Posts tagged ‘pregnancy donts’

April 12, 2011

burn baby burn

At this stage, I am well and truly feeling one of the more common but less delightful effects of pregnancy – heartburn (also known as indigestion or acid reflux).

Never having experienced before I truly feel for those who suffer from heartburn all the time, and don’t have the relief of knowing it will go away when the baby comes – as I expect mine to.

After having a chat with my doc about it, I’m at least relieved that nothing is wrong (and even more relieved that most heartburn relief/medication is in the safest category for medication during pregnancy).

He did say to keep an eye out for any additional pain in the right hand side of the abdomen, as this could indicate pre-eclampsia, but otherwise heartburn is a perfectly normal and safe side-effect of pregnancy.

So what’s with the ‘burn?

According to bubhub, food usually travels into the stomach where it is digested via stomach acid – luckily for (most of) us the oesophagus has a valve which closes this acid off from the rest of the body.

But in pregnancy?  Firstly, an increase in the hormone progesterone – a relaxant (the same one that loosens up your limbs and multiplies your clumsy factor) – relaxes the valve that closes off the stomach.

This means the valve is less effective at stopping stomach acid heading up the oesophagus, going as far as the mouth.

The good news?  While heartburn may be uncomfortable for now, labour would be a lot less comfortable without the muscle-relaxant qualities an increase in progesterone brings.

Another more obvious reason for the ‘burn? A simple issue of space – the rapidly growing bundle of joy is pushing everything else out of position – including the digestive tract.

And while he advised they are generally safe (check with your doctor or pharmacist first though), to avoid having to take heartburn meds in the first place my doc recommended avoiding high fat foods (ummm…) and chewing extremely well so the stomach doesn’t have to work so hard (didn’t want to tell him you can’t chew ice cream).

Bubhub has some further steps to avoiding heartburn (after reading these, it seems that I might be the culprit here, and cant blame it all on poor old bub!):

  • Avoid trigger foods – some women will experience pregnancy heartburn no matter what they eat, but some foods are known to trigger an episode or make your symptoms worse. As a general rule, avoid fatty foods, chocolate, coffee and cola drinks. Alcohol and cigarettes should be avoided during pregnancy regardless, but they are also associated with acid reflux.
  • Eat in moderation – as large meals will put additional pressure on your stomach’s sphincter valve. You may also experiment with an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a trial and error process – remove one potential trigger food from your diet at a time and see if this helps reduce the incidence and severity of your heartburn. With persistence you may be able to identify which foods are the most problematic for you and eliminate them from your diet permanently.
  • Let gravity help – it can be hard enough getting comfortable with a growing baby inside, but try sitting and sleeping in a more upright position. Gravity will help your stomach acid and food stay where they belong. Try using an extra couple of pillows on your bed at night – it may only take a small elevation to put a stop to nighttime heartburn.
  • Watch your weight – keeping weight within recommended limits will further help reduce pressure on your digestive system. Speak to your health care provider if you’re concerned about your weight.
March 17, 2011

spill the beans

image courtesy of Time Out - Sydney's best coffee

Despite all the horror stories I’d heard about comments from well meaning (?) strangers, today I got my very first unsolicited comment about whether my actions were good for bub.

I was minding my own business, sipping on a latte, when a man in the lift with me looked pointedly at my cup and asked “do you think the baby would be happy with that?”

“Yes,” I said.  “It’s weak!” 

“I don’t think that matters.  It’s probably not a good idea.  If you need a lift you could get the same from some chocolate”.

I felt like asking him if he had really looked at me, or just the cup – I don’t look like a chocolate dodger, that’s for sure.

Instead, I smiled weakly (like my coffee) and hopped out of the lift, saved by the bell.

Even though I have done tons of research into the things I do that could be construed as harmful to the baby, and have found that the majority of research shows that up to 200mg a day of  caffeine causes no harm, he got me thinking. 

And feeling guilty.

So I hopped online to do (another) investigation into caffeine during pregnancy.

Turns out I was right.

However, the helpful gentleman in the lift may have been recalling old guidelines which did indeed dictate that no caffeine at all should be taken during pregnancy.

These days, as reported on ninemsn, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) states that “pregnant woman can drink up to three cups of instant coffee, four cups of tea or four cans of cola each day. But if your daily caffeine fix is an espresso, cappuccino or latte, one a day is the recommended limit.”

