Shorten Labor by Eating This Fruit

Did you know that you can increase your chances of a shorter and easier labor just by adding a particular fruit to your diet in the last few weeks of pregnancy? One study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who ate dates in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy dilated faster and had faster labors compared to those that did not consume dates.

dates

The Study

The date and pregnancy study was carried out at Jordan University of Science and Technology, who studied 114 women from February 2007 to January 2008. The date consuming group (69 women) consumed at least 6 date fruits per day in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy compared to the non-date consuming group (45 women) who had none. The two groups were similar in terms of gestational age and maternal age.

The date consuming group were more dilated upon admission to the hospital, had a higher proportion of intact membranes, a greater rate of spontaneous labor, a lower rate of induction, and an average of 7 hours shorter labor compared to the non-date consuming group.

The researchers concluded that eating dates in the last month of pregnancy can reduce the need for induction and augmentation of labor and may shorten the overall duration of labor.

Researchers believe that something in the dates mimics the hormone oxytocin, a hormone involved in labor, among other things.

Dates

Date fruit (phoenix dactylifera) comes from a date palm tree which has long been cultivated for its fruits. Date fruits (which contain a hard seed inside) can be soft or dried and enjoyed in a number of ways. Dates are a terrific source of potassium and also contain sugar, protein and a number of vitamins and minerals. They can serve as a great natural sweetener. Dates can be stored in a glass jar in a cupboard or in the fridge.

Date Recipes

Date Energy Balls

These vegan and paleo energy balls are a quick and easy treat, perfect for snacking! These would also make great labor snacks.

Makes: 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract

In a large food processor, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until a sticky, uniform batter is formed. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.

You may also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling.

Date Walnut Bread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

In a food processor, mix together almond flour and coconut flour. Add salt and baking soda. Next add the dates until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add eggs and apple cider vinegar. Lastly, pulse in walnuts. Transfer batter to a mini loaf pan. Bake at 350° for about 28 to 32 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 2 hours before removing.

Chocolate Cranberry Power Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 15 large medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 10 drops stevia
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (you can add more if you like)

Blend pecans and cacao powder in food processor until combined and coarsely ground. Add in dates and process until blended into dry ingredients. Process in vanilla, stevia and agave until well combined. Stir in dried cranberries with a spoon.

Press mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Freeze for 1 hour, or until firm, then cut into 16 squares. Enjoy!

How to make a belly mask

We’ve talked about henna art as a way to celebrate one’s beautiful body in pregnancy, and today we’re talking about how to make a belly mask or belly cast.  A belly mask is a beautiful way to capture the shape of your body in the weeks before birth (and you can certainly make one sooner if you wish!).  You may wish to have this be part of a blessingway or baby shower, or it may be a private creation you share with a good friend, relative or partner.  (It’s helpful to have someone to help you!)

Making a belly mask is easy to do and inexpensive.  It can get a bit messy; however, so you might consider creating this work of art outside or indoors with proper covering on the floor.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 rolls of plaster gauze (available at a local craft store; also used for making face masks)
  • small jar of vaseline
  • an old bucket
  • warm water
  • a few rags
  • drop cloth or old shower curtain liner (if doing inside)
  • soft measuring tape

Here is how you do it!

  1. Gather all of your supplies and fill your bucket with warm water.
  2. Remove your clothes from the waist up (you can keep a tank top or bra on if you are doing this in a group setting and prefer this).  You may also want to take off your pants, wear a bikini bottom, or wear old pants you don’t mind getting messy.
  3. Stand on the drop cloth or shower curtain if creating your belly mask inside.  If you are outside or in a garage, you can use a hose to wash away the drips of plaster.
  4. Measure horizontally across the areas you want to cover, including your belly and possibly your breasts.  (Some people make a bowl out of just the cast of their belly, while others like to have their breasts included in the mask as well!) Cut the strips of gauze to match the varying lengths.  You will want to cut enough strips for each location to make your cast 2 to 3 layers thick.
  5. Once you have measured out the gauze, rub your belly and torso with a thin layer of vaseline.  This will prevent the gauze from sticking to you and/or tugging on your skin as you remove your completed belly cast later.  (FYI: you don’t need to rub vaseline on your pubic hair, the gauze doesn’t stick well to hair.
  6. Follow the directions on the gauze package, dipping the strips into the warm water and then applying them to your belly.  You can begin anywhere you like.  The idea is to make overlapping horizontal layers leaving no spaces uncovered.  Continue adding gauze until you have your desired shape.
  7. Allow the cast to dry for about 5 minutes and remove from your body.
  8. At this point, you can smooth out the edges by folding them back.
  9. Place in a dry protected place to complete the drying process.  It takes about 24 hours for the belly mask to dry completely.
  10. Once the belly cast is dry, you can leave it as is, or paint it with acrylic paints.  You may want to have someone spray it with lacquer or glaze for extra protection.  If you must spray it yourself, please do so in a well ventilated area.

