Dieting During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Today’s post is all about dieting during pregnancy, and whether or not it’s the best idea. All of the advice provided here is based on guidelines set by the American Pregnancy Association (APA).

As a general rule, dieting to lose weight during pregnancy is generally not healthy for the baby. This is because you can deprive yourself of vital nutrients like folic acid and iron. While modifying your diet can actually be a good thing, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough calories and nutrients to help your baby develop.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when considering modifying your diet during pregnancy:

1. Increase your caloric intake, but not by as much as you think.

Pregnancy is a great opportunity to calibrate your eating habits in a healthy way. While it is important to consume more calories than you would when not pregnant, it is recommended that you only increase your intake by 300 calories a day.

2. Cover all the food groups.

According to the APA, you should try to eat a variety of foods from the various food groups. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Aim for fruits high in vitamin C (like oranges, grapefruit and honeydew) and vegetables rich in folic acid (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts). Dark, leafy vegetables are always a great idea. Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit and four or more servings of vegetables daily.
  • Breads and Grains – Whole grains can provide important nutrients like iron, fiber and B vitamins. And enriched foods like cereal can also provide much-needed vitamins. Try to stray from processed foods, and aim for 6-11 servings (ounces) of breads/grains daily, depending on your dietary needs.
  • Protein – It’s recommended that you have at least three servings of protein daily. You can get this from various sources: lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and quinoa.
  • Dairy – Calcium is one of the most important elements to a healthy pregnancy diet. If you do not consume enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will take what calcium it needs from your bones. There are various dairy products that are good sources of calcium, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or are lactose intolerant, you can also find calcium in green vegetables, beans and dried peas. Aim for four servings of dairy (or its equivalents) daily.
3. Ensure your vitamin intake is where it needs to be.

There are certain vitamins and nutrients that are integral to the development of your unborn child. Ensure you have a comprehensive prenatal vitamin and are getting the following vitamins/nutrients daily:

  • 70 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.4 mg of folic acid
  • 27 mg of protein
  • 1000 mg of calcium
  • 27 mg of iron

At the end of the day, it’s always a good idea to consult with your health care provider on what will work best for you throughout your pregnancy. But hopefully these tips are a good jumping off point to help you make informed decisions to help your baby and yourself be the healthiest you can be.

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How to Count Kicks

Counting kicks in the third trimester is a great, non-invasive way for you to bond with your baby, monitor their health, and get to know his or her personality before they’re even born! Non-profit organization Healthy Birth Day, Inc. created the Count the Kicks campaign nearly a decade ago after research showed that tracking baby movements can lead a mom to save her baby if she notices a change in movement and tells her provider when she notices a difference. The campaign saved three babies within ten weeks last year, all because moms were tracking movement and spoke up when they noticed a reduction in their babies’ movements.

Time to Start Counting!

Count the Kicks and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend you start counting at 28 weeks of pregnancy, or 26 weeks in a high-risk pregnancy. Here’s how you do it:

  • Download the FREE Count the Kicks app, available in iTunes and Google Play online stores.
  • Count the Kicks every day, preferably at the same time.
  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active.
  • Sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements as one kick and tap the foot on the app until you reach ten movements. After a few days, you will begin to see a pattern for your baby (how long it takes you to get to ten).
  • Most of the time it will take less than a half hour, but every baby is different.
  • Knowing what is a normal movement pattern for your baby is key. When “normal” changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and an indication to call your provider.

Innovative App

The free Count the Kicks app will help you record the amount of time it takes your baby to get 10 movements and will save your kick counting sessions. The Count the Kicks app is available in English and Spanish, counts for single babies and twins, sends a daily text or calendar reminder, and can be used in consultation with your doctor. You can also log your times into a manual Count the Kicks chart.

Baby Movement Myth

Baby movements do not slow down at the end of pregnancy. While babies may run out of room for somersaults, they still move all the way up to and even during labor. Your baby’s movement pattern (how long it takes your baby to get to 10 movements) should remain the same throughout your pregnancy.

Be Empowered to Count the Kicks

Since Count the Kicks launched in Iowa in 2008, the state’s stillbirth rate has decreased 26 percent while the rest of the country’s stillbirth rate has remained relatively stagnant. Join the powerful movement by downloading the free app during pregnancy and tell every pregnant mom you know about the importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester. You never know who you might save!

