“In the United States, African-American women deliver preterm and low-birth-weight infants two to three times more frequently than their white counterparts.” So wrote researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard.
That statement was the jumping-off point for a new study examining the benefits of multivitamins for pregnant women. Researchers found that daily supplements of multivitamins may improve the growth of the baby in the womb.
Women who were taking daily multivitamins in and around the time of conception gave birth to babies who weighed on average about 540 grams (1.19 pounds) more than babies from women not taking the supplements, reports Heather Burris from Harvard University and Allen Mitchell and Martha Werier from Boston University in the Annals of Epidemiology.
Low birth weight has been linked to higher risks of negative health outcomes, including neonatal and infant mortality, poor growth and cognitive development, and higher risks of chronic diseases later in life, like diabetes and heart disease.
“If our findings were confirmed and subsequently shown to be causal, then increasing peri-conceptional multivitamin use among pregnant women could help to eliminate longstanding disparities in birth weight, gestational age and fetal growth,” they added.
Burris and her co-workers analyzed data from 2,331 non-Hispanic white and 133 non-Hispanic black mothers and their infants participating in the Stone Epidemiology Center Birth Defects Study.
While no link was associated between multivitamin use in white women and the birth weight or gestational age of their infants, a significant increase in birth weight was observed in babies from African-American women. Indeed, multivitamin use in African-American women was associated with an increase in birth weight of their infants of 536 grams (1.18 pounds). Furthermore, there was a trend toward increased gestation periods in these women, added the researchers.
Being an epidemiological study, the results do not prove causality and the researchers note that it is possible that multivitamin use is merely indicative of a healthy lifestyle, which would produce healthier pregnancies.
Despite this limitation, Burris and her co-workers note that the findings are “consistent with a plausible role played by micronutrients in fetal growth. It is not known which nutrient or combination of nutrients in multivitamins might affect fetal growth, and our data do not contribute to this question,” they added.
Annals of Epidemiology 20(3):233-240, 2010 April 2010
It is also important to make sure vitamin D levels are optimized during pregnancy, as infants whose mothers are vitamin D deficient have a higher risk of developing asthma.
One 2007 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, states:
“Vitamin D has been linked to immune system and lung development in utero, and our epidemiologic studies show that higher vitamin D intake by pregnant mothers reduces asthma risk by as much as 40 percent in children 3 to 5 years old.
“Providing adequate vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy may lead to significant decreases in asthma incidence in young children.”
And, said Dr. Celedïn in the article above, “This study also provides epidemiological support for a growing body of in vitro evidence that vitamin D insufficiency may worsen asthma severity, and we suspect that giving vitamin D supplements to asthma patients who are deficient may help with their asthma control.”
So not only can your vitamin D status during pregnancy influence the development of asthma in your child in the first place, but if your child is deficient as well, it may aggravate his or her asthma symptoms.
In fact, the children with higher vitamin D levels had a lower risk of being hospitalized for any cause, and needed fewer anti-inflammatory medications. This too correlates to another recent meta-analysis that showed higher vitamin D levels significantly reduce mortality from all causes.
There is no time during pregnancy when nutrition is unimportant. Of the nine months of gestation, however, the first three are the most important. During this first trimester the baby grows to about three inches in length and weighs about one ounce. Its sex is determined. It can open and close its mouth and kick and squirm – but as yet is too small for ‘mom’ to feel it carrying on.
This is the time for mom and dad to visit the doctor and/or midwives to discuss birthing options. (Don’t just ‘go along’ with whatever the doctor does ‘routinely’. Do some research now on labor positions, drugs, fetal heart monitoring, episiotomy, labor and delivery place, birth attendants, breast feeding, rooming in, vitamin K, erythromycin or silver nitrate, etc., etc.) A visit to an herbalist is also a good idea – just to make sure all of the nutrients are being supplied in the most easily assimilated form. I generally caution pregnant women away from synthetic prenatal vitamins and iron. Often these vitamins are candy coated and so hard that very few people can digest them. They tend to pass right through – whole. Synthetic iron usually causes bowel movements to turn black. It also causes constipation and/or diarrhea. (A dose to three mg. has been documented as causing death in young children.)
During pregnancy there are some herbs which should not be used at all and several others that may be used very carefully. Most herbs are totally safe when used in moderation and with wisdom. Herbs to avoid are rue and pennyroyal. Both of these herbs can cause miscarriages and many other severe complications of pregnancy. Herbs that need to be used with caution include black cohosh, blessed thistle, blue cohosh, cramp bark, damiana, dong quai, false unicorn, ginseng, licorice, sarsaparilla, saw palmetto, squaw vine and yarrow. These herbs all contain steroid-like constituents which could possibly affect the secondary sex characteristics of the baby.
Another herb to be careful with is golden seal as it contains hydrastine, which contracts the uterus when taken in large quantities. Don’t take more than 1/4 tsp. or one 00 capsule per day.