This website has some beautiful artistic inspiration and surely you could find ideas on Pinterest.  Have fun!

Minnesota births at homes and birth centers rise more than 150 percent

Press Release by MCCPM

St. Paul, Minn.—The number of Minnesota babies born outside of a hospital setting rose by 156 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to birth certificate data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

More than 1.3 percent of births (904 babies) in Minnesota in 2012 occurred outside of a hospital—mainly in homes and freestanding birth centers—up from 0.5 percent of births (366 babies) in 2004.

press release graph

Births occur outside of hospitals more frequently in greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities metro area. In 2012, 1.7 percent of babies born in greater Minnesota counties were born outside of hospitals, while 1 percent of babies in the seven-county metro area were born outside of hospitals, according to health department data.

Nationally births outside of hospital settings have increased since 2004. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of births occurring outside of hospitals increased from about 0.9 percent of U.S. births in 2004 to about 1.4 percent of U.S. births in 2012, its highest level since 1975. In 2012, 53,635 births in the U.S. occurred outside of a hospital, including 35,184 home births and 15,577 births at birth centers.

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About the Minnesota Council of Certified Professional Midwives

The nonprofit Minnesota Council of Certified Professional Midwives promotes, protects, and preserves midwifery as practiced by certified professional midwives in the state of Minnesota. The council is committed to safe maternity care provided in an out-of-hospital setting. For more information, visit http://www.minnesotamidwives.org.

Estimated Due Dates

DueDateWe live in a culture where we seek to make everything measurable and predictable. Just as we might expect our favorite TV show to come on at 7pm sharp, our work day to end at 5pm on the dot, and so on, many of us want or expect our pregnancies to begin and end in a predictable way. Yet, with birth (and death), there is the element of mystery, of the unknown, to which we must humbly surrender. There is also the fallibility of the methods we have in estimating birth dates.

While the great myth that babies are supposed to be born on their due dates pervades our cultural consciousness, this expectation or assumption is at the very least misleading, often causes undue emotional burdens on birthing families, and at its most serious holds the potential to cause serious harm to a woman and her child. Focusing too much on a due date, particularly in conventional maternity care, can create a situation that increases the likelihood of unnecessary fetal testing, unnecessary induction and cesarean, and other serious risks, not to mention undue mental and emotional stress for mama and her partner.

We love the saying “babies are born on their birth dates not their due dates.” Babies are born when they are ready to be born and when all those factors that influence birth timing converge on a specific given day. We’ll talk below a great deal about the scientific understanding (and lack thereof) of birth timing, but even without these details, it is important to remember that babies are born on their birth dates not their due dates! and that there is a great range of what is considered normal gestational duration for the human being.

Naegele’s Rule: the not-so-gold standard in due date estimation

Due dates are most widely calculated based on something called Naegele’s Rule. Trouble is, use of this rule is considered outdated and inaccurate for many women.

This rule was developed by an early 1800s German doctor named Franz Karl Naegele who concluded, based on his personal observations (not any methodical research), that pregnancy lasted 10 lunar months, or 40 weeks. His calculation assumes that pregnancy lasts 280 days from the first date of the last menstrual period, the LMP, or 266 days from ovulation, which he deemed always occurs on day 14 of a woman’s 28 day cycle.

