A Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Looking after yourself during pregnancy will not only be good for you, it will help to give your baby a healthy start

  • Stay physically active
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Gain weight wisely
  • Avoid risky substances
  • Prepare for the future/ combat challenges

Eating Well

A balanced healthy diet before and during pregnancy is vital. The growing fetus puts extra demands on the body. Fetal growth depends on the health and nutritional status of the mother before conception and during pregnancy.

  • Eating healthily can make a difference in how you feel and cope during and after pregnancy
  • A healthy diet helps your baby grow and develop
  • Eat enough but not too much
  • Take a pregnancy vitamin tablet

General dietary guidance for pregnant women includes:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • Eat regular meals and snacks
  • Make sensible food choices based on healthy eating principles (Food Pyramid Model)
  • Encourage plenty of wholegrain cereals, bread, rice, pasta and potatoes
  • Have at least 4 portions of fruit and vegetables daily
  • Increase to 5 servings from milk and dairy product shelf (can use low fat varieties if concerned about excess weight gain)
  • Increase to 3 servings / day from meat / fish / beans / eggs shelf
  • Remember that energy requirements are not increased in the 1st trimester and that requirements are only increased by 200kcal / day in 2nd and 3rd trimester (e.g. an extra slice of bread /spread and piece of fruit). Do not need to ‘eat for two’ so while eating, take care that consumption of fat rich and sugar rich food choices are not so excessive that they displace more nutrient dense foods from diet, or lead to excessive weight gain.

Weight gain

It is a good idea to start pregnancy at a healthy weight. The best advice for women during pregnancy is to eat according to appetite and monitor weight gain. Studies have shown that weight gained at an excessive rate by women with a normal pre-pregnancy BMI does not enhance fetal growth but does contribute to postpartum maternal obesity.

Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI within the normal range should aim for a pregnancy weight gain of between 7kg and 12kg. Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI below 19.8 should aim for greater weight gain.
For adolescents, a greater and earlier increase in energy intake may be required.

Note:
If pregnant and following a specific diet e.g. diabetic or strict vegetarian, can ask to be referred to hospital / community dietitian, to receive individual advice.

Specific Nutriants

Iron
Iron is important to help make the extra blood needed by both mum and baby. No increment required unless maternal stores depleted at start of pregnancy. There is increased need but this is compensated for by increased absorption of iron and decreased losses (menstruation).

Iron supplementation is common in pregnant women. While it is not necessary to take supplements if stores are adequate – it is important to have haemoglobin levels measured regularly. Good dietary sources of iron are lean red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Plant foods that are rich in iron include fortified breakfast cereals, green vegetables and dried fruit. Including a vitamin C source e.g. orange juice with iron containing food will help absorption from non-meat sources.

Doctor or midwife will advise on taking iron supplements. As side effects can occur, it may be more beneficial to start supplements in 2nd / 3rd trimester. Side effects include constipation, nausea and diarrhoea.

Folate
Folic acid is a vitamin that is vital for the development of the unborn baby’s brain and spine. There are good dietary sources of folic acid, but in order to meet the needs of the baby it is recommended that supplements be taken before becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy (until 12 weeks pregnant). This can help to protect from neural tube defects including spina bifida.

If mum is already pregnant and has not been taking supplements, then advise taking them as soon as possible. Folic acid supplements can be bought over the counter from pharmacy or can be obtained free of charge on prescription from doctor for those with medical cards. Continue with good dietary sources of folic acid (e.g. green vegetables, oranges) and foods that have been fortified with folic acid (e.g. breakfast cereals, some breads /milk) throughout pregnancy.

Calcium
During pregnancy, calcium is provided to baby for bone and tooth development. Extra calcium is required to replace this loss.
It is recommended to include at least 5 servings of calcium rich foods daily (refer to Food pyramid). Milk, cheese and yogurt are the best sources of calcium – other sources include tinned salmon / sardines and dark green leafy vegetables e.g. broccoli. Some types of breakfast cereals, bread, orange juice and most Irish flour are fortified with extra calcium.

Low fat varieties of dairy products contain similar amounts of calcium as full fat varieties.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from foods. Most of our Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight. Dietary sources include oily fish (salmon, herring, trout, sardines), milk, margarine, cheese and eggs. Some milks and breakfast cereals are fortified with extra vitamin D.

