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PREGNANCY, CHILD BIRTH AND RELATED AILMENTS

Pregnancy

It is important to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods and get plenty of rest when pregnant as the baby is taking all it needs to develop and any deficiency in nutrients can seriously affect the health of both mother-to-be and unborn foetus. Everything a mother eats, and doesn’t eat, and puts on her body, during pregnancy and breast feeding, can have a profound effect on the intellect, memory and mental and physical development of their baby.

Organic and natural, unrefined and unprocessed foods are essential and the more varied the foods the more chance of avoiding nutrient deficiencies. All the vitamins are especially important for the healthy development of the foetus especially vitamins B3, B9 and E. Other nutrients vital during pregnancy are alpha lipoic acid, choline, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids and the amino acids methionine and taurine.

Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid is one of the major antioxidants and one of the few that gets past the blood-brain barrier. This makes it ideal for both the mother’s and the baby’s brain. It helps remove mercury from the body and though it would be ideal for a woman to have her dental amalgam removed, most women will not do that, even though it will help them avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia as they age. Consuming foods rich in alpha lipoic acid as well as chlorella (algae), coriander, raw apples (including skin) and spirulina (algae) are a few of the main ways to remove mercury from the body.

Highest sources of alpha-lipoic acid in alphabetical order

  • Brewers yeast

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Peas

  • Rice bran

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Tomatoes

  • Watercress

Choline

Choline is a chemical similar to the B vitamins. It works with vitamin B9 (foliate) and an amino acid called methionine. Because of rapid development in foetuses and infants, there is a greater need for choline in early life. Human breast milk has high levels of choline.

Highest sources of choline in alphabetical order

  • Almonds

  • Aloe vera

  • Apples

  • Apricots

  • Artichoke

  • Aubergine

  • Beans

  • Beef

  • Broccoli

  • Buckwheat

  • Cauliflower

  • Collard greens

  • Egg yolks

  • Navy beans

  • Oily fish

  • Nuts

  • Peanuts

  • Peas

  • Poultry

  • Quinoa

  • Rabbit

  • Rampion

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Venison

  • Wheat germ

 

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Iodine (mineral)

Iodine is an important nutrient for pregnant and breast feeding women to consume as it is vital for the correct development of the infant.

Highest sources of iodine in micrograms per serving listed in brackets

  • Chlorella, dulse, spirulina algae and kelp (1 tablespoon or 5 g) 750 µg

  • Himalayan crystal salt (half a gram) 450 µg

  • Cranberries (4 oz or 114 g) 400 µg

  • Plain yoghurt (8 oz or 227 g) 75 µg

  • Potato (one medium size) 60 µg

  • Milk (8oz or 227 g) 59 µg

  • Navy beans (4 oz or 114 g) 32 µg

  • Turkey (3 oz or 85 g) 34 µg

  • One medium sized egg 24 µg

  • Cheddar cheese (1 oz or 28 g) 23 µg

  • Gouda cheese (1.42 oz or 40 g) 14 µg

  • Prunes (five) 13 µg

  • Strawberries (8 oz or 227 g) 13 µg

  • Butter beans (4 oz or 114 g) 8 µg

  • Lean beef (3 oz or 85 g) 8 µg

  • Apple juice (8oz or 227 g) 7 µg

  • Peas (4 oz or 114 g) 3 µg

  • Green beans (4 oz or 114 g) 3 µg

  • Banana (one medium) 3 µg

NOTE:  One µg is one microgram.

Recommended daily consumption

  • Pregnant women 125 µg

  • Breastfeeding women 150 µg

Methionine (amino acid)

Foods rich in all the B vitamins and methionine, are key components of the methyl-making pathway. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression and are essential, especially during early development of the foetus, when the epigenome is first being established. The epigenome is a multitude of chemical compounds that can tell the genome what to do. The human genome is the complete assembly of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)-about 3 billion base pairs - that makes each individual unique

Highest sources of methionine in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Sesame seeds 1331 mg

  • Chlorella (dried) 1300 mg

  • Spirulina (dried) 1149 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1033 mg

  • Brazil nuts 1008 mg

  • Chicken 859 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 740 mg

  • Quail 716 mg

  • Pheasant 710 mg

  • Beef (lean mince) 694 mg

  • Mackerel  (tinned) 686 mg

  • Cod 679 mg

  • Lamb’s liver 664 mg

  • Salmon (Atlantic farmed) 654 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 652 mg

  • Rabbit 545 mg

  • Venison 505 mg

  • Turkey 495 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 494 mg

  • Eggs 380 mg

  • Flaxseeds 370 mg

  • Quinoa 309 mg

  • Peanuts 291 mg

  • Pine nuts 259 mg

  • Rye 248 mg

  • Walnuts 236 mg

  • Soya beans 224 mg

  • Wheat 212 mg

  • Brown rice 179 mg

  • Almonds 151 mg

Omega-3 (fatty acid)

The Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the complete development of the human brain during pregnancy and the first two years of life. The Omega-3 fat, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child’s development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning and immune system disorders.

