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When I became pregnant with my daughter Annabell, I didn’t know which prenatal vitamin to choose.

So, I did what so many other pregnant women do, I went in for my initial doctor’s visit and asked my OBGYN to recommended one. Within seconds, they prescribed me an under the counter $60 bottle, and the next day, I began taking it.

However, a few weeks later I began to recognize a strange connection between my morning sickness and my prenatal vitamins. Every day, I would wake up feeling fine but than the moment I took my vitamin, I would feel nauseous. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence but after experimenting with not taking the vitamin one morning, I found that my nausea completely stopped.

After reaching out to my doctor about this, they switched me to an over the counter $10 bottle of gummy prenatal vitamins and to my surprise, my sickness never came back.

This experience made me wonder why my doctor didn’t inform me that some prenatals can make you sick and why he had originally prescribed an expensive prenatal vitamin, instead of the cheaper version. I often wondered if the difference in price reflected a difference in quality and if my gummy vitamins were as nutritious as the pills.

During pregnancy, I never did get the answers to these questions, but after giving birth to my daughter and beginning my work with Expectful, I found that these questions weren’t unique to me. Many women were confused about prenatal vitamins and what actually constitutes a “healthy one.”

Recognizing this, it became clear to me that with all the brands out on the market today, it was difficult to know who to turn to for accurate, unbiased information on prenatal vitamins. This is what led me to reach out to award-winning OBGYN and author of she-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health, Dr. Sherry Ross to find out everything you need to know when it comes to choosing the best prenatal vitamin for you.

I hope Dr. Sherry’s answers give you the clarity and confidence to pick the prenatal that will support you and your growing baby.

1. Why is it recommended that women take prenatal vitamins?

Your calorie and nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy and the average diet can leave gaps in your pregnancy nutritional requirements. This means you are missing out on vital nutrients your body and growing baby need to function and develop properly.  Taking a complete prenatal vitamin serves as a perfect insurance policy ensuring you are getting what is missing from your diet and satisfying the additional nutrient recommendations needed in pregnancy.

2. What should women look for when choosing a prenatal vitamin and why?

A prenatal vitamin is designed to meet the demanding daily nutrient requirements for a woman during this hypermetabolic time.  Women who are pregnant need additional folate, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, zinc and omega-3-fish oil. These specific vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are needed to help support the growth and development a healthy baby.  These key ingredients are needed specific for spine, bone, brain and red blood cell development.

3. Is there a difference in absorption when taking a pill vs. gummy form of prenatal vitamin? What about over the counter vs. prescription?

Everyone wants to know if it’s better to take a softgel, liquid, tablet or chewable for the best absorption of the vitamin, minerals and antioxidants in a prenatal vitamin.  You have to look at the ingredient list located on the prenatal vitamin to ensure you are getting exactly what is recommended.

In a perfect world, you would take your prenatal vitamin in any format you prefer separately from calcium and iron. Both of these minerals should to be taken separately since they will affect the absorption of other nutrients. However, the form that your prenatal vitamin comes in has little effect on its absorption. In other words, liquid vitamins are not better absorbed than tablets. The absorption of your prenatal vitamin, regardless of its form, occurs in the stomach.

It is important to find a prenatal vitamin that has the U.S. Pharmacopeia symbol on the label.  The USP symbol verifies that the vitamin had been tested showing it has all the nutrients represented on the supplemental facts panel once it dissolves without containing high amounts of contaminants.  

4. If a woman has a healthy diet, does she still need to take prenatal vitamins? If yes, why? If no, why?

It’s been thought the best way to get all your necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is through a well-balanced and colorful diet. Whether you are pregnant or not, a prenatal or multivitamin, fills in the nutritional gaps that is needed to make sure all your daily vitamin requirements are being met.  

5. Are there side effects to taking a prenatal vitamin? If yes, what are they?

Since prenatal vitamins have more iron and higher doses of other vitamins and minerals, gastrointestinal side effects are common.  Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation are common side effects of a prenatal vitamin.

