Saturday, October 30, 2010

Morning Sickness and the 411 on B6

--> One of the "not so joyous" parts of pregnancy is morning sickness.  The name is kind of deceiving since morning sickness isn't limited to just the morning.  About half of all pregnant women experience it  around week 6.  Many women start feeling relief at week 14 but there is a small percentage who experience nausea and vomiting throughout their entire pregnancy (big hug for those moms).  Of course, just because morning sickness is common and likely to last "only" a few months doesn't mean it's not a challenge. Even a mild case of nausea can wear you down and leave you exhausted and miserable.

So, here's some good news!  Women who experience morning sickness during pregnancy often find relief in taking a B6 supplement. No one knows for sure why this works, but the supplementation of B6 has stood the test of time for effectiveness. Doctors first started prescribing B6 as a morning sickness remedy in the 1940s. Numerous studies since then have shown that taking a higher dose of B6 does have a lessening effect on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

A study performed in China also proved that higher levels of B6 can increase the chance of conception and lower the risk of early term miscarriage. The results were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  The study found that women with B6 levels above 30 had a 40% greater chance of conception and lowered their early miscarriage rate by 30%. Women with lower levels of B6 were negatively impacted by their deficiency. Alayne Ronnenberg, author of the study explains, "We found that poor preconception vitamin B6 status was associated with increased risk of early pregnancy loss and reduced probabilities of conception and clinical pregnancy in a prospective cohort of young Chinese women."

Many prenatal vitamins contain B6. Look for a vitamin that contains a high dose of B6.  Also, talk with your doctor or midwife about your symptoms and the possibilities for relief.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Your Glow On!

What causes that “pregnancy glow” so many women have while pregnant? Poetically speaking, the glow is from the knowledge and anticipation of the life growing inside, as well as healthier eating and living. However, technically it can be linked to an increase in blood volume. Women typically see a gain of 40-50% in blood levels during pregnancy.

This increased blood volume boosts blood flow to the uterus and kidneys and compensates for the blood lost during delivery. Anemia (which is too few red blood cells) can develop during pregnancy from dilution of red blood cells  as a result of the increased volume. The fetus uses the mother’s red blood cells to aid in development, especially during the third trimester.  We moms are, of course, happy to share, but it's important that we take care of ourselves as well. 

How do you know if you have anemia? Some of the signs are: fatigue, dizziness, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, or difficulty breathing. Visit your OBGYN for blood testing to know for sure.

The best prevention for anemia is taking an iron supplement or a prenatal vitamin containing the correct Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) of iron (9mg ).  Sounds easy enough.  Another way to prevent anemia is to start storing iron before you become pregnant. Since iron is stored in bone marrow, a prenatal vitamin used during preconception is helpful.  Any iron stored up before pregnancy can be used during pregnancy to aid in fetal development.

Unfortunately, many women have a hard time tolerating iron during pregnancy, so it is important to try different products until you find one that works for you.  If you have a hard time tolerating the iron in your prenatal vitamin, try another brand that might be better tolerated. Look for a prenatal vitamin containing micro-encapsulated iron, which tends to be gentler on the stomach. The iron is released over time, which alleviates the number one cause of iron-related nausea, iron hitting the stomach all at once.

So get your glow on girls!  Your body and your baby will thank you.