Taurine (amino acid)

Taurine is an essential amino acid for a developing foetus and newborn babies because they cannot make it themselves and yet the development of their brain depends on it. In fact, taurine is the highest concentrated amino acid in the brain of the foetus and newborn. The foetus must obtain it through the placenta and newborns can obtain it from breast milk or formula fortified with taurine. Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that also plays a role in pre- and post-natal development of the central nervous system.

Expectant mothers consuming foods rich in fatty acids, especially omega-3, during the course of pregnancy reduce the chances of birth defects drastically. Defects related to the brain and spine can be reduced and also the deficiency of vitamin B9 (foliate) in the mother’s body can be reduced. Consuming krill oil and a handful of hemp seeds every day are advisable throughout pregnancy. Krill is very short-lived so does not have time to absorb mercury like other sea foods so is a good addition when sea food should be avoided.

Factors that can cause taurine deficiency

  • Consuming foods with added monosodium glutamate, that is used to enhance the flavour of processed foods especially in Chinese dishes, can adversely affect taurine levels in the body.

  • Consuming supplements containing vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) or the amino acids beta-alanine and beta-hypotaurine can also deplete taurine levels.

  • Deficiency of cysteine, methionine, vitamin A, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) or zinc can lead to diminished levels of taurine. Alcohol and certain drugs, which deplete or block absorption of these nutrients, may also cause taurine deficiency.

  • Infection with disease producing anaerobic pathogenic bacteria which interfere with the proper functioning of bile acid and degrade taurine, thereby effecting taurine levels. A systemic fungal infection produces the amino acid, beta-alanine, which competes with taurine for re-absorption in the kidneys. This causes loss of taurine through the urine. An increase of taurine in urine actually masks a test for low taurine in the body. If a pregnant mother has chronic (even low grade) candida or bacterial imbalances this can lead to taurine deficiency.

  • Elevated levels of mercury, lead and cadmium (which create zinc deficiency), can lead to taurine deficiency in the mother and baby. Algae such as chlorella and spirulina can help to chelate heavy metals like mercury from the body.

Placental absorption of maternal taurine can be blocked if the foetus is under stress from both mercury and microbial challenges. This can set up a condition where the baby's detoxification pathways are inhibited, which could lead to neurological problems, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Taurine deficiency was found in 62% of autistic children, according to one study.

Highest sources of taurine in alphabetical order

  • Beef

  • Brewer's yeast

  • Cheese (hard pasteurised)

  • Eggs (hard boiled)

  • Halibut

  • Milk (pasteurised)

  • Octopus

  • Oily fish

  • Pork

  • Poultry

  • Rabbit

  • Venison

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Scientists have recently discovered that the regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin B3 during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. In 2017, one in four pregnant women worldwide suffer a miscarriage and 7.9 million babies are born with a serious birth defect and over 3.3 million children under five currently die from serious birth defects annually

Highest sources of vitamin B3 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Yeast extract 127.5 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 40.2 mg (dependent upon source)

  • Rice bran 34 mg

  • Anchovies 19.9 mg

  • Chicken breast 14.8 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 14.1 mg

  • Peanuts 13.8 mg

  • Wheat bran 13.5 mg

  • Spirulina 12.8 mg

  • Venison 10.8 mg

  • Duck 10.4 mg

  • Paprika 10 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 9.1 mg

  • Chia seeds 8.8 mg

NOTE: The man-made synthetic version of vitamin B3 has anti-vitamin properties meaning it inhibits the absorption of other vitamins and should be avoided. Bran is a food rich in vitamin B3 which is typically lost during the refining process. Anyone who eats high amounts of white bread, white rice, corn syrup or other refined products will not receive adequate amounts of niacin. Even though most of these foods are now fortified, it is still best to eat unrefined food products.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Regularly consuming vitamin B6-rich foods may help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Swelling of bodily tissues (oedema) can be a sign of vitamin B6 deficiency.

Highest sources of vitamin B6 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Whey 5.62mg

  • Yeast extract 4.60 mg

  • Rice bran 4.07 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 3.59 mg

  • Spirulina 3.48 mg

  • Sage 2.69 mg

  • Paprika 2.51 mg

  • Wheat germ 2.26 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 2.09 mg

  • Goose 1.83 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 1.50 mg

  • Duck 1.50 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1.35 mg

  • Wheat germ 1.30 mg

  • Garlic 1.24 mg

  • Buckwheat 1.23 mg

  • Pistachio nuts 1.12 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 0.97 mg

  • Turkey 0.81 mg

  • Venison 0.76 mg

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and Spina bifida

Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that develops during the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column does not close completely. Up to 90 % of children with the worst form of spina bifida have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and must have surgery to insert a “shunt” that helps drain the fluid. The shunt stays in place for the lifetime of the person. Other conditions include full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities, depression, latex allergy, social and sexual issues.

Spina bifida

Factors that can cause spina bifida

  • A previous neural tube defect pregnancy increases a woman’s chance to have another approximately 20 times.

