We all know how important it is to eat a healthy diet-not only while pregnant but always. Well, researchers in Sweden and Norway have shown that women who eat a ‘Traditional” or “Prudent” diet, a diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish and primarily water to drink had lower rates of preterm labor. The study also showed that the “traditional” diet pattern emphasized boiled potatoes, fish, low-fat milk, and cooked vegetables. While it is no new news that a healthy diet promotes a healthy pregnancy and healthy birth outcomes, the specifics indicated in this study published online in the March 4, 2014 British Journal of Medicine show that this diet has the ability to reduce the risk of preterm labor and preterm birth.
Linda Englund-Ogge, MD from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Clinical Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenberg, Sweden and her colleagues sought to determine if there was any association between a mama’s dietary intake and her birth outcome. The researchers looked at 66,000 pregnant women in Norway between 2002 and 2008 and they defined a “traditional” or “prudent” diet as having a proportionately high intake of Fresh and steamed vegetables, fruits, oils, whole-grain cereals, and fiber-rich bread, with water as the predominant beverage. (In contrast, the “Western” dietary pattern had high consumption of salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts, and processed meat products.) Controlling for all other cofounding factors, the researhers found that of the 66,000 women, 3505 (5.3%) had preterm births. Women who scored highest for the “traditional” or “Prudent” Diets had significantly lower risks for preterm delivery. Women who adhered to this diet also were less likely to experience spontaneous preterm birth or late phase preterm births. The women with the lowest risk were women pregnant for the first time.
The researchers were unable to say specifically why or what foods specifically influenced the pregnancy outcomes. They write,
“This study showed that women adhering to a ‘prudent’ or a ‘traditional’ dietary pattern during pregnancy were at lower risk of preterm delivery compared with other women”. “Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support dietary advice to pregnant women to eat a balanced diet including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish and to drink water. Our results indicate that increasing the intake of foods associated with a prudent dietary pattern is more important than totally excluding processed food, fast food, junk food, and snacks.”
In light of these findings, Dr Englund-Ogge and her colleagues recommend that health care providers emphasize these dietary selections and recommend that women who are at risk for preterm labor be counseled to make these dietary changes.
So mamas, I know that many of you are on bed rest for preterm labor. Many of you also have lamented that you feel like you are not doing enough to take care of your baby. Well, here is something that you can do! Insist on and eat this “traditional”/”Prudent” diet. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, as well as whole grain and fish intake. This is very interesting as may American Obstetricians tell women to avoid fish, especially tuna, as it may contain mercury. The researchers did not identify any specific types of fish or foods, but as was stated, this “prudent” diet was quite a contrast to the Western (American) Diet. Reduce your intake of sugary and salty snacks. Drink mostly-if not exclusively-water. As some may argue, who knows if this will help? But I argue, it won’t hurt you and if this diet has any benefit whatsoever in helping you to have a healthy, full term baby, then why not??
If you adopt this diet, share your findings and your results in the comments section. It would be great to have such an easy and accessible tool for mamas to use to help prevent preterm labor. Keep us posted!
“Maternal dietay patterns and preterm delivery: results from a large prospective cohort study” BMJ 2014;348:g1446
It’s Video Wednesday, Mamas!
Today I am reviewing the Baby Trend Carseat with the Inertia Controlled Motion Base. This Seat has some really great safety and convenience features! It is a far cry from the seat that I used for my daughter back in 2002-03. It easily latches into most cars, has a unique neck support feature for added support of your infant’s neck and is aesthetically lovely with its broad sun shade and quilted foot cover. If I were in the market for a carseat, this would be it! I feel it’s a bargain at $179.99 retail. But this week, some lucky mama is going to win this carseat! You all have until Friday, March 7th at 11:59 pm CST to submit a comment in the comments section below. I’ll put all the names in a bowl and draw one out. That mama will be our lucky winner. Good Luck Mamas!
I was at an event this weekend and a speaker was speaking about “ecstatic birth”. She was relating her experiences of giving birth; the first, the conventional way in hospital with all sorts of monitoring. For her subsequent two births, she delivered at a birthing center “naturally.” It was a really interesting contrast and as always, I listened to her through the lens of Mamas on Bedrest.
For those of us who have had complications during our pregnancies or childbirths, these types of talks can be difficult to hear. As the speaker was talking about “trusting her body, her body knew what to do”, what do those of us who had preterm labor say? “My body wanted to deliver my baby early (sometimes way too early!!) but it knew what to do?” I had tremendous feelings of inadequacy following the birth of my daughter. She arrived in respiratory distress and I hemorrhaged. Is that “my body knowing what is best”?
A woman was sitting next to me and we began talking. She asked me what I did and I shared with her about Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. Her response, “Wow, I didn’t know so many women had such difficulty.” She really made my weekend! So many people are unaware that bed rest even exists-let alone why it is prescribed and what women who are placed on prescribed bed rest endure. And this woman was really receptive, so I was really able to share with her about bed rest and educate her about bed rest. What started out as a situation in which I could feel myself getting a bit “miffed” (because the inference was that all women’s bodies know what to do and will instinctively do it!) became an opportunity for me to share what I know about high risk pregnancy and what its like when things don’t go perfectly.
Mamas, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if given the choice, if we had our pregnancies to do over again, none of us would choose bedrest! None of us would choose to have complications that are potentially life-threatening to ourselves and/or our babies. But for some reason, we have all had to endure this particular journey. Me, I chose to start Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond because I wanted mamas to have a place to come and easily find information and support about high risk pregnancy. I also want to be a part of the solution, and more and more research and effort is being put towards finding ways to treat women with pregnancy complication using treatments besides bed rest.
But what about you? How will you use this experience? Mamas, you are in a unique position to help other women, other mamas, navigate this crazy thing we call bed rest. Only you can know exactly what another mama is talking about when she says, “I feel so scared and alone.”. You can comfort her like not even her partner can. And you have the skill and expertise-yes, EXPERTISE- to help guide researchers and policy makers about how best to serve Mamas on Bedrest.
We often have researchers ask for your input (Please respond to Dr. Laura Citrin’s survey on the psychological effects of bed rest if you have not already done so!!) and I will continue to present these opportunities for your input as they arise. Bed rest is not easy and yes, there is a lot of controversy in the medical realm as to whether or not physicians should even prescribe bed rest. To date, we know that there is no scientific evidence that bed rest makes a difference in birth outcomes. However, we won’t have anything else if we don’t participate in the studies, share our thoughts and give our input.
So Mamas on Bedrest, help us spread the word about bed rest. Post your comments and experiences in the comments section below. You are an invaluable resource. You are an expert. You very well hold the key to unlocking this bed rest mystery. Don’t turn your back on bed rest as soon as you have your baby. Be a resource-a guide, a support-to another woman coming along. Thank you for helping spread the word about bed rest and making the experience better for other mamas!