Diet and Nutrition
In this video blog, Darline Turner shares the Healthy Happy Pregnancy Cookbook. Written by Registered Dieticians Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, the book contains 125 recipes that are not only tasty, but also address many of the common ailments of pregnancy. Today, Darline tries the Blueberry Banana Oat smoothie, designed to give pregnant mamas, most especially mamas on bedrest relief from leg cramps.
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
Mamas, The holidays are upon us and once Thanksgiving hits, its a veritable feeding frenzy until New Year’s and the annual resolution to lose weight and get into shape! I’d like to suggest that since you are on bedrest, you pace yourself. Unlike other years, you aren’t able to offset those holiday goodies with a brisk walk or a trip to the gym. And the added sugar and salt can have serious consequences on your body in the form of constipation and swelling. So go easy and remember these 5 tips for holiday eating while on bedrest.
1. Watch your salt intake. Salt is a staple in cooking and gives food flavor and texture. However, added salt can cause you to retain fluid leading to excessive swelling in your hands and feet which can be more pronounced if you are on bed rest. Added salt can also worsen pregnancy induced high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Watch salty snacks such as salted nuts and nuts. And if you are in my neck of the woods, the land of Honey Baked Hams, limit the amount you eat. It may taste good going down, but the added salt can have serious negative effects for you long term.
2. Maintain or even increase water intake. The above being said, be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of water. While eating salty snacks and foods increases during the holidays, those of us in the colder climates are also running the heat. The air is drier and can cause dehydration. Remember, try to drink half your weight in ounces in water daily. The means if you are 14o lbs, try to drink 70 oz of water. The additional water will help dilute and flush out added salt, help reduce swelling, keep your kidneys happy and your skin from feeling so tight and dry.
3. Limit sugary treats. I say this tongue in cheek because my kids and I are about to embark on our annual cookie bake. We do share the cookies with folks as gifts, but a number are consumed by us! As I say to my children, have enough to have a taste and no more. I know this is hard. Who wants to watch a movie and eat only 1 or 2 cookies? But look on the bright side, you’ll have more to eat in the coming days and less to lose when bed rest is over (and it really does end, I promise!!).
4. Increase your fiber intake. And this doesn’t mean extra servings of peacan pie! One thing you may have noticed being pregnant is that your bowels slow down. This is so that your intestines can draw out the maximum amount of nutrients from your food to give to your baby. For you, this often results in constipation and bed rest does nothing to help this. With the added sweets and yummies during the holidays, try adding some fiber to your diet in the form of nuts and grains. There are some wonderful holiday trail mixes and nut mixes available and they make wonderful gifts at are easily ordered and shipped online.
5. Move. Whaaaaaat???? “But I’m on Bedrest!” You still need to move and its even more critical because you are on bed rest. Each hour you should do a full body stretch series to keep your muscles activated and toned, and to stimulate your circulation. If you don’t know what exercises to do, there is a complete series in our Bedrest Success Kit. You can access them when you join our mailing list. Also, there are several videos of modified exercises for Mamas on Bedrest on the Mamas on Bedrest YouTube Channel. Bedrest Fitness is also available and you can obtain a copy by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Amazon.com. Every hour move your body. Movement is one of your best allies. Be sure to use it during the holidays!
Bedrest adds a complicated twist to the holiday. Just be sure your eating doesn’t complicate your bed rest. Happy Holidays!!