Colic and the Elimination Diet

The difference between a fussy baby and a colicky baby, according to Dr. Sears, is that a fussy baby can be comforted when being held and soothed, while colicky babies are actually in pain and don’t respond to any sort of comforting. The term “colic” comes from the Greek kolikos, meaning “suffering in the colon.” These babies are hurting, not just high-needs.

So what can you do to help them?

If your baby is breastfeeding, you may have to sit down and think about your diet. The foods you eat affect your baby, and something in your milk could be causing his horrible tummy-aches and ear-piercing cries.

The idea of an elimination diet was developed by William G. Crook, M.D. (Detecting Your Hidden Allergies, Jackson, Tenn: Professional Books, 1987) and adapted by lactation counselor Martha Sears as follows:

The diet is based on eating the least allergenic food in each of the food groups. It can take up to two weeks for the offending foods to get out of your system, and bring your baby some relief.

1. For the first 2 weeks, eat only the following foods:

  • range-fed turkey and lamb
  • baked or boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes (with salt and pepper only)
  • rice and millet as your only grain
  • cooked green and yellow squash for your vegetable
  • pears and diluted pear juice for your fruit
  • Drink a rice-based beverage drink in place of milk on cereal or in cooking. Do not yet use soy beverage. (Rice products, such as rice beverage, rice-based frozen dessert, rice pasta, rice flour, and millet are available in nutrition stores.)
  • Take a calcium supplement.

2. At the end of two weeks (sooner if the colic subsides)  gradually add other foods to your diet, one every four days. Begin with those less commonly allergenic such as sunflower seeds, carrots, beets, salmon, oats, grapes, California avocado, peaches.

3. Wait a while before you add wheat, beef, eggs, nuts, and corn. Avoid for the longest time dairy products, soy products, peanuts, shellfish, coffee, tea, colas and other beverages containing caffeine, chocolate, gas-producing vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, green peppers), tomatoes, and citrus fruits. Vegetables and fruits are often tolerated in cooked form sooner than in raw form.

4. Keep a record of the foods you eat and the problem behaviors. You’ll hope to see a correlation between what you’ve eaten in the past day or two, and baby’s fussy spells. Writing everything down helps you stay objective, which is hard to do when you are sleep-deprived. This is especially important when baby has stayed fussy past four months of age.

5. Do not starve yourself. Although your choices will be very limited at first, you can still eat a nutritious diet. Eat more of the “safe” food until you determine what your baby can tolerate.

6. Older babies are often less sensitive to fruits and veges, so protein elimination is generally recommended. This means cutting out dairy, beef, eggs, chicken, shellfish, soy, corn, wheat, and peanuts, in addition to any other foods you suspect bother your baby.

The good news: Dr. Sears states that colicky babies usually respond to mother’s diet changes dramatically and quickly, often within one or two days. It may take longer with an older baby who is night-waking. Often , mothers will find that their baby may sleep better for a few nights only to start waking again a lot for a few days or a week, at which point the sleep again improves. It’s important to know this so you will not think “it isn’t working,”  and give up.

For more information on colic and tips to help you through it, visit Dr. Sear’s Coping with Colic page!

feature photo via Hug Your Baby

Energizing Foods for Pregnancy

Being pregnant… it’s exhausting! And in the early months, when there’s not much to show for it, your hard-working body may not get much appreciation or relaxation.

But what is making you so tired? How can that tiny little growing being inside you be sapping so much of your energy? To fuel the baby-making, your body is producing more blood, your heart rate is up, your metabolism is working overtime, and you’re using up more nutrients and water. It also takes four months until the baby’s placenta  is complete. So it’s no wonder you are always fighting fatigue!

So when a nap is not an option, and the show must go on, what kind of energy boost can you hope for?  Sugar and caffeine may give you a temporary high, but after the initial surge in blood sugar you’ll plummet lower than before. What you need are some nutritious, energy-boosting foods to help you get through the day.

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image credit: all diets review

Grazing (eating 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 big ones) may be the best way to eat while pregnant. You’ll keep your energy levels even and avoid the nausea that may accompany a too-large meal. And be sure to drink plenty of water.

