picking it up by the bottom, rounder part means a boy is on the way. Did you pick it up by the middle? Then congratulations! You're having twins!

Ask yourself what you think you're having. In a study that asked women with no previous knowledge about their baby's sex, the moms-to-be correctly guessed the sex of their baby 71% of the time.

Can You Determine the Sex of Your Baby Before it is Even Conceived?

There are old wives tales that dictate what you should do to increase your chances of conceiving a girl or a boy, depending on what you want. And modern science is even getting itself involved in this one. There are books that will tell you the best time during your ovulation cycle to conceive a girl or a boy. As mentioned above, people are turning to popular books such as How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby. There are also kits that come with charts, thermometers and vitamins to help create the "ideal" environment to produce a particular sex.

And then there are older methods based in Chinese lore that are said to aid in the sex selection. If you are really determined to have a girl or a boy, you can even have a scientist create the correct sexed zygote to implant inside of you. With the exception of the scientist who manipulates your fertilized egg, none of these methods can definitely determine the sex of your baby.

However, the Chinese birth chart is a very popular calendar used by many women not only to increase their changes of conceiving a girl or boy, but also to predict the sex of baby who is already conceived. This is so popular, in fact, that you can now load a Chinese birth chart onto your palm pilot with Heybaby software. This fun application also comes with an extensive list of old wives tales that you're sure to find entertaining.

As you go through your pregnancy, it can be fun to collect these tales, and many baby books have sections for you to record predictions. However, for medical advice pertaining to pregnancy, you should consult your doctor first. For example, before you rely too heavily on your mother's idea that the baby is a boy, talk to your doctor about getting an ultrasound if you want to know for sure.

Keep in mind that every woman's pregnancy is different: your doctor will know that and provide information tailored for your medical situation.

Week One

Your Baby's Development

This first week is actually your menstrual period. Because your expected delivery date (EDD) is calculated from the first day of your last period, this week counts as part of your 40-week pregnancy even though your baby hasn't been conceived yet.

Your Body

During pregnancy, your healthy habits and your baby's health go hand in hand. While planning to conceive, take the time to prepare your body for motherhood. Before becoming pregnant, you should:

* Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products. These substances can cause birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, respiratory problems, low birth weight, and other health problems.

* Talk to your doctor about any prescription and nonprescription (OTC) drugs you are taking. You'll need to take special precautions with medications because many prescription and over-the-counter medications can negatively affect the fetus. But don't stop taking prescription drugs without consulting your health care provider, who will help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of stopping your medications.

* Maintain a diet that contains an adequate amount of vitamins, especially folic acid. Women who are attempting to become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. Adequate folic acid intake reduces the risk of neural tube defects (birth defects caused by incomplete development of the brain or spinal cord), such as spina bifida. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about taking a folic acid supplement while you are trying to conceive.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

10 Things You May Not Know About Pregnancy

1. The Nesting Instinct

Many pregnant women experience the nesting instinct, a powerful urge to prepare their home for the baby by cleaning and decorating. Or perhaps you'll want to tackle projects you haven't had time to do, like organizing your garage or closets.

As your due date draws closer, you may find yourself cleaning cupboards or washing walls — things you never would have imagined doing in your ninth month of pregnancy! This desire to prepare your home can be useful because it will give you more time to recover and nurture your baby after the birth. But be careful not to overdo it.

2. Inability to Concentrate

In the first trimester, fatigue and morning sickness can make many women feel worn out and mentally fuzzy. But even well-rested pregnant women may experience an inability to concentrate and periods of forgetfulness. A preoccupation with the baby is partially the cause, as are hormonal changes. Everything — including work, bills, and doctor appointments — may seem less important than the baby and the impending birth. You can combat this forgetfulness by making lists to help you remember dates and appointments.

3. Mood Swings

Premenstrual syndrome and pregnancy are alike in many ways. Your breasts swell and become tender, your hormones fluctuate, and you may feel moody. If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, you're likely to have more severe mood swings during pregnancy. They can make you go from feeling happy one minute to feeling like crying the next. You may be irrationally angry with your partner one day, then a coworker may inexplicably irritate you the next.

Mood swings are incredibly common during pregnancy, although they tend to occur more frequently in the first trimester and toward the end of the third trimester.

About 10% of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy. If you have symptoms such as sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits (a complete lack of appetite or an inability to stop eating), and exaggerated mood swings for longer than 2 weeks, you should talk to your doctor.

4. Bra Size

An increase in breast size is one of the first signs of pregnancy. Breasts usually become swollen and enlarged in the first trimester because of increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. That growth in the first trimester isn't necessarily the end, either — your breasts can continue to grow throughout your pregnancy!

In addition to the size of your breasts, your bra size may be affected by your rib cage. When you're pregnant, your lung capacity increases so you can take in extra oxygen for yourself and the baby, which may result in a bigger chest size. You may need to replace your bras several times over the course of your pregnancy.

5. Skin

Are your friends saying you have that pregnancy glow? It's only one of many skin changes you may experience during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and the stretching of your skin to accommodate a larger body. Pregnant women experience an increase in blood volume to provide extra blood flow to the uterus and to meet the metabolic needs of the fetus. They also have increased blood flow to their other organs, especially the kidneys. The greater volume brings more blood to the vessels and increases oil gland secretion.

Some women develop brownish or yellowish patches called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy," on their faces. And some will notice a dark line on the midline of the lower abdomen, known as the linea nigra (or linea negra), as well as hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) of the nipples, external genitalia, and anal region. These are the result of pregnancy hormones, which cause the body to produce more pigment. The body may not produce this increased pigment evenly, however, so the darkened skin may appear as splotches of color. Unfortunately, chloasma can't be prevented, but wearing sunscreen and avoiding UV light can minimize its effects.

