Natural Pregnancy


Awake at Night? 6 Ways to Promote Sleep in Late Pregnancy 0

sleep during pregnancy Is your growing belly keeping you from getting regular zzzs? You’re not alone. Matter of fact, according to, more than half of all women in their third trimesters rate their sleep as poor. Late pregnancy symptoms such as leg cramps, heartburn, and frequent trips to the bathroom seem to prevent a good night’s rest for many exhausted mamas-to-be. However, aside from idealistically installing a portable potty in your bed, there are some realistic, natural ways that you can get comfortable and sleep more in late pregnancy in preparation for your babe’s arrival.
  1. Pay attention to what and when you eat

Aside from the nutritional needs that your baby has, eating to nourish your own body and promote relaxation is incredibly important in pregnancy. Hydrate as much as possible during the earlier part of the day and try to limit fluid-intake in the evening, as this will cause you to need more midnight bathroom breaks. (Be careful to still drink if you are thirsty, as dehydration is more dangerous in pregnancy than sleep deprivation.)

Snack often, snack smartly, snack before you go to bed, and snack during the night. Constantly keeping your stomach slightly full can help manage stomach acids. Eating a combination of protein and complex carbohydrate stabilizes your blood sugar. And, eating carbohydrates immediately before bed has been found to help relax the body. Also, keep snacks by your bed to prevent you from fully waking up to eat when you you’re starving at 3 am.

  1. Manage your heartburn

Although heartburn is often inescapable in pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the effects. Eating smaller meals more often will help, as will correct positioning of yourself in bed. Sleeping slightly elevated is one option and can easily be accomplished by raising the head of your bed on risers/sturdy books. Sometimes, it can be more restful to cuddle upright in a recliner during late pregnancy. If swelling is also an issue, then prop your legs up on pillows while still keeping your head and chest slightly elevated as well.

If heartburn becomes unmanageable, contact your doctor who can prescribe medications and/or supplements that are safe to take while pregnant. Magnesium, specifically, has been known to help with heartburn, relaxation, constipation, and muscle cramps.

  1. Exercise wisely

Well-timed aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and swimming are wonderful during pregnancy; however, try to exercise earlier in the day when endorphins are less likely to keep you awake. While yoga and stretching exercises may help your body wind down in the evening, most cardiovascular workouts will wake your body up instead of promoting rest.

  1. Take cat naps

Especially in late pregnancy, sleep when and where you can. While napping has the reputation of making it more challenging to fall asleep later, this danger can usually be ignored during the third trimester when rest – at any time of the day – is worth its weight in gold. If you find that napping late in the day does disturb your night’s rest, then limit naps to only morning/afternoon hours. Your goal is to be as well rested as possible for your coming labor and months of feeding a baby throughout the night.

  1. Practice meditation

Specific relaxation techniques and routines, including meditation, yoga and self-hypnosis, can help you de-stress after a hectic day and give you an opportunity to focus on your body’s and baby’s needs. Set aside time every night before bed to pamper yourself. Talk to your baby. Rub your belly. Perhaps have your partner massage your body. Listen to guided relaxation audio tracks and allow your body to slip into a peaceful slumber. As an added benefit, learning how to relax during pregnancy will help you relax during labor and potentially ease your birth experience.

  1. Get regular prenatal massages

Make sure to check with your care provider before scheduling appointments, but for most women prenatal massage is safe and beneficial. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), benefits of prenatal massage include a reduction of anxiety/depression, relief of muscle and joint aches, improvement in labor and newborn health outcomes, hormone regulation, reduction of swelling, improvement of nerve (including sciatic) pain, and better sleep.

  1. Journal through your pregnancy

Sometimes stress and fears about pregnancy and parenthood can keep you from sleeping well. Or, maybe it is the overwhelming, never-ending to-do lists that you can’t get out of your head. Take time to journal about what is bothering you. Allow yourself to explore any emotional trauma or worries and seek professional help if you find that you are dealing with unresolved issues, depression or anxiety.