BabyCenter reports similar findings (and quotes a 200mg limit as well):

Caffeine is a stimulant; it increases your heart rate and metabolism, which in turn affects your developing baby (OTIS 2006). But while unremitting stress isn’t healthy, brief bouts of fetal stress, such as that your baby would feel after you drink a cup of coffee, shouldn’t cause him any harm. It’s akin to your dashing to the bus, another situation that briefly boosts your heart rate and metabolism.

These guidelines echo most given for pregnancy (and life, in general) – everything in moderation. 

Perhaps during pregnancy, more careful moderation is required (when not pregnant, I tend to go by ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’, but thats not good for me now!)

Like most things it comes down to a personal decision about what you think is ok, and what isn’t.

As one woman said, she weighed up the pros and cons and decided that living with the lack of alertness she gets from her caffeine fix was more dangerous than drinking a small amount of coffee or tea every day.

And while not in any way, shape or form, research based, I mused to my co-worker that half of South America and Europe can’t be wrong.  His response?  “Sure.  But they’re all psycho”.


I think I’ll stick with my boss’ advice, which was not to worry about a cup a day – just avoid it during breastfeeding, for my own sanity if not for baby’s!

PS if you’re interested in the caffeine content of what you’re eating and drinking, see the list at Food Standards.

January 13, 2011

another reason for iphone love – app review

A few weeks ago my iphone informed me that I was going to give birth to a turnip. This week it’s a mango.

Before I’m accused of having some kind of weird fruit and veg fetish, this is just one of the ways the iphone app, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, keeps you up to date with your baby’s progress in an easy to visualise manner.

Each week your home page ‘tracker’ presents you with basic information such as countdown to due date, baby’s weight and yes, a size estimate based on fruit or vegetable rather than just a length/weight figure – great for someone like me with little to no imagination!

Quick and easy to setup – just enter your expected due date and a couple of other options (metric/imperial etc) and you’re ready to receive daily updates on everything from foods to eat and avoid, exercises to stay clear of, how to manage heartburn and so on, along with a weekly more detailed summary and a handy tracker.

There are also regular updates ‘for dads’ – but I suspect these are really regular updates for mums as they usually consist of something along the lines of “tell her she’s beautiful and buy her some flowers, offer to wash up…” – but hey, I’m not complaining!

I wasn’t so impressed at the beginning of the pregnancy when the app told us baby was the size of a lime and my BF said “time to crack open the coronas then”, but I had to giggle.

Can’t wait to see what’s next (although I’m fearful of the day it announces ‘watermelon’!)

January 6, 2011

What NOT to do during pregnancy (oops)

It’s very easy to find lengthy lists about what you shouldn’t do during pregnancy.  Fingers crossed nothing I’ve done has caused any harm to the unborn one, but so far I think I’ve done a great many of them.

Changed kitty litter (BF working away from home – who else was going to do it?), drank wine (small doses), smoked cigarettes (ditto), eaten sushi (but not sashimi), eaten sandwiches with chicken, ham, goats cheese and runny egg (not all together), enjoyed a latte and dyed my hair.

Some will write me off as selfish (quite possibly true) but I’ve found it nigh on impossible to not do any of these things at all – especially at the beginning of the pregnancy when I was getting used to all the restrictions after leading a lifestyle where I did what I want, when I wanted (note:  I’ve also been known to count chocolate and wine as dinner, not floss every day, go to bed without washing my face and eat meat from non-organic sources).

One of my sisters waggled her finger at me, pointing out it’s only 9 months and you can do without anything for that long, but part of me believes if you really, really crave something it’s better to bow to the craving for your mental health if nothing else, so long as you are making the right choices most of the time.

I could be wrong – another friend who previously suffered a late term miscarriage (and now has a healthy 6 month old) admonished me at what seemed like every turn – “how would you feel if something did go wrong?” – but her words never managed to stick 101% of the time.

Another thing that makes these decisions more difficult it the conflicting advice out there.  On the topic of alcohol alone, an article on Essential Baby reports that no alcohol should be consumed at all during pregnancy, followed closely by another article claiming researchers have discovered that low or even moderate alcohol consumption is considered safe.  Another article even ‘confirms’ that low alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to less behavioural problems in children.

I wonder what other ladies out there think – you may have sworn off even the odd glass of champagne but can’t live without your Sunday morning runny egg.  Or you may live like a Buddha all week but sneak a puff of a friends cigarette when out for a weekly decaf. Where do you draw the line?