Tag Archives: Pregnancy

Adjusting to Motherhood Part 1

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the Childbearing society about adjusting to parenthood. Just as each person’s journey to parenthood is different so are our experiences. The business of mothering is challenging and complex and varies from one woman to the next.

With the pregnancy of my first child, I thought I knew exactly how things were going to work as a parent.  My child was going to be well-behaved, no rolling in aisle 6 of the local organic grocery store as if on fire, no yelling or having to be carried out of such said store in a football hold as I huffed and puffed to the car.

I was pretty certain that I will just pop out the kid and life will continue as usual with my child strapped to my back or front or side for that matter. Travelling with my husband will commence as usual but with an additional person. We will continue to watch Dexter with junior sleeping sweetly in a bassinet. It never occurred to me that junior will have his own sleep patterns that are not conducive to my schedule.

In preparation for my talk, I decided to do a little bit more research about top complaints/concerns about parenthood. Of course a variety of topics came up with most of them focusing on the psychoemotional aspects of parenthood. I came across a list on the TLC network that pretty much summed up my experience and opinions about parenting thus far.

5. Everyone has an opinion.

Isnt’ this the truth. I got all sorts of advise solicited and unsolicited from people. Everything from how to not let my child ruin my life to the EASY technique. Of course the Eat, Activity, Sleep, Yoo technique was the only thing I took away from the Baby whisperer book. Basically, the baby eats, does an activity after eating (diaper change, read a book, sing a song), sleeps and then you have some time for yourself. A good way to get baby and you on a routine that is baby directed. Take whatever advise works for you and your baby and ignore the rest.

4. Parenthood takes a physical toll.

From sore shoulders to dark circles under your eyes. Being a parent is hard physical work. It can be difficult to find time to take care of yourself with a little one. It is important to continue to exercise even if that means pushing baby around the neighbourhood. Lots of community centers and gyms now offer programs such as baby and me yoga and stroller exercise. For mothers who have had a C section, please consult with your doctor. Treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, yoga, mindfulness based meditation can all help to alleviate the physical toll of parenting.

3. There are days you are going to feel like a failure – but you are not.

As parents we all have our goods days and bad days. Parenting is not always glamorous or what we envision it to be. What really matters is that we try our very best with the purest of intention for our children’s well-being.

2. The relationships in your life will change

Parenting can be very stressful on a marriage and other relationships on your life. It is important to continue to nourish and make time for the relationships that feed us as human beings not just mothers.

1. Parenthood is the hardest thing you will ever do but it is worth it.

Being a parent is not for everyone and that’s ok. No matter the route you took to be a parent, there is nothing as satisfying as watching your child grow in front of you and become an independent human being. It is truly an amazing transformation to witness.

What challenges have you experienced as a mother?

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Top 5 supplements for a healthy pregnancy and baby

As a mother of two boys, maternal and child health are very dear to my heart. Pregnant women in my practice often ask me which supplements they should be taking during their pregnancy. These five supplements are what I recommend to every woman of child-bearing age who might one day get pregnant.  Why you ask? Because these are the supplements that keep on giving. Even after a mother has had her baby, these supplements continue to benefit both the mother and baby.

1. Iron:  is an important vitamin for both maternal and fetal health. It is involved in the transport and storage of oxygen. It is required for energy and it supports the growth and development of the fetus and placenta. It is also involved in brain development and cognition.  Anemia in pregnancy may result in a baby with a low birth weight.

Interestingly enough, iron in breast milk is small but much more absorbable and the amount of iron is more dependent on maternal stored iron. A recent research study found that mother’s that were supplemented with iron during pregnancy had higher iron levels in their breast milk.  Meaning that it is important for pregnant and soon to be pregnant women to have a healthy iron level before they give birth. An anemic mother will lead to an anemic baby once born. Most women at some point or another in their pregnancy become anemic. It is always a good idea to start out with a reservoir of iron instead of a deficiency.

It is important to get a good digestible source of iron that will not cause constipation. My preference is chelated iron bisglycinate. It is relatively inexpensive and it works well. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, pregnant women need 27mg of iron daily. Even if a woman is mildly anemic, I still treat them with supplemental iron due to an increase risk of post partum bleeding.  As always please consult a licensed care provider before taking any supplement.

2. Probiotics: these are microorganisms that live in our entire digestive tract.  Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are the major microorganisms and they play an important role in digestive and immune health. There is research to suggest that maternal levels of bifidobacterium affect infant levels as early as 3 days. Bifidobacterium  readily passes from the breast milk to the nursing baby. Probiotics enhance our immune system, enhance the assimilation and absorption of vital nutrients, promote healthy skin, decrease atopic disease (asthma, allergies, eczema) and act as Group B Strep prophylaxis. While you can get probiotics in supplement form, I always encourage people to get additional probiotics through foods such as sauerkraut, kim chee, yogurt, miso or anything fermented.

3. Omega 3 fatty acids: the 3 main types of essential fatty acids are EPA, DHA and ALA. They are called essential fatty acids because they must be obtained from the diet. EPA and DHA are readily found in seafood such as fish, squid and algae. ALA is mainly found in flaxseeds, soybean oil, canola oil.  I will discuss the problems with soybean and canola oil in a later blog. ALA is not readily converted to DHA by the body so I usually just supplement patients with DHA and EPA. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the mother is the primary source of essential fatty acids. DHA in the developing infant is needed for visual and neurological development, cognition and hand/eye coordination. For pregnant and nursing mothers, essential fatty acids can help with mood stabilization and to banish baby brain.

4.  Vitamin D: with the war against sun exposure in full bloom, Vitamin D deficiency is becoming rampant. I have my issues with the whole everyone must wear sunscreen year round campaign but this is not the place for that discussion. Being a physician in the Pacific Northwest, I see and treat a lot of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is now becoming a significant public health concern especially the further  away  you are from the equator. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to gestational diabetes, pre eclampsia, infection, Cesarian section and fetal growth restriction. Vitamin D in addition to calcium is also required for proper bone development. A recent paper published in February of this year suggested that supplementation may be a simple way to reverse adverse risk factors associated with low Vitamin D status. A licensed health care practitioner can check your Vitamin D status for you and suggest an appropriate Vitamin D dosage based on your lab results.

5. Prenatal Vitamin: research is just now starting to focus on the role of micronutrients in pregnancy outcomes. According to recent research,  reduction in  essential micronutrients may contribute to recurrent spontaneous abortions.   A good quality prenatal will provide you with all the important micronutrients such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper, chromium, manganese among others. In addition, these vitamins and minerals will be in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. Not all supplements are created equally. For example, most supplement companies sell magnesium in oxide form. This form is not readily absorbed by the body whereas the malate or citrate form is much better absorbed. I always advise women to start taking their prenatal vitamins well before they are thinking of getting pregnant. The worse thing that can happen is your hair grows thicker and faster. I also tell women that they need to think of their  womb as a garden. The egg and sperm represent the seed. In order to get a good yield of produce, you have to prepare your garden and fertilize it preferable with organic manure. When you have good soil and good seed, you have a good harvest. Pregnancy is no different.

Are there any supplements you find helpful for pregnancy and post partum?