Naegele’s Rule follows this formula: (LMP + 7 days) – 3 months = Due Date

This antiquated method is the standard in determining due date, yet only 3 to 5% of babies are actually due on their due dates. There are some major flaws with this nearly universal way of determining due dates:

  1. It assumes that pregnancy lasts the same duration for all women.

The duration of pregnancy varies based on many factors including:

  • Whether a women is having a first or subsequent baby (some estimates suggest pregnancy is an average of 5-10 days longer for first time birthing women)
  • The race of the mother. For example, one researcher noted that black women tend to have pregnancies shorter by 8.5 days compared to white women of similar socioeconomic status.
  • Number of babies. Women carrying twins, for example, have a shorter pregnancy on average, than women carrying a single fetus.
  • Nutrition
  • Substance abuse
  • Mother’s age
  • Mother’s size
  • Mother and baby’s health

Experts also submit that additional factors, which we don’t fully understand, may also be at play.

  1. It assumes that reports of one’s last menstrual period are 100% accurate

Naegele’s rule depends on the accurate recall of the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle. While many women are good at such recall, there is room for error here. Inaccurate memory, the possibility of interpreting post-conception spotting as a period, and unrecognized pregnancy loss can all alter what might be reported as one’s last menstrual period.

  1. It assumes all women have 28-day cycles and ovulate on day 14.

This method of calculation assumes that all women have a 28-day cycle and all ovulate on day 14 of this cycle. But we are not machines. Many women have cycles that do not match this 28-day trend. Recent discontinued use of oral contraceptives, current use of other medications, stress, travel, as well as other physical and lifestyle factors can all impact the length of a woman’s cycle and when she ovulates.

This method of due date calculation assumes a woman ovulates on day 14. This too is not often the case. Ovulation can take place as early as the 7th day and as late as the 20-30th day of a woman’s cycle.

Many women are unaware of when they ovulate, but some women are attuned to/understand how to determine ovulation based on regular charting of their waking basal body temperature, cervical fluid changes, and other indicators. (Learn more about the fertility awareness method/FAM online or in the book Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler). Ovulation dates may help inform a due date calculation, as can known dates of intercourse. However, many practitioners prefer to rely on LMP, as reported ovulation dates and intercourse dates carry a margin of error in many provider’s minds.

  1. It assumes conception takes place during ovulation.

While ovulation is the time of heightened fertility, conception does not necessarily take place on the day of ovulation (or even the days just before or after). Healthy sperm can survive in fertile quality cervical fluid for up to 5 days, which can change the date of conception and alter a due date by several days.

Mittendorf’s Rule

In the late 1980s, a doctor named Robert Mittendorf reviewed the records of 17,000 births (his practice was composed primarily of second generation Irish-Americans). He found that most healthy, white, private-care, first time birthing women with regular menstrual histories experienced pregnancies lasting an average of 288 days from LMP to birth, (or 274 days from ovulation to birth) a full 8 days longer than Naegele’s Rule postulates.

Thus, Mittendorf’s rule follows this formula: (LMP – 3 months) + 15* days = Due date

*use 10 days if a women is not white and/or if she has given birth before

Again, this supposes that a woman knows her LMP and that her cycle is 28 days with ovulation on day 14. It also doesn’t seem to suggest any definitive information on women not belonging to the same population as was studied by Mittendorf.

Early ultrasound measurements

Early ultrasound (in the first trimester) can also be used to determine gestational age of a fetus. Early cell generation occurs at the same pace in all human fetuses until about 6 to 8 weeks of gestation. Beyond that, individual genetics set in and the rate of growth is unique to that individual.

While ultrasound before week 8 can be used with some accuracy (some say

greater accuracy than with Naegele’s rule), one researcher estimates that ultrasound dating accurately predicts the date of birth in less than 5% of all pregnancies, with delivery within 7 days of this estimated due date occurring in only 55% of pregnancies. Not a particularly reliable alternative, some would argue. (And ultrasound exposure may pose additional risks to a fetus.)