Smoking and Pregnancy

  • The chemicals you inhale in cigarettes can reduce the blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to your baby.
  • Your baby will be born smaller and weaker than normal
  • Increased risk of Stillbirth
  • Increased risk of Cot-death/Sudden Infant death Syndrome (SIDS)Passive Smoking

Increased risk to the baby of:

 Respiratory illness
 Impaired intellectual development
 Birth defects
 Low birth weight e.g NICU

If you wish to seek assistance in stopping smoking, the Midwife or Doctor will give you the number for your local Smoking Cessation Officer. A direct referral can also be made at your request.

Pregnancy and Alcohol

Alcohol entering the mother’s blood stream passes into the baby’s blood stream. It is recommended that no alcohol be consumed during Preganancy.

 Alcohol use in pregnancy at any stage can seriously affect the development of your baby
 Some babies born to mother’s who drink have been found to have physical and mental abnormalities – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
 Children who were exposed to alcohol in pregnancy often show poor attention and hyper-activity.

Substance Use During Pregnancy

Any drugs/substances you use enters your bloodstream, and passes to your baby through the placenta.
 Substance refers to both legal and illegal drugs and over the counter medications
 Legal i.e. tobacco, alcohol
 Illegal i.e. cannabis, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin

It is never too late to stop, please discuss with your midwife or doctor.

Cannabis and Pregnancy
Possible Effects on Mother

 Anxiety, paranoid, memory loss and concentration problems, depression
Possible Effects on Your Baby

 Your baby may be born weaker and smaller than normal
 The oxygen supply to your baby will be decreased
 Increased risk of cot-death
 Increased risk of asthma

Dietary Management of Common Problems During
Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting (Morning sickness)
• Eat dry cereals or crackers before getting out of bed. Get out of bed slowly
• Eat small, frequent meals. Small carbohydrate-rich snacks at frequent intervals can
• provide relief
• Avoid any foods that cause nausea
• Drink liquids between, rather than with, meals to avoid abdominal distension that can
• trigger vomiting
• Avoid large / greasy / spicy meals
• Suck something sour e.g. lemon
• Slowly sip a fizzy drink when nauseated
• Get plenty of fresh air. Keep rooms well ventilated and odour free.
• Avoid the smell of food cooking or the cooking environment
• Try food and drinks containing ginger – can help
• If symptoms are severe and persist, then contact your doctor or midwife.
Heartburn
• Eat small, frequent meals
• Avoid spicy, fatty, fizzy or acidic foods
• Eat slowly and chew all food well
• Avoid lying down after eating
• Milk and yogurt may help to relieve symptoms
• If heartburn persists and is excessive, ask your doctor or midwife for further advice.
Constipation
• Often occurs at later stage of pregnancy
• Eat more fibre rich foods e.g. wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables
• Drink plenty of fluids – include at least 8-10 glasses of water each day when following a
• high fibre diet.
• Regular exercise can be beneficial.

Foods to Avoid

Liver and liver pates / Cod liver oil
Large quantities should be avoided as contain high levels of Vitamin A, which can harm baby. It is important that pregnant women do not take un-prescribed or non-pregnancy vitamin supplements, as these may be high in vitamin A.

Caffeine
Found in coffee, tea and cola type drinks. Limit to 2 cups daily. Can reduce iron absorption and affect body weight of baby.

Alcohol
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can damage the unborn child, and in severe cases can result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Pregnant women should avoid alcohol during pregnancy.

Tuna fish
Food Standards Agency in UK recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women limit their consumption of tuna to no more than two medium sized cans of tuna / one fresh tuna steak per week (due to mercury levels in fish).

Peanuts
The incidence of peanut allergy is increasing and the reaction can be severe. The risk of allergy is increased if parents suffer from allergic disease e.g. asthma, hay fever.
If from this background, then avoidance of peanuts while pregnant and breastfeeding may help to reduce risk of infant developing allergy.
Note: Many manufactured products can contain peanut traces.

Listeriosis
Causes by bacterium listeria monocytogenes Infection can lead to stillbirth, or delivery of an acutely ill infant.
Avoid foods that contain significant amounts of organism:
• soft ripened cheeses, e.g. Brie, Camembert, cheese made from goats or sheep milk,
blue veined cheese.
• unpasteurised milk or any products made from this
• Pre-cooked or ready-prepared cold foods which will not be reheated e.g. purchased
salads, pates, quiches, cold meat pies.

