We're constantly told about eating well, especially during pregnancy, but just how important is good nutrition for you, your pregnancy and your baby's development?
Essentially, what you eat and drink is what your baby eats and drinks. You are passing everything you consume through to them - both the good stuff and the bad. Good nutrition can have positive benefits on your growing baby such; mental alertness, immune function, birth size, organ development, pregnancy duration and to halt any chance of (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) NAS or (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) FAS. Therefore we need to be very mindful, educated, open minded and selfless when it comes to nourishing our little growing human.
This can mean making sacrifices - like quitting (or in some specialised cases simply decreasing) smoking, alcohol, drugs, some medications and caffeine. And without sounding too blunt - this really is the start of a lifetime of selfless, sacrificial, healthy choices that you are going to have make all the way through motherhood (not just pregnancy), because once that little bundle enters the world - it is not all about you anymore.
We've spoken about the importance of Folate/Folic Acid during pregnancy, but what about all the other food groups and nutrients our growing, changing body (and baby) needs?
- The best way to stay healthy during pregnancy is to eat as fresh and as a natural as possible. This way you are not over-consuming salty, sugary, processed meals; which can create havoc on your digestive system, overall wellbeing and your baby's development. To achieve this, simply ensure you are consuming a good dose of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Swap the packaged or greasy takeaway lunch for a homemade salad with some nuts/seeds and a boiled egg or some tinned tuna. When a sugar craving hits - go for a piece of fruit or a small square of dark cocoa chocolate. A squirt of honey and cut up fruit on some good quality yoghurt is another way to fill up, beat sweet cravings and snag some nutrients.
- Ensure you're getting a decent dose of iron during your pregnancy. Iron deficiency is commonly diagnosed in pregnant women. Good iron levels allow your red blood cells to efficiently carry oxygen around your body; resulting in a healthy and strong placenta. Keep up your iron levels through red meat consumption, leafy green vegetables (such as; kale, spinach, broccoli, beans, avocado), wholegrains, legumes and tofu.
- Increasing your protein is also recommended during pregnancy as it supplies the strength and building blocks for your unborn baby. Protein is found in meats, nuts, soya, eggs, dairy, beans and lentils. Simply add some nuts, beans and lentils as a side to your nightly meal to ensure your protein levels are up. (2 eggs with baby spinach and avocado on wholegrain bread with a handful of nuts (cashews and walnuts) was my staple breakfast during my 2nd pregnancy...easiest way to start the day with a dose of filling and nourishing protein.)
- A daily supplementary prenatal vitamin is also recommended (remember it's required to supplement, not replace a balanced diet)
We're also told to avoid several foods due to the risks they bring to you and your baby. The main reason is due to their high possibility of Listeria Poisoning (a common bacterium) found in uncooked, raw or rare foods. This poisoning can make you (and your baby) very ill with flu-like symptoms, urinary tract infections and sometimes a lot worse - increasing the chance of miscarriage, premature birth and immune breakdown.
Some of these foods to avoid are:
- uncooked fish & seafood (including sushi)
- cold deli meats (ham, cold chicken etc)
- soft serve ice-cream
- raw pate
- soft cheeses (brie, camembert, blue cheese)
- raw eggs
Smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy. And even caffeine should be decreased to around 200mg/day (which is approximately 2 mugs of instant coffee) and be mindful that lots of foods and other processed options can contain doses of caffeine (such as Coke, energy drinks, chocolate bars and flavoured milks).
Avoid crash diets and guilt-ridden-withdrawals during pregnancy, and simply focus on eating balanced, variety-packed , nutritious options that your growing baby will benefit from.
Hey, what do they say? Happy baby = Happy Mummy! So true.
Eat up Mummas.
You may also like:
- Dealing with Aches & Pains During Pregnancy
- Green Smoothies to Drink During Pregnancy
- Sleeping Well During Pregnancy
- Avoiding and Treating Stretch Marks
You would've heard the saying...."It takes a village to raise a child."
Well, today's post is where I encourage you to embrace your village and to use them for their worth! Now that I am a mother to two, and a step mother as well, I can tell you firsthand that having a supportive village is vital in surviving ...and thriving in motherhood.
Being a mother (especially for the first time) is no easy feat. Yes it is a blessing beyond all others, and an exciting beautiful ride. But it is also tiring and repetitive and challenging. It is overwhelming and exhausting and sometimes very lonely. Mothering infants and small children can be very taxing and constricting on us, our relationships and our mental status.
This is why it is important to have a network and community around you that you completely trust. It may be your parents, siblings, extended family or circle of friends. It could even be your neighbours, playgroup association or work colleagues. And even in today's world - you may have joined some secure online groups/forums/organisations that you rely on and turn to for support. Whoever they are, embrace them, their knowledge and their offerings to help.