The first trimester is the period during which most miscarriages occur. Early warning symptoms of miscarriage are cramping and bleeding. Most doctors will say they can do nothing to prevent the inevitable, and while herbs don’t always result in a live birth after a threatened miscarriage, the benefits are usually pretty good anyway.
The herbalist’s rule of thumb is “Herbs will stop it if it can be stopped. If not, then the herbs will speed it along and help mom recover faster”.
There are many causes of miscarriage including malnutrition, hormone imbalance, and emotional factors. More than one cause is often involved.
Nutritional requirements of pregnant women are very high. To get the amount of nutrients required the diet must be loaded with healthy, whole, live foods. Herbs and other nutritional supplements may be used to enhance the diet. Fresh organic vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, sprouts, butter (not margarine), limited amount of organic dairy products (if they are tolerated), nuts, seeds, organically raised animal protein (to avoid the hormones and antibiotics used in producing commercial animals) and organic yogurt are the types of foods to be eaten.
This is definitely a time to avoid smoking and smoke/exhaust filled areas, refined and lifeless non-foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, deep fried foods, products made with white flour, white sugar and artificial colors. All of these items deplete vitamins and mineral reserves and weaken the whole body. Good nutrition can help prevent miscarriage.
I have an entirely different viewpoint about Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of Vitamins and minerals than I had before. There simply wasn’t enough study on the different isoforms of all the nutrients to know what they are doing at the cellular level. Only the ShopFreeMart products product incorporates all that is known about nutrition today and it is the only multi-supplement I can recommend because none of the others have been studied sufficiently and most probably contain improper isoforms and other things that cause oxidative stress to the cells.
Taking Folic Acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects like down’s syndrome and spina bifida. Good food sources of folate are romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus and turnips. (If you eat spinach, it must be organic and you must eat it raw. Spinach contains oxalate which binds with iron and calcium, removing them from your body). ShopFreeMart products contains the right kind of Folic Acid for pregnant mothers.
A majority of your Calcium should come from natural sources. Dairy products, though rich in Calcium are not the best source unless the milk comes from goats. Organic raw spinach, kale, okra, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, sesame seeds, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, brussel sprouts, oranges, asparagus, leeks and collards are good food sources of Calcium. Most greens contain calcium and that is how cows and other large animals grow strong bones. Most people are not deficient in Calcium, they often take the wrong isoforms of calcium; they should take ShopFreeMart products so they get the proper calcium so their cells can use it properly.
Most dietary Magnesium comes from dark green, leafy vegetables. Other sources are fruits like bananas, dried apricots and avocados; nuts such as almonds and cashews, peas, beans, seeds, brown rice and millet.
Very few people are deficient in Phosphorus as it is found in most foods. Good sources for Phosphorus are raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, flax seeds and wheat germ.
Food sources for iron include liver and lean beef. Especially during pregnancy you should seek organic meat and dairy to prevent supplying the fetus with unwanted hormones. Wheat and oat bran, wheat germ and sesame seeds are sources of iron. Herbs and spices rich in iron include thyme, curry powder, ground cinnamon, garam masala, rosemary and paprika. If you do need to supplement with iron, check with your local health food store to find an “natural organic source” as inorganic iron generally has side effects.
Raw organic seeds including pumpkin, chia, hemp, sesame, sunflower, and poppy, help to supply the body with the essential zinc that it needs. Pumpkin seeds in particular have one of the highest concentrations of zinc. Organic, raw “fresh” rolled oats also provide a good source of dietary zinc. Organic, raw nuts, such as cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts, also contain significant amounts of zinc.
Most fresh fruits contain zinc, with avocados, raspberries, apricots, blackberries, dates, loganberries, and pomegranates being especially good sources. Organic dried fruits, such as dried peaches, plums, currants, bananas, and figs are also good sources of zinc. Many vegetables also contain zinc including asparagus, brussel sprouts, peas, pumpkin, and chard.
Spirulina, maca, raw cocoa powder, and bee pollen are also good sources of zinc.
The best natural source of iodine is found in sea vegetables such as kelp and dulse. If you can’t find another source, check with your local health food store.
Herbs that can help fill the nutritional gap during pregnancy are:
Red Raspberry acts as a uterine tonic and contains many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and B-Complex.
Yellow Dock is a blood purifier and glandular tonic. It contains many nutrients, a few of which are organic iron, vitamins A & C, calcium and magnesium.
Liquid Chlorophyll is a general tonic for the whole body, but especially the blood.
Combination of Alfalfa, Kelp and Dandelion acts as a glandular balancer, general tonic, provides all vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine, B-complex vitamins, eight essential amino acids and vitamin C.
Combination of Kelp, Dulse, Watercress, Wild Cabbage, Horseradish and Horsetail – Good for the heart, bowels, fluid retention (keeps sodium and potassium balanced which is necessary for proper nerve impulse transmission), rich source of potassium and other trace minerals.
Rosehips is good for blood, nerves, heart and capillary integrity, excellent source of vitamins A, B-complex and C, also Rutin (for tissue elasticity), calcium and iron. It can be used like a “one-a-day” vitamin for children.
A common cause of miscarriage is hormone imbalance. Your best bet for preventing miscarriage is taking ShopFreeMart products combined with preventative herbs. Once the miscarriage is threatening, frequent doses of feverfew, lobelia, red raspberry, catnip and an herbal combination of golden seal, capsicum, false unicorn, ginger, uva ursi, cramp bark, squawvine, blessed thistle, and red raspberry will often prevent it. Many of these herbs are not recommended for long term use during pregnancy because of their effect on hormones. In miscarriages however, the natural hormones are deficient, unbalanced or ineffective.
Doctor Christopher reflects on lobelia in these words: “Lobelia is a selective herb. When a fetus is dead, or in an extremely weakened condition, lobelia will cause it to abort. However, if the fetus is well and healthy, and the mother is weak, it will cause the mother to heal and strengthen, enabling her to carry the child until the proper time for delivery. Lobelia accurately and intelligently selects which way to go. It is truly a ‘thinking’ herb.”
False unicorn and cramp bark act to stop cramping.
I encourage mom to go to bed and rely on inspiration for recommend dosages. When a miscarriage is active (bleeding and/or cramping) herbs should be taken every two hours around the clock. When symptoms have ceased, the herbs should be taken four times a day during waking hours for one to two weeks. If the miscarriage does happen, continue the herbs four times a day for three to seven days to help mom get her strength back. Rest and relaxation are vital in the event of miscarriage or threatened miscarriage.
Emotions can also cause miscarriages. A mom in a high stress situation; perhaps unmarried, financial problems, health problems, unstable marriage, unwanted pregnancy, etc. is more likely to miscarry. Dr. Thomas Verny indicates that a very young fetus is aware of stress outside the womb. He theorizes that some fetuses may choose to die rather than inflict further stress and pain on their mothers or themselves.
When a pregnant woman is under stress, she not only depletes her own vitamin and mineral reserves and her own adrenal and glandular strength, but she drains these things off her baby.
Possible therapies for stress in pregnancy and threatened miscarriage include ShopFreeMart products, Bach Flower Remedies, herbs, massage, and introspection.
Bach Flower Remedies – Flower petal extracts that help to heal the emotional hurts of life. I like to use Rescue Remedy along with any other flowers that seem to fit the individual situation. Many books are available on Bach Flower Remedies.
Herbs and Vitamins – I have discussed specific herbs and vitamins for these purposes already. They are vitally important.
Nutrition – During stressful times, and especially miscarriage, the diet should be as simple, natural and easy to digest and assimilate as possible. Organic raw fruit and gently steamed vegetables, sprouted grains, organic cultured dairy products and broths or light soups should make up the bulk of the diet. I recommend avoiding animal flesh, cheese (except yogurt cheese and crumbly cheeses), milk, breads and such during such situations.
Massage – Any mild form of massage can be beneficial at this time. The key is to keep it gentle and relaxing.
Introspection – (Self talk and baby talk) – This amounts to digging deep into yourself. Do you really want this baby? Why or why not? Share your answers with your partner and the baby.
Using these methods, pregnancies that doctors said wouldn’t last the night often go to term and produce beautiful children. In the event of miscarriage, the event is sped up and ends quickly without medical intervention required, resulting in a very healthy mom.
The rule of thumb; herbs will stop it if it can be stopped. If not, then the herbs will speed it along and help mom to recover faster.
Childbirth.org claims cream of tartar and lemon juice or water will lower blood pressure during pregnancy. Bladder infections may also be helped with this same remedy. (See Bladder Infection)
Home Remedy: Cream of tartar is used in baking and can be purchased from your local grocery store. It is potassium salt that is derived from grapes while making wine.
Fill a glass with warm water.
Cut a lemon or lime and squeeze the juice into your glass of water.
Add 1-2 tsp. cream of tartar to your juice/water mixture and stir well.
Drink this mixture once a day for three days. Rest for two days, then repeat again for three days if symptoms continue.
You can also drink more water to make your urine less alkaline and take liquid silver to kill any bacteria.
For a healthier pregnancy and easier delivery drink at least one quart of tea using 1 part comfrey, 1 part alfalfa and 2 parts red raspberry.
For bleeding during pregnancy, drink as much as possible of catnip and red raspberry tea.
Cayenne and lobelia together will relax the uterus.
Morning sickness is caused by acidity and a pregnant woman who has a pH of 7.2 (first morning urine) will rarely experience morning sickness and if proper pH is maintained throughout pregnancy, delivery will be short, easy and practically painless.
Taking temperature first thing in morning before moving – if 98.6 or above the fetus is usually alive. When going into labor the body temp drops.
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