Salmonellosis
Severe infection can trigger miscarriage or premature labour
Avoid:
• raw eggs or products containing raw eggs e.g. cold soufflés, mayonnaise
• raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish and shellfish. Meat and fish that are ‘smoked’ or
‘cured’ are unsuitable unless fully cooked. Steaks should be ‘well-done’.

Toxoplasmosis
Commonly found in raw meat, unpasteurised milk and cat faeces
Advise avoidance of same, also
• Wear gloves when gardening
• Wear gloves when handling cat litter trays
• Ensure good hygiene if cat has access to kitchen
• Always wash fruit and vegetables.
• Take care when eating out, especially if abroad, to always avoid raw vegetables and
salad and un-peeled fruit.

Simplifying Childhood May Protect Against Mental Health Issues

Passionate writer, mother and founder of the natural parenting blog Raised Good, a heart-driven platform providing knowledge, power and courage

When my dad was growing up he had one sweater each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his sweater. If the elbows got holes in them my grandma patched them back together. If he lost his sweater he’d recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviours. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68 per cent went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37 per cent increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

As a new parent I find this both empowering and terrifying. We officially have a massive opportunity and responsibility to provide an environment in which our children can thrive physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, what are we getting wrong and how can we fix it?

The Burden Of Too Much

Early in his career, Payne volunteered in refugee camps, where children were dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes them as, “jumpy, nervous, and hyper-vigilant, wary of anything novel or new.”

Years later Payne ran a private practice in England, where he recognized many affluent children were displaying the same behavioural tendencies as the children he’d seen living in war zones. Why would these children living perfectly safe lives show similar symptoms?

Modern day children are exposed to a constant flood of information which they can’t process or rationalize.

Payne explains that although they were physically safe, mentally they were also living in a war zone of sorts.

“Privy to their parents’ fears, drives, ambitions, and the very fast pace of their lives, the children were busy trying to construct their own boundaries, their own level of safety in behaviours that weren’t ultimately helpful.”

Suffering with a “cumulative stress reaction” caused by the snowballing effect of too much, children develop their own coping strategies to feel safe. Parents and society are conscious of the need to protect our children physically but safeguarding mental health is more obscure.

Modern day children are exposed to a constant flood of information which they can’t process or rationalize. They’re growing up faster as we put them into adult roles and increase our expectations of them. So, they look for other aspects of their life they can control.

The Four Pillars Of Excess

Naturally as parents we want to provide our kids with the best start in life. If a little is good, we think more is better, or is it?

We enrol them in endless activities. And fill every space in their rooms with educational books, devices and toys with the average western child having in excess of 150 toys. With so much stuff children become blinded and overwhelmed with choice.

They play superficially rather than becoming immersed deeply and lost in their wild imaginations.

Simplicity Parenting encourages keeping fewer toys so children engage more deeply with the ones they have. Payne describes the four pillars of excess as having too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed.

When children are overwhelmed they lose the precious down time they need to explore, reflect and release tension. Too many choices erodes happiness, robbing kids of the gift of boredom which encourages creativity and self-directed learning.

Protecting Childhood

Similar to the anecdote slowly turning up the heat and boiling the unsuspecting frog, so too has society slowly chipped away at the unique wonder of childhood, redefining it and leaving our kid’s immature brains drowning trying to keep up. Many refer to this as a “war on childhood.”

Developmental Psychologist David Elkins reports kids have lost more than 12 hours a week of free time per week in the last two decades meaning the opportunity for free play is scarce. Even preschools and kindergartens have become more intellectually-oriented. Many schools have eliminated recess so children have more time to learn.

The time children spend playing in organized sports has been shown to significantly lower creativity as young adults, whereas time spent playing informal sports was significantly related to more creativity. It’s not the organized sports themselves destroying creativity but the lack of down time. Even two hours per week of unstructured play boosted children’s creativity to above-average levels.

Parents Take Charge

So, how do we as parents protect our kids in this new “normal” society has created?

Simple, we say no. We protect our kids and say no, so we can create space for them to be kids. No, Sam can’t make the birthday party on Saturday. No, Sophie can’t make soccer practice this week.

And we recreate regular down time providing a sense of calm and solace in their otherwise chaotic worlds. It provides a release of tension children know they can rely on and allows children to recover and grow, serving a vital purpose in child development.

