Fortified foods like vitamin D-enriched milk or calcium-added orange juice seem like an easy way to get the nutrients you need. But are they the best way to nourish you and your baby? The answer depends on the nutrient as well as the food it’s fortifying. “Adding nutrients can encourage people to look at a food as having a health halo when in reality it may be full of sodium, unhealthy fats or added sugars,” says Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. Plus, too much of certain nutrients could cause unwanted side effects.
Amniotic fluid: It’s at once mundane and poetic, a humble liquid that protects and nourishes your baby. It also helps maintain a constant temperature; promotes growth and development of the fetus’s lungs, gastrointestinal system, muscles and bones; and prevents compression of the umbilical cord. Some studies even suggest that it transmits odors and flavors from your diet, helping to influence your baby’s future taste preferences.
Eight years ago when I had my first son, I initially met with an OB-GYN recommended to me by a friend. I adored him—as well as his partners: a dynamic team of certified nurse-midwives. After learning that midwives tend to spend a lot of time with patients, have relatively few patients who require Cesarean sections and also encourage medication-free deliveries, I decided to have a midwife from the practice deliver my baby.
When I ordered shrimp rolls at a tapas bar 12 weeks into my pregnancy, one of my friends reacted as if I’d ordered a double martini. “You can’t have shrimp when you’re pregnant!” she insisted. When I asked her why not, all she could offer was, “Well, I’m not sure, but I know you can’t.” Turns out, she was mistaken (phew! I ordered the shrimp anyway), a common phenomenon when it comes to prenatal nutrition.
The U.S. birthrate has been declining since 2007, and experts blame the economy. Short of forgoing having children, the trick in these tough times is to get thriftier, says Carol Sakala, Ph.D., director of programs for the nonprofit advocacy group Childbirth Connection, who adds that wiser spending doesn't have to mean shoddy care.
During pregnancy, many of the changes you’re going through are visible—your growing breasts and belly are the most obvious. Others, like a powerful urge to “nest,” you can’t see but can certainly feel. A great number of these changes are due to hormones, powerful chemicals that affect your mind, your body and your pregnancy. Here’s a guide to some of the most important players.
In a lot of ways, pregnancy is like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. On one hand, it’s the most breathtaking and majestic thing you’ve ever experienced. On the other, it’s a long way to the bottom—and you can’t help but feel a little anxious about taking a wrong step. Chances are everything will be just fine, and you should take comfort in the fact that statistics are in your favor. So we do want you to embrace the beautiful experience of pregnancy, but we also want you—as your child’s biological suit of armor—to do a few things that can help improve those odds.
In this era of prenatal Pilates videos and Oh Baby! toning classes, most women know that exercise during pregnancy is safe. Yet when it comes to the particulars—Is it OK to work my abs? Do I have to quit running? Should I keep my heart rate low?—myths and misconceptions that hold women back persist. “There’s still a lot of fear out there that stops pregnant women from exercising,” says Sara Haley, a prenatal fitness trainer and workout-DVD star based in Santa Monica, Calif.
You are what you eat. That’s old news. So is the fact that your diet during pregnancy affects your newborn’s health. But the new news is that what you eat in the next nine months can impact your baby’s health, as well as your own, for decades to come. Here are 10 easy nutrition rules that will benefit you both.
Three decades ago, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Yvonne Thornton, M.D., was determinedly shedding the 67 pounds she gained during her first pregnancy when she found out she was expecting another baby. Thornton vowed not to let that derail her healthy eating habits again. “There was a strong dictum back then that no matter what you weighed, you should gain 26 to 35 pounds during pregnancy or risk fetal death,” says Thornton, now an OB-GYN professor at New York Medical College.
Fibromyalgia itself does not pose a risk to an expecting mom or her fetus. The medications taken to manage it may, however, which is why experts recommend that women who have it review their meds with
an obstetrician before conceiving.
According to Lori Wolfe, M.S., a certified genetic counselor and director of the Texas Teratogen Information Service, there’s more risk to you from not using sunscreen than to your fetus by using it. “Pregnant women are understandably worried about harming their baby by using any number of products, but sun protection is not one they should be concerned about,” Wolfe says. “Studies have not shown a risk to the fetus when its mother uses any type of sunscreen or sunblock.”
Yes, it is safe to use vibrators during a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. Just make sure you keep your vibrator clean. After every use, wash the surface with warm water and a gentle soap.