Magnesium in Pregnancy
Did you know that 60-90% (depending on age group)(1) of reproductive aged women are not consuming enough Magnesium in America? This is a big problem, and even more so in pregnancy. In prenatal nutrition, we have heard about the need for things like Folate (please don't use Folic Acid), but we have not heard much on the need for Magnesium. Possibly because the goal of prenatal nutrition is to grow healthy babies, not the functional health of the mother. With the increasing rise of maternal health issues and death, this needs to change. (I am taking a little bump off my last post where I discussed how disappointed I am in the prenatal vitamins available in the market. If you want to know why, "Your Prenatal Vitamin Sucks" click here.)
Eating Liver in Pregnancy - Is it Safe?
I received a wonderful comment on another blog post of mine, "Top 10 Foods to Prepare for Labor and Delivery." In that post I list Liver as one of my Labor and Delivery prep superfoods. The commenter brought up the concern that liver is an extremely rich source of Vitamin A, and excess Vitamin A in pregnancy is associated with birth defects. Her concern was that I may be giving out dangerous information in regards to suggesting liver consumption for labor preparation. I truly welcome these comments and concerns, as they offer an avenue for discussion, and this is a great topic of discussion.
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a prenatal and postpartum condition that is hallmarked by gestational hypertension and the presence of protein in the urine. It occurs in approximately 5-8% of pregnant women, and can be life threatening. Woman who have had preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it again.
Symptoms can include:
It is a very serious condition, but there are ways to lessen the incident. There is research that supports nutritional deficiencies to play a role in the onset of the disease.
Top 10 Foods for Childbirth Preparation
First off, I want to thank you for following along on this series. I have been really excited for this one. I am sure there are parts that I missed, or questions that have arisen. Please feel free to email me, or comment below. I love discussion.
To top of this series, I want to simplify it a bit. I want to list my FAVORITE foods for preparing for labor and delivery. Some of these may seem different from what you've been told during pregnancy. That's okay, we are trying to deliver a baby at this point, and some of the nutritional needs change slightly. If you have a medical condition (such as diabetes) than some of these foods (like bananas) may not be an option.
Microbiome Diversity & Childbirth
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria in and on our bodies. We have a symbiotic relationship with them. More and more research is pointing to the benefits and necessity of a healthy microcolony.
As it applies to labor and delivery, probiotics are extremely important, influencing not only the health and labor outcome of the mother, but the health of the infant into adulthood.
Other Aspects of Childbirth Health
It seems to me that there is so much emphasis put on the progression of labor, that we fail to address the many other aspects to the process.
The Amniotic sac and the fluid it contains is as crucial to the initiation of labor as it is a home for the growing infant.
Cervical Ripening - The Key to Natural Labor
All of the processes leading up to delivery are important. A hiccup with any one and normal natural labor and delivery is affected.
That being said though, . If the door cannot open, the baby cannot pass. If the cervix cannot soften and efface, then no amount of contracting will delivery your baby.
Even research supports this. There are a couple of comparative studied out there that compare induction methods (synthetic oxytocin, synthetic PGE2, and Hyaluronic Acid - we'll bring this up later in the is article). In this study they found that women who showed no ripening and were induced with synthetic oxytocin, had longer labors, and more cesarean deliveries. Why? Because they were missing a huge part of the process...the cervical ripening. Add in Prostaglandins to cause cervical ripening and inductions so quicker and with fewer cesareans as compared to pitocin inductions only. But, there is still a high rate of cesarean delivery with both inductions methods.
They are both missing the key to every process that goes on in our body, nutrition. As you'll see as we go along here, if you have any of the several nutritional deficiencies associated with cervical ripening, you cannot progress. I believe the body is capable of delivering babies...if giving the correct tools (nutrients) to do so.
Hormones in Childbirth
In the female reproductive system, there is a delicate play between Estrogen and Progesterone. The yin and the yang in TCM of the reproductive system; Estrogen is the yin cooling aspect, and Progesterone is the yang warming aspect.
Both Progesterone and Estrogen are steroid hormones. Meaning they are made from cholesterol...there it is again. If your body doesn't have enough cholesterol, you cannot make steroid hormones (this includes Vitamin D, which is technically a steroid hormone).
Oxytocin - The Elvis of Childbirth
Now that we know a little bit about the biology of natural labor, and the beginning of how the hormones play off of each and other and work in the body, let's dig a little deeper.
I wanted to start off with oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the key players in the birthing game. Without oxytocin, the uterus cannot contract, the cervix cannot efface or dilate, and natural birth does not occur.