Thinking Positive with Gestational Diabetes

My first pregnancy didn’t go quite the way I planned. I came from a line of women who couldn’t say enough good things about their pregnancies. My mother and grandmother always told me that they felt their best when they were pregnant. Naturally, I thought my pregnancy would be the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For the first six months I experienced what has erroneously been called “morning sickness”. The error in this label lies in the word “morning” as this sickness can last all day or hit you unexpectedly at any time of the day. It was not at all attractive.

Towards the end of my third trimester, I was finally able to keep food down. I felt stronger and happier. It was nice to be able to indulge in some of the yummy treats many women crave during pregnancy. I still lacked energy, but I reasoned this was just a result of my getting bigger. I figured my last trimester would be a breeze.

Then the results of my routine glucose screening tests came back. My numbers were higher than normal. I returned to the lab for a glucose tolerance test which confirmed glucose intolerance. My numbers were just shy of the diabetes mark. At first I felt relieved, but my OB/GYN said since I was borderline, I had to treat it as gestational diabetes. The only difference was I didn’t have to prick my finger four times a day as long as I was able to manage my weight gain through proper diet and exercise. Great.

According to the American Diabetes Association, (ADA) gestational diabetes affects 4% of all pregnant women. It is one of the most common health problems in pregnancy. It begins when our bodies are not able to produce and use all the insulin we need during pregnancy. When gestational diabetes is left untreated, our pancreas works overtime to produce the insulin needed to support us and the development of our growing babies. While insulin does not pass into the placenta, glucose does. The increased amount of glucose puts stress on the baby’s pancreas to create more insulin to get rid of the extra blood glucose. As a result the baby gets more energy than it needs and this extra energy is stored as fat. Babies with excess insulin at birth face a number of health risks including breathing problems, and macrosomia.

I had my nutritionist explain this to me about three or four times. If only I had Dr. Swaim’s explanation in the podcast referenced below, I may have grasped it quicker. The bottom line was I needed to stick to a specific diet or my health and the health of my baby would be at risk.

The diet itself wasn’t bad. It was basically portion control and balancing the right amount of carbohydrates throughout the day. But the last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is the word “diet”. At first I focused on all the things I couldn’t eat. What was I going to do with that wonderful bag of peanut butter cups in the pantry? How would I get by without potato chips? Is life worth living without cookies n cream? I realized quickly that if I was going to succeed, I had to turn all my negatives into positives.

  1. Positive #1: Getting in my five servings of fruits and veggies everyday

    At first glance this may not look like much of a positive. Who wants broccoli when you’re salivating for Doritos? I’m very competitive though. So I made my mind over and convinced myself that this was a game – and I had to win it. Every day I made it my aim to eat all five of my servings of fruits and vegetables. To my surprise this made it easier for me to make better food choices.

  2. Positive #2: Taking full advantage of my three snacks a day

    This was my opportunity to feel like I was eating more rather than eating less. Eating more often during the day kept me feeling full and I didn’t overindulge at dinnertime – nighttime eating has always been my downfall. In that last month, these regular snacks really helped to chase away the crankies.

  3. Positive #3: Enjoying the things that I could eat

    I had to let go of my grudge against healthy foods. A handful of almonds paired with a cup of fruit or applesauce was my snack of choice. And it really was yummy – no, not yummy as chocolate or ice cream is yummy, but it did the job most of the time. I also found that indulging in a sugar-free Jell-o pudding snack cup or a “Baby Needs Chocolate” Belly Bar helped out when the chocolate cravings were just too much.

  4. Positive #4: Using exercise as a way to bond with my husband

    My late pregnancy was in the winter, so we took advantage of our local mall and just walked circles around it. It sounds monotonous, but it was a great opportunity to talk about the baby, what we looked forward to, what we weren’t looking forward to, our hopes, and our fears. It really helped us to stay connected as a couple and fortified us for the change we had ahead.