6. When should a woman start taking a prenatal vitamin?

It’s best for women to start taking folate three months before conception. Making sure that your prenatal or multivitamin contains at least includes 400mcg-1mg of folate is vital.  Folate has been shown to reduce the incidence of spinal defects, aka neural tube defects. Another recent study showed women who took folate preconceptionally also had a reduced incidence of autism. Taking additional omega 3 fish oil helps the healthy development of the fetal brain and visual system.  Additional vitamin D supplementation may also be needed if you are deficient.

7. How long after giving birth should a woman take a prenatal vitamin?

Many women think once they had the baby, they don’t need to continue taking prenatal vitamins any more.  Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you are breastfeeding, your body requires more vitamins and mineral than during your pregnancy.  Continuing to take your prenatal vitamins, extra vitamin D and omega 3 fish oil to help ensure your growing newborn gets those vital nutrients it needs.

Pregnancy can be a time of great excitement but also one filled with a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to things like preparing for birth. It’s my hope that providing education around labor during this interview with Samantha Huggins helps you to feel empowered throughout your pregnancy and informs you of the choices you have when it comes to your labor and delivery.

The post Everything You Need To Know About Prenatal Vitamins appeared first on The Expectful Blog.

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I can still feel the anticipation of what labor would feel like.

In the weeks leading up to giving birth to my daughter Annabell, I felt both excited and nervous as I drew closer to my due date. Each day, my mind would race about how and where labor would begin, what it would feel like and how my birth was going to play out.

Then, one Saturday evening, two days shy of 40 weeks pregnant, I felt my first contraction while sitting alone in my living room.

My initial reaction was pure confusion. I had no idea what a contraction was or wasn’t, so I sat still for an hour until I could confirm that the sensation was increasing over time. Once I realized that it was definitely labor, I walked into my bedroom, told my husband to keep sleeping and went back to the living room to labor alone.

There I sat scared to both move and know when I should go to the hospital. The truth is, while laboring at home, I had no idea what to do with myself. I felt frozen and lost.

Five hours later, I broke into uncontrollable chills, woke up my husband and told him it was time to go. I arrived at the hospital, layed on a bed and remained there for 8 hours until giving birth to my daughter, Annabell.

Looking back, I can see the most important thing missing in my labor was knowledge. I had no idea what I could / couldn’t do during labor, which left me moving from a place of fear rather than confidence.

After speaking with many women on Expectful, I’ve realized how many of them were also uninformed during their labors. Women want to be empowered during birth, but many don’t know how.

It’s because of this that I reached out to one of the co-founders of Carriage House Birth, Samantha Huggins, to find our everything there is to know about labor. Samantha is a certified birth doula, mother of two, lactation counselor, childbirth educator and co-founder of The Code, a radical body literacy program for tweens.

I hope Samantha’s experience and insight bring you the confidence, presence and peace I wish I had during my birth.

What are the first signs of labor?

This is one of my favorite questions because this is where we get to start to dismantle what we have been conditioned to believe is birth. Obviously, there’s the media version of birth, which is what so many of us think is what’s going to happen, which is this like explosive water breaking somewhere public…

However, it is can actually be quite different than that. For example, your water does not have to break. Though your water breaking could be a sign that labor is eminent, it could also mean that your labor hasn’t started yet. I’ve seen people go into labor a day after their water breaking or even three days later. So yes, water can be a part of it, but it doesn’t have to be.

The other side of this is that you can have a full labor and your water never breaks. So, ultimately in order for us to be in labor there’s only one word involved and that’s “contractions.”

You must be having contractions to be in labor. Mostly, those contractions will be very inconsistent and spread out but eventually there is an active contracting pattern. You may also see a mucus plug or a bloody show which is a little bit of pink blood or red blood often mixed with mucus.

What do contractions feel like?