Acne is common during pregnancy because the skin's sebaceous glands increase their oil production. And newly formed pimples might not be the only evolving spots on your face or body — moles or freckles that you had prior to pregnancy may become bigger and darker. Even the areola, the area around the nipples, becomes darker. Except for the darkening of the areola, which is usually permanent, these skin changes will likely disappear after you give birth. Many women also experience heat rash, caused by dampness and perspiration, during pregnancy.

In general, pregnancy can be an itchy time for a woman. Skin stretching over the abdomen may cause itchiness and flaking. Your doctor can recommend creams to soothe dry or itchy skin.

6. Hair and Nails

Many women experience changes in hair texture and growth during pregnancy. The hormones secreted by your body will cause your hair to grow faster and fall out less. But these hair changes usually aren't permanent; most women lose a significant amount of hair in the postpartum period or after they stop breastfeeding.

Some women find that they grow hair in unwanted places, such as on the face or belly or around the nipples. Others experience changes in hair texture that make hair drier or oilier. Some women even find their hair changing color.

Nails, like hair, can change noticeably during pregnancy. Extra hormones can make them grow faster and become stronger. Some women, however, find that their nails tend to split and break more easily during pregnancy. Like the changes in hair, nail changes aren't permanent. If your nails split and tear more easily when you're pregnant, keep them trimmed and avoid the chemicals in nail polish and nail polish remover.

7. Shoe Size

Even though you can't fit into any of your prepregnancy clothes, you still have your shoes, right? Maybe — but maybe not. Because of the extra fluid in their pregnant bodies, many women experience swelling in their feet and may even have to start wearing a larger shoe size. Wearing slip-on shoes in a larger size will be more comfortable for many pregnant women, especially in the summer months.

8. Joint Mobility

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone known as relaxin, which is believed to help prepare the pubic area and the cervix for the birth. The relaxin loosens the ligaments in your body, making you less stable and more prone to injury. It's easy to overstretch or strain yourself, especially the joints in your pelvis, lower back, and knees. When exercising or lifting objects, go slowly and avoid sudden, jerky movements.

9. Varicose Veins, Hemorrhoids, and Constipation

Varicose veins, which are usually found in the legs and genital area, occur when blood pools in veins enlarged by the hormones of pregnancy. Varicose veins often disappear after pregnancy, but you can lessen them by:

* avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time
* wearing loose-fitting clothing
* wearing support hose
* elevating your feet when you sit

Hemorrhoids — varicose veins in the rectum — frequently occur during pregnancy as well. Because your blood volume has increased and your uterus puts pressure on your pelvis, the veins in your rectum may enlarge into grape-like clusters. Hemorrhoids can be extremely painful, and they may bleed, itch, or sting, especially during or after a bowel movement. Coupled with constipation, another common pregnancy woe, hemorrhoids can make going to the bathroom downright unpleasant.

Constipation is common throughout pregnancy because pregnancy hormones slow the rate of food passing through the gastrointestinal tract. During the later stages of pregnancy, your uterus may push against your large intestine, making it difficult for waste to be eliminated. Constipation can contribute to hemorrhoids because straining may enlarge the veins of the rectum.

The best way to combat constipation and hemorrhoids is to prevent them. Eating a fiber-rich diet, drinking plenty of fluids daily, and exercising regularly can help keep bowel movements regular. Stool softeners (not laxatives) may also help. If you do have hemorrhoids, see your doctor for a cream or ointment that can shrink them.

10. Things That Will Come Out of Your Body

So you've survived the mood swings and the hemorrhoids, and you think your surprises are over. Guess again — the day you give birth will probably hold the biggest surprises of all.

Only 1 in 10 mothers' water breaks before labor contractions begin. Some women never experience it — a doctor may need to rupture the amniotic sac (if the cervix is already dilated) when they arrive at the hospital. How much water can you expect? For a full-term baby, there are normally about 2.1 to 5.9 cups of amniotic fluid. Some women may feel an intense urge to urinate that leads to a gush of fluid when their waters break. Others may have only a trickling sensation down their leg because the baby's head acts like a stopper to prevent most of the fluid from leaking out. In any case, amniotic fluid is generally sweet-smelling and pale or colorless and is replaced by your body every 3 hours, so don't be surprised if you continue to leak fluid, about a cup an hour, until delivery.

Other unexpected things may come out of your body during labor in addition to your baby, blood, and amniotic fluid. Some women experience nausea and vomiting. Others have diarrhea before or during labor, and flatulence (passing gas) is also common. During the pushing phase of labor, you may lose control of your bladder or bowels. A birth plan can be especially helpful in communicating your wishes to your health care providers about how to handle these and other discomforts of labor and delivery.

Lots of surprises are in store for you once you become pregnant — but none sweeter than the way you'll feel once your newborn is in your arms!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Word About Due Dates And Trimesters

After you announce your pregnancy, the first question you'll probably be asked is "When are you due?" At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will help you determine an expected delivery date (EDD). Your EDD is 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). If you deliver on your EDD, your baby is actually only about 38 weeks old — that's because your egg didn't become fertilized until about 2 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period.

It's important to remember that your due date is only an estimate — most babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks from the first day of their mom’s LMP and only a small percentage of women actually deliver on their due date.

Another common term you'll hear throughout your pregnancy is trimester. A pregnancy is divided into trimesters:

* the first trimester is from week 1 to the end of week 12
* the second trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26
* the third trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy