Thats Why They Call ‘Em the Blues

“That’s Why They Call ‘Em the Blues”

pregnant

It’s the happiest time of your life. You finally got the positive pregnancy test, you’ve cleaned out the back office to make a nursery and you’ve even picked out baby names, but for some reason you feel totally bummed.

Being sad or even depressed during pregnancy is very normal. Your body is literally creating life. You’re hormone levels are through the roof and you’re wondering how a baby is ever going to come out, well you know, there!

Let me tell you about my personal experience with sadness during my pregnancy. I often felt guilty because I knew I was going through something so wonderful but often felt so upset. I was pregnant in Phoenix and my entire family lives on the east coast. It killed me to think I was going to have and raise this baby away from my family. It kept me up at night, crying and sleepless. I lost my job in my first trimester because of how sick I was. (I worked in a café, not a place to have a weak stomach and a heightened sense of smell.) My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, did what he could to help me out with keeping me busy and out of the house but sometimes it was hard. I hated sitting around the house being left to feel bad about my family so far away or wondering how I will ever survive labor. I decided it was time to do something about it.

In my second trimester my doctor started me on a very low dose of an anti-anxiety that is approved for pregnancy. It helped, I wasn’t really staying up all night anymore but I needed something else. I went to Target and picked up a yoga DVD designed for pregnancy. I loved it. The 30 minutes a day of stretching and meditation really helped put my mind at ease. Any type of exercise will help, whether it’s going for a brisk walk or taking Zumba at the gym, this movement will release endorphins into the body helping to make you happier.

Eating right will help with anxiety and depression as well. Vitamin C has been shown to help with mood enhancement as well as Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. All of these nutrients are vital during pregnancy and can definitely help boost your mood. Citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli and brussel sprouts are all great sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin B12 can be consumed by eating animal products, fortified foods or supplements. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are readily found in salmon, tuna and flax seeds.

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Cutting down caffeine to almost nothing really helped me as well. It is recommended you have no more than 200 mg of caffeine a day while you are pregnant. I drink about 300mg of a caffeine a day on average and cut it down to about 75mg during pregnancy. Not only did the lesser caffeine help with my mood it helped keep away some of the jitters at night. Sadly, nothing helped my restless leg syndrome or sleepless nights after about 30 weeks but continuing to meditate, exercise, eat right and cutting out caffeine definitely improved my mood.

If you feel like you can’t take control of your depression while you are pregnant you should definitely see your doctor. Womenshealth.gov says, sadness is normal during pregnancy but if you are experiencing hopelessness, headaches, withdrawal from family and friends, memory problems and/or sleeping/eating too much or too little be sure to make an appointment right away. Some medicines are not safe to take while pregnant so never self-medicate or take something just because it was safe prior to pregnancy. Your doctor may also suggest counseling or therapy if you are having a hard time dealing with your mood. Don’t feel guilty for these feelings, unfortunately for some, it’s just part of the journey.

*Remember, I am not a doctor; these suggestions are what helped me after doing extensive research on this topic. Always consult your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise plan since no one plan fits every one.*

*If you feel as if you may hurt yourself or someone else please, call 911 or get to the hospital right away. Never take any chances.*

Folic Acid

You often hear about folic acid and how important it is when it comes to pre-conception and pregnancy. According to WebMD, folic acid is a water soluble B-vitamin that is crucial in preventing birth defects in early pregnancy. The chance of neural tube defects (i.e. spina bifida) and miscarriage are greatly reduced if folic acid is consumed enough either through food or through supplements such as prenatal vitamins. Folic acid helps create DNA which is obviously absolutely imperative during pregnancy. Many doctors suggest any woman of child bearing age should take a folic acid supplement or a prenatal vitamin since there is always a chance pregnancy can occur.

Many foods contain a great bit of folic acid naturally such as dark leafy greens, lentils, whole grains, asparagus and mushrooms. Consuming a variety of these foods will help you to be sure you are consuming enough folic acid in any given day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office on Women’s Health) suggests women of childbearing age, women who are trying to conceive and women who are pregnant should consume 400-800 mcg of folic acid daily. Here is a list of some of the foods high in folic acid:

These amounts are based on a 2,000 calorie diet:

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Spinach/Kale: 1 cup, 263 mcg, 95% DV

Collard Greens: 1 cup, 177 mcg, 44% DV

Lentils: 1 cup, 358 mcg, 90% DV

Pinto Beans: 1 cup, 294 mcg, 74% DV

Asparagus: 1 cup, 262 mcg, 65% DV

Strawberries: 1 cup, 25 mcg, 6.5% DV

          As you can see, getting your daily folic acid intake shouldn’t be too difficult but if you feel like you aren’t getting enough talk to your doctor about getting on a supplement or what type of prenatal vitamin you should be taking.

          If you are in a rut, here’s a delicious recipe I created for my other blog, it’s high in folic acid and super easy to make. Enjoy!