  5. Positive #5: The satisfaction of knowing I was fulfilling my responsibility as a Mommy

    Sounds cheesy, yes, but it really did help. I felt I had gotten a head start on Mommyhood which is full of sacrifices and making changes in my lifestyle for the sake of baby. Of course, pregnancy alone does this for any Mommy to be, but this mindset kept me motivated on the rougher days.

By following the diet and including regular exercise in my weekly activities, I found myself having more energy – in a relative sense of course, it is true that pregnancy takes a lot out of us. At 41 weeks I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. In the end, whatever I endured during my pregnancy was well worth it. My gestational diabetes went away immediately, but I found the strategies of the diet to be a sensible way of eating that I try to continue to this day.

For more information about gestational diabetes, its causes, symptoms and treatment visit:

Vitamin D Deficiency

I have been doing a lot of reading about Vitamin D lately, and was shocked to find deficiency is thought to be pandemic. I was also surprised to find Vitamin D is more than just your garden variety vitamin. It works more like a hormone, which has many implications for your pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes, Pre-Eclampsia, C-sections…most of those pregnancy complications we are working so hard to avoid *may* be linked – in some cases – to Vitamin D deficiency.

I’ve recently added it to my regimen, and I’m not even pregnant! My daughter is getting a little extra, too!
Don’t wait -talk to your doctor as soon as possible about this and see what they say. In the meantime, a little bottle of d3 might be worth the investment.

Some natural sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fishes, such as  salmon, Sardines, Tuna, and Fish liver oils
  • Whole eggs
  • Mushrooms

Visit for more information about Vitamin D deficiency.

5 Pregnancy & Baby Apps For iPhone

You’ve seen the doctor and you’ve read every baby and pregnancy book out there. What next? Who says you can’t have a little fun with this incredible nine-month long journey. Use these iPhone apps to help keep track of all of your pregnancy details from date of conception to the birth of your newborn.

1. Pregnancy Tracker

Keep track of your baby’s development – and your fast-growing belly – week-by-week, read the latest posts from the WTE message board community, get daily tips for each day of your pregnancy, and more!

  • Due-date calculator
  • Week-by-week details on your baby’s amazing growth and development
  • Weekly baby illustrations
  • Updates on your changing body
  • Slideshow of your belly pictures
  • Countdown to your due date!

2. NineMonths – Contraction & Movement Timer

Ninemonths is an app that will come in handy towards the end of your pregnancy because it tracks movement and contractions.  From their website: “Designed under the supervision of a board certified OBGYN Dr. Herbert S. Coussons. Our goal was to build an extremely simple to use application that computes results in a form that can be read directly to your medical team. Clinical beta testing has produced fantastic results and we are excited to release NineMonths to all mothers/fathers to be.”

3. Baby Tracker: Nursing

New moms, listen up! Looking for a quick and easy way to keep track of your nursing sessions? This iPhone app will save you time and trouble with a timer and log to keep track of your nursing session details.

4. Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

As we discuss in our nutrition podcast, what you eat during pregnancy is very important. Use this handy iphone app to help you make the right nutrition choices for you and your baby.

5. Pregnancy Calendar

Keep track of your weight during pregnancy, get week by week pregnancy progress updates and even create a birth plan! This app helps you prep everything you need for your trip to the birthing room: medical information, what you want to bring, people to contact, etc.

You Are What Your Mother Eats!

New research has surfaced that you are what your mother ate back when she was pregnant with you, suggesting that diet is a vital part of a healthy pregnancy and life for your little one.
In this research report, scientists from the University of Utah show that rat fetuses receiving poor nutrition in the womb become genetically primed to be born into an environment lacking proper nutrition. They were also at higher risk for a host of health problems throughout their lives, such as diabetes, growth retardation, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and neurodevelopmental delays, among others.
Yes, the study was done on rats but the genes and cellular mechanisms involved are the same as those in humans.
According to Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “The jury’s in and, yes, expectant moms really are eating for two. This study shows not only that we need to address problems such as preeclampsia during pregnancy, but also that prenatal care is far more important than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.”
So, take these 9 (10) months seriously and eat well! It will pay off in spades for your baby and yourself.
Listen to our show all about how you can eat well. Guests include:
  • Dr. Michael Broder wrote the book The Panic Free Pregnancy. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Dr. Laurie Moyer-Mileur is a nutritionist and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. She is also the Director of the Center for Pediatric Nutrition Research
  • Cynthea Denise is a Prenatal Yoga Instructor and a Registered Nurse in Oakland, California