It should also be noted that second and third trimester ultrasounds are not accurate in determining length of gestation and can also be inaccurate in determining fetal size.

Other informants of gestational age

Other sources of information, while less precise, can help us learn about gestational age including physical estimation of baby’s size by a qualified care provider, quickening (or the onset of fetal movement felt by the mother), and detection of fetal heart tones.

Wide range in normal development

Even if one were to know with total accuracy the first date of LMP, the date of conception, and early fetal age, they still may not be able to predict with accuracy the date on which baby will be born. This is because there is a normal range of gestational age in humans that spans several weeks (generally considered 37 to 42 weeks). Just as every baby doesn’t sit up, sprout their first tooth, or walk at the exact same age, babies don’t all require the exact same amount of time in the womb. Some take more and some take less, and science hasn’t figured out all the reasons for this.

Problems with inaccurate due dating

Medically speaking, due dates are used to determine when prenatal tests should best be performed, what ranges of results are considered normal, whether baby is growing at a healthy rate, and whether a baby is premature or postmature. While pregnancy dating may help us gain insight into the health of baby, inaccurate dating can cause a number of problems.

Certain prenatal tests must be done during a certain window of time during pregnancy. Inaccurate pregnancy dating can result in inaccurate prenatal tests. For example, fetal heart rates become measureable at a certain week. If a fetus is thought to be older than is it, and fetal heart rate does not register as expected, a problem may be suspected in a case where there is no problem. This can lead to unnecessary testing and concern about a healthy fetus. The AFP test/triple screen test is another test that must be done within a certain window of gestational time. With this test too, inaccurate dating can yield unreliable and misleading test results.

Inaccurate dating can lead to unnecessary induction and/or cesarean, especially in cases where a care provider relies too heavily on a due date calculation to make medical decisions. Labor is induced in over 13% of all US births, with post-date pregnancy (after 40 weeks) being the number one reason given. According to ACOG, 95% of all babies born between 41 and 42 weeks of estimated gestation are born safely without complications. Even after the 42nd week, only a very small percentage of babies have complications due to postmaturity.

Babies can be born premature due to unnecessary interventions, which carries many risks to the health of baby. It is estimated that up to 10% of neonatal intensive care unit admissions are due to iatrogenic prematurity (that is, caused by unnecessary medical interventions to bring labor on before baby is mature). There are ways to reduce the risk of unnecessary interventions, such as amniocentesis and allowing a woman to go into spontaneous labor before intervention. The risk of iatrogenic prematurity and newborn lung disease in infants delivered by elective cesarean before labor begins is 30% compared to 11 percent for those whose mothers go into labor first.

Inaccurate due date calculation or over reliance on this date as THE date baby should ideally be born causes undue psychological burdens on women and their families. So many women feel this tremendous pressure to deliver their babies on or before that magical due date day. Women are often told that baby is mature at 38 weeks and to expect their arrival any time in the next two weeks. When that due date comes and goes, many women feel like something is wrong or they are somehow to blame for not having yet birthed. Many people make so many work or family plans around that magical due date that women can feel additional pressure and a lot of guilt for “inconveniencing” people when birth doesn’t happen exactly when they expect it should.

While we tell our mamas, especially first time mamas, to expect to go over their due date by 7 to 10 days, we know that the overwhelming social pressure (and often physical readiness on mom’s part!) still makes it difficult to relax in those days past the due date. It can help to better understand due date calculation and the truth that there is a wide range of normal. At Health Foundations we are very proactive in watching mamas and babies who go beyond 40 weeks, but that is prudence and not pressure to birth or worry that something is amiss.

Postmaturity risks

While the risk of postmaturity complications is relatively low, it can be helpful to know what these risks are. Postmaturity syndrome is characterized by:

  • Diminished functioning of the placenta
  • Reduced amniotic fluid
  • Large size of baby (or, conversely, sudden fetal weight loss)
  • Increased risk of meconium aspiration (when baby inhales amniotic fluid containing its first stool)
  • Hypoglycemia in baby

There are a number of tests care providers offer to monitor mamas and babies in the 40-42 weeks of pregnancy to diagnose postmaturity syndrome.

