3.5

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.

POOR COMMUNICATION
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.

DIFFERENCES IN BELIEFS/VALUES
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.

DISCONNECTION FROM WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS FEELING
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."

COMPETITION AND WINNING BECOME THE GOAL
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".

OTHER NEEDS ARE NOT BEING ADDRESSED
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.

FEAR OR WORRY CREATES SILENCE/PARALYSIS
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.

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

NO TIME
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.

REVENGE BECOMES THE GOAL
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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Choosing a Care Provider

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2011 01:51pm
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Your choice of caregiver will affect how happy you are with your care, as well as your risk of having procedures such as cesarean surgery or episiotomy. The choice can also affect your health and that of your baby — for better or worse. This handout features some tips on the best way to approach this key decision.

 

Download the Choosing a Care Provider handout (PDF)

 

This information was provided with permission by:

Injoy-MothersAdvocate-Lamaze
Injoy
Mother's Advocate
Lamaze

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Smoking & Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted August 1 2010 02:41pm
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Now that you're pregnant, taking care of yourselves has never been more important. It's especially important to avoid or give up smoking, alcohol and other harmful drugs. Not only can they affect your health, but also your unborn baby's health and development.

Read on to learn about the many harmful effects of smoking, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. We've also included a few important tips to help you cut down or quit their use.

If you smoke while you're pregnant, you're harming your health and that of your baby. The nicotine found in cigarettes narrows your blood vessels, making it harder for oxygen-carrying blood to get through to your baby's developing organs. Carbon monoxide, a compound in smoke, also reduces the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to your baby. As a result, smoking can cause the following problems during pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death
  • Placental problems and bleeding
  • Poor growth of the baby
  • Preterm birth

If you continue smoking during your pregnancy, it's possible for your baby to be born too soon or smaller than average. It's also possible for your baby to die or have health problems, learning disorders, visual problems, respiratory illnesses and cerebral palsy. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home or workplace, your baby may also be at risk for these problems as well.

If you would like to quit smoking, here are some helpful tips to get you started. You can:

  • Quit, even if it's late in your pregnancy. Quitting or decreasing even late in pregnancy can improve birth weight.
  • Call your local health department, community centre or healthcare provider for further information about programs in your area.
  • Attend a stop smoking program.
  • Line up people to support you in trying to achieve your goal. Starting to smoke again is always a danger, and is more likely without good support.
  • Strongly encourage your other family members to stop smoking around you.

Remember that smoking is an addiction that is difficult to overcome. It may take you several attempts before you succeed. People who try to quit require a great deal of support.

Here are some more tips on how you can quit smoking

Acknowledgement
Adapted with permission from 'Prevention of Low Birth Weight in Canada: Literature Review and Strategies,' 2nd edition (1998), Best Start Resource Centre.

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