A lot of people describe the very earliest labor contractions as feeling like a little bit of food poisoning or menstrual cramps. They are usually very irregular and very crampy at first and then, as your uterus tones and becomes more organized, the contractions intensify and you may feel the sensation as more of a wrap around feeling around the center of your body.

What time of day do most people go into labor and why?

Most people typically go into labor somewhere between three and five in the morning because their brains are off. When our brains are off, we are not stressing, meaning we’re not making cortisol. This gives our body the space to make oxytocin, which is what makes contractions happen.

What do you recommend a woman does during the hours that she labors at home?

If you’re laboring at night, we encourage you to use water. Water is great because it helps to soothe you and allow you to focus and discern where you are in your labor. In short, it helps you to go inward. To use water, you could take a bath, get a regular shower or take a shower where you sit on a big exercise ball that has a towel over it to avoid slipping, and just let the hot water run down your back.

Next, we recommend resting. Rest can stop contractions sometimes, which is okay, because it’s ideal for you to get sleep. Rest as much as you can because you don’t know how long your labor will be, so plan for a long labor.

For laboring during the day, we have a different approach. In our Carriage House childbirth education classes, we encourage people to make a long list of the things you’d want to have at home if you were stuck inside for two days. What foods and drinks would you want? What movies, playlist, etc? What things would comfort you? What things would make you feel good? While in labor at home during the day, use this list to help support you through the process.

Also, we really encourage interacting with your environment if that’s something that feels right to you and is available, either by staying inside or going outside. This could mean walking around the block, hanging out in your backyard, taking your dog for a walk, etc.

What do you recommend people don’t do while laboring at home?

What we don’t want you to do at is turn every light on in the house, start an Instagram live, call your whole family, or google signs of labor. We want you to go inward at this time.

When you are with a woman in labor, when do you recommend they go to the hospital?

Our number one rule is, we go whenever the birthing person wants to go. If there is a reason that the birthing person says that they want to be at the hospital or a birth center then that’s exactly where we should be, even if I know for a fact that they’re only one centimeter dilated, and we still have a long road ahead of us.

Some people do better being closer to their care provider and I deeply believe that we all have an inherent wisdom about our own bodies, and if you’re telling me that you need something, it’s my responsibility to honor you in that moment.

However, this could also depend on when your care provider wants to see you, too. So, it’s kind of whichever one comes first, you deciding to go or going when your care provider wants you there. This can also depend on what kind of birth you want. If you want to be medically managed with with an epidural, then maybe you go when your contractions are five minutes apart, very strong and lasting for one continual minute for one hour.

What signs should a woman look out for that could indicate that she should go to the hospital? In your opinion, when is the ideal time to go to the hospital?

The things that I look for that make me step outside of my comfort zone would definitely be blood. There’s good blood and there’s bad blood and I suggest talking with your care provider about what the difference between those two are. It’s a really great conversation to have.

Another thing is how you are doing emotionally. I know many care providers ask on a scale of 1 to 10 rate your pain, but really the question that we should be asking is “How are you coping?” or “How are you feeling right now?” And if you told me that you were not feeling well, or that you’re scared and we can’t get to the root of why you’re scared, then it’s time to go because we need to change the environment and get you into a safe space…because we can’t have babies unless we feel good, safe and supported.

What can women expect once they get to the hospital?

I think one of the big things that happens for first-time parents upon arriving at the hospital is that they underestimate the gravity of what happens between home and hospital, which is that you surrender your control. For some people, this is really welcome. They feel like the pressure is off and it’s not all on them anymore. If this is what you signed up for and wanted, great. However, if that’s not what you’ve signed up for, this realization can be very overwhelming.

Once at the hospital, what are some tips you recommend that a woman can do for her mind?

We encourage families to bring a few comfort items from home. This could be anything that means something to you, such as a stone, a handkerchief, etc, that you infuse with thoughts of peace while pregnant. Then during labor, this comfort item acts as a real time physical reminder that you still have some ownership over something.