And while you’re not literally “eating for two,” your body does need about 300 extra calories per day.  Bon appétit!

Protein: Recommendation for pregnancy: 75 grams of it per day. Helps keep you energized and aids in the development of your baby’s rapidly reproducing cells.

  • milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • eggs
  • lean meat and poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • beans, lentils, split peas
  • quinoa
  • nuts and seeds

Complex Carbohydrates:

  • whole-grain breads, crackers, and cereals
  • fresh, dried, and frozen fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • baked potatoes with skin
  • dried beans and peas

Iron: Fatigue can be related to iron-deficiency anemia, especially in pregnant women. Iron-rich foods will keep your irons stores elevated and help pump up your energy level.

  • dried fruit
  • spinach
  • soy products
  • lean red meat
  • duck
  • cooked shellfish
  • cooked dried beans
  • oatmeal
  • iron-fortified cereals

Putting it all together: Here are just a few meal and snack ideas to help you get that little extra energy-lift.

  • Sandwiches of whole-grain bread filled with grated cheese, tuna, lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Salads with fresh veges and feta cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with dried fruit and granola
  • Hummus with bread or vegetable sticks
  • Fresh fruit
  • dried fruits and nuts
  • Hearty soups with veges, beans, legumes, chicken or meat
  • Oatmeal or unsweetened breakfast cereals
  • Fruit-shakes and fresh-squeezed juice
  • Chicken breast with baked potato and steamed veges
  • Whole-grain pasta topped with grilled veges and salmon

How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy

You’re tired. You also have a bit of heartburn. Your back hurts, your legs are cramping. Maybe you feel restless, anxious about the future, overwhelmed with so many things going on at once. You might feel short of breath, and find it hard to get comfortable. And then, as you finally start to drift off, you get that uncomfortably-full feeling in your bladder and up we go to the bathroom yet again!

In your first trimester, you’ll find that you feel extra sleepy all the time, which is brought on by high levels of progesterone. Your second trimester might bring a period of peaceful sleep, but don’t get to used to it because when the third trimester comes along, with that beautiful belly getting bigger every day, sleep may seem like a distant memory.

You’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep! Help!

Sleep Position:

Lying on your side with your knees tucked in is likely to be the most comfortable position. It also take some stress off your heart, because it keeps the baby’s weight off of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs. Also, if you sleep on your left side, it helps take the pressure of your uterus off your liver. It also helps with digestion and improves circulation to the heart, fetus, uterus, and kidneys.

Pillow Relief:

Some women feel more comfortable with a pillow under their tummy, between their legs, or at the small of your back may help to relieve some pressure. This is something you’ll have to experiment with a bit, and maybe try one of the various “pregnancy pillows” on the market.

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maternity pillows

Watch what and when you eat:

Take it easy on the caffeinated drinks like soda, coffee, and tea. If you can’t give up your caffeine, try to restrict it to earlier part of the day.

You need to get plenty of fluid and nutrition during the day, but try to avoid eating and drinking a lot within a few hours of bedtime. Eat larger meals for breakfast and lunch, and a smaller meal at dinner. If you’re bothered by nausea, a few crackers before you go to sleep may do the trick.

Relief for Heartburn:

The first step is to avoid foods that trigger heartburn. Some common culprits are carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, mint products, processed meats, and any foods that are spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty.  Again, eat small, frequent meals, and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Don’t eat for a few hours before bedtime.  Elevating your head and upper body may help keep stomach acids where they belong.

Create an inviting sleep environment:

If you can get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, it will help you fall asleep at night. Try to do something relaxing just before you get into bed, like taking a warm bath, drinking something soothing, like tea with honey, or ask your partner for a little foot massage. Exercising during the day may help your body release pent up energy which will help you sleep at night, but don’t exercise right before bedtime.

Leg Cramps:

No one can sleep through a leg cramp! To make it go away, try pressing your feet hard against the wall or to stand on the leg.  Also, make sure that you’re getting enough calcium in your diet, which can help reduce leg cramps.