While our estimations of due dates are far from perfect, this practice doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and does offer us some value. We think it is most helpful to find a care team that doesn’t regard the due date as this fixed time before which babies should be born. After all, it’s not a deadline (we have plenty enough of those in our lives, don’t we?) it’s a guess date. It may serve many families to think about the due window. It certainly would better reflect the reality that birth presents us.

And remember 100% of babies are born on their birth dates, but only a very small percentage are born on their estimated due dates.

Flower essences

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFlower essences are an amazing and lesser-known healing resource that can be quite amazing for expectant and new mamas, and, really, anyone.  We offer a line of flower essences by Santosha Birth and Wellness that are specifically for conception, pregnancy, birth and motherhood.  We also have a new acupuncturist that is trained in the use of flower essences.  With all the buzz about flower essences, we wanted to share a bit more about what flower essences are and why they are so wonderful for the childbearing cycle.  

What are flower essences?

Flower essences are type of botanical medicine that works on the energetic level (like acupuncture does) to positively affect the emotions, energy, and deeper soul levels. Flower essences are especially suited to helping people overcome obstacles, heal the past, reduce negative thoughts, actions and perspectives, cope with changes and challenges, and achieve greater joy and peace. Put simply, flower essences are energy medicine—they safely and effectively address root causes of emotional and physical issues to bring healing and growth on all levels (physical, emotional, mental and soul).

Odorless and virtually tasteless, a flower essence is an infusion of flowers stabilized in water and a small amount of brandy to preserve. 

What is the history of flower essences?

Flower essence therapy has been used by indigenous people for centuries and have been thoroughly studied and developed in the West for over a century. Dr. Bach, a British physician and homeopathic doctor, was the first to develop a robust system of flower essence therapy in the early 1900s. His system included 38 flower essences and his blend, Rescue Remedy® is the most famous of all flower essences. Dr. Bach’s early death left room for further development and refinement of this system and additional flower essences have been added to this healing system.

Master herbalists such a German healer Julia Graves (creator of the Lily Circle) and Flower Essence Service, among others, have continued Dr. Bach’s legacy, producing high quality flower essences that yield profound results. The Lily Circle (used in Santosha’s blends) is exceptionally well suited for female archetypal issues and those surrounding birth and motherhood, but are equally powerful and healing for all people.  

Why flower essences?

There are so many reasons why flower essences are an incredible healing tool, especially in the childbearing cycle.  

They are safe: Because flower essences work on the energetic rather than biochemical level, they don’t pose the same risks that some pharmaceuticals, herbal tinctures, and essential oils may pose. This makes flower essences particularly attractive for treating issues that may arise in the childbearing cycle, when other treatments may not be advised. Flower essences are completely safe for use in pregnant women, birthing women, nursing women, newborns, infants, and children (and even pets and plants, evidence shows!). There are NO known contraindications.

They are gentle: Flower essences are gentle, they don’t work by force, nor do they overwhelm the body or mind. Flower essences are subtle, yet powerful and profound in the positive change they produce.

They address root causes of physical ailments and emotional/spiritual conditions. Flower essences often get to the source of one’s physical or other ailments. By addressing underlying emotional/mental/energetic/spiritual factors contributing to dis-ease or challenges, flower essences heal the deeper levels of one’s being and when they are healed, the body follows. What better time than pregnancy to clear out what doesn’t serve us and make room for greater wellbeing in parenthood? The healthier and happy we are going into parenting, the better we can be for ourselves and our children!

How do you use a flower essence?

Flower essences are commonly taken by mouth, with 4 drops taken orally 4 times a day. This is a general guideline—a person in an acute situation (e.g. labor) may take an essence as frequently as every 10 minutes as needed. Taking an essence frequently is the path to desired change. Because there is a small amount of brandy in the essence, some pregnant women or sensitive individuals may prefer not to take the essence directly under the tongue. You can add an essence to beverage—covered water is best (but tea or juice can also be used). For those that wish to avoid ingestion entirely, flower essences can be sprayed or applied on to the skin, clothing, bedding or air. One can also take a flower essence bath.

