Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Dec 29

How To Reduce The Risk Of A Miscarriage During A Pregnancy: Its Symptoms, Signs, Causes, Types, And Treatments

By Elizabeth Crawford | Uncategorized

Having a miscarriage is the greatest fear of pregnant women. Once life is formed in the womb, there is an automatic connection between the mother and the unborn child. When a miscarriage occurs, it is not just the pregnant woman’s physical health which is at risk. The experience of losing a life in the womb will have serious repercussions on the mother’s mental and emotional health.

What is a Miscarriage?

Miscarriage is a situation whereby the pregnancy is terminated; usually during the first 20 weeks of gestation. In fact, most happen within the first 12 weeks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) report that miscarriage accounts for the majority of pregnancy losses.

Pregnancy is a happy time for the couple. However, the chances of miscarriage during pregnancy are always there. If you are planning to start a family or know of someone who is, you should be informed about miscarriages.

In this article, we will explain to you how miscarriages occur, the different types, and most importantly, how to prevent them from happening.

What Causes Miscarriages?

As mentioned earlier, the first 12 weeks carries the highest risk of miscarriage. During this stage, a baby’s chromosomes could develop problems. Doctors refer to this condition as a “Chromosomal Abnormality”.

A chromosomal abnormality can occur if either the egg or the sperm was compromised even before the zygote could complete the cell division process. Your chromosomes are genetically predetermined. It is not your fault if you or your partner has too many or too few chromosomes.

However, there are other factors that can increase the chances of a miscarriage during pregnancy. These factors are as follows:

  • Poor lifestyle choices – Smoking, alcohol consumption, eating highly-processed foods, and use of illegal drugs
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Thyroid disease
  • Maternal age

When you get pregnant, you should regularly consult with your doctor. A successful pregnancy requires team effort: You, your spouse, and the doctor. In the team, the doctor is your Coach. He/she will draw up a game plan designed to support a successful and healthy pregnancy.

However, pregnancy is filled with uncertainties. It pays to be aware of signs and symptoms that you may be at risk of having a miscarriage:

  • Secretion of mucus with a white-pinkish color
  • Painful contractions every 5 to 20 minutes
  • Tissue that appears like clots coming out of the vagina
  • Severe cramps in the lower back area
  • Weight loss
  • Brown or red bleeding; may not be accompanied by cramps

If you see or experience any one of these symptoms, please do not hesitate or self-diagnose. You should visit your doctor immediately.

What Are The Types Of Miscarriage?

Generally, a miscarriage is called just that, a miscarriage. However, there are different reasons for miscarriages. The symptoms and signs of early miscarriage plus the resulting conditions can help the doctor identify the possible causes and recommend the appropriate treatment for the pregnant woman.

Here are the 8 types of miscarriages:

  1. Threatened Miscarriage – During the early stages of the pregnancy, the woman may experience uterine bleeding. This could be accompanied by cramping or tremendous pain on the lower backside.
  2. Incomplete Miscarriage – The cervix is dilated and has been opened. The woman will feel abdominal or lower back pain. The bleeding and abdominal/lower back pain will persist until the miscarriage has been completed.
  3. Complete Miscarriage – This is a type of miscarriage that occurs when the contents of the embryo have emptied out from the uterus.
  4. Missed Miscarriage – Perhaps the most traumatic for pregnant women. A missed miscarriage is the situation where the woman had a miscarriage without knowing it. There are no signs of early miscarriage. It is only identified via ultrasound or the disappearance of the heartbeat.
  5. Recurrent Miscarriage – This is a case where the pregnant woman experiences a miscarriage for 3 consecutive first trimesters.
  6. Blighted Ovum – The fertilized egg successfully implants onto the uterine wall. However, fetal development does not take place.
  7. Ectopic Pregnancy – The fertilized egg gets implanted in another place; usually the fallopian tube, instead of the uterine wall. The development of the fetus has to be stopped. Otherwise, it would pose the health of the mother at serious risk.
  8. Molar Pregnancy – A genetic error occurs during fertilization which leads to the development of abnormal tissue.

