Summer Pregnancy: Tips to Beat That Heat

Comfort in pregnancy can be hard to come by. Comfort in the summer while pregnant is even more of a challenge. This summer, don’t let that summer heat get you beat. Below you find several tips and tricks to stay cool (& hydrated) during some of the hottest months of the year.

  • Getting fresh air can be vital to your mental and emotional health when pregnant. But does the thought of that make you want to wilt? Try this. Do the outdoor tasks (such as walking or exercise) in the morning or early evening when the sun in lower and the temperatures aren’t as scorching. 
  • Your clothing can contribute to the heat your body feels. Try wearing light-colored clothes that are light and breathable. This alone can make a huge difference. 
  • Remember to stay hydrated. Sports drinks with electrolytes can help replace lost salt and retain fluid. Be mindful of sugar content though!
  • A spray bottle of water can help refresh your face and neck.
  • Quick showers throughout the day can drop your body temperature and help you to stay cool.
  • Take frequent naps, if you’re able. This is the time in life where sleep really is benefiting you and another little human you are nourishing. 
  • Ask for help if you’re too tired to cook or run errands!
  • Put feet up. This helps to alleviate swelling and also forces you to relax a bit. 

Being pregnant in the summer (or delivering your baby) means that you and baby are able to get outside a bit, which could be helpful in the postpartum healing process. Stay cool, mamas! 

Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Dynamic Duo

moxibustion acupuncture

What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.

Moxa is usually made from the dried leafy material of Chinese mugwort, but it can be made of other substances as well to achieve the same goal.

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the method of treatment based on influencing the body by inserting needles in the specific points of human body, called acupoints. The name originates from Latin and literally means “inserting needles” – Latin “acus” – needle and„ “punctura” – to needle/to stick needles.

Why are these two therapies often used as a pair?
Practitioners often pair the two therapies because it is believed that the two of these together can be more effective when the diagnosis allows for it, such as a breech presentation of baby.

 

How can this double therapy be helpful in pregnancy?
This powerful pair is often used in relation to breech baby presentation which typically appears around 20+ weeks of pregnancy. This happens in about 4% of all pregnancies. Many times, baby turns on his/her own and no further treatment is needed. However, when approaching the end of pregnancy with a breech baby, these two ancient Chinese therapies could find themselves extremely useful! A study in 2009 showed that these two methods were, in fact, effective in changing the presentation of the baby.

The conclusion of the study is as follows: Acupuncture plus moxibustion is more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth.

The Call for Limiting Ultrasounds During Pregnancy

ultrasound pregnacy

Fetal ultrasound is a method of viewing a fetus while in the womb. Ultrasound technology uses
sound waves, that bounce off the baby’s mass, to produce a picture of the baby. While both the
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Food and Drug Administration
both agree that limiting fetal ultrasound is important, some doctors continue to insist on
frequently looking at baby in-utero without caution.

To avoid unnecessary viewing of your unborn baby, ask why an ultrasound is necessary.
Oftentimes, doctors utilize certain technology simply because it’s readily available without taking
into account the potential risks at-hand. In the case of fetal ultrasounds, it seems that
obstetricians, especially those with direct-in-office-access to ultrasound technology, like to “take
a peek” at baby in-utero far more frequently than may be clinically-indicated. Some women have
a fetal ultrasound performed at nearly each prenatal visit. Patients, trusting the doctor, don’t
always question why the ultrasounds are being conducted, and understandably so, enjoy being
able to view baby. However, if there is not a clear clinical need to have these images taken,
these ultrasounds are better off being declined.

What are the potential risks you’re even avoiding if you were to decline an ultrasound? In this
FDA article, Dr. Shahram Vaezy, an FDA biomedical engineer, states that,
“Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles
(cavitation) in some tissues.” Dr. Vaezy also warns that, “…prudent use of these devices by
trained health care providers is important.” Ultrasound has also been utilized recently to help
heal fractured bones and is also used to “blast” away kidney stones. Something that has the
potential to change the tissues of a developing fetus should be used with caution and operated
strictly by a trained health professional. This means that not only should the storefront
“keepsake” ultrasonography shops be completely avoided but frequent viewing of baby under
any circumstance increases risks to the fetus.