Sleep during pregnancy is valuable and can often feel like the elusive prize. However, you don’t have to remain haggard in late pregnancy. Instead, talk to your care provider about alternative ways to manage your health and achieve more sleep for you and your baby.   Article Sources: American Pregnancy Association. (2014, January). Massage and pregnancy – prenatal massage. American Pregnancy Association: Promoting Pregnancy Wellness. Retrieved from Babycentre Medical Advisory Board. (2011, June). Sleep in the third trimester. Retrieved from

Author: Lauren Hasz

Photo Credit: Johnathan Nightingale,

Alcohol & Fetal White Matter, Steroids and Prematurity & Fetal DNA Testing 1

Drinking While Pregnant Damages Fetal Brain White Matter We all know that drinking and pregnancy don't mix. We generally contend that a glass of wine with a meal is fine but getting buzzed or drinking heavily is a huge no- no. It is so dangerous that most doctors and health care professionals simply make a blanket statement to err on the side of caution and avoid all alcohol while pregnant. A study published online on Dec. 19 and in the March print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity. According to the "The brain's white matter is made up of nerve bundles that transfer information between brain regions," study corresponding author Susanna L. Fryer, a researcher at San Diego State University's Center for Behavioral Teratology, said in a news release. "Optimal white-matter integrity is thought to support efficient cognition. So, the finding that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity may help explain aspects of the cognitive and behavioral problems that individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) commonly face," she said. "The brains of individuals with FASDs showed evidence of altered nerve fiber integrity at a microstructural level, even though total brain size was statistically equivalent between alcohol-exposed and comparison participants," Fryer said. Women at risk for premature births only need one round of steroid shots, study finds. Thousands of women at high risk for preterm birth receive steroid shots which speed fetal blood vessel and lung development. This can help prevent breathing problems, brain bleeds and even newborn death. According to "..a study of 1,858 women in 20 countries, published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, showed that additional injections every 14 days did not improve the health of the babies and actually resulted in smaller babies. 'The key findings from our study were that there was no benefit (from the repeated courses of injections) and therefore that repeated doses should not be used,' Dr. Kellie Murphy of the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who led the study, said in a telephone interview." U.S. Government and Baylor in cahoots to test fetal DNA Baylor College of Medicine is offering a service to test fetal DNA for about 200 rare genetic syndromes, most involving mental retardation. There is no treatment for these conditions in utero and no treatment available after birth. The idea behind the screening then, is to allow the parents the option of terminating the pregnancy as 80-95% of expectant parents do when faced with a Down's Syndrome diagnosis in utero. The implications are heartbreaking and of course we at A Much Better Way are appalled that anyone could terminate a Down's baby because they are of course as important and wonderful as everyone else. In addition to the ethical, eugenics side of the coin, we have to wonder if why the U.S. Government would sponsor such a study? We believe it is in an effort to collect fetal DNA (not because they are suddenly concerned with the incidence of these 200 rare syndromes.) Perhaps the current DNA collection via newborn PKU testing is not working out for them.

Phthalates during Pregnancy Cause Genital Defects in Boys 5

Here is one more reason to watch what you put on your skin during pregnancy. A new animal study has found that phthalates during pregnancy increases the likelihood of a genital defect in baby boys. The genital defect, called hypospadias, occurs when the baby boy's urethra exits the underside of the penis. Doctors have seen a near 100% increase of this type of defect since the 1960s. Phthalates are also linked to undescended testicles, smaller penises and overall feminization of males. Phthalates are so dangerous because they either mimic or block our natural hormones and male fetuses are especially vulnerable. According to "Theodore Schettler, a physician and science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, an environmental advocacy group. 'There's a huge animal database showing how exposures to phthalates during development can have effects at levels hundreds of times lower than these needed to show any impact on an adult,' he said. Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus' sexual differentiation starts, he said.
Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy
'If my testosterone dropped by 20 or 30 percent for a couple of days, it wouldn't matter,' he said. 'But for a developing fetus, it could matter a whole lot if there was a substantial drop in testosterone.' Phthalates fall into a group of chemicals called endocrine disruptors because they either mimic or block the action of human hormones. Phthalates interfere with the synthesis of testosterone. Bisphenol A, another controversial chemical that is found in plastics, can mimic female hormones. Consumers' concerns about bisphenol A, which has been used for years to make plastics stiff, have prompted some producers and retailers to announce in recent months that they would stop using and selling it." Phthalates are found in nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes, shampoos, deodorants, soft plastic toys and much more. There is no easy way to determine if your beauty or household product contains phthalates unless it clearly states "phthalate free". During pregnancy, the safer the better so if you wont put it in your mouth, don't put it on your skin. More resources: Not Too Pretty (PDF)