Another thing you can do is take a deep breath. Breath is this beautiful gift that you can’t forget at home with your keys and wallet. It’s always with you. You can take a breath whenever you want, and there’s no right way to do it. It’s just yours and you do it the way it feels good to you.

You can also bring music to listen to in your headphones and, not to plug Expectful, but listening to one of your meditations can be so helpful as well. Think about it, if you’re sitting in triage, and you have monitors on and they’re listening to baby’s heartbeat, what could be more beneficial than taking a moment to tune in with you.

Can a woman eat / drink during labor? What is the reasoning behind why some healthcare providers are against this?

Eating and drinking really depends on your care provider. If you’re having a home birth, obviously you can eat indefinitely. If you’re having a birth center birth, most birth centers will let you eat until you’re not hungry anymore.

Drinking, again depends on the hospital. Some hospital’s say clear liquids are okay, which could even include bone broth and miso and other things, whereas other hospitals would say absolutely not to all of those things.  I have been to hospitals where they’ll let you have ice chips. I’ve been to hospitals which let you have sips of water. I’ve been to hospitals where they’ll tell you can eat a whole sandwich. So, again it depends.

Can a woman go to the bathroom during labor? What is the reasoning behind why some healthcare providers are against this one, too?

I think anyone should be able to go to the bathroom whenever they want to. In my experience, people can go to the bathroom as long as they don’t have an epidural. If they have an epidural, they’re probably going to have a catheter, so that solves that.

Do you have any suggestions for how to stay present if things don’t unfold the way a birthing person anticipates?

When I help people prepare for birth, it’s with the understanding that birth is a little bit like a rollercoaster ride in the dark. We accept that we know where the ride starts and ends but, what we don’t know is what happens in this middle. So there are two ways to ride, one is very rigid where we don’t have fun and instead bounce around, bump our heads and resist, and the second is we just let the ride take us and see how it unfolds.

So, if something does happen that we aren’t prepared for, I encourage going back to breath. It’s never too late to soften into an idea. There’s always an opportunity for us to learn and to be able to do something in a peaceful and beautiful way. There’s not one way to birth. Birth is birth. So just try to stay as focused and centered as possible.

What is the number one thing you wish every woman knew about labor?

The number one thing is that labor is perfectly unpredictable and perfectly imperfect. Remember that just because it’s a natural process doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Have patience, be soft and kind with yourself and know that labor is perfectly imperfect.

After sharing everything there was to know about labor, Samantha Huggins offered to give Expectful users an exclusive 15% discount at checkout to get your discount today. on in-person and online Carriage House consultations.

At Carriage House, they use their shared birth and postpartum experiences and training to develop a strong, interesting and fun classroom experience. Whether at home, in a hospital or birth center, they believe that good birth outcomes happen when fear is replaced by confidence, understanding of the birthing person’s body and the very normal experience that is pregnancy and childbirth.
To schedule and redeem your 15% discount for an in-person

Carriage House Childbirth Education class, click here to pick a date and use code EXPECTFUL at checkout to get your discount today. at checkout.

About Sam Huggins

Samantha Huggins is the co-founder of Carriage House Birth. The premier doula agency providing birth and postpartum doula services, birth education, doulas trainings and more. She is a Carriage House Birth certified birth doula, mother of two little kiddos, lactation counselor, childbirth educator and co-founder of The Code, a radical body literacy program for tweens.

Her journey into childbirth began early, having spent the latter half of her teens in a community that supported people and their right to birth in safe and celebrated environments of their choosing. After devouring any and all media surrounding childbirth in preparation for the birth of her daughter, Samantha once again, found herself in a world nourished by belief in a person’s harmony with their body. Energized by her own supported birth experience and of those around her, Samantha decided to leave the America Museum of Natural History where she focused on emergency preparedness and response planning for research collections to pursue birth work. In doing so, she set out to achieve her goal to empower and educate other expecting people so that they might realize their own capacity to work together with their bodies in the symphony that is the bringing of life.