Regardless of the type of miscarriage, the event will always be a traumatic one for the woman. Thus, it is important to take precautions before and during pregnancy in order to protect and safeguard the health of the mother and the unborn baby.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Miscarriage In A Pregnancy

According to statistics, approximately 10% to 15% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. It is a frightful statistic that every pregnant woman has to keep in mind.

You may be reading this article because you want to know how to prevent a miscarriage. As we discussed earlier, most miscarriages occur because of chromosomal abnormalities.

The type of chromosomes you have was genetically determined at birth. As we said, this is not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it.

However, this does not mean you should leave yours and the baby’s health up to fate. Getting pregnant entails a huge responsibility because you are tasked with bringing a human life into the world. You should do whatever you can to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the baby.

While you cannot truly prevent a miscarriage, you can reduce the risk of having a miscarriage during pregnancy. Even if you don’t have a say in your chromosomal makeup, you can take precautionary measures that will increase your baby’s fighting chance to be born into this world.

  1. See Your Gynecologist

As part of the pre-pregnancy planning process, always include a visit to your Gynecologist. The Gynecologist will run a thorough health check up on you. Usually, the tests include blood, Rh factor, and immunity versus diseases such as measles and chicken pox.

It is important to be vaccinated against these contagious diseases because you can pass it on to your baby and put his/her life at risk. Once the pregnancy has been confirmed, your Gynecologist cannot give you the vaccination shot.

  1. Eat Healthy

What you eat feeds your baby. Most of the foods available at groceries are highly-processed with chemicals, artificial ingredients, and hormones. Be careful about your choices. These substances can pose a risk to your pregnancy.

Talk to a nutritionist who can design a healthy diet to support your pregnancy. It should include foods that have iron, folate, healthy fats, and anti-oxidants. Preferably, you should opt for organic food sources that were not manufactured with pesticides and growth hormones.

  1. Exercise Within Limits

If you’re pregnant, it is perfectly fine to exercise. Your doctor will tell you that regular exercise will result in an easier delivery. However, pregnancy is not the time to train for your first Crossfit competition or triathlon.

There are research studies that show exercising more than 7 hours a week can increase the risk of miscarriage. It may be wise to hire a licensed Personal Trainer who has experience training pregnant women.

  1. Cut Out Caffeine

Yes, it could be hard to get out of the caffeine habit when you are pregnant. And your doctor may even tell you that it is perfectly safe to limit your caffeine intake to no more than two 6-ounce cups of coffee.

Why take the chance?

It is better to be safe and completely cut out caffeine. After all, you are only talking about 9 months of sacrifice. In a year and a half’s time, you could be having your favourite brew while your baby nurses his/her bottle of milk!

  1. Cut Out Bad Lifestyle Habits

It should go without saying that pregnant mothers should totally cut out bad lifestyle habits such as smoking, using illegal drugs, and consuming alcohol. Yet, bad habits are hard to get rid of. They are a constant temptation.

Even if your doctor says a glass of red wine is fine, don’t take chances. Remember the statistic: 10% to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. Don’t let your baby become a statistic. Drop the bottle.

  1. Manage Your Stress Levels

Studies have shown that pregnant mothers who were able to manage their stress levels were less susceptible to the risk of a miscarriage.

Pregnancy can be a stressful time especially for mothers who still have to work. If you are pregnant, take advantage of your company’s maternity leave benefits. Focus on your pregnancy instead of your work.

  1. Avoid Places That Are Environmental Hazards

Places that present environmental hazards are those where radiation and other harmful substances are present. These places include areas with x-ray machines, toxic chemicals or waste products, and crowded premises which are thick with second-hand smoke.

