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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Sometimes the answer is simply giving each other some quality "air time."
Alley: "I'm so tired of coming home to find dirty dishes in the sink."
Ryan: "Hold it! Before you even start, I spent all weekend cleaning up your photo project that you never finished."
Alley: "Well, where am I supposed to find the time to..."
Sound familiar? Didn't you start your relationship listening to each other with respect? Working things out peacefully? Now, there are hormones and new fears and stress. Sometimes it seems like every discussion turns into an argument. How did this happen?
Sometimes the answer is simply giving each other some quality "air time." Below, you'll learn more about the "air time" technique and how you can use it to communicate better – now and for the rest of your lives.
What is Air Time?
Some couples get to a point where they often interrupt each other and neither has a chance to finish what they are trying to say. Each ends up feeling as though the other is not truly listening.
Giving "air time" during a discussion means allowing the other person an uninterrupted chance to say what they need to say. Too many interruptions make good communication difficult.
So what happens when we don't get to say what we need to say? It can increase tension and the discussion can easily turn into an argument or end without resolution. This can all cause bad feelings.
As expectant parents, there are many changes occurring in both your lives that you want to discuss. It's important that you both learn healthy communication skills. Listen to each others' needs and come to an agreement together. Not only will this help to keep discussions calm and cool, but you’ll be practicing excellent communication skills that your child will learn. Developing these abilities now will help you model the right behaviour for your child in the future.
Mastering the Technique
When using the "air time" technique, listen for a pause in the conversation, reflect on what the person said and then respond.
Advice for the Speaker:
Air time does not mean you can give a speech or talk endlessly. Usually, you can sum up the important things you have to say in one or two minutes. Deliver your message clearly and to the point, rather than talking on and on.
Advice for the Listener:
Keep in mind that your partner will probably be able to say what they need to say in a couple of minutes. The most important thing to remember is that during that time, you really listen to what is being said and don’t interrupt.
There are two things you can do to make this technique effective:
1. Use "I" statements (like, "I feel sad when..."), rather than blaming (with such statements as, "It's your fault that I feel...").
2. Use a parroting technique—repeat what your partner said—to show that you were listening.
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Science shows that only about 50% of pregnancies are planned. As a couple, are you ready for a baby in your life?
Science shows that only about 50% of pregnancies are planned. As a couple, are you ready for a baby in your life? Consider the following questions, think about your responses and then discuss them with your partner.
Am I ready to be a parent?
- Do I enjoy being with children?
- What experience have I had caring for babies and young children?
- How would I feel about having a child around all the time?
- Do I have the patience it takes to raise a child?
- Do I see myself as a father?
- Do I see myself as a mother?
- Can I manage a job and the responsibilities of a child?
- What skills do I have that would help me to be a parent?
- Am I ready to put the needs of a baby ahead of my routines or activities?
- Can I support a baby financially at this point in my life? How will our financial situation change? Do we need to cut back financially?
- Am I ready to devote the time it takes to be a parent?
- Who are my role models as parents?
- Do I have any health or work-related issues that cannot be changed and that may affect my ability to be a parent?
Am I ready for personal changes that having a child brings?
- What kind of time and space do I need for myself?
- What kind of lifestyle do I have?
- What changes will I need to make about seeing friends, going out, relaxing time, and career or education goals?
- Am I willing to delay or change some of the personal goals I have set?
- Will I resent the changes I will need to make?
Am I prepared for the changes in our relationship as a couple?
- How do we spend our time together? How will this be different with a baby?
- What are our expectations about dividing the work around the home now? After a baby comes?
- What are our expectations about dividing the care of a baby?
- How do we make decisions as a couple?
- Do we have any relationship issues that we need to resolve? Having a baby will not fix a rocky relationship.
Were you surprised by your reaction or your partner’s reaction to some of these questions? You may not be in agreement on all of these questions - couples rarely agree on everything. We know from our research with expectant parents who participated in our prenatal/parenting program The Parenting Partnership, (www.welcometoparenting.com), they were very surprised to discover just how different their views were on parenting. Much better to have these conversations before having a child than to be surprised afterwards, when stresses are high and hours of sleep are low.Discussing these various areas allows each of you to share any concerns and compromise around when the best time might be to add to your family. Talk with friends who have become parents. They are likely to tell you just how having a child changed their lives.
Did you go through this list of questions with your partner? Were you surprised with the answers? Let us know and share your experiences by leaving a comment below!
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Part of being a positive parent is providing a healthy and safe area for your child to grow.
All parents want their home to be safe, especially once a pregnancy occurs or there are children in the home. Part of being a positive parent is providing a healthy and safe area for your child to grow.