Lead In Your Prenatals

You take prenatal vitamins on the advice of your doctor. You take them because you want to do everything you can to ensure that your pregnancy and your baby are healthy. You take them every day, feeling reasured you are doing something really good for that kid in there kicking you. You smile and pat your belly…

Then you hear that your prenatal vitamins may be laced with lead.

Yes, lead.

The Food and Drug Administration began testing vitamins for women and children in 2007, after hearing rumblings that there were elevated lead levels in some over the counter supplements. The vitamin research covered 324 multivitamin and mineral products available online.

Only four were free of lead. Out of 324. Yep.

However, in something that closely resembles English — but is not English — the government agency indicates prenatals, as well as the other tested vitamins for women and children, are not unsafe.

Estimates of Pb exposures for all products were below the PTTI levels for the at-risk population groups of children, pregnant and lactating women and adult women.

What’d I tell ya? Not English!

Here is the F.D.A. report, with a complete list of tested vitamins, as well as charts and graphs. You’ll feel like you’re back in college! In no time you’ll be looking for someone else to read the report for you — and take notes — while you go play frisbee.

Yeah, I know you. ;)

Back to the issue at hand, it is simply shocking, to me, that you would find any trace of lead in a product like prenatal vitamins, when we have been warned again and again about the danger of lead exposure to our children. The March of Dimes website says the following…

Lead poses health risks for everyone, but young children and unborn babies are at greatest risk. Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birthweight and developmental delays in the infant. Lead is harmful even after birth. Children exposed to high levels of lead may develop behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing loss.

It’s really enough to make you want to cry.

So what do we do? Well, remember, this information only reflects testing on over the counter prenatal vitamins (Like the ones I took. Awesome). You could talk to your doctor about the prescription variety. I do not know if these vitamins have been tested for lead content, and — if so — how they fared. I’ll keep looking, and I’ll let you know what I find.

You could also take a look at the following lists, and choose your OTC prenatal accordingly…

Top 10 pre and postnatal vitamins with the lowest lead content
1. After Baby Boost 2
2. Nature’s Sunshine Nature’s Prenatal
3. Nature’s Plus Prenatal Liquid
4. Natrol PreNatal Care
5. Pregnancy Plus
6. Pure Encapsulations PreNatal Nutrients
7. Maxi Health One Prenatal
8. Nature’s Bounty Prenatal
9. Stuart Prenatal
10. Natural Wealth Prenatal

Top 10 pre and postnatal vitamins with the highest lead content
1. After Baby Boost 1
2. A to Z Naturals Wow! PreNatal
3. Vitamin Source Prenatal Complete
4. Prenatal Superior
5. Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System
6. Buried Treasure Prenatal Plus DHA Complete
7. DaVinci Laboratories Ultimate Prenatal
8. Life Time Professional Pre-Natal Formula
9. Daily Foods Baby & Me
10. Carol Bond Women’s Choice Prenatal

As far as vitamins for your infant (0 to 6 mos), here’s some good info…

F.D.A. tests found these products have no lead:

Natrol Liquid Kids Companion (Liquid)
NF Formulas Liquid Pediatric (Liquid)
Twinlab Infant Care (Liquid)

These products had some lead, but in the lowest levels detected in the F.D.A. tests:

Windmill Bite-A-Mins (Tablet/Capsule)
Kids Liquid Dolphin Pals (Liquid)
My First Flintstones (Tablet/Capsule)
Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins Plus Extra C (Tablet/Capsule)
Uno Diario Ninos (Tablet/Capsule)
Flintstones Plus Immunity Support (Tablet/Capsule)
Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins (Tablet/Capsule)

Information like this can overwhelm you, I know. I’ve met more than one mom who has thrown her hands in the air in desperate frustration because, no matter where she turns, she finds out another product she trusts may be dangerous to her child. I have surely felt this way myself.