  • High temperatures in early pregnancy (prolonged fevers and hot tub use).

  • Lower socio-economic status causing malnutrition.

  • Maternal insulin-dependent diabetes.

  • Nutrient deficiencies.

  • Obesity.

  • Race/ethnicity. It is more common among white women than black women and more common among Hispanic women.

  • Use of certain anti-seizure medication (Valproic acid/Depakene, and Carbamazapine/Tegretol).

To prevent spina difida in a baby, eat at least one portion of the following natural foods which are rich in vitamin B9 both before conception and throughout the pregnancy (raw or steamed is best where possible):

Highest sources of vitamin B9 in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Yeast extract 3786 µg

  • Brewer’s yeast 2340 µg

  • Basil 310 µg

  • Wheat germ 281 µg

  • Sunflower seeds 238 µg

  • Soya beans 205 µg

  • Spinach 194 µg

  • Lentils 181 µg

  • Chick peas, pinto beans 172 µg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 163 µg

  • Parsley 152 µg

  • Black beans 149 µg

  • Peanuts 145 µg

  • Navy beans 140 µg

  • Asparagus 135 µg

  • Turnip greens 118 µg

  • Chestnuts 110 µg

  • Beetroot 109 µg

  • Spearmint 105 µg

  • Chlorella and spirulina 94 µg

  • Fish roe 92 µg

  • Hazelnuts 88 µg

  • Walnuts 88 µg

  • Flaxseeds 87 µg

  • Avocado 81 µg

  • Kidney beans 74 µg

  • Peas 65 µg

  • Broccoli 63 µg

  • Brussel sprouts, okra 60 µg

  • Quinoa 42 µg

  • Papaya 38 µg

NOTE:  One µg is one microgram.

 

Other sources of vitamin B9 in alphabetical order

  • Alfalfa

  • Asparagus

  • Beef

  • Bok choy

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Buckwheat

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Cheese

  • Cherries

  • Chicken

  • Chicory

  • Collard greens

  • Corn

  • Cress

  • Dates

  • Eggs

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi

  • Lamb

  • Legumes

  • Milk

  • Mushrooms

  • Okra

  • Oranges

  • Peas (fresh)

  • Rabbit

  • Rice (brown)

  • Rye

  • Rutabaga (Swede),

  • Soybeans

  • Spinach

  • Strawberries

  • Swede (rutabaga)

  • Tangerines

  • Turnips

  • Whole grains

 

NOTE: Because vitamin B9 can be destroyed by prolonged heat, one good way to ensure enough is consumed is to grow sprouts of the natural foods listed above and consume at least one handful raw per day. See Micro-diet Sprouts to find out how easy it is with just a jam jar and a daily rinse of water.

Vitamin D levels must be maintained during pregnancy as low levels can be responsible for autism developing in the unborn child. Consuming foods rich in this vital vitamin during pregnancy can reduce this risk. Some deep sea fish and crustaceans may be contaminated with mercury therefore taking one krill oil capsule (1000 mg) per day or other sources of vitamin D may be preferable during pregnancy. Krill oil is so short-lived and dwells higher up in the oceans so it does not get contaminated with mercury which can be harmful to the developing foetus.

Highest sources of vitamin D per serving

  • Krill oil - 1 teaspoon: 1000 IU

  • Eel - 85 g or 3 oz: 792 IU

  • Maitake mushrooms - 70 g: 786 IU

  • Rainbow trout - 85 g or 3 oz: 540 IU

  • Cod liver oil - 1 teaspoon: 440 IU

  • Mackerel - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Salmon - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Halibut - 85 g or 3 oz: 196 IU

  • Tuna - 85 g or 3 oz: 228 IU

  • Sardines - 85 g or 3 oz: 164 IU

  • Chanterelle mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 155 IU

  • Raw milk - 1 glass or 8 oz: 98 IU

  • Egg yolk - 1 large: 41 IU

  • Caviar - 28g or 1 oz: 33 IU

  • Hemp seeds - 100 g or 3.5 oz: 22 IU

  • Portabella mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 6 IU

NOTE: One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms.

Vitamin E

 

Hemp seeds can provide another nutrient vital to the developing foetus; vitamin E. Premature babies are usually low in vitamin E. Neonatologists often put these babies on lung machines and respirators to help them breathe. Sometimes, too much oxygen can cause oxidative stress because oxygen can produce free radical damage when it is administered through respirators. Vitamin E helps premature babies fight off oxidative stress damage to the heart, lungs and eyes and defend against destruction of red blood cells that can lead to anaemia. Vitamin E is best absorbed, through natural foods rich in this nutrient, by the mother and transported to the foetus.