When Samantha isn’t attending births, speaking publicly on birth, or teaching Carriage House Birth Foundation Doula Trainings, she unwinds with a yoga, meditation and time with her family and friends.

Pregnancy can be a time of great excitement but also one filled with a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to things like preparing for birth. It’s my hope that providing education around labor during this interview with Samantha Huggins helps you to feel empowered throughout your pregnancy and informs you of the choices you have when it comes to your labor and delivery.

The post Everything You Need To Know About Labor appeared first on The Expectful Blog.

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I thought sleep training was going to be a nightmare.

At 6 months postpartum, my husband and I made the decision to transition our daughter Annabell to the crib. Being new parents, we knew we had no idea how to sleep train but after months of sleep deprivation, we were desperate to try.

Understandably, this transition didn’t come without obstacles.

Each night, we’d lay her down in her crib, shut the door, turn on the monitor and stare in disbelief as she screamed and cried at the top of her lungs. This was torture and no matter how hard we tried to resist going in to soothe her, eventually one of us would crack, go in and reset the whole process.

With this not working, we made a deal with one another that we wouldn’t go in her room until she had been crying for at least five minutes. Unfortunately, this didn’t work either because when five minutes was up, she was still in full blown freak out mode.

Helpless as to what to do, I decided one evening to switch things up. The moment the timer hit five minutes, I turned to my husband and said “Give her two more minutes.” Although we both hated the idea of her crying more, we knew we had to do something different if we wanted a different result.

Then, at 6 minutes and 45 seconds, the crying stopped. Our daughter had finally fallen asleep on her own. So, we continued extending it to seven minutes and within a few days our daughter was falling asleep on her own without crying.

It’s clear that my husband and I got lucky stumbling upon this, but in speaking with women through Expectful, I’ve come to know that we aren’t the only parents who struggled with sleep training. Many new parents want help, but don’t know who to turn to for accurate advice.

It’s because of this that I decided to reach out to Baby Sleep Specialist and author of The Baby Sleep Solution, Suzy Giordano to find out everything there is to know about sleep training.

It’s my hope that Suzy’s answers give you the guidance and confidence to help you train your baby to sleep throughout the night.​

  1. Is there an ideal sleep schedule to follow during the first year? If so, is the schedule different for a newborn compared to a one-year-old and how so?

When babies first come into the world, they have to adjust to the new environment around them. Think about it, suddenly your baby goes from being in a perfect environment where everything is balanced and given to them without hesitation, to a not-so-perfect environment where they have to communicate to get what they want.

So, the first three months are what I call the transitional time. During this period, I encourage new parents to create a schedule around feedings, rather than sleep. I do this because the number one thing you want to focus on as a new parent is helping your baby to gain weight so that their body can sustain this new environment.

During the first three months, you cannot create a bad habit. So hold your baby, love your baby and bond with your baby. Towards the end of the three months, your baby will begin to get to a magical weight that allows them to sleep for longer stretches throughout the night. If you pay attention, you’ll notice a few signs that tell you your baby is ready. First, your baby will have more energy to stay awake and engage with its environment during the day. Next, they’ll begin eating less. Once you recognize these things, your baby is naturally ready to begin sleeping throughout the night.

When your baby hits this point, the schedule I recommend is having your baby sleep 12 hours throughout the night, and then two naps throughout the day. One two hour nap in the morning, and one two hour nap in the afternoon.

Then, as they grow, they’re able to manage longer periods of time. So,by the one-year-old mark, they should be sleeping through the night (12 hours), have a one hour nap in the morning and a two hour nap in the afternoon. By 18 months, they shift to only a two hour in the middle of the day and that continues up until they’re three or four years old.

  1. When should you transition a baby to the crib?

There are new guidelines out around this topic. The new guidelines for safety for SIDS says that a baby should sleep in the same room as its parents until they’re at least six months. However, I believe you can transition your baby to the crib at any time. It’s a very personal call.

The crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep so you can transition at any time, but note that when you do decide to move them to the crib, it will be a learning experience. Your baby most likely will cry one or two nights. So set yourself up for success by scheduling this transition at the start of a weekend or a time when your sleep can be more compromised.

The number one thing that you want to keep in mind is safety. It’s imperative. So, whatever you do, make sure your baby’s environment within the crib is safe, so no blankets, no unbreathable bumpers around the crib. Don’t have anything in there that could compromise your baby’s breathing.

  1. Is there an ideal time you recommend a parent start this transition to the crib?

Yes, eight weeks. At eight weeks, they start stabilizing, meaning they’re not as cranky, they’re not crying as much and they’re finally beginning to digest better so they aren’t irritated by gas as much.

I always tell parents, if you need to do a big transition, do it between week 8 and 12 because it will be easier.

  1. What are the precautions all parents should take to avoid SIDs?

First of all, I don’t think it can be 100% prevented but according to the evidence that’s been found, it’s important to have certain things in place to help eliminate it from happening. As I mentioned before, use either no bumpers or breathable ones. Position your baby on their back, make sure everything in the crib is tight. So no loose fitted sheets, no blankets, and if you have a stuffed animal in the crib make sure nothing is glued on because you don’t want your baby’s little fingers unattaching anything that they could swallow.

Another thing you can do is have a fan on to circulate the air so that your baby can breathe easier.

But, the number one thing is don’t sleep with your baby. The baby has to have a designated place for them. This will protect them from sliding in or rolling in towards something that could restrict their breathing.

I want to also note here that a year ago, new guidelines came out that said that there was a greater decrease in SIDs for babies who shared a room with their parents. So, having your baby sleep in a crib in the same room could be optimal.

  1. If a newborn begins rolling over in the crib, what can / should parents do?

Once a baby develops a new ability like rolling over, they can’t unlearn it, so the main thing you need to do is always start your baby lying on their back and then stay on guard throughout the night. Also, you want to immediately begin doing a lot of tummy time during the day. Tummy time will help them build enough strength to lift their head and it will allow them to begin to learn how to roll from their tummy to their back.

So, if your baby flips over relatively early, just know you were given a baby that’s very physical. All you can do is help them to use their physical strength to learn how to flip the other way.

  1. What is the best way to put a baby to sleep at night? 

Falling asleep is an ability that is learned over time. As a parent, all you can do is give your baby the best circumstances to help them develop this ability.

This can be done by creating a bedtime routine. An ideal nighttime routine would be to feed your baby, bathe your baby and then put some soothing sounds on in the background as they fall asleep. Think of this as a time to help your baby transition from an active (day) world to a serene (night) world.

  1. What do you do if your baby immediately cries when you put them to bed? 

Sleep training is all about giving your baby an opportunity to try to do things themselves. Give your baby room to grow and figure it out. Of course, if they need you, go in. But, if they don’t, give them some time to do things on their own, like falling asleep.

Now, if they get to an emotional place where they’re not learning anything, step in and bring them back to a calm place and try again. The key here for you is to start in that magic 8 to 12 week mark.

I think mothers are empowered when they know they can go in and reassure their baby. You can love them for a little bit and then reset and try again. Your position is to be their guide so that they can become independent and find strength within themselves.

  1. What can parents do when their baby is waking up every few hours? How can they get their baby to sleep throughout the night?

There are three skills that you’re trying to help your baby develop – learning how to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up happy.

So, when you’re not training them to fall asleep, you will be practicing helping them stay asleep. In the middle of the night, your number one goal is to eliminate any physical need that your baby could have.

For example, with eating, write down everything so that even if you’re sleep deprived you know that your baby was fed if they are crying, so decrease the physical need for calories. You do this by using the “three minute rule.” If you know your baby is fed and safe, wait three minutes before going into the room. This gives them an opportunity to fall back asleep themselves.