Reduce Stress:

If your days are always spent on the go, consider a prenatal yoga class or some other relaxation exercise to help you unwind. If you are worried about the birth or how you will cope with a new baby, a childbirth or parenting class will help you feel more confident about the future. Knowledge, and the company of other women in a similar position, may be comforting and help you sleep better at night.

Take Naps:

Regardless of everything you do, there are times when you just can’t sleep. In these cases, short naps during the day can be a life-saver. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something: read a book, catch up on letters or email, put in a load of laundry, wash the dishes. Eventually, you’ll probably feel tired enough to get back to sleep.  Then, you’ll have cleared up some space the next day for a nice hour’s nap!

6 Pregnancy Super Foods

Before you reach for the cookie jar, think of your growing baby and take a peek at these nutritious and delicious food ideas!

Pregnancy is an important time to think more carefully about what you’re eating, since these foods will be the main source of nutrients for your growing baby. Get off to a good start with these pregnancy super foods.

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photo credit: Doesn’t this make you hungry?!

1. Whole grains: Enriched, whole-grain breads and cereals are fortified with folic acid and iron and contain more fiber than white bread and rice. Some good ways to incorporate whole grains: Oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole-grain bread at lunch, and whole-wheat pasta or brown rice for dinner. Add barley to soups for thickness and flavor. If you like to bake, use whole wheat, oat, rye, or spelt flour.

2. Beans: Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and key nutrients such as iron, folate, calcium, and zinc. There are lots to choose from: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, and kidney, garbanzo, or soy beans! Try them in chili and soups, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

3. Salmon: A great source of protein, B vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain development and vision in babies.  Try it grilled, broiled, or on a salad. Although salmon is relatively low in mercury compared to other fish, experts advise no more than 12 ounces of salmon per week.

4. Eggs: Eggs a good source of protein that provides amino acids you and your baby need, and contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline and lutein. They’re versatile too: Hard or soft boiled, sunny side up, omelets filled with veges and cheese, on a sandwich…  Just be sure not to eat undercooked or raw eggs.

5. Berries: Berries are bursting with vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries… they are a delicious snacks and taste great in pancakes, on top of cereal, in your yogurt. If you can’t get them fresh, look in the freezer section.

6. Low-fat yogurt: One cup of plain, low-fat yogurt contains more calcium than milk, and is high in protein. Avoid flavored yogurts for their high sugar content. Improve the taste with fruit, nuts, granola, or my personal favorite: date honey!

Training Children to Eat Well

What to feed an infant is pretty straightforward, and toddlers tend to eat whatever you give them, but as they grow up you may discover the frustrating phenomenon of picky eating. Nancy Piho, author of “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, warns: “It’s not always pretty!”

No, it’s not. Sometimes, it gets quite ugly.

As the proud (and somewhat harried) mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old, it seems the only acceptable food choices are the Familiar and the Full-of-Sugar. Definitely not seeing any octopus in my future.

What is the secret to turning out the “good eaters?” Nancy Piho says that the key is to put firm and healthful eating habits in place from the beginning, and then stick to them, even when the going gets tough. Easier said than done? I don’t know, I’ll have to try it out on child number three.

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photo: Dr. Ann Wigmore

But it’s never too late to try instilling good habits. Ms. Piho presents 8 good eating tips to implement in your home:

1. Sit down! Now is the time to teach your kids that meals play an important role in their day. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner a definite sit-down-to-eat occasion, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

2. Doesn’t this look good? Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Young children “eat with their eyes” just like adults do.

3. It’s a dinner, not a diner! That means, no short order cooking! From their earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.

4. Focus on the whole meal. If you’re serving chicken, peas and rice for dinner, then your child should have chicken, peas and rice on their plate, too. What if they scarf down the rice and want more? Make them wait until they have a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.

5. Spice it up. Don’t be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If it’s really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into their portion, so that they still get the flavor of the dish without the full effect of the heat.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If at first they dislike spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before a child will be accepting of it. Wait several days or weeks, but don’t drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.