Conclusion – How To Treat A Miscarriage

When a miscarriage occurs, the doctor’s primary objective is to stop the bleeding. Otherwise, it may lead to infections and life-threatening complications. If the miscarriage occurs during the early part of the pregnancy, the body should naturally expel the remains of the fetal tissue.

If not, the doctor will perform a procedure known as Dilation and Curettage or D & C. After the procedure has been completed, the doctor may prescribe medicines to support healing and recovery.

Recovery can be done at home. If you feel chills or a resumption of bleeding, contact your doctor right away.

Nov 11

Eat To Conceive: 7 Best Foods To Eat When You’re Trying To Get Pregnant

By Elizabeth Crawford | Uncategorized

Are you trying to get pregnant? For many couples, having a baby is a big decision. Even after they get married, the couple puts off any plans to get pregnant because they want to make sure they are ready to bring new life into this world. This is a life changing moment. Sometimes it takes years before they decide to make the transition from couple to parents.

Unfortunately, some couples realize that having a baby isn’t as easy as having sex. While the biological function of copulation is to conceive human life, it isn’t as simple as a sperm fertilizing an egg. External and internal factors exist that could affect your ability to get pregnant.

The saying “You are what you eat” holds some truth when you are trying to get pregnant. Food is your body’s primary source of calories from the 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Food also provides much-needed vitamins and minerals. However, food is not created equal. Some can pose threats to your health as well as your ability to get pregnant.

There are also foods that can increase fertility. One of the most important things to do when trying to get pregnant is to get your nutrition in order. While eating healthy will not guarantee pregnancy, it will definitely improve fertility.

7 Best Foods To Eat When You’re Trying To Get Pregnant

We briefly touched on the quality of food that you should eat when you are trying to get pregnant. This should have been part of the list of changes you need to make to your current lifestyle, but we feel it deserves its own section.

Avoid eating foods that have been highly-processed with artificial or synthetic ingredients; excessive amounts of sugars and salt, pesticides, chemicals, and food colouring.

Here is a list of the worst processed foods you should avoid:

  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Cereals
  • Soft Drinks
  • Donuts
  • Cake and Pastries
  • Processed Meats – Bacon, Hotdogs, Ham

Eating processed foods have been shown to have a detrimental effect on a woman’s ability to have a child. Always choose unprocessed, naturally-produced or organically-grown fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. These are foods that naturally boost your fertility.

Again, getting pregnant is not a one-woman show. This is a team effort. Even the husband should totally avoid eating processed food.

Now let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of the article. Here is a list of foods that increase fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant.

  1. Dairy

    Milk is rich in calcium and there are brands that are fortified with vitamin D. Calcium keeps your bones strong. Vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium and is good for heart health.

    Other than milk, good sources of dairy are:

    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Ice Cream

    Yes, even an occasional serving of ice cream will improve fertility! Here’s even better news, you can go for the full-fat variety!

    According to a study published in The Nurses’ Health Study, 2 servings of full-fat ice cream per day can reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility. Low fat or skim milk does the opposite.

    Doctors theorize that removing fat from dairy causes drastic changes in the balance of sex hormones which will, in turn hinder ovulation.

  2. Lean Animal Protein

    Lean animal protein especially organic or grass-fed beef is high in iron which is an important mineral to support a pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who eat a higher amount of lean animal protein have higher fertility rates than women who avoid meat altogether.

    Again, opt for animal sources that have been grown using safe farming or organic procedures. Avoid buying commercially available meat products that have been corn fed or injected with growth hormones.

    Unlike dairy where full-fat is preferred, when it comes to meat, stay lean. Choose lean pork tenderloin over bacon. When eating chicken, remove the skin and choose white meat over dark meat.

  3. Fatty Fish

    Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) such as Omega-3 fatty acids are natural fertility boosters. They support your efforts to get pregnant by improving blood flow to your reproductive area and by balancing out your hormones.

    Which types of fatty fish should you eat?