How long should one use a flower essence?

Many flower essence practitioners note a definite cycle period in taking a flower essence, typically two to four weeks though this can be longer or shorter for some and depending on the reason for use.

Can flower essences be used together with other healing modalities?

Flower essences can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to enhance a healing process. They have been used with great success by flower essence practitioners, naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, psychologists, medical doctors, veterinarians, and other health care practitioners.

How do I learn more?  

If you want to learn more about flower essences, you can speak with us at an upcoming appointment or contact Santosha Birth and Wellness directly at http://www.santoshamama.com.  

4 of the most important pregnancy foods you never hear about

Bone brothHere at Health Foundations, we emphasize the importance of a healthy diet before and during pregnancy because we’ve seen again and again how much of a difference good nutrition makes in the health of mom and baby, including a reduced risk of c-sections, easier labors, quicker postpartum healing, and so much more.  And the benefits aren’t just relegated to the childbearing year.  Babies who receive good nutrition in the womb are at a lower risk for many serious diseases in their child and adulthoods, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, autism, and ADHD.  Science is finding the crucial role nutrition plays in epigenetics, or the factors, such as chemical reactions, that influence gene expression.  Cutting edge studies are finding the importance of the gut microbiome in overall health for both babies and adults.  

So in that spirit, here are five foods that you might not find on the list of best pregnancy foods but are actually some of the best foods you can eat when expecting (and when planning to conceive).  

1.  Traditional Fats:  

We went through a phase in our collective history during which everyone feared fats.  And we still haven’t quite recovered.  But many kinds of natural fats are not only good for you, they are essential to your wellbeing.  Across cultures, you will find fats emphasized in fertility and pregnancy diets.  Good fats include ghee, butter, dairy fat (full fat dairy products), avocados, and coconut oil.  Used in moderation, these healthy fats can do a world of good for you and baby.  They can support maternal skin health, optimizing your body’s response to the stretches and effects of gravity that pregnancy impose.  Healthy fats in pregnancy also lower the risk of childhood allergies for baby, research shows.  Additional studies show that health fat consumption in pregnancy can lower the risk of baby later developing autism.  

2.  Organ meats:

Okay, we are not a culture that commonly enjoyed organ meats.  In fact the words alone may turn people off.  But meats like liver are super foods when it comes to baby making (we’re talking pregnancy here, folks).  Organic, grassfed and/or free range organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods absolutely loaded with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fat.  They are particularly rich in the nutrients that help keep our brains healthy and grow healthy well-functioning baby brains– i.e.  the essential fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docasahexaenoic acid), and AA (arachidonic acid). Liver is one of the best sources of folate, which is SO crucial in pregnancy (and supplemental folic acid pales in comparison to food-sourced folate in terms of health).  Liver and other organ meats are also tremendous sources of:

  • high-quality protein
  • fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • vitamin A, which is rapidly depleted during periods of stress
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • A highly usable form of iron, so important in pregnancy
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • Purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to eat liver is through liver pates.  Here is a tasty recipe for Chicken Liver Pate.  Here is one for a delicious Beef Liver with fig, bacon, and caramelized onion.  While not as ideal as consuming as food, desiccated liver in capsule form is also available.  

3.  Bone Broth

Beloved by the burgeoning paleo health movement, bone broth has numerous benefits for both mamas and babies (and the rest of us!)  Bone broth has shown to offer the following benefits:

  • builds, rebuilds and repairs our connective tissue, including joints, tendons and ligaments
  • improves hair, skin and nails
  • strengthens bones
  • heals and promotes a healthy digestive system 
  • supports optimal nerve health
  • great for the immune system
  • good source of protein
  • supports brain health
  • boosts fertility
  • and much more

Because broth supports the nervous system, endocrine system and brain function, consuming it while pregnant helps the developing fetus build healthy organs.

Bone broth is cheap and easy to make yourself.  You can use the bones from a whole chicken you have cooked or can get soup bones from the coop. It is best to use high quality bones to make bone broth– those from healthy (grassfed or free range), organic sources.  This is not a difficult thing to do in Minnesota!  There are many great recipes out there for bone broth.  Here is one simple way to make and enjoy bone broth throughout the week.