7. Pour out the juice. Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: they are sweet to the taste. Don’t start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.

8. And nix the other kiddie products. If it’s a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are it’s going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.

In-law problems? Teenagers in the house? Annoyed with your spouse? Sex life need a pick-up? Find more good family advice on  Hitched.com.

The “Stuffing Baby at Bedtime” Syndrome

I bet there’s no parent out there who hasn’t heard the advice to “stuff” your baby with cereal or baby food before bedtime to help him sleep better (by which they mean, not wake up as much during the night.)  But not only does this filler fallacy not work, it may actually create early problems in appetite control, leading to later-on obesity.

Between the ages of six to nine months, babies can begin to taste “real” food, such as mashed banana and rice cereal. But up to a year of age, all the nutrients a baby needs are obtained through breast milk or formula. For a baby that’s nursing, there’s no reason to rush into solid food, which will only be taking the place of more nutritious breast milk.

Despite this fact, there are those who think that solids will fill your baby’s tummy better because they are more, well, solid than milk.  It would be logical to think that baby will wake less often to nurse if his tummy feels fuller. Nevertheless, controlled studies show that infants who are fed solids before bedtime do not sleep through the night any sooner than infants who do not get this extra meal.

Instead of focusing on ways to get your baby to sleep through the night (which, by the way, is defined by five hours of uninterrupted sleep–not eight or ten!) it would help to understand your infant’s sleep patterns, and why frequent night waking is actually beneficial to your baby’s health!  All babies reach the milestone of “sleeping through the night,”  but it is something that will happen when baby is ready.

Source: The Baby Book. See also Dr. Sears online

feature image: WebMD: Common Baby Feeding Problems

Don’t Eat These Foods if you’re Pregnant!

Everything you eat and drink while you’re expecting influences your baby’s health.  Good choices are whole grains, lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and veges, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. As for the rest… well some foods are questionable, some are OK in moderation, and some are all-out no-no’s.

Here’s some “food for thought:” consider these guidelines before indulging in every pregnancy craving:

Raw or Undercooked Animal Products

These foods may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  When cooking meat, chicken, and fish, it’s recommended to test the doneness with a food thermometer, cook eggs until they are no longer runny, and don’t eat raw dough. Here are some other things to watch out for:

  • rare meat
  • raw oysters
  • clams
  • sushi
  • unpasteurized eggs
  • raw cookie or cake dough
  • homemade eggnog

Hot Dogs, Cold Cuts, & Unpasteurized Dairy Foods

These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems. These include food such as:

  • hot dogs and
  • luncheon meats (deli ham or turkey, bologna, salami, etc)
  • refrigerated pates or meat spreads
  • refrigerated smoked seafood (such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel)– may be labeled “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.”
  • raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco, and queso Panela.

It’s safe to eat smoked seafood, lunch meants, and franks, when it’s part of a cooked dish (like in a casserole) or if you reheat them until they are steaming hot. Always wash your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces after handling raw meats, deli meats, etc.

Certain Seafood and Fish

Some large fish harbor high concentrations of mercury, a byproduct of coal-burning plants that interferes with the normal development of a child’s brain and nervous system.

  • Fish to avoid: swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel
  • Fish to eat in moderation (up to 12 ounces weekly, according to the FDA):  salmon (farmed and wild), shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, sardines, tilapia, and catfish.
  • albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. Limit to 6 ounces a week.
  • Fish caught for sport in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams may also contain industrial pollutants that play havoc with a developing nervous system. Check the safety with your local health departments.

Raw Vegetable Sprouts

The FDA advises pregnant women not to eat raw sprouts — including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.   Bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can get into sprout seeds, posing a danger for a weaker immune system. Cooked sprouts are perfectly fine.

Drinks to Limit or Avoid

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) robs developing cells of oxygen and nutrients, preventing normal fetal development. The effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on intellectual abilities and physical growth are permanent. While some assume the motto “Everything in moderation,” there is no known “safe level” of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • Unpasteurized juices, such as cider from neighborhood farms. These products may contain germs including E. coli.
  • Lead in tap water is linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in children. If you have an older home with lead pipes, it can leach into your tap water, and home filtration systems may not prevent it from reaching you.
  • Caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day. That’s about the amount found in 12 ounces of coffee.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development.

