Folate in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted July 23 2010 01:30pm
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Experts have found that mothers who have adequate levels of folic acid in their bodies may be less likely to give birth to children with neural tube defects (NTDs). As well, folate may also help in preventing a number of other health problems that can be experienced during pregnancy, including anemia, birth defects, and complications such as preeclampsia and spontaneous abortion. After the birth of a child, folate may also help a mother’s body get ready sooner for another pregnancy.

Although it occurs naturally in food, a typical woman of childbearing age gets just 0.2 mg of folic acid through diet alone. Because many pregnancies are unplanned and NTDs occur very early in a pregnancy—often before a woman knows she’s pregnant—experts recommend that all women of childbearing age take in between 0.4 mg and 1.0 mg of folic acid every day. And women who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes or who have a family history of NTDs should take in more, as much as 5.0mg daily. After giving birth, many women appear to suffer folate deficiency for as long as 6 months; these women, in particular, should think about supplementation. However, always consult your doctor before starting folate supplements. Folic acid levels that are too high can possibly lead to an increased risk of multiple births, neurological disorders, and breast cancer.

With a little preventative action, such as storing food in the fridge in tightly covered containers and cooking in small amounts of water for as little time as possible, folic acid can be preserved in the foods we eat. 

Excellent sources of folate include: 

Cooked fava, kidney, roman, soy and white beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils, spinach, asparagus, orange juice, canned pineapple juice, peanuts, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, romaine lettuce, enriched pasta and bagels made with enriched flour.

Good sources of folate include: 

Cooked corn, sprouted mung beans, broccoli, green peas, brussel sprouts, beets, oranges, melons, avocado, eggs, walnuts, cashews and English muffins made with enriched flour.

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Managing Friction

by Maxine
Posted August 1 2010 11:29am
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Friction or conflict is common in all relationships; each of you has many individual beliefs, values and behaviours. Unfortunately, it's not always managed well. This can do damage and have a lasting negative impact on you as a couple, on your family and on the other important relationships in your lives. The more you both know about conflict and communication, the better you'll be able to deal with the real issues. The goal is to prevent differences or disagreements from becoming "monsters."

Harmony is normal, as is conflict. Each of you has a unique personality, feelings and beliefs. You will most certainly face numerous times when others do not agree with you.

Conflict is not something that should be avoided at all costs. If you avoid dealing with problems, they get buried rather than resolved. The problems can then get bigger, and resentment and negative feelings can grow. You may even find your body sends out warning signals that you're not dealing with things; signs like depression, insomnia, stomach aches and weight gain or loss.

You do not need a winner or a loser for conflicts to be resolved. You can deal with conflict in a variety of ways and it is possible to find win-win solutions if you are willing to shift your goals slightly.
Personality differences do not cause conflict. Actions, values and beliefs are the source of differences.

Being human, throughout your life you will be at odds with others – at work, at school, even at the bank or grocery store. But, conflict is more likely to occur with the people you spend and share the most time. You may not screen your thoughts and feelings as much in your intimate relationships as you might with your boss or a stranger. Therefore, disagreements and conflict with those you love the most can happen more often – and can be more difficult to manage.

In many marriages couples manage conflict very poorly, which creates more problems than expected. Some couples avoid conflict as much as possible, choosing to bite their tongues or just shut down. Others may become angry or aggressive and try to control the conflict by winning.

However, you cannot resolve conflict by winning the argument or shouting the loudest or pouting the longest. And you'll be especially unsuccessful if one or both of you only think about your own wants, with no sense of what your partner needs. It takes real effort and desire to effectively manage conflict.

Consider the following nine common reasons for conflict in relationships.

A main reason for a couple's inability to resolve an argument is when one or both of you fails to clearly communicate with the other. This may include such issues as:

  • Not being direct about what the real problem is. For example, dad is complaining about having no clean shirts, but what is really bothering him is mom spending all of her time at the neighbor's house.
  • Not listening to what the other is really saying.
  • Blaming each other rather than trying to find a solution.
  • Not taking responsibility.
  • Not wanting to lose the argument.

Sometimes, a conflict stems from a clash of fundamental values or beliefs. For example, Mom, who is Catholic but did not attend church, wants to baptize the baby and go to Catholic church regularly. Dad is Lutheran and knows his parents will expect him to go to their church if they decide to follow a faith.

Sometimes, you can get so wrapped up in your own world that you don't recognize or appreciate what the other is feeling.
For example, Mom is distracted by her job, her aching back, her parents’ surprise visit—and didn’t notice that Dad was trying to talk about something that was bothering him. He ends up thinking that Mom doesn’t care, understand or appreciate what he’s feeling. So, he decides to show more of what he’s feeling. Maybe then, Mom will understand what he’s going through. "Can't you see I'm mad?” he wonders. “I guess I'd better express a bit more anger so she gets it."

This pushes one or both of you to need to win at all costs. This is often made possible by finding fault with the other. For example, one of you ends up yelling, "You think that I'm not nice to your mother? Well, listen to what you say about my mother every day".

You may have other needs that are not being met – sleep, intimacy, self-care, financial worries or external pressures. When this happens, you may be very vulnerable or touchy and easily move into conflict, even though what you’re arguing about isn’t all that important. Your self-care becomes the higher priority rather than the problem your partner was trying to express.