4.   Fermented foods

Fermented foods are some of the best sources of probiotics one can get from food (which is a superior source of all nutrients, compared to supplements, in virtually all cases).   Fermented foods are great for maintaining a healthy digestive system in pregnancy, which many of us know can go awry when we are expecting.  Eating these probiotic-rich foods is also great for gut health and the immune system and can positively impact your child’s gut health and overall wellbeing.  Fermented foods also increase your body’s ability to absorb the maximum level of nutrients from the foods you eat.  You can make your own fermented foods or there are some great (and quite tasty!) options available at co-ops, Whole Foods, and other health markets.  Examples of fermented foods include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Plain yogurt
  • Kombucha

Here’s to you and your family’s health, mamas!

Why salt is important in pregnancy

salt

The medical community used to suggest that pregnant women limit salt (sodium) intake in pregnancy for three reasons. One, they believed salt intake contributes to bloating. (In fact, inadequate salt intake can cause bloating.) Two, that salt would increase water retention (Salt actually helps us regulate the right amount of fluid retention). And three that it would increase blood pressure. (Some studies have actually shown that additional salt intake can lower blood pressure in pregnancy.) These all are all issues that can develop in pregnancy and the thinking went that salt would only exacerbate them.

The medical community has changed its recommendations on salt intake in pregnancy due to growing evidence of its importance in maternal and fetal health. In fact, adequate salt intake is crucial for human health and especially important in pregnancy.

The importance of salt for the body

Salt is such a key nutrient it is actually one of the five tastes for which our mouth has receptors (in addition to sweet, bitter, sour, and umami). Salt is crucial to proper enzyme functioning, hormone production, the movement of proteins, and myriad other essential bodily functions.

The importance of salt intake during pregnancy

Salt plays a crucial role in the maintenance of increased blood volume in pregnancy, which is essential in pregnancy. Inadequate salt intake can restrict blood volume and negatively impact the growth and function of the placenta. When the ability of the placenta to function is impaired, the baby’s growth, development and even life are imperiled.

Insufficient salt intake can also increase the risk of preeclampsia and fetal death.

Appropriate salt intake by mom in pregnancy helps ensure adequate birth weight, optimal development of fetal nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems, and metabolic function, and more.

A 2007 study illustrated that inadequate intake of salt during pregnancy increased the risk of low birth weight (with infants having correspondingly low sodium levels). Low birth weight increases the risk of many health problems later in life, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Salt is very important in pregnancy because it aids the development of glial cells in the brain and supports overall brain development and function in babies.

A 2002 study of premature babies found that those who were supplemented with sodium/salt during their first few weeks of life all experienced greater memory, learning, language, coordination, IQ and behavioral skills as children. This highlights the importance of salt in brain development.

Additional studies have found that pregnant women who consume too much or too little salt birth babies with a greater risk of kidney problems, which can also result in heart problems.

Optimal salt intake in pregnancy

Although it is important to consume enough salt, consuming too much salt and salt of poor quality (i.e. from processed foods) can also contribute to maternal and fetal health problems.

The medical community today suggests a daily salt intake of 3000 milligrams per day for pregnant women and the general population (without specific health concerns related to sodium). This means that there is no need to restrict your salt intake in pregnancy. (Unless otherwise recommended by your care provider)

All salt is not created equal

Many junk foods can contain chemical salt derivatives, such as monosodium glutamate and processed salt. These poor quality salts pose greater health risks than natural salt and can be linked to heart disease and other health problems.

When consuming salt in pregnancy (or anytime) it is best to limit processed foods and reach for natural salts, such as sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Salting your food to taste is a general guideline that works for many pregnant women. You can also speak with your midwife about your salt intake if you are curious about the optimal amount and where you land in this range.

The important take home point is to remember that for most women, pregnancy is not a time to decrease salt intake; in fact, salt is crucial to her and her baby’s well being.

Sources:

http://drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id70.html

http://healthybabycode.com/why-low-salt-diets-are-dangerous-during-pregnancy