The FDA has not yet recommended that pregnant women avoid BPA, but they did express concern about “the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.”

If you wish to be safe, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available.

Herbal Teas, Vitamins, & Supplements

There are herbs and other supplements that can be used safely to support a healthy pregnancy, but always talk to your doctor or midwife about any supplement use during pregnancy.  Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but there are definite studies on the safety of herbal preparations during pregnancy.

Duffy MacKay, ND, is the vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, suggests the following guidelines during pregnancy:

  • Herbs that contain stimulants or caffeine-containing supplements, especially those that are intended to promote weight loss: guarana, kola nut, betel (Piper betle), Citrum aurantium, yohimbe, theobromine (cocoa extract), Garcinai cambogia.
  • Other botanicals to avoid include golden seal, Cascara sagrada, black walnut, wormwood, tansy, pennyroyal, senna, saw palmetto, pao d’arco.
  • Do not exceed 10,000 or more IU per day of vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects.  MacKay adds that “many newer and specialty nutrients have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy and should be avoided.”

Foods That May Cause Food Allergy

Your baby is more lifely to develop food allergies if you, your child’s father, or one of your other children has allergies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics  says that avoiding certain food allergens (such as peanuts) during pregnancy and nursing may reduce allergy in susceptible children.

If you don’t have any family history of allergies, there is little, if any, benefit to avoiding allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Before changing your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable about food allergies.

Excess Calories

Eating for two does not mean that you need twice the calories! Gaining too much weight is not just bad for your health, it may actually increase the risk of your future child being overweight.

It is important to chose healthy foods that will provide good nutrition for you and your developing baby. If you are overweight at conception or if your physical activity level declines, you may not need as many extra calories.

  • First trimester: no need to add extra calories yet.
  • Second trimester: add 340 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.
  • Third trimester: add 450 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.

It’s usually not that important to count calories, as long as you are eating a balanced diet and feel energized. If you are unsure about how many calories to consume, ask your doctor or dietitian.

Source: Web MD

feature image: mom logic

Morning Sickness Remedies

My friend Diana is not having an easy time of her first trimester! She’s constantly nauseous, throwing up all the time, and over-all exhausted– the heat isn’t helping things!  Since morning sickness is caused by the hormones that support your pregnancy, she knows that feeling constantly nauseated is actually a good thing… well, her brain knows it but her stomach doesn’t!  Her personal remedy is sucking candies, my other friend Miriam relies on candied ginger. But there’s no one trick that works for everyone, so you may have to try a few different things before you find something that helps settle your stomach. Here are some foods that may help you feel a little less nauseous.

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Crackers: This is an old standby, but crackers were actually one of the things I could tolerate whenever I was hit by morning sickness.  Basically any bland, crunchy food works the same way: bread, toast, rice cakes, even potato chips (not that we recommend subsisting on potato chips throughout your first trimester).

Soft foods: Some women find that the chewing is what triggers nausea, so try some soft, bland foods that are nutritious, gentle on the stomach, and don’t necessitate much chewing.  Applesauce, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit smoothies, etc.
Ginger: Can be found pickled, candied, in a tea bag, or a capsule– whatever the format, ginger is a natural remedy for nausea.

Lemons & Peppermint: Simply take a whiff  to relieve nausea. Try putting a couple drops of peppermint oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Some women also find the scent of lavender to be soothing.

Apple cider vinegar: Try taking 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (not any other kind) in warm water first thing in the morning. Apple cider vinegar is pH neutral and may help to neutralize excess stomach acid.

Bananas in Coconut Milk: This remedy comes from iVillage:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon flaxseeds

Directions: Peel the bananas and cut each into one-inch segments. Combine the coconut milk, water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced bananas to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the salt and boil for 20 minutes. Serve topped with flaxseed.