Highest sources of vitamin E in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Wheat germ 149.4 mg

  • Hemp seeds 55 mg

  • Hazelnut oil 47 mg

  • Almond oil 39 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 38.3 mg

  • Chilli powder 38.1 mg

  • Paprika 38 mg

  • Rice bran oil 32 mg

  • Grape seed oil 29 mg

  • Almonds 26.2 mg

  • Oregano 18.3 mg

  • Hazelnuts 17 mg

  • Flaxseed oil 17 mg

  • Peanut oil 16 mg

  • Hazelnuts 15.3 mg

  • Corn oil 15 mg

  • Olive oil 14 mg

  • Soya bean oil 12 mg

  • Pine nuts 9.3 mg

  • Cloves (ground) 9 mg

  • Peanuts 8 mg

  • Celery flakes (dried) 6 mg

  • Spirulina 5 mg

  • Dried apricots 4.3 mg

  • Bell peppers (red), olives and salmon 4 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 3.6 mg

  • Anchovies 3.3 mg

  • Broccoli, chicken, chilli peppers (sun-dried), dandelion greens, egg yolk, duck, goose, pecan nuts, spinach, tomatoes (tinned or pureed) turkey and turnip greens 3 mg

  • Avocado, beef, bilberries, blue berries, butter, chicory greens, cinnamon (ground), halibut, herring (pickled), mackerel, marjoram, mustard greens, pistachio nuts, poppy seeds, sardines, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, trout, tuna, turnips and walnuts 2 mg

  • Asparagus, kiwi fruit and parsnips 1.5 mg

  • Black berries 1.2 mg

  • Chlorella 1.1 mg

NOTE: The recommended daily allowance is 22 IU for adults. One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms.

What to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • All essential oils

  • Alcohol: Drinking during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarrying and have devastating effects on the baby's development causing low weight at birth, slower learning and emotional and physical development abilities. Regular drinking can cause the baby to to be born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)  which can cause facial deformities, problems with physical and emotional development and poor memory or a short attention span. Women, who drink alcohol and work night shifts during pregnancy are more likely to miscarry. If either partner drinks alcohol it can reduce the chance of conceiving a child.

  • Almonds

  • Aloe vera

  • Aluminium and fluoride are independently bad for the brain of a developing foetus and the combination of them both makes the damage far worse. Drink filtered of bottled mineral water, use fluoride-free natural toothpastes and avoid aluminium-containing deodorants.

  • Anti-depressant medications: Taking antidepressants during pregnancy increases the child’s risk of autism by 87 percent.

  • Artificial additives and sweeteners, especially aspartame.

  • Astragalus (herb)

  • Blue cohosh (herb)

  • Blue vervain (herb)

  • Cats claw (herb)

  • Cheese that is mould-ripened, such as brie and camembert, and soft blue-veined cheeses, such as roquefort, aren't safe to eat in pregnancy. Unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses (especially if made from sheep and goat's milk) as these could contain listeria bacteria. Listeria can cause an infection called listeriosis that may harm the unborn baby. Hard cheeses such as parmesan and pecorino, even if they have been made with unpasteurised milk, are safe to eat, as the risk of listeriosis in these is low.

  • Chemicals: Numerous cosmetics and toiletries, such as perfumes, deodorants, hair spray, hair shampoo, toothpaste, etc. contains chemicals that are dangerous to a foetus and nursing infant such as phthalates. See Hygiene and Health to find out how to make natural powerful cleaners from plants which are free from hazardous toxins.

  • Chicory root

  • Chinese rhubarb root is not recommended for long term use and not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women or children under twelve years of age.

  • Coffee and any other caffeine beverages such as fizzy drinks. Drinking lots of caffeine on a regular basis in pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage and babies who have a low birth weight.

  • Dandelion root (herb)

  • Drugs, both prescribed medication and recreational drugs can seriously damage the foetus both mentally and physically during development and should only be taken in extreme cases with the health practitioner's advice. Dextromethorphan, the major ingredient in most cough medicines, has been shown to cause birth defects and foetal death in chicken embryos exposed to concentrations relative to those typically taken by humans. Researchers found that dextromethorphan causes defects so early in the development of the embryo that in many cases the woman wouldn’t even know she is pregnant. Researchers feel that a single dose is capable of causing a birth defect and that, ultimately, it could be the cause for a woman to have a miscarriage.

  • Echinacea (herb)

  • Eggs: Avoid eating raw or runny eggs, as they may contain salmonella bacteria. However, eggs that have the British lion quality stamp are less likely to contain salmonella, as they come from hens that have been vaccinated against salmonella. In any case it is advisable to cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm, as this destroys salmonella bacteria. There is a substance in the raw egg whites called avidin that is a glycoprotein that binds with vitamin B7 (biotin) preventing its absorption therefore restrict consumption of the egg whites during pregancy or consume extra foods rich in vitamin B7.