You may think that dealing with the current conflict will have a more negative consequence than ignoring it. For example, Dad does not want to tell Mom that he is angry about her forgetting to fill the car with gas because he’s worried that she may break down and cry – and then he’d have a bigger problem to fix.

Many disagreements turn into major unresolved conflicts because Mom or Dad may not believe what the other is saying.

Dealing with conflict takes time. In our current world of dual-income households, time is lost commuting or keeping up with your everyday busy lives and schedules. There is often little time left for couples to focus on and work out their differences. Waiting for the right time, which never comes, is common.

Getting even for a prior conflict can also fuel a new conflict. As the number of old, unresolved conflicts increases, you start storing up your negative thoughts and feelings. Of course, this only makes new conflict more likely. The bigger your reserve of unresolved conflicts, the greater the likelihood of a major blowout.

The issue may actually be quite small but the reaction—very big. The response from either of you may then be, "What's the big deal?" You don’t see that the real issue is not that Dad didn’t hang his coat up again, for example, but rather a build up of past conflicts coming out all at once.

As you try to manage your conflicts, use the following tips to guide you.

  1. Before working out a conflict, ask yourself these questions: If I don't resolve this, how will this affect my life a month from now? Am I willing to hear my partner's side? Am I willing to change something about myself to resolve this conflict? Am I willing to set aside time with my partner to deal with this?
  2. Schedule enough time. Set a time that allows you to focus on the conversation and not feel harried or stressed because you need to go to work in five minutes.
  3. Use "I" statements. Avoid starting sentences with "you."
  4. Stay in the present. Don't bring up old history.
  5. No threats! For example, don't say, "If that's how you feel, then let's just get a divorce!"
  6. Be honest.
  7. Stay on topic. It's not fair to bring in another issue from last month.
  8. If you feel you can't resolve an issue and it's going to affect your relationship, seek help from a third party.

There are many other things you can do to help manage conflict and support positive communication and healthy relationships with your partner, your child, your relatives, friends and colleagues.

The few strategies we've offered here have been used with success by couples who have chosen to deal with their conflict or friction constructively.


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Lifestyle Hazards While Pregnant

by Guest
Posted August 9 2010 10:50am
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Lifestyle hazards can come from the way you eat, drink, exercise and relate to those around you.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Ask your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Mom should avoid alcohol. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption and no safe time period for drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Avoid smoking. If you are a smoker, try to quit or, at the very least, cut down. If Dad is a smoker, always smoke outside and try to quit, too.
  • Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, and drink at least six glasses of water, milk or juice a day. Dad can help Mom here by sharing the load of the extra time it takes to shop for, prepare and clean up after nutritious meals.
  • To avoid toxoplasmosis - disease that is devastating to developing babies – expectant mothers must avoid all contact with cat feces (kitty litter, garden soil that may contain cat feces) and raw or undercooked meat. Moms can work with soil using rubber gloves and good hand washing techniques after each exposure. Dads can take over cleaning the litter box during pregnancy and during the newborn phase of baby's development. Hand washing is critical for him too! Be sure to cook meat very well.
  • Modest daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps mom and baby's circulation and helps mom stay in a positive frame of mind. Since regular exercise is somewhat of a challenge in our sedentary society, many moms find it easier to stay motivated when you do some of your exercising together with your partner.
  • Mom will be rewarded with fewer aches and pains if she wears comfortable clothing and shoes with good support throughout pregnancy.
  • Moms and dads should jointly identify causes of stress then reduce or eliminate the stressors where possible.
  • Take advantage of support offered by friends, co-workers and those available in your community.

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Iron in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted April 25 2011 03:17pm
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Pregnancy is a precious time – you and your baby are growing together. However, this time of rapid growth naturally puts higher demands on your bodies basic nutrient requirements. Have you had you iron levels checked?

During pregnancy iron is critical because it helps make hemoglobin – a blood protein that carries oxygen to other cells for both the mother and the fetus, and aids in the process of disease resistance in the fetus. When demands for iron exceed the supply the mothers body is depleted. When this happens it causes fatigue, weakness/poor endurance, trouble with concentration, paleness, or sometimes a quickened heartbeat. So if you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to have your health care professional test your iron levels at your first prenatal appointment.

Iron needs nearly double in pregnancy. But how much is enough, or too much? The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for a pregnant woman is 27 milligrams (mg) per day. But be sure to ask, taking more than necessary can make you feel nauseated, cause constipation, heartburn or even diarrhea.

Here’s how to make sure your diet is pumped with iron:

  • Choose red meat, poultry, salmon and eggs for a good source of heme-iron, the type of iron found in animals. It’s better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plants.
  • Choose plant-based foods such as berries, broccoli, green leafy vegetables (like chard and spinach), green beans, tomatoes, and artichokes.
  • Remember tomato sauces and tomato juice also contains iron. Choose whole-grains (for example millet), iron-fortified breads and cereals, and bake with wheat germ, brewer’s yeast and molasses.
  • Add parsley or seaweed to your favorite dishes to provide a little extra iron.
  • Cook non-gmo tofu for a great vegetarian source of iron.
  • Sprinkle dried fruits and nuts on your morning oatmeal for an iron top-up.
  • Cook in a cast-iron pan: your food will absorb iron from the pan.

If you’re still feelings symptoms of anemia, ask your doctor or midwife about taking supplements, which you should swallow on an empty stomach with orange juice for better absorption. Note that dairy, and caffeinated drinks interfere with iron absorption.

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