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nutrition

It is tempting in early pregnancy to just give into temptation and eat whatever you are craving (especially if you aren’t able to keep much of anything else down) and to give in to the urge to lay around and do nothing because you are just so darn tired all the time.  However, a recent study conducted by the health management company, Kaiser Permanente, discovered that women who put on 7 or more pounds during their first trimester had an 80% higher risk of developing gestational diabetes later in pregnancy.

The more weight you gain early in your pregnancy the more weight you will gain through your whole pregnancy.  Weight gain increases the further into the pregnancy you go, so if you pack on the pounds in those first 3 months you could find yourself in trouble later in your pregnancy.  It is important to talk to your doctor or midwife about what your weight gain expectations should be, they vary from woman to woman and depend in large part on whether you started out your pregnancy below average, average or above average in weight.

There are a few things you can start early in your pregnancy that will not only help you avoid packing on too much weight early in your pregnancy but will also help you throughout your pregnancy if you keep them up:

  • Exercise. Even if it is a just a brisk walk in the evening it will help keep you active during your pregnancy which will in turn help feel better, gain less weight and have more energy throughout your pregnancy.  Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
  • Keep a food journal.  This can also be helpful if you are suffering from morning sickness to help identify those foods which help and those that make you ill.  Keeping track of the food you take in will help you make better choices, especially if you weren’t a very healthy eater before you became pregnant.
  • Eat small meals and supplement with small snacks.  Eating throughout the day will help curb your nausea and will also, if you make healthy choices, help you control your weight gain.
  • Make healthy choices.  Avoid high fat, high calorie, high sugar foods.  Choosing lots of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats will be good for your growing baby and will help you control your weight gain.

You should never diet during pregnancy or overdo it when it comes to exercise.  Weight gain is a part of pregnancy.  The key is to make healthy choices and stay active so that you gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.  Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercise you are cleared for.  If you aren’t sure about what constitutes a healthy diet for a pregnant woman ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist so you can have a guide in making the right choices.

During pregnancy there are, of course, the obvious things you need to avoid, like drugs and alcohol.  For the most part though, things in your life can stay fairly normal.  You can carry on like usual eating the foods you love, exercising, etc.  That being said, there are a few other things that are big no-no’s for pregnant women.  Things that need to be avoiding during pregnancy for your safety as well as the safety of the little person growing inside of you.

Things to avoid when pregnant:

  • Contact Sports –  You can continue exercising during pregnancy (unless advised not to by your doctor) but that doesn’t mean you can still do everything you could before you got pregnant.  If you partake in contact sports like kickboxing, martial arts, skiing, football, soccer, etc you should stop during you pregnancy.  The risk of injury to yourself and your fetus is too great with these activities.  Talk to your doctor about what sports are considered safe for you during pregnancy.
  • Hot tubs and Saunas – Water activities are great for pregnant women.  Swimming and water aerobics are great ways to get your exercise without feeling the extra weight and pressure from the pregnancy.  However, it is not safe to use the hot tub and sauna at your local pool (or any where for that matter).  The high temperatures are unsafe.  A rise in your core body temperature can lead to fetal abnormalities.
  • Raw Seafood, Sushi – Seafood, if cook and eaten in moderation, is considered safe during pregnancy.  However, sushi is not.  Raw seafood can carry parasites which could cause you to become ill or affect the fetus.  So if you have a hankering for seafood go for the cooked variety and skip the sushi.

For the most part the list of things you need to avoid is usually short.  There are more things you can continue doing versus those you need to avoid.  Be sure to talk at length with your doctor early in your pregnancy to determine what is considered safe and what you should avoid.  Be prepared for things to change during your pregnancy.  If complications arise your doctor may add a few things to that list of things to avoid.

artificial sweetners

What you consume becomes very important during your pregnancy. Since what you eat can have an impact on the little life growing inside of you it is even more important to make sure what you eat is healthy and safe.  During pregnancy it is recommended that women eat a balanced diet high in fiber rich foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lots of calcium, plenty of protein and lots of water.  That being said, there are also fairly strict recommendationsg regarding healthy weight gain during pregnancy.  To help avoid putting on more weight than they should many women turn to artificial sweetners to help keep their sugar intake down.  But are they safe?

Due to a lack in research into the effects of the artificial sweetners, aspartame (marketed as Nutrasweet and Equal) and saccharin , on a developing fetus most doctors recommend that you avoid these artificial sweetners during pregnancy if you can or at the very least limit how much you consume.  The other common artificial sweetner, sucralose, marketed under the brand name Splenda, is at this time considered safe for consumption during pregnancy.