This is what I do. I take a deep breath, and then I pick my battles. We can’t fight them all!** I think this is one we can manage, mom. We’ll just buy our vitamins a little more selectively.

Onward and upward!

For much more information on prenatal Health and Nutrition, please listen to our Pea in the Podcast on the subject here.

**Actually, I have a good mommy friend who tries very hard to fight all the mommy battles out there, and actually manages to win most of them. I hate my friend. ;)


Preggos: Eat more fish! Or not….

Sigh. I hate it when government agencies bicker! Particularly when it interferes with my ability to give mommies-to-be and new moms good information. Grrr….

So, the Food and Drug Administration has long discouraged pregnant women and nursing mothers (& women of childbearing age & infants & children) from eating too much seafood, because of its mercury content. The F.D.A. suggests you eat no more than 12 ounces a week, and NO shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. These are longer living and/or predator fish, so their mercury levels will be higher than other types of seafood. Also, the F.D.A. has urged pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna a week.

All of that simply means the F.D.A used to (apparently) think you should limit your fish to two meals a week, even though everyone knows that the omega 3s in fish oil are just about the best thing going for your gestating baby’s development, particularly its brain development.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when the F.D.A leaked a draft report saying it would urge the federal government to reverse the recommended limits on fish intake, and encourage everyone to EAT MORE FISH! It’s a fish free for all! Get it now, get it while it’s hot! The F.D.A. draft argues the nutrients in fish, including omega 3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals, could boost a child’s I.Q. by three points, and outlines several other benefits for your developing child linked to seafood.

I talked to a doctor who is all about the possibility that the government might urge pregnant women to eat more fish.

Listen to what Dr. James A. McGregor, a Visiting Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, has to say about the federal recommendations regarding fish and pregnancy here…

However, this is not the end of the story!

The Environmental Protection Agency heard about this F.D.A report and was all “No! Way!” The E.P.A was not happy.

This was reported in the Chicago Tribune, and printed in papers across the country…

EPA scientists say the FDA’s report reaches conclusions that aren’t supported by the studies it cites, and at various points either trivializes or overstates existing research.

Some suggest the F.D.A is playing politics, cow towing to seafood industry lobbyists who want current suggested limits reversed before President Bush leaves office. Interesting idea. It bears consideration.

Bottom line, for me, anyway…fish oil is important. It is linked to a whole host of good things for your gestating baby, your infant and you! Just scroll down this page for a run down of possible benefits. It’s glorious stuff. Worth its weight in gold. I take supplements now, and I can tell the difference in the way feel when I don’t. I give my three year old fish oil supplements, and have since she was a baby.

I also took purified (no mercury) fish oil supplements when I was pregnant and nursing. I did not, though, eat a ton of fish. (Sorry Doc McGregor!)

So why all the fuss about mercury? What’s wrong with that cool substance you used to chase around your lab table in science class? Well, ask that sushi loving guy from Entourage!

Seriously, though, for you as a mom or mom-to-be, the E.P.A. warns…

For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development…Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb.

Down with mercury!

I think, though, this controversy and the associated cost/benefit analysis may be a bit easier to manage than many others we deal with as moms. Fish oil can add I.Q. points. Mercury can take them away. So, lets talk moderation, regardless of the recommendations, or future recommendations. You could take daily purified supplements, as I did, or you could stick with fish that are considered “safer”, like salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies, and limited amounts of tuna. You can find a balance that’s win/win, you know? At least I think you can.

If you have any questions about this or anything, talk to your o.b. or midwife.

What about the F.D.A and the E.P.A and their little spat? I say we get a big vat, fill it with fish oil, and let ‘em fight it out.

For much more information on prenatal Health and Nutrition, please listen to our Pea in the Podcast on the subject here.