  • Ephedra sinica (herb)

  • Feverfew (herb)

  • Fish and shellfish: Some types of fish and shellfish may have high levels of dioxins and PCBs. These are sea bream, turbot, halibut, dogfish (also called rock salmon or huss), crab and sea bass. Limit these fish to two portions a week. Oily fish is a good source of vital vitamins, minerals and protein, but as oily fish can also contain environmental pollutants (PCBs), it's best not to eat it more frequently than twice a week. Women who may become pregnant, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid eating too much deep sea ocean fish and shellfish. For foetuses, infants and children, the primary health effect of mercury is impaired neurological development. Mercury exposure in the womb, which can result from a mother's consumption of fish and shellfish that contain it, can adversely affect a baby's growing brain and nervous system and have impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language and fine motor and visual spatial skills. especially avoid marlin, shark, swordfish and tuna as they can contain unsafe levels of mercury. Consuming coriander or algae such as powdered chlorella or spirulina at the same time can chelate any heavy metals present in foods and are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals often lacking in land-based crops. Avoid all raw fish and raw shellfish, such as oysters. Smoked salmon is considered safe as the curing process destroys listeria bacteria. However, if it hasn't been completely cured or frozen before being consumed, listeria bacteria may remain. To still obtain the vital omega-3 fatty acids found in sea food, krill oil is a good alternative. Krill is very short-lived so does not have time to absorb mercury like other fish and molluscs etc so is a good addition when sea food should be limited because of mercury contamination/

  • Genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds contain the chemical glyphosate which have recently been linked to birth defects in birds, pigs and other animals and obviously could also be a great risk to the human foetus so should be avoided. Read more about Pesticides.

  • Ginger

  • Ginseng (herb)

  • Japanese or Chinese knotweed (herb)

  • Land caltrop (herb) can cause foetal miscarriage and must be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women.

  • Lifting more than 20kg (44lbs) during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester), obesity or being underweight increases the risk of miscarriage.

  • Linden (herb)

  • Liquorice root (herb)

  • Marshmallow root (herb)

  • Meat, except for liver, are safe to eat, as long as they have been cooked well. Take extra care if cooking barbecued meat, or microwavable ready meals that contain meat. Processed meat should be avoided such as parma ham, because of the small risk of listeria. Pate, whether made from meat, fish or vegetables, may contain listeria bacteria, which can be harmful to the baby. Heat-treated or UHT pate is safe to eat, as long as it is not made from liver.

  • Mousse, homemade ice cream or mayonnaise from delis or restaurants, as these may contain raw egg. Always check that salad dressings and ice creams are made using pasteurised egg.

  • Peppermint (herb)

  • Phthalates are substances added to plastics vinyl to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. Phthalates are metabolised in humans once ingested or absorbed through the skin. In pregnant women, phthalates pass through the placenta to be absorbed by the foetus. In nursing women, phthalates are found in breast milk, which means infants are ingesting these chemicals as they develop. In male foetuses and infants the phthalates have been shown to cause testicular atrophy and a reduced sperm count, among other serious health problems.

  • Plums and prunes

  • Potatoes: When potatoes are stored they develop black spots which are caused by the fungi Aspergillus and Fusarium. The mytotoxins created by these fungi are aflatoxin and fumosium. In pregnant women, who consume large amounts of potatoes, the two mytotoxins have been incriminated as a cause of spina bifida.

  • Rosemary (herb)

  • Sage should be avoided during pregnancy but may help to reduce excessive lactation when breastfeeding.

  • Scutellaria (herb)

  • Smoking tobacco can lead to early birth and an underweight baby and may lead to learning difficulties and a lowered immune system for the child because nicotine constricts the blood vessels and oxygen in the body is replaced by carbon monoxide.

  • Sugar

  • Table salt: Use Himalayan pink crystals or unrefined sea salt.

  • Triclosan: The antibacterial chemical triclosan (found in hand washes, soaps and toothpastes etc) can react with the chlorine in water to produce chloroform gas. Researchers believe that over time, inhaled chloroform can result in depression, liver ailments and even cancer. It must be especially be avoided when pregnant.

  • Vitamin A (retinol): High levels of vitamin A consumption can cause birth defects so excess liver and shellfish are best avoided during pregnancy.

  • Yohimbine (herb)

NOTE: Do not attempt raw juice therapy when pregnant without consulting a health professional.

 

During the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy or if breast feeding especially avoid the following:

  • Angelica

  • Chilli pepper

  • Cumin

  • Ginger

  • Motherwort

  • Turmeric

Throughout the pregnancy and when breast feeding, try to avoid any foods with additives such as aspartame, refined and processed foods, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugar, table salt (use Himalayan pink crystals or unrefined sea salt), white flour and white rice (choose whole grains and brown or wild rice).

Only eat the following fruit and vegetables if they are organic because of the risk of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides:

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Aubergine

  • Avocado

  • Bananas

  • Bell peppers

  • Blue berries

  • Cantaloupe

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cherries

  • Chilli peppers

  • Cocoa beans

  • Coffee beans

  • Collard greens

  • Courgettes

  • Cucumbers

  • Grapefruit

  • Grapes

  • Kale

  • Kiwi fruit

  • Lettuce

  • Mange toute peas

  • Mangos

  • Mushrooms

  • Nectarines

  • Onions

  • Oranges

  • Papaya

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Pineapples

  • Plums

  • Potatoes

  • Raspberries

  • Runner beans

  • Spinach

  • Spring onions

  • Squash

  • Strawberries

  • Sweet corn

  • Peas frozen

  • Tomatoes

  • Watermelon

 

Sleeping

 

During the third trimester of pregnancy, it has been found that sleeping on the back may be a potential cause for still births. It is best to try to go to sleep on either side rather than laying flat on the back. This may be because the pressure of the unborn baby could restrict blood vessels that are feeding it oxygen etc. Using pillows to bolster the back and between the knees, when going to sleep, can help to keep the sleeping position. It is not damaging if you end up on your back when you wake as long as you went to sleep on one side or another as you will spend most of your sleep in this position.