Prenatal Testing and Ultrasound 0

prenatal testing and ultrasoundAuthor: Mandy Robinson With advances in technology, even if there was a problem with the prenatal development of your baby, doctors are able to respond sooner. This is all made possible due to technologies such as prenatal testing and ultrasound. It is a common misconception that pregnancy testing takes place only once, at the beginning of your pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the truth - from ultrasounds to blood tests, you will be bombarded with test after test up until even the very morning of your delivery date. 1. Primary Testing Quite a lot of blood work is performed initially for various reasons including whether you are Rh negative or positive, your immunity to viruses such as rubella, and whether you have a more serious condition such as hepatitis B, or HIV. At this initial visit you will also receive a physical and internal examination to check your capability for giving birth, and if necessary, a PAP smear. 2. Ultrasound Ultrasound, unfortunately, is not merely a tool that allows the mother to see her child before it is born, or to determine the sex of the child prior to childbirth. The real purpose of an ultrasound is to detect fetal development problems in advance or to pinpoint potential delivery problems such as placenta previa. Don't worry, however, this is actually a routine procedure carried out at 18 weeks for all pregnant women. Ultrasounds can:
  • Determine early the gender of the baby
  • Measure the placenta
  • Check embryonic fluid composition
  • Ensure the umbilical cord is not causing any complications
  • Ensure there is no internal bleeding
3. Gestational Diabetes Testing for gestational diabetes is carried out on all pregnant women during their second trimester. This primarily involves fasting until the test, then drinking a special glucose drink, waiting a specified period of time and then checking the blood sugar level with a simple finger prick blood test. If the blood sugar levels are off the charts then you will have to go for additional blood testing at a later date. 4. Amniocentesis You are only eligible for this level of testing if you are over 35 years of age or if you have a medical history in your family such as Down's syndrome. Usually carried out between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a slight risk of miscarriage as a result of this test so it is not compulsory. 5. Chorionic Villus Sampling The most feared and invasive of all pregnancy tests, this is an exhausting test for a woman to endure. Carried out between weeks 10 and 13 of pregnancy. This test is only carried out when there is an absolutely urgent need to determine the health status of the baby. About the author: For more great pregnancy related articles and resources check out Sheryl's comment: Please do not assume that just because these tests are routine that they are safe. They are certainly not natural. If you love your child with your whole heart and there is no way you would terminate your pregnancy despite Down's syndrome or some other condition, then refuse the CVS or the amniocentisis (unless you are really concerned about your OBGYN's Mercedes payment).   Image Source:

Nutrition During Pregnancy 0

nutrition during pregnancyAuthor: Gaetane Ross Pregnancy is a wonderful time in your life. It can also be very taxing and exhausting for your body, mind and spirit at times. But by nourishing your body with proper nutrition for pregnancy, you'll be energized, strong, and sharp, and ready to welcome your healthy and happy bundle of joy. Beans and legumes are good sources of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, thiamine, and niacin. Make a big batch of beans when you have time and freeze them in small containers. Be careful with canned varieties, as they're usually higher in sodium and their nutritional value is a bit lower since they're processed using high temperatures. Soybeans provide more protein than any other bean or legume, making them a staple for either the vegan or non-vegan. Soybeans are rich in many nutrients, including calcium and iron. Include plenty of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, and oats in your diet as they're a great source of fiber, minerals, protein and B complex vitamins. Buy the least processed grain types you can find, since many of the commercially prepared grains have had the nutritional and beneficial germ and bran removed. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, watercress, and spinach are especially important while pregnant or lactating because they supply so many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. Dark leafy green vegetables also are rich in phytochemicals like beta carotene and lutein which protect against many forms of cancer. Vegetables from the cabbage family such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are wonderful sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. They are also rich in phytochemicals that have anticancer properties. Dark green leafy vegetables and cabbage family vegetables provide important nutrients that help to promote a plentiful milk supply for your baby. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fiber, protein, minerals, and essential fatty acids. The Pregnancy DietBe sure to eat flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts to get omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for baby's brain and nervous system development as well as your own health. Nuts and seeds can be eaten raw or toasted, and work great in a salad made of dark leafy green vegetables. Lastly, it's important to drink plenty of water, and make sure you're getting plenty of rest during this time. A well-hydrated, well-rested body will recover from childbirth quicker and will be ready to take on the challenges that life with a newborn baby brings with it. About the author: Did you find those tips on "Super Foods" useful? If so,You can learn a lot more about how we can help you here. Image Source: