Good Sleep Tips For Pregnant Moms

Sleep does not come easily to the pregnant woman. It is understandably quite difficult to assume the fetal position with a fetus inside you. Hormonal changes and discomfort associated with pregnancy can affect a pregnant woman’s quality of sleep, and pregnant women need all the sleep they can get – it may be their last chance for a while. The National Sleep Foundation knows that each trimester of pregnancy brings with it a new set of challenges. Here is some of their advice for handling them.

First Trimester Of Pregnancy
In the first trimester of pregnancy, there are a number of challenges to a good night’s sleep you’ll need to be prepared for. Pregnant moms wake up frequently in need of the bathroom and emotional and physical stress may cause sleep disruptions and increased daytime sleepiness.

Second Trimester Of Pregnancy
The second trimester of pregnancy may be considered the metaphorical “calm before the storm.” Nighttime urination will become less of an issue because the fetus moves above the bladder, reducing the amount of pressure on it. However, sleep may still be interrupted by the growth of the child and the emotional stress.

Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
This one’s the doozy. In the third trimester of pregnancy, not only can you expect to feel discomfort as a result of your expanding belly, you may also experience, effects heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion, all keeping you from a good night’s sleep. In addition, you’ll find the nighttime urination increasing in frequency again as the baby’s position puts pressure on your bladder once more.

Tips For A Good Sleep
Extra Pillows: Get some extra pillows to pad the tummy and back. A pillow positioned between the legs can help to give support to the lower back to make sleeping on your side more comfortable. Consider the wedge shaped pillow or the full-length body pillow for best results.

Nutrition: A nice glass of warm milk is always a good remedy for sleeplessness. Also, foods rich in carbohydrates, such as crackers and bread can help bring on sleep, and a high protein snack can keep levels of blood sugar from falling and prevent headaches, bad dreams, and hot flashes.

Relaxation: Relaxation is also another great way to induce sleep, soothing your muscles, while calming your mind. Stretching, massage, yoga, and deep breathing are all effective relaxation techniques, and a warm bath and shower before bed may also prove quite soothing.

Exercise: Not only is regular exercise important during pregnancy to promote physical and mental health, it can also help you to sleep more deeply. However, keep in mind that stimulating exercise within four hours of bedtime is more like affect your sleep adversely than positively.

Medications: While most medications should be kept out of the equation when one is pregnant, there may be some herbal and dietary supplements that can help you sleep better. Make sure to discuss taking any type of drug, OTC, or prescription with a doctor before purchasing them.

If you have any good tips for sleeping while pregnant, we would love to hear them. Let us know!

Natural Vs Traditional C-Section

To say pregnancy is a time of anxiety may be one of the bigger understatements one can make. Expecting mothers have a range of questions and worries, the least of which may be, “Will I ever get my bikini body back?” In a time of such uncertainty. it’s nice to know that there are people out there who understand, and want to make the experience of pregnancy and delivery as stress-free as possible. Behold, the gentle Cesarean. While still surgery, the gentle Cesarean incorporates the elements of natural birth to the procedure to make it less invasive and more celebratory. Here’s the way it works:

What Makes the Gentle Cesarean Gentle?
Un- rushed Birth
Birth is not rushed, so mommy doesn’t feel like an object being pushed through an assembly line.

All Eyes On Mom
More attention and focus is given to the mother and the birthing partner.

Relaxed Atmosphere
The birthing room is quiet and filled with calming music or music chosen by the mother. ( Metallica is not advised.)

No Sheets
Mommy can see the baby being born via mirror reflection. In most C- sections, a sheet is placed in front of the mother. Gentle C- sections invite the mother to view the birth in mirrors and doctors are encouraged to be more forthcoming about the procedure than in the conventional C-section, so the mothers can feel more a part of the experience.

vine vera banner presents Natural Vs. Traditional C-Section

Slow Hand Doc
With the goal on simulating a vaginal birth, the doctor may delay the process of pulling the baby through the abdominal incision. For example, after the baby’s head is out, the doctor may leave the body inside the uterus for a few moments longer to let baby squeeze lung fluids through its nose. In vaginal births, this squeezing occurs naturally and helps the newborn to avoid infant respiratory distress syndrome, commonly associated with Cesarian births.

The Umbilical Chord Is Left Intact For a Longer Period. In traditional Cesareans, the baby is lifted out and the cord is cut immediately. In gentle Cesareans, chorcordis not cut until the mother and child have made skin to skin contact.

Skin to Skin Contact Occurs Immediately
Skin to skin contact is a central feature of the gentle cesarean. It has been shown that immediate contact with the mother makes the experience of birth less stressful for a child; the child is less likely to cry, is better able to regulate their breathing, reaches a stable body temperature more quickly, is likely to have more balanced blood sugar levels. Skin to skin contact is also an important component of emotional bonding between mother and child and helps to reduce risk or postpartum depression.

Immediate Breast Feeding Is An Option
Mothers can choose to breastfeed baby immediately if she desires.

To Have a Gentle Cesarean
If you want to consider the option of a gentle C- Section, add a C-Section Birth plan to your original plan. Be sure to discuss things like skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping and slow birthing with your doctor to make sure you are on the same page when it comes to the birthing experience. Note that this will not pre destine you for a C- section, but if it becomes an eventuality, you will be prepared.

What do you think of the Gentle Cesarean? Let us know!

Woman eating pills

Antibiotics May Be Linked To Miscarriage

According to the March of Dimes, up to 10% of expecting moms will get a urinary tract infection or UTI, during their pregnancies. Of these, about 25%, if left untreated, can develop into kidney infection, which can life-threatening for both mother and child. However, the good news is that as long as a UTI is caught early enough, it can be easily treated with antibiotics, right? Well, yes and no. While antibiotics can be a safe and effective treatment for UTIs, there are some new revealing studies that pregnant women will want to know about before taking them.

Antibiotics and Miscarriage
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found some eye opening links between antibiotics and miscarriage in pregnant women. The prevalence of UTIs in pregnant women and their likelihood to be treated with antibiotics make this an issue of concern. A study done by researchers at the Universite de Montreal collected data from 182,369 pregnant women in Quebec between the years of 1998 and 2009, 8,702 of which ended in miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy. Of these, 16 percent occurred after the women took antibiotics.

Antibiotics to Avoid
Although all of this may be enough to scare you off antibiotics during pregnancy entirely, you should know that there are some medications which are higher risk than others. The most dangerous drug classes are tetracyclines, which is used as a treatment for acne, and quinolones, which can be used on a variety of infections, and was a common culprit in causing miscarriage, increasing its likelihood by three times. Clarithromycin, prescribed for pneumonia and bronchitis multiplies the risk by two. Azithromycin, used for infections of the respiratory system and some STIs, increased the of miscarriage risk by 60%, while metronidazole, used to treat bacterial vaginosis, increased the chances by 70%. Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole upped the risk by 25%.

Expert Advice
While it may seem as if there are no safe alternatives, Sherry Ross ob-gyn at Providence Saint John’s Health Center has some insight on the subject: If you notice symptoms of UTI, you definitely want to inform your doctor; if left untreated they can lead to preterm birth, kidney infection, and preeclampsia. Your doctor should recommend going with safer antibiotics, such as nitrofurantion, cephalosporin, penicillin, and erythromycin. All of these are safe antibiotics with a broad range of uses. Ross says, “Most important is to make sure you discuss the pros and cons of UTI options with your obstetrician and ways to avoid recurrent infections during the rest of the pregnancy, If you are trying to conceive and are unsure of your pregnancy status, you would want to make sure you are taking the antibiotics not associated with an increase in miscarriage risk.”

Have you experience UTI during pregnancy? How did you handle it? What’s your expert advice? Let us know!

Notebook with the word birth control written on it.

What's On The Horizon For Male Birth Control?

Birth control for men? In theory, it sounds great. Women have been bearing the burden of preventing pregnancy for decades, and not without some dangerous side effects. If your man says he wants to help you out when it comes to taking responsibility in the bedroom, it would seem that chivalry is not dead. But if your current Prince Charming is borrowing money for cigarettes from you, you may not want to leave important stuff in his hands.

Vasalgel, the latest form of male birth control, is the newest contraceptive innovation to hit the pharmaceutical industry. Here’s a breakdown of the ingenuity; use with discretion.

How Does It Work?
Vasalgel is the latest version of a technology called RISRUG, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, developed by Dr. Sujoy Guha in India. It is similar to a vasectomy, only rather than cutting the vas deferens, a polymer contraceptive gel is injected into the vas deferens. This contraceptive is designed to block sperm from passing through the tube. The process is reversible; the polymer can be flushed out with a second injection at any time.

Effectiveness Of The Gel
A press release from the Parsemus Foundation confirms Vasalgel to have proven effective in a study involving baboons. Three male primates were injected with the contraceptive and given free reign to 10 to 15 female baboons each. After a six-month trial period led to no impregnation, human trials have been set to begin next year. The Parsemus Foundation hopes to see the gel on the market for less than the cost of a flat screen TV.

Implications Of Use
Parsemus Foundations expect that the widespread use of Vasalgel could lead to a major reduction in unwanted pregnancies.The Guttmacher Institute reports the average cost of an abortion at $485, which “pose(s) a major financial burden for women seeking these services.” Vasalgel could provide an inexpensive option for avoiding this eventuality. In addition to avoiding unintended pregnancy, Vasalgel would provide an alternative to potentially dangerous female birth control.

Women in distraught while looking at her pregnancy test.

WomensHealth.Gov notes side effects of the birth control pill included high blood pressure, blood clots, irregular bleeding, nausea, depression, and an increased risk of heart disease. Methods, such as sponges and diaphragms, have been associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and injections can cause bone loss or rips in the lining of the uterus. Vasalgel has, thus far, not been associated with any negative health effects for men.

Possible Barriers
Elaine Lissmer of the Paremus Foundation cites the “20-something or 30-something man, out on the dating market as the main target of this innovation. She blames the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies on the desire to “sell pills to men’s partners every month.” The foundation is relying on crowdfunding and donations to make this innovation available to the public.

What do you think? Would you be willing to give Vasalgel a try? Weigh in ladies and gentlemen. We want to know what you think.

Morning Sickness

Dealing with Morning Sickness

If you are experiencing, or have experienced, morning sickness, you will be no stranger to the ever present plastic bag in the purse, just in case. While morning sickness makes for funny stories, it is safe to say that the comedy element is hardly worth the discomfort and self effacement. If you are dealing with morning sickness, there may be a few ways of dealing with morning sickness more gracefully.

What Morning Sickness Means
While the exact causes are unclear, morning sickness is most popularly thought to be the result of the body’s reaction to human chorionic gonadotropin (hcg) otherwise known as the pregnancy hormone and is highest during the first trimester.

Although few sufferers would find it hard to label morning sickness as desirable, it may well be a good sign. Studies show that women with lower rates of morning sickness are more likely to miscarry. Dr. Jennifer Niebyl, head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine ,says that women with higher levels of hcg are at a lower risk for miscarriage.

Preventing Queasiness
It is well known that a sure way to fight cookie tossing is to lay off the cookies, or more literally, keeping and empty stomach. To prevent full blown nausea, it is best to eat small meals frequently rather than the usual three squares. You may want to munch some crackers as an alternative to a traditional breakfast, and if you find that taking prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach worsens your condition, try taking them at night.

Making the right food choices is equally as important. Anne Dubner, a registered dietician and nutrition consultant advises bland starches which are easily metabolized, like rice or pasta, for those dealing with morning sickness. She also suggests high protein foods, which takes longer to digest and remain in your system longer, Crackers with peanut butter and cheese may be the ideal snack for quelling queasiness, while spicy, greasy food and gassy veggies like cabbage might be less so. Says Elizabeth Ward, a registered Boston dietician, ” Don’t worry about not getting enough nutrition during the first trimester if you don’t have much of an appetite, either, because the nutritional needs of the fetus are still minimal.

Drinking fluids is also important because dehydration can be a serious consequence of morning sickness. Pregnant women are advised to drink a minimum of eight 8-oz glasses of liquid per day. If water doesn’t sit well, Dr. Miriam Erick, registered dietician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recommends punch -packing carbonated drinks, such as Jamaican ginger beer and Schweppes. She also suggests red raspberry, spearmint, lemon, peach and chamomile herbal teas and says watermelon is a great “solid liquid” and may be effective as well.

Supplements
Ginger is another well known weapon again morning sickness. One study showed taking 250 mg ginger capsules 4 times a day was effective, but steeping ginger root in a cup of boiling water may be equally as helpful.

A study by Dr. Niebyl found that taking 25 mgs of vitamin B-6 thrice daily was helpful to a majority of women in helping to overcome moderate to sever morning sickness. Since the standard OTC B-6 vitamin contains a 50 mg dose, the doctor advises breaking it in half. Many women also swear by acupressure bands.

So what’s your go to for dealing with morning sickness? Eating right? Taking supplements? Or just keeping your Uggs handy? Please share your embarrassing morning sickness stories! We love to hear every cringe-worthy moment.

Stressed pregnant woman

Reducing High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

One fairly common and understandable concern for expecting parents is high blood pressure. The reason it can be a concern is twofold: increased chance of hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy, and the risk of hypertension causing complications for pregnancy. Here, we’ll go ahead and examine and address this concern from both angles, and discuss what can cause hypertension during pregnancy, how to deal with it, and when it’s harmless and when it’s a concern.

Types of Hypertension During Pregnancy
There are actually several different categories of hypertension during pregnancy; three, to be precise. Let’s go over them.

Gestational hypertension occurs when the pregnant person develops high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are no signs of organ damage such as excess protein in the urine. Gestational hypertension can eventually become preeclampsia, but it is fairly rare. If you develop gestational hypertension, make sure you and your doctor keep an eye on it, but you and your baby will probably be fine.

Chronic hypertension typically refers to high blood pressure that existed independent of pregnancy, but also refers to high blood pressure that occurs anytime before 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed. It can be difficult to determine for sure when it began, so make sure you’re seeing a doctor regularly and keeping an eye on your blood pressure.

Preeclampsia is the most concerning type of hypertension during pregnancy and the one that requires the most care and oversight. Preeclampsia is a condition that sometimes develops from chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension, and is characterized by not only high blood pressure, but signs of damage or another organ system, including but not limited to protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can lead to serious or even fatal complications for both the baby and the pregnant parent if left untreated, but it is treatable, so do not panic if you develop preeclampsia, just work closely with a doctor to control the condition.

What Problems Can Hypertension Cause in Pregnancy?
High blood pressure—specifically, or at least mostly, preeclampsia—during pregnancy can decrease blood flow to the placenta, limiting the nutrients and oxygen your baby receives, slowing growth and potentially causing preterm birth, low birth weight, and breathing problems for your baby. Placental abruption—the placenta separating from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery—is also a concern, which is potentially life-threatening to both you and your baby. Preeclampsia can also predispose you to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in the future.

What Can I Do About it?
First and foremost—and we cannot emphasize this enough—work with a doctor, follow their advice to the letter, and always check in with them before you try any self-treatment of any kind, to make sure it’s safe. Be thorough and honest with your doctor, reporting any and all symptoms, and remember that preeclampsia can develop with no symptoms, even without protein in the urine, in rare circumstances, so monitor your blood pressure closely; check it at least once a week and keep your doctor updated. Also, watch for other symptoms like severe headaches, vision changes, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, decrease in urine output, lower platelet count, weakened liver, or shortness of breath. Finally, exercise regularly (under your doctor’s guidance), take everything as prescribed, avoid sodium, eat lots of leafy greens and fruits, and avoid smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.

Pregnant woman in a park

Stop Aging by Having More Children

To slow down the aging process, you are told to eat well, exercise often, get enough sleep and eliminate as much stress as possible, so it may seem completely counterintuitive that if you want to stop the clock on aging, you should have more kids. Children, particularly in the first few months of life, deplete your energy, have you skimping on sleep and they seem to infinitely increase your stress level, so how can having a larger family possible keep you young? New research from Canadian researchers at Simon Fraser University suggests that the number of children a woman births has a positive impact on her body’s aging rate.

The Study
Researchers embarked on a 13-year long study that observed telomere lengths in 75 women. The 75 Kaqchikel Mayan women that the study tracked were all from two neighboring communities located in the southwest highlands of Guatemala who had their telomere length taken from their saliva at the beginning of the study in 2000. At the end of the study in 2013, the same 75 women had their telomere length measured through a buccal swab and the results showed that women who had more surviving children over the course of 13 years had longer telomeres than women who had fewer surviving children in the same period of time. Each additional child born was linked to 0.059 more telomere units.

The Science
Telomeres are important pieces of a cell that influence how the cells age and are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. These caps are so important because they protect chromosomes – the threadlike structures containing all of your genetic information – from damage. Every time a cell replicates, your telomeres become shorter and eventually reach such a short length that they are no longer able to protect your chromosomes. When your chromosomes become vulnerable, cells age and stop functioning effectively. In the findings for this 13 year study, Prof. Pablo Nepomnaschy and Cindy Barha state that “our analyses show that increased offspring number across 13 years of observation attenuated telomere shortening, suggesting that, in our study population, having more children may slow the pace of cellular aging.”

When it comes to the “why” of the study, Prof. Nepomnaschy has some theories, one of which involves the increase of the hormone estrogen during pregnancy. “Estrogen functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening,” hypothesizes Nepomnaschy. Additionally, the social environment surrounding women with more children may positively impact their rate of aging because mothers with more children receive more support from both family and friends. “Greater support leads to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of aging,” says Nepomnaschy.

In the never-ending quest for youth, researchers have discovered that having more children may indeed lead to delayed aging process. The surge of estrogen and the social support structure that results from being pregnant and having children are two factors that the researchers believe to be influential. Having more children may indeed keep you young, and children will always bring you incredible love and joy, which make your life, longer or not, more satisfying.