A trained ultrasound technician should be the only person performing these scans but it’s not
just the operator that holds significance. The length of time the ultrasound takes place is also of
significance. The longer the fetus is exposed to ultrasound, and the longer the fetal temperature
is altered, the higher the potential risks. The ACOG, in an October 2017 “ACOG Committee
Opinion” release note specifically that, “Ultrasound imaging should be performed efficiently and
only when clinically indicated to minimize fetal exposure risk using the keeping acoustic output
levels As Low As Reasonably Achievable (commonly known as ALARA) principle.”
Worth noting is that fetal Dopplers, often used by care providers to listen, not look, at baby in-
utero, also utilize ultrasonic sound waves to pick up baby’s heartbeat. These monitors carry a similar risk to visual ultrasound and also carry warnings as to be used only by healthcare
professionals. By purchasing this type of monitor, many mothers feel reassured by being able to
listen to baby’s heartbeat at any given time. However, Doppler monitors have not been
designed for at-home use.

The decision for frequency of ultrasound exposure during pregnancy remains with the patient.
With information regarding both risks and benefits of this medical intervention, one can make an
informed choice as to how she wishes to proceed when ultrasound is recommended by her care
provider. It is always important to have an open dialogue with your provider regarding any
concerns about recommended procedures. Only when the patient is comfortable and in
agreement, should a non-emergent procedure take place. As a patient, you have the right to
decline any or all ultrasounds recommended by your care provider. You also have the right to
question what the provider is hoping to find through the recommended imaging and how the
imaging itself would affect future medical recommendations.

While ultrasound is widely accepted in the medical community as being safe and carrying little
to no risk, it is still wise to proceed with caution. Let us not forget that several decades ago, X-
rays were used readily for a host of reasons, including fetal imaging and were considered “safe.”
Of course, now more is known and there is great caution with X-ray use. This is a good lesson
in why, for a healthy pregnancy, less medical intervention is often the best choice.

Protein in Pregnancy: What’s the big deal?

Have you ever wondered just how important your diet is for your growing baby in your belly? Have you ever allowed craving after craving to drive your food intake? Have you ever felt like your body only wanted to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs? If you have answered yes to one or all of these questions, this blog post is for you.

Throughout pregnancy, a protein rich diet can make all the difference in maternal and fetal health. It can reduce risk factors for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and even improve your birth outcome. But how?!

When your baby is growing the fastest, during the second and third trimester, it is vital that your body intakes protein which contains amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for you and your baby. Most experts recommend consuming a minimum of 80 to 120 grams of protein per day while pregnant. It is also important to use salt to taste. Between 20-25% of your daily calories should come from protein. As explained in the chart below, albumin is made directly from the protein mom eats which in turn increases blood volume. When mom doesn’t get enough calories, the protein is burned up rather than being used to make albumin. This unfortunately drops blood volume. The result of high blood pressure is due to the kidneys producing an enzyme called renin which makes the blood vessels constrict. This down spiral of events often leads to early signs of pre-eclampsia and usually early induction of baby.

Adequate protein and salt for the pregnant mom are vital in an overall healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery. Best choices that include protein are as follows: meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, high protein grains, protein powder. If the mother will increase the amount of salt, protein, and calories that she eats, the blood volume will increase, and blood pressure will come down to a normal level. Sometimes, this could even mean eating an ounce or two of protein every hour. It is in fact possible to reverse pre-eclampsia risks with proper protein-rich nutrition. For more information on the link between nutrition and pre-eclampsia, see www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.

protein in the maternal diet

Top 10 Baltimore Date Ideas For Pregnant Couples

Baltimore Date Ideas

Pregnancy is a transformative experience for parents-to-be. You may be wondering what life will be like with a new baby or how your relationship may change. Adding a child undoubtedly augments all aspects of life. Pregnancy serves as a really great exercise in being present. While you’re waiting for baby, enjoy some together time and connect. Here are ten Baltimore date ideas, that honor the now!