 

Pregnancy related ailments

 

Flying when pregnant

 

If the pregnancy is straightforward, flying is not harmful to the mother-to-be or her baby. Although everyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation, there is no evidence that flying causes miscarriage, early labour or a woman's waters to break. However, the side-effects of flying can be swelling of the legs due to a build-up of fluid, nose and ear problems caused by changes in air pressure and motion sickness making any pregnancy nausea a little worse.

 

Long-haul flights of four hours or more can increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, when a blood clot forms in the leg or pelvis, and pregnancy increases this risk even more. Having regular drinks of water can help prevent against deep vein thrombosis. Pregnant women should wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes, take regular walks around the plane and do exercises in their seat every 30 minutes. Avoiding drinks containing alcohol or caffeine and wearing elastic compression stockings can also help.

 

If a pregnant woman has an increased risk of going into labour before her due date, has severe anaemia, sickle cell disease, has recently had significant vaginal bleeding or has a serious heart or lung condition she should avoid flying altogether.

 

If more than 28 weeks pregnant, a woman should take her pregnancy notes, documents confirming her due date, a European Health Insurance card and any medication plus a letter from her medial practitioner. Many airlines have their own rules on when pregnant women can fly. For women with multiple pregnancies it is safest to fly before 34 weeks. A women can go into labour anytime after 37 weeks.

 

Food allergies during pregnancy

 

Many people are unaware that they may be intolerant to certain compounds in popular food products such as wheat found in so many processed foods these days. During pregnancy it is wise to consider reducing or even eliminating these compounds as they can cause nutrient deficiencies, low birth weight of the infant and even miscarriages. Two of the nutrients that can be reduced by a food allergy are vitamin B9 and vitamin K. Both of these are especially vital to the healthy development of the foetus.

 

There are seven common compounds known to irritate the intestinal lining which can lead to a leaky gut where undigested proteins (including bacteria proteins) can escape into the blood stream and the absorption of nutrients, vital for healthy foetal development and the mother's health, is compromised. The undigested proteins, that have escaped into the blood stream, then trigger an immune response against them as they do not belong there, and then other similar protein tissues, which are part of the body (or the unborn foetus), are also attacked. Some bacterial and viral infections, such as herpes and influenza can cause damage to cells which can also increase susceptibility to allergic reactions to the following components in food.

 

The seven compounds to be most aware of

  • A1 casein protein (in cow's milk and dairy products)

  • FODMAPS (carbohydrate intolerance)

  • Glycoalkaloids and steroid alkaloids (in vegetables from nightshade family such as aubergines, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes)

  • Gluten (in barley, rye, spelt and wheat)

  • Lactose (in cow's milk and dairy products)

  • Lectins (in beans especially navy and soya beans, dairy products (when cows are fed grains), grains especially wheat, some seeds and vegetables from the nightshade family such as tomatoes and potatoes)

More information on each of these and other compounds that can cause allergies and healthy alternatives can be found in the Food Allergies section.

 

Foetus in the womb

False labour pains

Drumstick leaves: Boil a handful of drumstick leaves with two teaspoons of coriander seeds. Then strain and add a teaspoon of honey and drink one glass. If the contractions are false, the pain should disappear.

Cinnamon: Take half a teaspoonful of cinnamon powder with water or milk as and when required. If the pain persists, consult a health worker or go to a hospital.

Real labour pains

Black cohosh can be used during labour and delivery to ease pain but should be used with caution as it can cause an allergic reaction.

Blue vervain can hep to stimulate the uterus during labour but too much can cause vomiting.

Drumstick leaf juice is very beneficial for pregnant women as it can help them overcome sluggishness of the uterus, ease delivery and reduce post delivery complications.

Maqui berry is a Chilean 'super fruit' which contains the highest amount of antioxidants and anti inflammatory compounds than any other known natural food which can reduce pain and inflammation. The leaves are astringent and have cleansing properties. It is used by the Mapuche Indians of southern Chile during child birth.

Motherwort can stimulate uterine contractions and is a uterus tonic both just before and during childbirth.

Rhesus disease

Rhesus disease is also known as haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn  All pregnant women should know both their own blood type as well as that of their unborn baby. When the mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD-negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus-positive blood (RhD-positive) the mother's immune system sees the baby as "alien" and switches to "destroy" mode because these two blood groups are incompatible, Women who are RhD-negative can receive the anti-D inoculation to stop them making antibodies that could attack the baby or choose to have an abortion if they are too frail to risk stopping their system from making antibodies.