Pregnant woman, babies and young children can be exposed to harmful substances through the air they breathe (i.e. cigarette smoke, indoor air pollution), the food or drinks they eat (pesticides in food or lead from water pipes), or the things they touch (cleaning products). Babies and young children are more susceptible to exposures and hazards because:
- The systems in their body are still developing. Their skin is thinner and more porous and their airways are smaller and more sensitive to air pollutants and their brain is still developing.
- They do not have the cognitive skills needed to recognize unsafe items.
- They put toys or objects in their mouth, play on the floor or grass.
- They eat, drink and breathe more than adults.
Use this as a guide when doing a safety check of your home.
GARAGE AND ATTIC
Keep the following things in mind when you do a walk-through around your garage and attic. Make note of any potential hazards you see.
- Things like car battery cases, motor oil containers and even garbage bags and luggage may contain hazardous plastics and solvents. Get rid of any old ones you don't need and store the ones you keep locked and away from children.
- Paints, paint strippers and thinners and varnish may contain Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) solvents that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Get rid of any you don't need and store the rest carefully out of reach.
- If there is mould or asbestos, expectant moms, babies and young children should stay out of these areas as much as possible until the problem is dealt with.
YARD, GARDEN AND SIDEWALK
- Contaminated soil and dust may contain lead. Replace contaminated soil and try to limit wearing shoes worn outdoors inside your home.
- Fumigation materials, aerial spraying and house and yard treatment products may contain pesticides. Store house and yard treatment products in a locked place and do not use them where children may play.
- Personal insect repellent and pet flea products may contain pesticides. Limit your use of these products or use alternatives to flea products.
ROOF AND SIDING
Old shingles and siding may contain asbestos. Make sure you dispose of them if you can.
Textured paints may contain asbestos; so avoid their use if possible.
The basement may have a home workshop or can become a catch-all area for items that you meant to get rid of, but there they sit – a potential danger for your baby.
The list could include:
- Adhesives and glues
- Motor oil containers
- Old furnaces and asbestos pipe insulation
- Paints, paint strippers and thinners and varnish
Pregnant woman should limit their exposure to these items. Adhesives, glues, disinfectants, paints, paint strippers, thinners and varnish should be used in well ventilated areas. Again, make sure you get rid of any of these items you don't need. And get asbestos problems fixed now if you can.
Are there really dangerous hazards lurking on your bathroom? Check the list below. We all have some or all of these things in our bathroom. Get rid of any you don't use and make sure everything else is secure behind doors.
- Artificial fragrances contribute to poor air quality in homes and may irritate baby’s sensitive airways. Cosmetics may contain chemicals that are harmful to children if they are swallowed.
- Bathroom cleaning products, disinfectants and aerosol sprays.
- Garbage bags contain plastic and can pose a suffocation hazard with young children.
- Hair dryers create electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and could pose a burn or electrocution hazard when used by a young child.
BEDROOMS AND LIVING ROOM
- Artificial fragrances may contain harmful chemicals common to cleaning products.
- Cosmetics, hairsprays, hair dyes and cosmetics such as nail polish and remover should only be used sparingly, if at all. They may contain VOC solvents.
- Televisions, electric blankets, electric beds, electric heaters, computers and monitors, game boxes, video display terminals, cell phones and cordless phones generate electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Try to avoid placing these near where you or your child sleeps.
- Dry cleaned clothing may contain VOC solvents that can irritate a child’s sensitive airways.
- Electric blankets, electric beds and electric heaters produce EMFs.
- Floor and furniture polishes may contain harmful chemicals common to cleaning products. Limit their use or switch to eco-friendly products
Again, try to reduce the amount of plastics be that in: containers, bottles, jars, jugs, cutlery or garbage bags. And also less cleaning and polishing products is better!
- Kitchen cleaning products, disinfectants, floor cleaners and aerosol sprays may contain volatile organic compound (VOC) solvents. Store these out of the use of the reach of children. When using these products ventilate the rooms well.
- Garbage bags may contain hazardous plastics such as low density polyethylene (LDPE) and can pose a suffocation hazard for young children.
- Imported lead soldered food cans or ceramic pottery may contain lead; try to limit your use of imported products.
- Plastic bottles and plastic storage containers may contain unsafe types of plastic (polyvinyl chloride, polystryrene and polycarbonate). Safe plastic containers can be identified with a triangular symbol that includes either of the following numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5. Avoid containers with numbers 3, 6 and 7.
- Older homes may contain vinyl flooring and tiles, and pipe insulation that may contain asbestos.
- Older homes or apartments may contain lead plumbing. Run water taps for several minutes if the taps have not been used for a number of hours. Use cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby food.
- Produce, especially fruits and vegetables, may contain pesticides. Consider using organic fruits and vegetables and always wash well before using.
- Tap water, if plumbing or fixtures contain lead.
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