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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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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Depression in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted August 9 2010 10:52am
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While pregnancy may be a happy time for women, it’s a myth that pregnant women do not become depressed.


However, this myth can prevent women from talking about her feelings or from finding help for it because they are ashamed. Women should talk to their partner, doctor or midwife about this as soon as they sense it is happening to them.

If a pregnant woman says she is feeling down or depressed, it is important for her, and those around her, to pay attention. If these down feelings are combined with constant sadness or losing interest in the things she normally does, she is clearly showing some of the warning signs of depression. Studies show that about 15% of pregnant women experience major or moderate depression during pregnancy.

Keep in mind that if a woman has had a depression before becoming pregnant or has a relative who has faced a depression, she may be more prone to a serious depression during her pregnancy.

Mood swings, fatigue, and trouble eating and sleeping can be typical at certain times in many women's pregnancies. However, they are also signs of depression in pregnancy if they continue for longer than what is normally expected. Other signs of depression are:

  • Always feeling sad.
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and of being worthless.
  • Thinking often about death or suicide; not being able to concentrate or do the things she ordinarily does.
  • A change in eating habits more or less that than what is normally expected in pregnancy.
  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep a lot.

Pregnant women who are depressed are more likely to slide into unhealthy practices, just when healthy practices are needed most. For example, women may skip their regular prenatal check-ups, or they may not eat well or rest enough or use substances such as tobacco or drugs.   All of these can lead to having the baby too early or to the baby not being a healthy weight when born.

It is important for a pregnant woman to talk to her doctor or midwife about depressive feelings or signs. In many cases, it is helpful if her partner goes along to this appointment because he needs to be part of the treatment plan. She can sometimes treat minor depression by doing things like eating well, getting regular exercise, making sure she gets enough sleep and deals with her stress (through relaxation exercises, yoga, etc.). If her doctor thinks the depression is serious, medication may be prescribed. In such a case, she will want to discuss with her doctor and pharmacist all the side effects and implications for her mental health and the baby's development.

Many herbal products, including St. John's Wort, have not yet been studied carefully for their effects on pregnant women. Mom should not take any herbal products without first consulting with her doctor, pharmacist or the Motherisk Clinic.

About 25% of women who are depressed during their pregnancy will have what is called a "postpartum depression," which is a depression after the baby is born.

It’s normal for a woman to feel a little sad or anxious in the first two weeks after the baby is born. Everyone should pay attention and help during this period. If she has constant or signs and symptoms of depression, there is cause for concern. Both parents should speak to her doctor or midwife about this to determine how to treat the depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat if it is caught early before the With symptoms become deeply rooted.

If a mother is depressed during baby’s first year of life, it can make it difficult for her to become emotionally attached to baby and vice versa. Fathers and others need to ensure she gets the help she needs for her depression. Dads may also need to step in and help her relate to the baby in whatever way she can while she recovers. Dads also need to give extra loving care and stimulation to the baby to keep baby's development on track.

For more information on Depression in Pregnancy:



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Abuse and Violence in the Home

by Guest
Posted August 9 2010 10:53am
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The first few months of Melody and Robert’s marriage were wonderful. Robert was loving, considerate and fun to be with. But as soon as Melody got pregnant, the violence began.

Robert would often abuse her emotionally – telling her that the baby was a mistake and that he would leave her. When Melody was seven months pregnant, Robert pinned her against the wall and violently attacked her. Unfortunately, the blows were so severe that she went into preterm labour and lost the baby.

Reading this scenario may have made you feel very sad, but this is what really happens in some relationships today. Clearly, abuse and violence are not healthy for dads, moms and their babies. Any amount of physical blows will be harmful to the baby and even emotional abuse can add to an expectant mom’s stress and also affect your baby.

When you become upset during pregnancy, your adrenaline-type emotions will affect the baby. Recent research has shown that stressful feelings experienced by the mother during pregnancy are related to problems in their young children’s behavior. High levels of stress may also put women at greater risk for preterm labour.

Reasons for Abuse During Pregnancy:
There may be many reasons for the occurrence of abuse and violence between partners during pregnancy, but some of the most common ones include the following:

  • Couples become pregnant hoping that it will help to solve previous relationship problems. It doesn’t. Problems can become worse during pregnancy.
  • One or both partners regret becoming pregnant. These feelings can be shown in abusive or violent behaviour towards each other.
  • Hormone changes in expectant mother can cause out of control actions on her part. Dad, in turn, may lose his control, and this escalation becomes violent. 
  • A pattern of abuse already existed and is just continuing despite its effects on mom or the baby.

Don’t feel alone or ashamed if you are being abused. Doctors, emergency room personnel and counselors are aware that abuse and violence can occur between couples during pregnancy. These professionals are trained to provide help without blaming anyone. They are willing and able to assist you.

If you are worried about your partner’s hostile behavior towards you or are currently experiencing abuse, there is help available. Here are some of your options:

Call any of the following help lines:

  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline 1-866-863-0511;
  • Victim Support Line 1-888-579-2888 or 416-314-2447 in the Toronto area.

Don’t wait to get help if you are worried or hurting! These situations rarely get better without the guidance of an experienced professional.

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