Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pregnancy Symptoms and Deficiency

Picture taken by my new personal photographer, Natalie (she's also Chop's mom and Baby's gramma)

Throughout my pregnancy I have learned so much about my bodies response to growing a baby. Common pregnancy symptoms can be frustrating, limiting, and tiring. The first trimester is known for its yucky, sometimes debilitating symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression, indigestion, and constipation, just to name a few. I experienced all of these, save the actual vomiting, and suddenly no longer felt like myself. My hair was dry, my skin was oily, and all I wanted to eat was cheese and pasta.

Second trimester is a beautiful period, where energy returns, you acquire a pregnancy glow, you eat and enjoy healthy foods again, and feel fantastic, minus a few physical symptoms that can arise. For me these symptoms were: a pregnancy mask (a slight discoloration on the face), pregnancy carpletunnel, pregnancy leg cramps, and pregnancy brain. These symptoms were all chalked up to being pregnant, which I accepted for a little while, but I wanted to know more!

This is what I found...

It is no wonder why, while our nutrients are busy feeding another being in our bodies, we may experience
deficiencies. These deficiencies cause symptoms, some more difficult to live with than others.

Pregnancy Mask? This slight discoloration in the face is not painful, hardly noticeable to most people, and pretty much harmless. Although, it can be an indication of a Vitamin B deficiency. After starting to take a B-Complex vitamin, my "mask" lightened considerably. It has not completely faded, but it is much less than it was, and I feel better knowing that my body is providing my baby with the nutrients he/she needs without completely depleting my needs as well.

An example of pregnancy mask. Kind of like freckles, but more of an uneven discoloration. I'd show you my own, but it went away ;)

Pregnancy Carple-tunnel? Joint pain is common in pregnancy, mostly due to the hormone relaxin that allows your joints to relax and loosen for the passing of the baby through the pelvis. However excessive joint pain can be due to more than just this hormone. For some, dairy can be a common trigger. Pregnant women tend to increase their dairy intake in high amounts. We need fats for our growing babies, and dairy is a great high fat source. However too much can be depleting, hard to digest, and mucus building. Getting fats and calcium from other non-dairy sources allows our bodies to fully absorb the calcium, crave less dairy, and still get all the fats our babies need to grow. Nuts, avocado, olives, cold pressed oils, seeds, and nut butters are all great sources of fats to balance the scales. Dark leafy greens are great sources of calcium, and coincidently (or not, because nature is perfect) much easier to digest and absorb when combined with healthy fats. These will lube the joints, and keep the bones strong.

Leg cramps? Water and/or a potassium deficiency. Some leg pain can be due to positioning while sleeping, but the crampy, tightening, charlie horse pain can be prevented through a few additions to your diet. First off, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. It is suggested for active people to drink their weight in water in ounces a day. So I weigh 127 lbs. (when not pregnant) therefore I should be drinking 127 ounces of water a day. This is almost 4 liters of water! It is a good goal, and a great place to start to figure out what you need, versus what you are actually getting. You can also kill two birds with one stone by drinking coconut water. It is super high in potassium, electrolytes and contains
high levels of lauric acid which is what babies get in their mother’s breast milk so coconut water is recommended for nursing mothers. Lauric acid has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which protect young children against various infections.

Getting the Potassium you need: Root vegetables including potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas are the highest in potassium, and are delicious in roasts: a single baked potato with skin has 700 milligrams of potassium. Melons, peaches, avocados, tomatoes, and bananas are all high in potassium as well, and can be eaten raw, mixed in fruit salads, and included in a variety of dishes. In addition, squash, lentils, and beans have a high potassium content: try roasting squash, or using beans and lentils in a healthy soup. In addition to having high calcium levels, fish and white meat also have high potassium levels along with whole milk, yogurt, and buttermilk. Finally, raw nuts also have a great deal of dietary potassium, usually packing 200 milligrams or more per ounce, and one tablespoon of molasses has almost 300 milligrams.

Pregnancy Brain? I'm not dumb, I'm just pregnant. Forgetfullness, indecisiveness, brain fog, and forgetfulness (i love that i wrote forgetfulness twice, didn't even notice) are all common symptoms in pregnant women. Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids can help with this problem. Our babies are taking all that we have to grow into healthy human beings, including our brain power and the nutrients it takes to stay clear. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, fish oil capsules, flax oil, flax seeds are all good sources of Omega 3 fats, essential brain function foods. Increase these and notice a new sense of clarity (it is so nice).