Why it helps: The potassium in the bananas can help alleviate some of your body’s aches and pains. The coconut milk works to build body mass for your baby. The maple syrup is so much better for you than sugar, and flaxseeds are full of essential fatty acids. The flaxseeds also help with that other delightful digestive symptom of pregnancy: constipation.

Alternative therapies: Hypnosis,  acupressure wristbands, and homeopathic remedies have  helped some women cope with nausea.

Give in to your cravings: Satisfying food cravings during pregnancy, whether you’re hankering for pickles or a big, juicy steak, may actually be beneficial. If you have an urge to eat a particular type of food, this may be your body’s way of telling you what it needs.

Other tips:

  • Eat small, frequent meals or snacks, so that your stomach is never empty or too full at one time.
  • Chew food well.
  • Avoid fatty, fried, and spicy foods.
  • Try eating a few whole-grain crackers before getting out of bed in the morning. Low blood sugar early in the morning may contribute to morning sickness (hence the  name). Crackers are also helpful for middle-of-the-night hunger pangs.
  • Try drinking in between meals rather than with meals. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’ve been vomiting a lot.
  • Identify your personal triggers and avoid them. This includes foods, odors, perfumes, and anything else that makes you nauseous.
  • Eat your food cold or room temperature; hot foods have a stronger aroma that may turn you off.
  • Nausea may become worse if you are tired or stressed out. So try to fit in a nap, some relaxation time, on an enjoyable activity.
  • Try taking your prenatal vitamin at night or with food. Also ask your doctor about a supplement that’s low-iron or iron-free at least during your first trimester. Iron can be hard on your digestive system.
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Ask your caretaker about dosage before taking any extra supplements.

As always, it is wise to consult with your doctor or midwife about any dietary changes, treatments, or supplements.

Breastfeeding, Dieting, and Weight Loss

Congratulations, you have a new baby! Amidst all the excitement and exhaustion, we know there’s one thought niggling at the back of your mind… when will I get out of these maternity clothes and back into clothes my “real” size?! Ah, have patience… Remember that your pregnancy weight wasn’t gained overnight. And for many moms, it won’t disappear that quickly, either.

The extra weight is there for a reason!

La Leche League points out that one reason you gained extra weight during pregnancy is so you would have plenty of reserves for feeding your baby. This is particularly reassuring for nursing mothers because it means that breastfeeding help in shedding these extra pounds, as the “reserve” are converted into nutritious breast milk for you baby.

Breastfeeding helps with weight loss

You may be surprised at how much weight you can loose in the early months by simply following a normal diet and eating when you’re hungry. The LLLI BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK says, “Breastfeeding mothers tend to lose more weight when their babies are three to six months old than formula-feeding mothers who consume fewer calories… Another study of mothers at one month postpartum found that mothers who breastfed (either exclusively or partially) had slimmer hips and weighed less than women whose babies received only formula…” (Yet another good reason to nurse your baby!)

Breastfeeding mothers can loose about one pound per week, while still consuming 1500 to 1800 calories per day.  The BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board says that most nursing moms actually need more like 2,000 to 2,700 calories per day! It’s very important to eat well in order to feel good, prevent mood swings, and have energy to care for your baby (especially if you are compensating for lack of sleep!).

It’s interesting to note that the composition of your milk really does not vary much with your diet. LLLI points out that mothers in famine conditions can produce perfectly nutritious milk for their babies. The main reason it’s important to eat well during lactation is for yourself– your health may suffer if too many of your own reserves are used to provide milk. Be sure to take care of yourself by “eating to hunger” and “drinking to thirst.”

Exercise and Dieting

If you feel like to need to actively work to lose weight, it is best to wait at least 2 months for your body to recover from childbirth and establish a good milk supply. Starting a diet too soon after giving birth can delay your recovery, affect your milk supply, and make you feel more tired (and no one with a newborn needs to feel MORE tired!). Always check with your doctor about increasing your activity level or reducing your calorie intake.

Exercise, not just calorie-counting, is important if you want to loose weight.  Try to be more active, whether it means hitting the gym or just walking your baby in the stroller instead of driving everywhere.