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Tips for Keeping your Baby Healthy and Safe in the Cold

If you’re due to give birth during the winter or will have a newborn or young baby during the winter, it’s important to be educated about the hazards of cold weather on your baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the physiology of babies and children leaves them unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as adults, and this can cause serious health problems if exposed to extreme temperatures.

Here are some common winter scenarios in which your baby may be faced with extreme cold, and how to remedy the situation.

In the Car

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important to remove any coats or snowsuits before putting baby in the car. The extra space created by the padding may compress in an accident, leaving enough space for baby to slip out. To keep baby warm in a cold car, be prepared with a blanket to use over the straps once baby is strapped in. Once the car heats up, you can easily pull it off.

Sleeping at Night

Despite the cold temperatures, it’s important that baby still sleeps alone in the crib, without any blankets, pillows, or other loose items. To combat the cold weather, dress baby in a warm sleeper such as a sleep sack. Remember, overheating is a risk factor for SIDS, so don’t overdo it with the layers.

Attending Outdoor Festivities

If your baby is still a newborn, it’s perfectly okay to skip the outdoor festivities when it’s too cold outside. Keeping your baby home and unexposed to cold temperatures or germs is never a bad choice. If the temperature isn’t below freezing or uncomfortable and baby is healthy, the rule of thumb for dressing is to put baby in one more layer than you would wear. Don’t forget warm socks, boots, mittens, and a hat! However, pay close attention to baby’s temperament and appearance. If you notice red cheeks, blue lips, a pale nose, or cold extremities, it’s probably time to head indoors. Similarly, if baby’s body seems hot and sweaty, they may be too hot and need a layer removed.

Avoiding Illness

Cold and flu germs abound in the winter, and because your baby’s immune system is still young and immature they are more susceptible to getting sick than you. The two best things you can do to reduce baby’s risk of getting sick, besides staying current with your vaccinations, are:

1) Wash your hands frequently and correctly, and

2) Avoid exposure

Keep baby away from infected people and crowds. When you go out, be sure to sanitize public surfaces you touch, and to wash your hands as soon as you come home. If you’re breastfeeding, continue to do so because as your body creates antibodies to defend against germs you come in contact with, it passes the antibodies to baby through the breastmilk, strengthening baby’s immune system.

Follow these tips to help keep your baby safe and healthy this cold winter season.

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Dressing Baby for Winter

Babies are not able to regulate their body temperatures as adults, so it’s important to be attentive to their needs as the temperature changes during the fall and winter. Your baby is not able to tell you if they’re cold, hot, or uncomfortable, so it’s up to you to learn their cues for discomfort or distress and do your best to be proactive about keeping them warm. Here are some tips for dressing your baby this winter.

Remember car seat safety

Safety is always priority, and it’s important for all parents to know that jackets, coats, and blankets can cause car seat straps to be loose and unsafe. Always remove your baby’s coat before strapping baby in the car seat. I always keep some blankets in my car so that once baby is strapped, I can tuck a blanket around my son, on the outside of the straps, so that he stays warm but is still securely fastened in his car seat.

Hats with straps

Babies can lose a lot of heat through their heads, so use a hat to protect their head from the cold. Easier said than done though, right? What baby wants to keep a hat on their head? Thankfully, a lot of coats and bodysuits come with hoods that are not easy for a baby to pull down. Using hats with chin straps will also help it to stay put and prevent baby from ripping it off. This adorable hat from Old Navy will keep baby warm and stay put.

Mittens with Velcro

Keeping baby’s hands warm can also be a challenge. Nothing seems to like to stay put on those little hands, and gloves and mittens seem to slide right off on their own. Look for mittens that have a wrist Velcro strap so that they cannot easily slide off. Also, while they are little it will be MUCH easier to get mittens on those chunky hands than gloves. I learned the hard way not to even bother trying to find gloves that fit and then wrangle those wiggly fingers into each glove finger if I did happen to find baby gloves.

Furry bear suits

Full furry bear suits are a classic warm full-body staple for your baby. We love this one from LL Bean, it’s perfect for a girl or a boy and looks so soft. This is a great way to add a layer of lighter clothing so that you can adjust if you’ll be going in and out, perhaps during a shopping trip, parade, or other holiday event.

Safe Sleep

Keeping baby warm at night while keeping them safe can be a challenge because loose bedding such as blankets and pillows are dangerous and should not be used. Overheating your baby is also dangerous and is a risk factor for SIDS, so if the temperature in your home stays at a comfortable level, your baby might only need a onesie under some footed pajamas, and perhaps a sleep sack.

What tips would you add to help new parents dress their babies for winter?

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