Prenatal Nutrition

Mamas on Bedrest: Pregnancy Safe Ways to Prevent Infections

May 15th, 2013

Hello Mamas!!

In this video blog, I share information on pregnancy safe ways to prevent infections. Pregnancy overloads a woman’s system and consequently she is not as readily able to ward off infections or to fight them when she does become ill.

As discussed in previous blogs, it is essential that pregnant women have adequate Vitamin D levels, to supplement with fish oil rich in the Omega 3 Fatty Acids docosaheaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), to drink lots of water, get lots of rest and to eat a nutrient dense diet. In this video blog I offer a few other suggestions to help mamas on bed rest keep their bodies healthy and strong. On an additional note, I forgot to include probiotics that are helpful against yeast infections. They are found in most yogurts and can also be taken as supplements.

How are you staying healthy while on Bedrest? Share your tips in the comments section below this video. If you have more questions, feel free to e-mail me at



Mamas on Bedrest: A Healthy Start Improves Outcomes

April 5th, 2013

I love it when research confirms what I already know and am doing.

Shelley Wilkinson and H. D. McIntyre started a program in Australia called “Healthy Start To Pregnancy” in Australia. Their premise was that women given information and tangible guidance at the beginning of and during pregnancy will have better outcomes.

ks15442wThe researchers compared 182 “Usual Care” women, i.e. women who received routine prenatal care from the Maternity Hospital to 178 women who enrolled in the Healthy Start to Pregnancy Program, a low intensity, behavior modification program. The program consisted of (2) one hour prenatal workshops (one at the start of the program and one midway through) presenting information on healthy nutrition, exercise , information on smoking cessation, information on appropriate weight gain and Breastfeeding education . The women who participated in the program were also given written information to which they could refer. The researchers found that approximately half of the study women completed the study. The researchers found that significantly more women in the study met the prenatal guidelines for consumption of fruits and vegetables and for exercise than women not in the study. The study women were also more likely to be in range for appropriate weight gain. There was not a significant difference between women who quit smoking or intended to breast feed between the study and non-intervention groups.

moms2I believe that studies of this nature are important and highlight some really important habits that we here in the United States need to notice. While most (but not all!) women in the United States have access to good quality prenatal care, just as it was shown here, medical prenatal care alone is not enough to ensure healthy prenatal outcomes. Women need tangible information and as this study shows, having access to support and guidance further enhances outcomes.  Many obstetrical offices offer birthing classes and breastfeeding basics. But classes targeted specifically to prenatal nutrition and exercise have significant impact on compliance and on outcomes.

One thing that the researchers noted and I have seen in my practice as well, programs have to be easily accessible so women can participate. Hospital based programs, while often good aren’t always the best venues. Many women get their prenatal care at offices that may be close to work but would prefer to exercise closer to home for example. Other women may only have access to public transportation so they will make the trek to see their health care providers but not necessarily for a fitness or nutrition class. And when I was teaching prenatal fitness, having childcare was a must-especially at morning classes. Now add the twist of women on bed rest and we now need to integrate technology so that ALL mamas can reap the benefits of these proven behavior strategies.

morganWe’re getting there. As awareness of the necessity of behavior modification during pregnancy (and during many other phases of a woman’s life) rises, my hope is that the US medical community will recognize the great benefit of such programs on health and promote more of these programs. As you all know, I am “Pro Action”, working to maintain rather than fix once broken. I believe that if in the US we can adopt a more “Pro-Action” stance, especially as it pertains to pregnancy and prenatal care, we can improve outcomes as well as improve women’s overall pregnancy experiences.

Mamas on Bedrest: Your Diet and Your Risk for Gestational Diabetes

February 11th, 2013

ks15442wMamas, eating a diet that is high in red meat increases your risk for gestational diabetes while eating a diet that is rich in plant protein- such as nuts-lowers your risk of gestational diabetes.

We are all well aware that eating too much red meat puts you at increased for cardiovascular disease, strokes, increased long term weight gain and type II diabetes. But now researchers have note that high red meat consumption is also detrimental to pregnant women, putting them at increased risk for gestational diabetes.  But there is some good news in all of this. Researchers at the  Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland report that pregnant women who eat a primarily plant based protein diet have a significantly lower risk for developing gestational diabetes. This study data was published in the February 1, 2013 edition of Diabetes Care.

The researchers analyzed pre-pregnancy food questionnaires for 15,294 women, which resulted in a total of 21,457 singleton pregnancies, including 870 first time gestational diabetics. After adjusting for such confounding factors such as Body Mass Index (BMI), age, number of pregnancies and dietary history (including cholesterol history) they found that red meat intake was associated with a significantly higher risk for development of gestational diabetes when compared with diets high in plant based protein consumption. The authors also looked at alternative animal proteins such as poultry and fish consumption. Diets rich in these proteins also resulted in lower risk of developing gestational diabetes, but even their risks were higher when compared with plant based protein intake.

So how big a deal is red meat versus plant protein intake on the development of Gestational Diabetes? Here is what the researchers actually found:

The substitution of 5% energy (food intake) from vegetable protein for animal protein was associated with a 51% lower risk of GDM . The substitution of red meat with poultry, fish, nuts, or legumes showed a significantly lower risk of GDM.

In plain English, that means that women who ate diets high in red meat had a 29% higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes. On the other hand, if they decreased their red meat consumption by 5% and substituted nuts for the red meat, they lowered their risk for developing Gestational Diabetes by 51%. This is HUGE!! This risk reduction is even greater than what is seen when red meat is substituted with poultry or fish (which both significantly reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, just not as dramatically as replacing red meat with nuts.)

The researchers also found:

Substituting 1 serving per day of total red meat with a more healthful protein source was associated with a 29% lower risk for GDM for poultry, 33% for fish, 51% for nuts, and 33% for legumes (beans).

These numbers are staggering. Yet they also clearly indicate that small dietary changes can have significant impact on our health. If you have a history of Gestational Diabetes  (in a previous pregnancy) or have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, you may want to discuss dietary changes with your doctor  and consider exchanging your intake of red meat for other animal proteins (poultry or fish) or for vegetable sources of protein if you consume large amounts of red meat.  Even if you don’t consume large amounts of red meat, if you have developed Gestational Diabetes and do eat red meat, you may want to consult with your doctor or a nutritionist about making changes to your diet to improve your sugar metabolism and to stabilize your blood sugars.



Medscape Medical News

Wei Bao, MD, PHD,  Katherine Bowers, PHD,  Deirdre K. Tobias, SCD, Frank B. Hu, MD, PHD,  and Cuilin Zhang, MD, PHD                           Pre-regnancy Dietary Protein Intake, Major Dietary Protein Sources, and the Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care, February 1, 2013