  1. Spa Day Enjoy a couples massage. Mom can benefit from a restorative prenatal massage, while Dad enjoys relaxing bodywork. Try Jessie Bernstein at Satori Wellness Center in Towson, The Loft (formerly Missy Kibelbek) in Hampden, or The Healing Path, which has locations in Mt. Vernon, Fell’s Point, and Baltimore County.
  2. Linger at dinner  Sitting together, uninterrupted, for a meal is a rarity for many new parents.  While you are still growing baby, enjoy dinners outside the home. My top picks are Petit Louis with two locations; Roland Park and Columbia and The Wine Market in Locust Point.
  3. Fake a Vacation Staying at a local hotel for an evening or two is the more accessible little sister to a ‘babymoon’. Kimpton Hotel Monaco, near the Inner Harbor, has great boutique hotel amenities. It is in proximity to many downtown Baltimore sites and attractions.
  4. Take a Long Stroll Taking a walk, especially in late pregnancy, can ease discomforts and even facilitate labor. For a picturesque water view, visit Fort McHenry.  If you prefer the canopy of trees, head to Lake Roland.
  5. Brunch Never overrated; brunch is perfect for special occasions. Wit and Wisdom delivers a fantastic Sunday brunch, located at the Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East.
  6. IKEA A trip to IKEA is a right of passage for parents-to-be. Take a quick trip to White Marsh, or try the Prince George’s County store for the best selection of minimalist nursery staples.
  7. Practice Yoga The Birth Well at Baltimore Yoga Village offers two enriching options: prenatal yoga classes and a yoga for birth workshop. Both programs will help you connect and feel empowered during pregnancy and birth. Baltimore Yoga Village has studios in Hampden and Mt. Washington.  Heather Brown of Yoga Birth offers prenatal and postpartum yoga as well as a yoga-infused childbirth class.  The Yoga Birth classes combine evidence-based childbirth education with the mind/body connection of yoga, so couples can understand and experience birth as a sacred and transformative passage.
  8. Visit a Museum There are several great museums in Baltimore. Visit Federal Hill and stop by The American Visionary Art Museum.  AVAM hosts an eclectic array of works by self-taught artists. The Baltimore Museum of Art, in Charles Village, houses the renowned Cone Collection and has an exceptionally well-edited contemporary collection.
  9. Watch a Movie Both the Charles and Senator Theatres are landmark locations in Baltimore, where you can view a variety of mainstream and independent films.
  10. Picnic Relax and have a romantic afternoon picnic. Cylburn Arboretum offers respite from city life with its charming gardens. Patterson Park features a vast open lawn earning its nickname, the ‘best backyard in Baltimore’.

 

If you are looking for resources or recommendations during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Nourishing Recipes For The First Trimester

Nourishing recipes for the first trimester

Obtaining Essential Nutrients With Whole Foods

Eating a colorful, varied, and minimally processed diet is ideal for optimal health, and during pregnancy, this becomes more apparent. Your body requires specific essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support and grow a baby.

In these three recipes, I will explain why certain foods are ideal during the first trimester, and how their specific nutrients help you and baby. These nourishing dishes are all free from grains, dairy, and refined sugars.

First Trimester Smoothie

Coconut milk is a great alternative to traditional dairy; it is a rich source of several B-complex vitamins including B1, B3, B5, and B6. (There are 8 B-vitamins) Some of the many benefits include immune and nervous system support and enhanced energy production. During pregnancy, you also require more protein to support the rapid growth of your placenta and baby. Almond butter is a delicious addition to the smoothie and a great source of plant protein.

½ sliced, frozen banana

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tbsp almond butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ cup full fat coconut milk

¼ tsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in blender and mix.

Ultimate Prenatal Lentil Salad

Adapted from My New Roots

This salad is particularly delicious! Lentils are an amazing source of folate, a B-vitamin that helps baby’s neural tube develop properly. Folate also helps support red blood cell production, which is important as your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy. Lentils contain a ton of protein and fiber, which really increases the satiety factor of this dish.

1 cup black (du puy) lentils, rinsed, cooked, and drained

¼ cup dried tart cherries

handful of finely chopped fresh herbs. (I enjoy mint and parsley)

3 tbsp chopped capers

¼ cup chopped almonds

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp strong mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon

Place salad ingredients in bowl. Prepare vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a jar with lid. Shake well to combine. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss everything together. This dish tastes best fresh at room temperature.

Wilted Greens with Creamy Lemon Tahini

Adapted from Love and Lemons

This recipe is loaded with superfoods. Dark leafy greens including spinach, chard, and kale are rich in vitamins and minerals. Greens like spinach are a surprisingly great source of calcium, which is needed for baby’s bone development. The addition of avocado lends more than creaminess to the sauce. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6, which helps baby’s brain development. Vitamin B6 can also ease nausea, a common first trimester symptom. Dark greens and the sesame tahini provide a superb source of iron, which supports red blood cell production, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia. Adding lemon to this dish enables your body absorb iron more effectively.

4 cups dark leafy greens (I prefer baby spinach)

1 cup broccoli florets

⅓ cup sesame tahini

½ avocado

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté greens and broccoli in olive oil and set aside. Blend tahini, avocado, and lemon together in food processor. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, to thin, if necessary. Plate greens and pour sauce on top.

Enjoy!

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