Thursday, January 13, 2011

Caffeine and Pregnancy

What better way to get going in the morning than with a delicious cup of Joe!  However, if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you may need to find a new drink that doesn't contain the glorious stimulant we all know and love - caffeine!

Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby.  While we can usually handle the effects of this stimulant, our little one on board can't.  Your baby's metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully process the caffeine.  Even small amounts of caffeine can cause changes in your baby's sleep pattern and normal movement patterns in the later stages of pregnancy.  It also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy.  Many women find it hard to sleep during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so adding a stimulant may make getting much-needed sleep even harder.

We know that caffeine is not recommended during preconception and pregnancy, but decaffeinated coffees and teas should be avoided as well.  These beverages contain compounds called phenols that can make it hard for your body to absorb iron.  Many pregnant women are already low in iron and this can add to your deficiency.  If you do drink coffee or tea, it's best to have between meals and not with your prenatal vitamin.

The jury is still out on the amount of caffeine that is acceptable.  Some say 150 mg per day, others say 300 mg per day.  The best choice is to cut back on your intake as much as possible.  
Common sources of caffeine include:
* Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259 mg
* Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
* Diet Coke (12 oz) 47 mg
* Coca-Cola (12 oz) 35 mg
* Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
* Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
* Decaffeinated brewed coffee (8oz) 8-13mg (depending on brand)
Your doctor and/or midwife will offer additional advice on foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy.

Decaffeinated drinks (hot chocolate, cider, etc.) are a great option especially during these cold winter months.  Ask your local brew house for some decaf ideas too, you may be surprised at the wonderful yummy drinks that are available!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Folic Acid- The Wonder Vitamin!

--> Getting enough folate is crucial in preventing birth defects and now new research shows it may help prevent premature delivery. Here's what you need to know to give your baby the best possible start.

Spina bifida is the most common form of Myelomeningocele, a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal.  This condition causes the spinal cord and the tissues covering the spinal cord to be exposed.  Myelomeningocele may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants, however, getting enough folate (or folic acid) in your daily diet and through a prenatal supplement, before and during pregnancy, can reduce your baby's risk up to 70%.  Recent research also has found that getting the recommended amount of folate can reduce baby's risk of being born with a cleft lip or cleft palate by one-third.

And as if that's not reason enough to take this amazing B Vitamin, there's more,

The latest research shows a link between folate and the prevention of preterm-birth. In a study of 38,000 women (sponsored by the National Institutes of Health), folate supplementation for at least one year before conception was linked to a 70% decrease in very early preterm deliveries at weeks 20 to 28 and a 50% decline in deliveries at 28 to 32 weeks.

For this wonder vitamin to give you the greatest benefits, you need to start supplementing before conception. Birth defects of the spine and brain occur in the first weeks of pregnancy.  If you are already pregnant, it's ok, don't fret- getting the folate you need is still important.  Both diet and supplementation is necessary.  Most prenatal vitamins contain 800-1,000 micrograms, which is perfect for moms to be and those already pregnant. But don't skimp out on the foods containing folate, like fortified cereals, beans and leafy greens.  Food is the easiest way for your body to absorb folic acid.

For more information, be sure to ask your OBGYN if you're doing all you can do to give your baby the best possible start!