If blood cells from a rhesus positive baby get into the rhesus negative mother's bloodstream, her blood will react as if the baby's blood is a foreign substance and will produce antibodies against it. This is not usually a problem in a first pregnancy with a rhesus positive baby. However, the antibodies that the mother produces stay in her blood, and if she has another pregnancy with a baby who is also rhesus positive, her antibodies can cross the placenta and attack the blood cells of the unborn baby. This can cause 'haemolytic disease of the newborn'.

Haemolytic disease of the newborn can be very mild, but in a small number of babies it can be more serious and cause the baby to be stillborn, severely disabled or to die after birth as a result of anaemia and jaundice.

The most common time for a baby's blood cells to get into the mother's blood, causing her to produce antibodies, is at the time of birth. However, this can also occur at other times, for example during a miscarriage or abortion, or as the result of having an amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, vaginal bleeding, or turning the baby’s head down (external cephalic version). These events are called 'potentially sensitising events'.

Rhophylac injections contain a medicine called human anti-D immunoglobulin. People whose blood type is rhesus positive (RhD positive) have a substance called D antigen on the surface of their red blood cells. People whose blood type is rhesus negative (RhD negative) are missing this antigen. Whether a person is rhesus positive or rhesus negative is determined by their genes.

Anti-D prophylaxis is offered routinely to pregnant women who are rhesus negative, unless they already have anti-D antibodies in their blood. (This is tested by a blood test at the start of the pregnancy.) Rhophylac injection is given as a single dose between 28 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. The treatment is offered regardless of whether a sensitisation event has occurred, in order to be absolutely certain that the mother does not develop antibodies against the baby.

After the birth, a blood sample will be taken to test the baby's blood group. If the baby is rhesus positive, the mother will be given a further injection of anti-D immunoglobulin. (This is called postnatal anti-D prophylaxis.) Another dose of anti-D immunoglobulin will also be given after any sensitising event that occurs during the pregnancy.

Babies can be safely breastfed after having this injection. There are no known harmful effects on the nursing infant.

Anti-D prophylaxis may not be necessary for rhesus negative mothers if there is certainty that she will not have another child following the pregnancy, for example if she is to be sterilised after the birth. It will also not be necessary if the father's blood type is also rhesus negative, as genetically this means the baby cannot be rhesus positive.

Anti-D immunoglobulin may also be used if a rhesus negative individual is given a blood transfusion of rhesus positive blood. This is to prevent the individual forming antibodies against the transfused blood.

If this medicine is given within two to four weeks of having a live vaccine, such as yellow fever, BCG or oral polio, the anti-D immunoglobulin may interfere with the immune response to these vaccines. This could make them less effective.

If live vaccines are needed after having an anti-D injection, they should be postponed until three months after the last injection of this medicine has been given.

Blood types

Alleles are different forms of a gene. They can be dominant or recessive. There are four basic blood types, O, A, B, and AB. Blood type is determined by the alleles inherited from parents. For the blood type gene, there are three basic blood type alleles: A, B, and O.

We all have two alleles, one inherited from each parent. The possible combinations of the three alleles are OO, AO, BO, AB, AA, and BB. Blood types A and B are "co-dominant" alleles, whereas O is "recessive".

A co dominant allele is apparent even if only one is present; a recessive allele is apparent only if two recessive alleles are present.

Because blood type O is recessive, it is not apparent if the person inherits an A or B allele along with it. So, the possible allele combinations result in a particular blood type in this way:

  • OO = blood type O

  • AO = blood type A

  • BO = blood type B

  • AB = blood type AB

  • AA = blood type A

  • BB = blood type B

You can see that a person with blood type B may have a B and an O allele, or they may have two B alleles. If both parents are blood type B and both have a B and a recessive O, then their children will either be BB, BO, or OO. If the child is BB or BO, they have blood type B. If the child is OO, he or she will have blood type O.

Stretch marks

Coconut oil (pure cold pressed) can help to stop stretch marks occurring if applied to the stomach everyday. Use a teaspoon to scoop some into the palm of one hand then rub fingers into the coconut and it will become liquid due to the heat of the hands. Then rub this all over the stomach. It is readily absorbed and has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties and is good to consume whenever oil is required in cooking.

Honey is another good healer for cars and stretch marks. Melt some in a pan over very low heat, cool then spread onto the areas where stretch marks are. Leave for ten minutes then wash off.

St John's wort: When rubbed onto the belly and breasts during pregnancy, the oil of St John's wort may help prevent stretch marks and topical application is also useful to treat haemorrhoids and aching, swollen veins that can also occur during pregnancy.

Swelling feet during pregnancy

It is important to rest with the feet up as often as possible during pregnancy. In the case of swelling of feet during pregnancy, go for a medical check-up and follow the doctor's advice as it could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment. You can also do the following to reduce swelling:

Fennel: Boil one teaspoon of dark brown sugar and two teaspoons of fennel together in a glass of water until it is reduced to one half glass. Strain and drink three times a day till the swelling disappears.