    • Salmon
    • Herring
    • Anchovies
    • Sardines
    • Mackerel
  4. Complex Carbohydrates

    Complex carbohydrates do not rapidly increase the amount of insulin in your blood, unlike simple carbohydrates. These insulin spikes affect the balance of hormones in your body which can affect ovulation.

    What are the best sources of complex carbohydrates? Choose grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fiber:

    • Oatmeal
    • Brown Rice
    • Whole Wheat Bread
    • Broccoli
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Berries
    • Yams

    What about the ice cream? As mentioned, ice cream has fat which slows down the release of insulin from the pancreas.

  5. Beans

    Research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that nurses who were actively trying to get pregnant were able to successfully conceive by including a generous amount of beans in their diet.

    Beans are one of the best fertility boosting foods. Here is a list of some of the types of beans you should include in your diet:

    • Garbanzos
    • Lentils
    • Tofu
    • Edamame
    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Macadamias
  6. Leafy Greens

    Leafy Greens are a wonderful source of folate, a B vitamin that has been studied to improve ovulation. Make sure your husband also eats a healthy amount of leafy greens.

    Studies have shown that men who eat leafy greens on a regular basis have healthier sperm and have a lower probability of producing sperm with abnormal qualities.

    Here are the best types of leafy greens to include in your salad:

    • Spinach
    • Arugula
    • Broccoli
    • Romaine Lettuce
  7. Pumpkin Seeds

    Pumpkin seeds are rich in non-heme iron which researchers found to have the ability to support pregnancy efforts.

    One such study showed that women who took a non-heme iron supplement were 40% less likely to have trouble getting pregnant compared to those who did not take the supplement.

Conclusion – Getting Pregnant Requires A Change Of Lifestyle

As we mentioned, the decision to have a baby is a life- changing moment. This does not only apply to the wife. Even the husband has to institute changes to his lifestyle. After all, the woman cannot get pregnant by herself. This is a team effort. The husband’s lifestyle can affect the quality and motility of his sperm.

Thus, before we even discuss the best foods to eat when you’re trying to get pregnant, let’s touch on the lifestyle changes that are needed to support your efforts to bear a child.

    1. Exercise Regularly – The health benefits of exercise are well-documented. You don’t have to train like an Olympic athlete. Just do enough physical activity to give your heart, muscles, and bones a good workout. Examples of good exercise choices are:
      • Brisk Walking – 30 minutes, 5 days a week
      • Weight Training – 1 hour, 3-4 days a week
      • Swimming – 30 minutes to 1 hour, 3 days a week
      • Biking – 30 minutes to 1 hour, 3 days a week

      Regular exercise helps regulate glucose levels and improves blood circulation. These 2 conditions strengthen your body’s internal systems and its capability to support life. Exercise is one of the most important things to do when trying to get pregnant.

    2. Manage Stress Levels – Stress has been linked to many illnesses and life-threatening conditions. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and certain forms of cancer. Exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress.
    3. Cut Down on Caffeine – Research has shown that caffeine may inhibit the level of contractions needed to carry a woman’s egg to her womb. In fact, drinking at least 2 servings of caffeinated drinks, by either husband or wife, may increase the risk of suffering a miscarriage.

If coffee is part of your daily routine, you should switch to decaf. However, keep in mind that decaf still contains some amount of caffeine. Your best option is to avoid caffeine altogether.

  1. Get Quality Sleep – Sleep is your body’s way of recharging itself after going through long hours of activity. Not getting enough sleep will affect recovery and can have serious consequences to your health. Try to get at least 8 hours of restful sleep every night.
  2. Stop Dangerous Habits – If you smoke or drink alcohol, stop right now! Smoking brings in dangerous toxic substances to your body and will affect fertility. If you are able to get pregnant, smoking can affect the development of the fetus.Don’t pay attention to the purported health benefits of the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer. There are also risks involved. Don’t take chances.

