The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
Read more »
Of all the food dilemmas you face when pregnant, seafood might be the most slippery. Fish contain nutrients essential to the developing fetal brain, but they can also be contaminated with brain-damaging mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The ecological questions are similarly confusing. Many wild fish are being fished to extinction, but fish farms can be a major source of environmental destruction as well.
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.
Blissful. Joyful. Glowing. These are words that typically describe moms-to-be. But what about the other possibilities: blue, anxious, pregorexic? Pregnant women’s struggles may slowly be coming out of the closet, but many moms-to-be still suffer in silence with emotional issues, and the majority are never diagnosed or treated. The result can be problematic for their babies as well as themselves.
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.
Emily Deschanel’s character on the Fox TV series Bones, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, is decidedly awkward in social situations; Deschanel is anything but. An outspoken vegan committed to animal-protection organizations like Farm Sanctuary, Deschanel, 35, and her husband, actor and writer David Hornsby, are expecting their first child this fall.
Omega-3 fish oils, particularly DHA, are touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women because of their role in fetal brain and eye development and in helping to prevent postpartum depression (PPD) in new mothers. Yet a recent randomized controlled trial—considered the “gold standard” of medical research—found that the children of women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had no better cognitive or language skills at 18 months than the children of women who took a vegetable oil placebo.
Rest easy, all you pregnant vegans and vegetarians out there: Medical experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), have given you the green light to continue your current way of eating— as long as it’s well-planned. “You can have a healthy pregnancy on such a diet,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., an ADA spokeswoman who sees pregnant vegetarians in her private practice.
“You just have to do it right.”
You'd probably do just about anything when you’re pregnant to keep your baby from developing food allergies. Avoid shrimp? Check. Stay away from eggs? No problem. Skip soy? Consider it done. Unfortunately, the advice on how to prevent food allergies keeps changing. So where does that leave you if someone offers you a peanut butter cookie?
“Your baby's sleep troubles are quite possibly your fault, but no one can tell you what you're doing wrong. Sweet dreams!” writes Paul Tough, tongue-in-cheek, in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine.
Ah, that’s cute. Let’s reduce this offensive, angst-ridden topic to the basics as I have observed them:
Getting enough sleep makes parents and children positive, open-minded and better able to cope with the challenges of daily existence.
Eight weeks left to go, the baby weighing in at a suspected (and right-on-target) 4 pounds, and a combination of more-things-to-do-than-I-ever-could in the remaining time and a deeply-felt shrug of the shoulders about this fact.
I think I've had a New Age experience. This is not something I've been seeking. I've been seeking to meet my freelance deadlines, figure out why the couch we ordered hasn't been delivered, and somehow overlook the feeling that every part of me is becoming exponentially larger by the day. But today, I went back to the Y for my second prenatal yoga class, so I guess part of me is questing for some sort of lightness. I was at least hoping to regain the ability to put on socks without grunting, if not to achieve full-on yogic enlightenment.
Lady in Waiting