For the most part natural foods such as unprocessed meats, diary, fresh fruits and vegetables, natural sweetners like sugar and honey, and whole grain breads and cereals are your best bets for a safe, healthy pregnancy diet. If you are concerned about any of the foods you are eating, or have questions about what is safe to eat during pregnancy and what is not, talk to your doctor or midwife.  If you are worried that you are not eating healthy enough consider asking your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist for a consultation on healthy pregnancy eating habits.

After you get over that initial bumpy start to breastfeeding things tend to smooth out and breastfeeding life is good, easy.  Your baby will often nuzzle in close, close her eyes and just nurse quietly.  This easy breastfeeding with continue for several months.  Then one day you’ll realize that your baby has suddenly become distracted by everything and breastfeeding will become a bit of a challenge again.

At around 4-5 months babies become much more aware of their surroundings and become interested in what is going on around them, even when busy nursing.  Things like other people in the room, the dog or cat running around, the television can all become more interesting than your breast and will result in your baby letting go of their latch to look around and see what is happening.  It can be frustrating not only because the nursing sessions will often become longer when your baby is constantly stopping and starting but also those quick unlatchings can be painful.

Every baby (well almost anyway) will go through this phase.  My daughter went through it at about4 months old.  I had to change up our breastfeeding routine and we were able to settle back into a nice, quiet routine that worked.  Luckily this is one of the easier breastfeeding challenges to over come.  With a little creativity and making a few changes you can easily nurse your baby through this distracted period.

Here are a few tips on nursing a distracted baby:

  • Nurse in a quiet spot with few distractions.  If you were used to nursing in the living room talking to your husband and watching television consider switching to nursing in your child’s bedroom.
  • If there are distractions in the room try to position yourself so that the distractions are not in your baby’s line of sight.
  • Make eye contact with your baby and softly talk to him, this will help keep his focus on you and the task at hand.
  • Allow your baby to play with something like a favorite toy or blanket.  If their focus is on that favorite, fun item they are less likely to be distracted by what is going on around them.
  • Consider using a blanket or a breastfeeding cover, especially if you are in a place where the distractions are plentiful, to help keep out the distracting sights and sounds.
  • If your baby is easily distracted by noises consider playing a calming cd or use a white noise machine during nursing to help drown out the outside noises.

Although it can be frustrating and you may want to just give up try to work through.  You are doing the best thing for your baby by breastfeeding, keep it up.  Bottlefed babies get distracted too.   Just switch up your routine a bit and work with your baby to keep your nursing sessions quiet and enjoyable.

SunButter is a peanut butter alternative made from sunflower seeds.  I picked up a jar of SunButter to give it a try since my daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  Both my husband and I love peanut butter so my goal was to find a product that would be a good substitute.  One that would mimic peanut butter well both in everyday use like on toast or on a peanut butter sandwich as well as in recipes like cookies or monkey munch.

Admittedly, I was a little skeptical.  I just couldn’t see how a product made without peanuts could really taste like peanut butter.  My first try of SunButter was on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  SunButter tasted almost exactly like peanut butter.  The consistency was pretty similar to natural peanut butter and spread really well on the bread.  Now, I will admit that Maya wasn’t a huge fan but she can sometimes not be a fan of something the first time she tries it.  I’ll let her try a few more times before I say for sure if she likes it or not.

I think SunButter will be very useable as a peanut butter substitute in recipes.  Based on the taste and consistency I would imagine that SunButter can easily be substituted into baking recipes in the same quantities as the recipe calls for.  As with any substitutions it may take a little trial and error before you get the perfect amount.  I’m going to give it a try in monkey munch later this week so I’ll let you know how that goes.

My one big disappointment was the price.  I had to pay over $6 for a 1lb jar.  Now, I bet the pricing was high because the store I purchased it from saw an opportunity to gauge the consumer a little given that people looking for peanut alternative “peanut butter” don’t have a whole lot of options.  You can find it cheaper (about half the price) online at places like, Peanut Free Planet.

So, the bottom line is that price aside I am very impressed.  SunButter is definitely a peanut butter alternative that this admitted peanut lover could get used to.  If you have children with peanut allergies it is definitely worth giving this product a try.  I would recommend purchasing it online though as you will be able to get a much better deal!