Getting pregnant may not be as easy as the stork delivering the baby to your home. It does take some effort and sacrifice on both husband and wife. However, by combining exercise with a healthy diet and lifestyle, you could be on the way to becoming parents.

Sep 23

How To Treat Postpartum Depression With Medical And Natural Remedies

By Elizabeth Crawford | Uncategorized

Childbirth is one of the greatest miracles of life. A new-born baby is celebrated and welcomed into this world with smiles, tears of joy, and hopes of a brighter future. For some mothers, the beautiful occasion is mixed with dread. There is a strange feeling of sadness that comes over them. It is a feeling they cannot explain. Science has identified this condition as Postpartum Depression. Dealing with Postpartum Depression is a real thing. If left untreated, it could negatively impact the baby’s behaviour, disposition, and personality.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Doctors have classified Postpartum Depression (PPD) as a mood disorder that generally affects women but in some cases, may also affect men. It is also referred to as Postnatal Depression.

It is normal for women to go through mood swings after giving birth. After all, her body has gone through hormonal changes during pregnancy. There are also the psychological and emotional factors such as feelings of being “undesirable”.

Women slowly develop fears of becoming a “bad mother”. She begins to dread the hardships and difficulties of the new life ahead; of how her life will drastically change.

These fears and anxieties become so pronounced that they manifest as feelings of inadequacy; that they are not good enough to become a mother to their child. She will stop caring for herself, her family, and the baby.

This is why even men; the husbands, are affected by PPD. They feel powerless and in a way, feel responsible for the change of behaviour of their spouse.

According to research, PPD starts out as Postpartum Blues or the “Baby Blues” and affects 15% to 85% of women as early as the first 10 days after giving birth. These feelings usually peak by the fifth day.

For most women, the baby blues go away naturally and they are able to segue into their new roles as loving mothers.

The problem occurs when the baby blues extend past 2 weeks. The longer these fears and anxieties persist, the greater the risk for Postpartum Blues to develop into Postpartum Depression.

Thus, early detection and management of Postpartum Depression are very important. Over the long term, its consequences will not be limited to the mother.

Research has shown that children whose mothers experienced Postpartum Depression developed behavioural problems, cognitive difficulties, and become more prone to anti-social behaviour. This is because PPD has adverse effects on the relationship between the mother and her baby.

If a woman becomes “regretful” of her status as a mother, the feeling may carry over to her interactions with the baby. It may lead to neglect, lack of compassion, an uncaring attitude, and potential acts of hostility that may influence the baby’s own personal and behavioural development.

Children are like sponges. They absorb the conditions of the environment that nurtures their growth and development. If the environment is toxic and negative, then these will manifest in the child’s own interactions with the world around him/her.

PPD will also have an effect on the mother’s ability to breastfeed. Breast milk is very important as it provides all the vitamins, minerals, and substances that strengthen the baby’s immune system.

Women who suffer from PPD are less willing to breastfeed their baby for extended periods. Shorter breastfeeding sessions will have an impact on the baby’s growth and development.

 

Causes And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

Doctors agree there is no singular cause of Postpartum Depression. Instead, the condition is the result of a combination of factors that are physical, emotional, and mental in origin.

As mentioned earlier, women go through hormonal changes during the different stages of pregnancy. When the woman gives birth, the levels of progesterone and estrogen drastically drop and cause changes in her mental and emotional states.

Becoming a parent also means more sleepless nights. The baby wakes up every few hours because he/she is hungry or has just soiled. Women who are used to getting their nightly 8-hour “beauty sleep” may not take too kindly to this change in lifestyle pattern.

Lack of sleep will manifest physically on the mother. She will look tired haggard. Because her metabolism will slow down, she will become more susceptible to weight gain. Her depression may lead her to consume unhealthy food as her sources of comfort.