Take a handful of coriander seeds and boil in a cupful of water until it is reduced to half. Strain and drink it twice a day for three days.

Corn silk: A decoction made from corn silk (the tassels of silk from the ear of maize) can help in reducing swelling of the feet. Boil a large handful of corn silk in a glass of water. Drink 1-2 glasses. This is not dangerous.

Swelling of bodily tissues (oedema) can be a sign of vitamin B6 deficiency. See Highest sources of vitamin B6 above

Toxoplasmosis from cats

The Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite is found in cat's faeces more often than not and especially if they have caught and eaten rodents, mice or birds. Protective gloves must be worn when cleaning cat litter trays or gardening in soil where cats may have defecated. Pregnant women must especially avoid touching cat litter trays or contaminated soil, water or sand as this parasite can be transmitted to the unborn foetus and cause major defects including neurological disorders, blindness and deafness and in rare cases death and still birth. There are other ways to become infected by this parasite. See Toxoplasmosis to learn more.

Varicose veins

During pregnancy, the blood volume increases and the pressure from the growing uterus on the mother's inferior vena cava, puts pressure on the veins in the legs. It’s already harder for the blood to return to the heart from the legs because of gravity, but add to that the increase in progesterone, which dilates the veins and causes the blood to pool.

Varicose veins usually develop in the legs but can also show up in the vulva or as haemorrhoids, which are a type of varicose veins.

Constipation during pregnancy can increase varicose veins and cause haemorrhoids, so drink lots of bottled mineral water, limit salt intake and eat high fibre foods.

Natural remedies for constipation

Apple cider vinegar contains pectin, a water-soluble fibre that promotes bowel movements. This makes it a great natural treatment for constipation. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it three times a day. Add apple or grape juice to the mix to make it more palatable.

The diet should include the following to help treat varicose veins

  • Vegetables: tomatoes, beetroot, carrots and watercress.

  • Fibre: amaranth, barley, brown rice, oats, psyllium husks, quinoa, rye and teff.

  • Fruit: berries especially blackberries, cherries, dates, grapes, oranges, papaya, raisins and tangerines.

  • Herbs: borage as a tea.

  • Spices: black pepper and nutmeg.

Foods rich in the B vitamin complex can help to reduce varicose veins. See Vitamin B complex.

Vomiting during pregnancy (morning sickness)

Cardamom: One glass of freshly squeezed lime juice with a pinch of cardamom powder taken as and when required. This is safe for both unborn baby and mother.

Cloves: Powder or grind in a coffee grinder three to four cloves and soak in a glass of water for half an hour. Strain and drink this water as and when required for morning sickness. This is not harmful and has no side effects.

Other natural foods that can relieve morning sickness

  • Vegetables: chicory.

  • Fibre-rich foods: amaranth, barley, brown rice, oats, psyllium husks and rye.

  • Fruits: blackberries, papaya, mango and mosambi juice.

  • Herbal teas: chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, peppermint, slippery elm and spearmint.

  • Spices: black pepper, nutmeg and paprika

Eating vitamin B6-rich foods may help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. See Highest sources of vitamin B6 above

Care after the birth of a baby

 

Nat H Hawes 6 months

Breast milk production

Some women experience problems with producing adequate milk to feed the new infant. Breast milk is vital for new babies as it contains all the nutrients necessary for healthy development

  • Anise seeds: A tea can be made from anise seeds by adding a cup of boiled water to three teaspoons of crushed seeds, steeping for 20-minutes. This may be used to stimulate the productions of mother's milk.

  • Fennel can increase breast milk in nursing mothers.

  • Drumstick leaves can be boiled in water and sea salt, the water drained and the leaves served with ghee (clarified butter) to lactating mothers to increase breast milk.

  • Motherwort can help mothers with milk production. Bring to the boil 6 ounces of bottled or filtered water. Add one tablespoon of dried motherwort and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Drink this tea two to three times a day. It has a bitter taste but honey can help to disguise this.

  • Sage can help to reduce excessive lactation.

  • Swede (rutabaga): Regular consumption of Swede increases milk production capacity in lactating mothers.

Caesarean section aftercare

Smearing honey and/or aloe vera gel on the scars after a caesarean section can stop infection occurring and help with healing.

 

Weight loss after pregancy

 

Between three to 12 months after birth is a critical time for women to lose as much of the weight gained in pregnancy as possible in order to avoid health problems that can develop like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. See the Obesity and Sports Nutrition links below to see how to lose weight safely. It is important not to lose weight rapidly or go without important nutrients especially when breast feeding.

WARNING ABOUT MESH IMPLANTS

 

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) are conditions that typically plague women after a hysterectomy, menopause or childbirth. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a woman’s pelvic muscles weaken and the pelvic organs (including the bladder, rectum and uterus) drop into the vagina. Transvaginal mesh is a net-like implant used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women. The product design and implantation technique contribute to serious complications, such as mesh erosion, mesh contraction and organ perforation. Read more

 

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