Don’t skip meals in an attempt to lose weight. It won’t help because you’ll be more likely to eat more at other meals. All you’ll accomplish is probably making yourself feel tired and grouchy. Breakfast really is important in helping you stay active and energized throughout the day. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 78% of successful dieters eat breakfast daily.

Go Slow

BabyCenter explains another danger of strict, restrictive diets. Too-rapid weight loss can release toxins that are stored in your body fat into your bloodstream and milk supply. These toxins include environmental contaminants like the heavy metals lead and mercury, persistent organic pollutants like PCBs and dioxins, and solvents.

Be realistic about weight loss

You should know that not everyone is able to return to their exact pre-pregnancy weight or shape. Pregnancy often causes permanent changes such as a softer belly, a larger waistline, and wider hips. With this in mind, you might want to adjust your goals a bit. (For a reality check, see Baby Center’s photo gallery of real post-baby bellies.)

Make good food choices

Some good food choices include:

  • low-fat milk and dairy products
  • whole grain products like whole wheat bread and whole grain cereal
  • high-fiber, low fat fruits (like apples, oranges, and berries)
  • raw vegetables (like carrots, jicama, and red pepper strips)
  • broiled or baked foods rather than fried foods
  • limit sweets and processed snack foods
  • choose “good” fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) like olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like salmon.
  • cut calories by drinking water instead of juice, soda, and coffee

Some suggestions for squeezing more fruits and veggies into your diet:

  • Make fruit (or veggie) smoothies
  • use fruit or vegetable salsas or sauces made from puréed vegetables over fish or chicken
  • add shredded carrots to your sandwich
  • try grilled vegetables,
  • try puréed vegetable soups. Puréeing gives you a creamy soup without having to add cream.

feature image from www.indidenim.com

Save Thousands on your New Baby

If you haven’t already realized it, babies can be expensive little bundles of joy! Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones, authors of Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear, estimate that your new baby can cost you anywhere from $9,000 and $12,000 during pregnancy and the first year of life.  Here are some of their money-saving tips (via baby zone) for saving thousands of dollars on your new-baby costs.

Car Seats & Strollers

  • Convertable car seat: Buy a “convertible” car seat, instead of an infant car seat. While the infant car seats (for smaller babies only) are handy because you can transfer the baby from the car to the stroller to the house without waking her, a convertible seat will last you longer, until baby is 40+ pounds.
  • Infant car seat: If you do buy an infant car seat, you don’t need to buy the whole expensive “travel system,” including stroller, that goes with it. You can simply buy a generic “snap n go” that is made to accommodate that type of car seat.
  • Stroller: When looking for a stroller, you may think that the more expensive models are somehow of better quality. Instead, look at the lower end of a respected brand (such as Graco, Kolcraft, or Cosco). Look for something lightweight, that reclines, that can handle a bumpy road. Purchase extra accessories as you need them.
  • Free car seat: Some community organizations, car dealerships, and muffler companies offer free loaner car seats.

Feeding Baby

  • Breastfeed: If you decide to breastfeed, not only are you providing your baby with the optimal baby food, you can also save $2,000 a year, just in the cost of formula and bottles. (This amount increases a few thousand more if your baby is allergic to infant formula and requires hypoallergenic versions.) And if that’s not enough, you’ll also be reducing your baby’s chances of obesity, digestive issues, juvenile diabetes, cavities, and even needing braces later on! (Learn more about breastfeeding benefits.)
  • Breast pumps: Do you really need a breast pump? If you are going to be home with your baby, let him do all the pumping himself! If think you need a pump, you can temporarily rent a highly efficient, hospital-grade pump until you’re sure you really need to own your own pump. And if you decide to buy one, a good breast pump can be yours for under $200.
  • Bottles: It’s much cheaper to use reusable bottles and just wash them after use, than buying the more convenient disposable bottles. Buy bottles made of non-polycarbonate material with smooth sides that are easy to clean.
  • Baby Food: When you’re baby is old enough for mashed fruits and veges, you can easily make your own… it’s not rocket science!  All you need to do is mash up a banana or a sweet potato, open a jar of unsweetened applesauce, or throw some cooked veggies in the blender!