Many states mandate that new mothers take a leave from work and stay home with the baby for a few months. This change of status from working professional to stay-at-home mother may be a difficult transition for some women even though it may just be a temporary situation.

The best way to develop Postpartum Depression solutions is to first identify the symptoms. How would you know that the woman is suffering from Postpartum Depression?  Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • She expresses feelings of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness.
  • She frequently finds herself crying; sometimes for no reason at all.
  • She gets more irritable; the littlest and most superficial incidents can trigger an emotional outburst.
  • Inability to sleep even after the baby is soundly asleep.
  • Difficulty in maintaining focus; loss of cognitive ability.
  • Increased feelings of lethargy; she no longer wants to stay active or do things she used to do before getting pregnant.
  • She experiences frequent bouts of migraines and headaches.
  • Anti-social behaviour; she does not want to see family and friends.
  • She appears emotionally detached from the baby.
  • She expresses thoughts about physically harming herself or the baby.

Dealing with Postpartum Depression is a serious matter. If a woman shows any one of these symptoms, it should not be taken lightly. The common mistake is to just attribute the condition as a “passing stage” she would eventually get over.

Instead of being dismissive, her loved ones should take a proactive approach and immediately help the mother find ways to cope with Postpartum Depression.

How To Treat Postpartum Depression

There is no cure for Postpartum Depression. As a condition, the best course of action is for the woman to undergo treatments that are specifically designed to address each of the possible cause.

  • Psychotherapy Sessions. These are short-term treatment sessions that seeks to identify and address the specific interpersonal disruption that may have contributed to PPD.

    Many women who suffer from PPD share that they do not receive adequate social support from their loved ones at their time of need. They feel that family and friends are largely dismissive and don’t take her anxieties seriously.

    Numerous studies strongly support the effectiveness of psychotherapy sessions for women with PPD.

  • Medication. PPD remains categorized as a type of depression. Therefore, the medications given to mothers with PPD are often the same as patients who are dealing with other forms of depression. An example would be SSRI or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.

    These medicines are used to address PPD that is in the range of moderate to severe. SSRI works by blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain and balances out mood swings.

  • Hormone Therapy. For the reason that women go through wild hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and after giving birth, hormone therapy may be needed to balance out hormone levels.

    A doctor will usually administer estrogen therapy which has been proven to be one of the more effective PPD treatment protocols. There are risks to estrogen therapy.

    These risks include insufficient lactation and a higher probability of acquiring endometrial cancer and thromboembolism. Thus, prior to receiving estrogen therapy, the woman should first undergo screening procedures.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. A study on women who suffer from PPD was conducted by a group of researchers from The University of Kansas Medical Center.

    The results of their study showed that women who have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids were more likely to develop Postpartum Depression.

    Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have been proven to improve heart health, lower cholesterol levels, and regulate blood pressure. Lately, more research has shown that Omega-3s can also relieve depression and feelings of anxiety.

  • Physical Activity or Exercise. A 2008 study that was published by the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health presented compelling evidence that women who exercised regularly and continued to do so after giving birth were less likely to develop PPD.

    There are three reasons for this. First, exercise releases endorphins which make you feel better. Second, exercise helps manage hormonal imbalances. Third, women who exercise feel more in control of their physical appearance.

    They know they are on the way to losing the extra weight and feel more revitalized after every exercise session. Thus, exercise is one of the most effective ways to cope with Postpartum Depression.

Conclusion

If you know someone who is dealing with Postpartum Depression, don’t be indifferent or condescend by saying, “You’ll be fine. That’s all in your head.” It may be in their head, but it may also affect their heart and overall health. Worse, it will pose a serious threat to the otherwise beautiful relationship between a mother and her child.

Ask her to get professional help. Talk to her family and seek more social support. Encourage her to exercise and follow a better diet. Best of all, be a friend. While there is no cure for Postpartum Depression, sometimes a willing ear can be the most powerful anti-depressant of all.