We filter unnecessary busyness and simplify their lives. We don’t talk about global warming at the dinner table with a seven year old. We watch the news after our kids are asleep. We remove excessive toys and games from our toddler’s room when they’re sleeping. We recreate and honour childhood.

Our children have their whole lives to be adults and to deal with the complexities of life, but only a fleetingly short time in which they can be kids. Silly, fun loving kids.

Childhood serves a very real purpose. It’s not something to “get through.” It’s there to protect and develop young minds so they can grow into healthy and happy adults. When society messes too much with childhood, young brains react. By providing a sense of balance and actively protecting childhood we’re giving our children the greatest gift they’ll ever receive.

A version of this post originally appeared on raisedgood.com. You can also find Tracy on Facebook and Instagram.

Parents Plus: Parenting When Separated

From Parentstop.ie

Parentstop Ltd in collaboration with the Parent Hub Donegal and with funding from IPB is offering the Parents Plus programme entitled Parenting When Separated. The programme is being rolled out across Co Donegal and is coming to a venue near you soon.

This programme is for parents who are preparing for, going through or have gone through a separation or divorce.  It is about:

  • Solving co-parenting problems in a positive way that focuses on the needs of children
  • Coping with the emotional impact of separation and learning stress management techniques
  • Helping your children to cope with the impact of the separation both emotionally and practically
  • Enhancing communication with your children and with the children’s other parent

 

 Previous participants on the programme shared the following:

  • “I have to accept that we are no longer partners but we will always be parents.”
  • “I need to be considering the situation from my child’s point of view.”
  • “It was an eye opener to hear different point s of view on co-parenting.”
  • “I need to be really listening to my child’s voice.”

Places are free to all who are co-parenting. If you are interested in attending or want more information please give Gertrude Houton a call on 074 9177249 or text on 086 8863674.

Why Do Parents and Children Fight?

An article from onefamily.ie ’10 ways’ Parenting Series

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Jane Farrell

How many parents argue with their child on a daily basis? If you find yourself arguing with your children then you need to press pause and re-examine what is going wrong.

Parents can get into power struggles with very young children. It can start from toddler time when parents are unable or unclear about how to set appropriate boundaries with children and then they start to wonder who is in charge.

Setting boundaries and clear rules with children from infancy is the key to parenting successfully. Parents must assert themselves in their role as the parent. Children must understand from a very young age that the parent must take the lead. Of course, it’s also important to listen to children, to ask them what they think, what they need, what they want and how they see things working. You must involve them in decisions made in the family.

Here are our ’10 ways’ to help resolve these issues:

  1. Identify the key issue you have. Sit with your child and tell them what the issue is.
  2. Ask them what they think and how they feel about it. You can work with children in this way from as young as three years old. Never underestimate children.
  3. Hear what your child has to say about the issue and tell them what you would like to see happen.
  4. Ask them to come up with ideas of how you can work together to solve the issue. Children will have a lot to say when they feel safe to express themselves. Give them permission to say what they would like.
  5. Be open and creative about their ideas. Don’t just shoot them down or they will not see the point in expressing their opinion. Remember children should be active participants in their lives. Make sure they know you value what they have to say.
  6. Facilitate them to come up with plans and ideas. You may have to use games or art work to help them talk and express feelings. Once children become familiar with this style of parenting they will get better at it. What a great life skill you will be teaching them.
  7. When all the ideas are on the table, agree a plan, write it down or draw pictures to show the plan if children are very young. Then put the plan up somewhere so everyone can see it.
  8. Everyone in the family should have a part to play in the plan. You as the parent are the person in charge of ensuring the plan is implemented. You need to find ways to support children to follow through on their part of the plan.
  9. You need to find ways to support yourself to follow through too. Remember you are in this position because you find it hard to make rules and stick with them so finding ways to stick with the plan is key to role modelling for your child. Both you and your children will be delighted when you resolve issues together.
  10. If you start with something small that you can be successful in this will support you to look at the next issue and develop more plans together. If your child is under 3 years old and you feel you cannot involve them in this type of process, you can still work through many of the issues yourself. Draw out a map of what is wrong and write down all the ideas you come up with. Explore your needs, the child’s needs and then come up with plans to meet the needs. Put some rules in place for yourself to help you stick with it. Making changes can be hard and parenting in this way if you are not familiar with this style will take time, but if you stick with it you will see positive changes.

This week’s ‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or emailsupport@onefamily.ie