My husband and I are lucky in that we live fairly close to both his parents, and mine. Our children are growing up with their Grandparents' presence playing a very strong role. I love this and feel very grateful that we have this family bond for our children. I'm also VERY grateful that we have trusted and loved 'babysitters' on call - making my return to work a lot easier, but also having the physical support when times are tough and you simply need a day (or two) off from parenting.
I know not everyone has this opportunity (their family may not live close or be in a position to help), so I encourage you to surround yourself with people who you trust, and who embrace you as a new family/mother. Whether you need them to watch the baby for an hour while you have a long hot shower and read a book for a short break, or to head to the shops on your own (a luxury once you become a Mother), or while you and your partner head out for a quiet dinner together. Whatever it is that you're needing (for your sanity, self-worth and busy schedule) ensure you have a village to help you out.
Because, do you know what I've slowly learned? It's much easier (not impossible....just easier) to be a patient, happy, healthy, excited, grateful, loving and thriving mother when you have support.
In a nutshell Ladies, embrace your network/village/community/family and allow them to play a role in raising your little one. Don't push them away because you feel guilty or inadequate or even too confident. It's ok to ask for help, or to take on other people's suggestions or offerings, and it's definitely ok to lean on your village.
From around 16 weeks, some women experience Braxton Hicks Contractions. These are basically irregular uterine tightenings that should be painless (yet can feel a little weird for the first time). For most women they don't happen often and when experienced they only occur approximately 1-2 times in an hour period, and sometimes not on a daily basis. Your uterus muscles contract and tighten throughout your whole pregnancy, it's only as your baby grows bigger that you start to feel these contractions occurring.
If you feel your stomach with your hands during a Braxton Hicks contraction you will notice how firm and tight the whole area has become. You will also feel the relax and drop as the contraction releases again.
Research shows that Braxton Hicks Contractions are your body's way of preparing for the upcoming task of labour. Your uterine muscles are toning and ripening with every contraction, and some experts believe the cervix is also being stretched and prepared for birth through the notion of this tightening and relaxing.
Your muscles and hormones are working in balance to fully prepare you, your baby and your body for the birth process, which could still be months away.
It can be a little overwhelming to experience contractions, especially if this is your first pregnancy, or if your due date is still a long way off.
So, what are the difference between Braxton Hicks and Labour Contractions?
- Braxton Hicks Contractions are irregular, unpredictable and very inconsistent (whereas actual Labour Contractions usually start to follow a rhythm or timed pattern)
- Braxton Hicks are rarely painful. They can be slightly uncomfortable and take you off guard, but they should not be unbearable.
- Braxton Hicks can be lessened and/or stopped if you change activities (eg: if you've been on your feet all day and are experiencing BH Contractions, try lying down to calm them. Or if you've been lying down or sitting down a lot that day, try moving around.)
- Braxton Hicks should not last long (around 30 secs), compared to labour pains.
Ensure you are well hydrated, rested and fit during your pregnancy to not only maintain good prenatal health, but to strengthen and protect your body (and uterus) during these changes.
Treat Braxton Hicks as practice contractions for when the real thing happens at the end of your pregnancy. The further along in your pregnancy, the more intense they may feel (because your uterus and baby are larger). In fact, during my second pregnancy, most Braxton Hicks contractions I experienced took my breath away for a few seconds, as they were immensely intense. Focus on your breathing during this short period of time and allow your body to really feel & grasp the sensation of a contraction.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with contractions, contact your Doctor, Midwife or Birth Specialist:
You may also like these blog posts:
- Dealing with Aches & Pains During Pregnancy
- Preventing and Treating Stretch Marks
- Treating Spider or Varicose Veins
- The Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Many women at some stage in their life develop Varicose Veins. For most, they first notice these coloured lines under the skin (mainly on their legs) during pregnancy. This is because as the uterus grows it puts pressure on the largest vein down the right side of your body, which in turn puts more pressure down onto the veins in your legs.
Varicose Veins become present due to their swelling nature and obvious increase in size. They are usually a purple/blue colour, and can be easily seen through the thin layers of your skin.
For some people, they do not have any other symptoms with these veins. Whereas, others can find them painful or itchy, or some even explain a throbbing sensation that can make their legs feel heavy and fatigued. You may find these symptoms are more obvious and prominent in the evening.
Varicose Veins are sometimes referred to as Spider Veins (as they can have a spider-like appearance to them) or sometimes are red in colour; that can look similar to sunburn. Spider Veins don't protrude or swell therefore are slightly different in appearance and substance to Varicose Veins.
You are more likely to develop these types of veins if they run in your family, if you are overweight, carrying twins or have had more than one pregnancy. People who spend a lot of time on their feet also run a higher chance of sporting these pesky little veins.
For most women, these veins ease (and disappear) after giving birth. However, if you're not so lucky - don't lose hope - as there are ways to help treat (and even prevent) these veins, such as:
- Compression Stockings from www.chemistaustralia.com.au starting from $33
- Travel Socks from www.chemistwarehouse.com.au starting from $19.99
If you are not currently pregnant, you can also look into other options such as creams, tablets and even surgery (if needed).