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Lentil and Kale Soup

Serves 6 for a starter; Serves 4 for dinner

2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup onions, small dice

½ cup carrots, small dice

½ cup celery, small dice

¾ cup tomatoes, small dice

14 oz. green lentils, picked over*

2 quarts homemade or low sodium vegetable broth (look for gluten free versions if necessary)

4 cups of kale, chopped small

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep pot and add onions, celery and carrots. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and let sweat for 10 min stirring pretty constantly. Add tomatoes, lentils and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 35-45 minutes until lentils are soft and barely falling apart. Add the kale to the soup and let simmer until wilted. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

 

To make this soup even heartier you can add diced potatoes when the tomatoes go in or serve with a whole grain baguette.

 

*Lentils, as well as other dried legumes should be spread out on a tray and picked over before cooking.1 time out of 10 you’ll find little pebbles in your lentils, it’s no big deal just didn’t get picked out during the drying process.

 

 

Trying to Conceive?

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Trying to Conceive?

Congratulations! What an exciting time in a couple’s life when baby talk begins. Of course, there is so much to talk about:

Can we afford this?

Are we ready?

What will we name the baby?

Do we have the room?

            Yet, many people don’t realize the number one question they should be asking is “Am I physically and mentally healthy enough to have a baby?” This goes for both parties of course. General and mental health is so important in the success of conception. Stress, poor eating habits, drinking and smoking will all lead to failed efforts. Here are a few guidelines for both men and women when trying to conceive:

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For the Men:

            A lot of the time guys think they get the easy way out during pregnancy but really during pre-conception it is so important for them to step up their game in order to ensure healthy sperm count for conception. The CDC advises drinking, using drugs and smoking lowers sperm count significantly even causing infertility. Obesity is also concern for pre-conception health since it increases infertility. Sticking to a healthy diet filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein along with exercise can help you keep a healthy weight.

            Mental health is also extremely important. Stress messes with your body in more ways than you can count including hormonally which is not going to help with conception. If you are feeling stressed try to talk to your partner, discuss what troubles you, if that doesn’t help you should see a mental health specialist prior to trying to conceive.

 Women:

            It is obvious women need to try and be at their pinnacle of health before trying to conceive in order to be able to support life for the next nine months but there are so many things to remember. In my opinion taking pre-natal vitamins is the number one most important pre-conception task you should be doing. WebMD and the CDC say all women of childbearing age should be taking pre-natal vitamins or a folic acid supplement to aid in prevention of birth defects if they were to get pregnant. Most birth defects happen with in the first month of pregnancy when many women don’t even know they are pregnant so being prepared will definitely help. Pre-natal vitamins also ensure the right amount of iron and other vitamins essential for pregnancy,

          A women’s sexual health is at its best when she is eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals and exercising to take care of her body. Eating dark leafy greens such as kale and collard greens will provide B vitamins and plenty of calcium which takes time to build up in the body and since you’re definitely going to need it during pregnancy to support bone growth in your new baby you should load up. Berries are packed with phytonutrients that help fight disease and Vitamin C which helps to build up membranes lowering your risk of pre-term labor. Consuming foods high in probiotics such as sauerkraut and yogurt will give you an immune system boost and keep your digestive track, well, on track. This will make for a much more comfortable pregnancy and pre-conception period.

            It’s probably obvious but worth mentioning women who are trying to conceive should completely cut drugs, alcohol and smoking out of their bad habits. These substances can cause infertility and birth defects and should not be used in any amount. If you are having trouble quitting you should see your doctor so he/she can refer you to a specialist.

           Talk to your doctor about a healthy exercise regime for pre-conception. Being overweight can make getting pregnant much harder and can cause serious problems such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes while you are pregnant. A rapid walk or slow jog 30 minutes a day at least 4 days a week along with a healthy diet can help get your heart pumping and metabolism going enough to get to a healthy weight. If you already are on a strenuous work out plan you may need to tone it down in order to get pregnant. Over-doing it can mess with your menstrual cycle and ovulation and make it harder to figure out when to try and conceive.

            Women should make an appointment with the OB/GYN before trying to conceive. The doctor will perform a few tests including a pap smear and maybe a blood test to be sure you do not have any sexually transmitted diseases and to make sure you are in good gynecologic health prior to getting pregnant. The doctor may also talk to you about past pregnancies you may have had since problems in a past pregnancy could put you in for different procedures or precautions this time around.

            Getting pregnant should be an exciting time in a couple’s life. The only worries you should have are what color you’re going to paint the baby room or what kind of car seat you’d like, not health or conception issues. Keep it healthy, stay focused and centered, don’t stress and have fun making a baby. This is the most amazing time of your life, and it just gets better.

            Please remember, I am not a doctor! I just thoroughly enjoy research, pregnancy and babies. Studying to be a nutritionist has definitely put a passion in me to try and live a healthier lifestyle and help others live that way as well. Always ask your doctor before trying any new diets or exercise plans.

P.s. Healthy eating = Healthy Mind