Baby Clothes & Diapers

  • Cash in: You’re likely to get a few baby gifts that you don’t really want or need. Instead of storing them away somewhere, return them for cash, sell them at a consignment shop or on eBay, or exchange them for goods you really need.
  • Shop for comfort: Miniature designer jeans and expensive sundresses are certainly adorable, but there’s nothing like good old-fashioned cotton tee shirts, gowns, and footed sleepers. They’ll cost you much less and are also a lot more comfy for baby!
  • Buy them big: Babies outgrow their clothes very fast! Buy new outfits with room to grow in so you’ll get more use out of them.
  • Beg and borrow: Even better than inexpensive t-shirts and onesies, borrow a box of you’re friend’s outgrown baby clothes! And if they are not planning on having any more babies, they may be happy to give them away to a “good cause!”
  • Diapers: Stock up on disposable diapers—buy them by the case from giant warehouse chains.
  • Wash wisely: Special baby detergents are expensive, and the powdered type can clog up fabrics, making them less absorbent. If you are worried about irritating your baby’s skin, use a liquid, fragrance-free detergent

instead, and avoid fabric softeners.

Baby Gear

  • Diaper bag: You’ll definitely need something for the extra paraphernalia you’ll be shlepping around now (diapers, wipes, extra clothes, diaper cream, pacifiers, etc!)… But no need to waste money buying something new when you probably have a nice, roomy bag or backpack that will work just fine. Folding diaper pads and clear plastic pouches will turn any over-the shoulder satchel into a convenient diaper bag.
  • Crib: Don’t fall for the fancy cribs that double as desks or love seats. All you need for the first couple years is a simple crib with one side that lowers. Later on, you can use the same mattress in a toddler bed frame, if you choose.
  • Mattress: Go with a firm foam mattress, which works just fine and will save you  hundreds of dollars over a 750-coil Baby Beauty mattress with a lifetime guarantee.
  • Furniture: It’s tempting to buy nursery furniture that matches the crib, but these pieces are often overpriced and of lower quality. Instead, shop in antique malls and thrift stores to find a quality chest that you can adapt for your baby’s room.  (Safety note: Change protruding knobs to flat handles. Install drawer stops, and the chest should be attached to the wall with L shaped brackets to keep it from falling over when your toddler starts testing his climbing skill on the open drawers.)
  • Diaper station: Use the chest or dresser top as a changing station. Just purchase an inexpensive cushioned diaper-changing pads with raised sides, and be sure to firmly attach the pad to the chest using the provided screws.
  • Booster seat: Instead of a high chair, using a booster seat will save you space and money! You just strap the booster onto one of your kitchen chairs. Some come with removable trays, so you can put baby’s food on the tray or just scoot him up to the table and let him join the family.
  • Baby toys: Toy manufacturers entice you with promises to teach, entertain, enhance, and stimulate your little one in lots of different ways. But the truth is that babies have a very limited attention span, and the best type of multi-sensory stimulation can be provided by you when you walk, talk, sing, and play with them.
  • Baby Gate: Try a pet gate, usually manufactured by the same companies! As a bonus, the pet gate may be higher, a good thing if your child is a climber. Just make sure the gate’s mesh can’t be scaled by small feet!
  • Diaper disposal: Diaper-disposal systems are designed to seal off diapers so they won’t smell. But a regular kitchen-sized trash bin will work just as well, especially if you tie stinky diapers in a plastic bag before tossing.

More Misc. Tips

  • Family Doctor: If pediatrician fees are higher than you’d like them to be, try visiting a family physician. They are trained to treat the entire family, including infants!
  • Coupons: Get on lists that will send you money-saving coupons for diapers and formula. Check out baby clubs sponsored by drugstores and supermarkets, manufacturers’ web sites, and Internet coupon sites.
  • Baby Fairs: Manufacturers’ sales reps don’t want to have to pay shipping to send their products back to the warehouse. So you may be able to strike a deal to buy their display products at big savings!

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