I always say to parents that they go into the room a minute before the miracle happens. So, it’s like give your baby room to grow.

  1. If a baby will only fall asleep in a parent’s arms, what can they do to change that?

Your baby can fall asleep without being held, but you’ve convinced yourself that it’s the only way and that’s become a crutch, so you must let go of the crutch. So, what you do is wait for the beginning of the weekend so that you again your sleep can be compromised while you start this transition. Use the tips I gave above on helping to prepare your baby for bed (feed, bathe, soothing music) and then lay them down.

Of course, they’re going to cry because you’re teaching them something new. It all comes down to that you have to give your baby the opportunity to try to do it on their own.

That’s it. If you don’t give them the opportunity, they’re going to grow convinced that they need that crutch. Right? You know that they really don’t but, they’re going to think they do. So, be there to support them, use the tips I’ve said throughout this interview and believe me, they’ll get to where they need to be.

After learning everything there was to know about sleep training, I decided to look into some products out there that could support you and your baby through it.

Keeping Suzy Giordano recommendations in mind about the importance of preventing things like SIDs and creating a soothing environment for your baby to sleep, I came across Happiest Baby’s SNOO smart bassinet sleeper that’s proven to not only be the safest bassinet ever made, but to also reduce crying and boost sleep.

Seeing how aligned The SNOO is with Suzy’s beliefs ​I decided to reach out and partner with them so that all Expectful users can ​receive 10% off their bassinet. ​That’s over $100 off the original price.

​Want to give your baby the safest bed ever made? Click here and use code EXPECBXFF6 at checkout to get your discount today.

​New parenthood can be a time of great excitement but also one filled with a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to things like infant sleep. It’s my hope that providing education around sleep training during this interview with Suzy Giordano helps you to feel empowered throughout your parenthood journey and informs you of the choices you have when it comes to your infants sleep schedule.

About Suzy Giordano 

Suzy Giordano is the mother of five children, the youngest being fraternal twin boys. Also known as The Baby Coach, Suzy is based in Washington, D.C., and has worked with families across the United States and around the world as a baby sleep specialist for the past twenty-five years. She has trained hundreds and hundreds of babies, from singletons to quadruplets, including special needs and colicky babies, to sleep twelve hours a night. The vast majority of these babies she has trained herself, in person, at the child’s home, not just through phone or email consultations. She resides in southern Virginia with her husband, Allen Baxter.

Pregnancy can be a time of great excitement but also one filled with a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to things like what you can and cannot eat. It’s my hope that providing education around nutrition during pregnancy in this interview with Dr. Robin Berzin helps you to feel empowered throughout your pregnancy journey and informs you of the choices you have when it comes to your and your baby’s health.

Want to hear what other top experts in the pre and postnatal world have to say? Now, in addition to having access to Expectful’s guided meditations when you sign up at expectful.com, you’ll also receive exclusive interviews like this made specifically for you – delivered straight to your inbox – right when you need it.

The post Everything You Need To Know About Infant Sleep Training appeared first on The Expectful Blog.

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I was overwhelmed with what to eat during pregnancy.

Although I had a healthy diet to begin with, I was constantly concerned about not getting enough nutrition or eating something that could harm my baby. This left me googling what I could / couldn’t eat for months, and with all the conflicting research out there, I was often left more confused than informed.

Eventually, in my second trimester, I became so discouraged by the opposing views on pregnancy nutrition, that I stopped looking for answers. Instead, I ate what I craved, didn’t overdo it on the calories and settled on a prenatal vitamin that tasted good and didn’t make me feel nauseous.

However, even when I stopped obsessing over everything I was eating or whether or not my prenatal was the best, I still had some underlying anxiety about if my diet was providing my baby with the nourishment she needed in the womb.

Through working for Expectful, I’ve learned that many women feel the same way when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy. Even though, like me, they want to do what’s best for their growing baby, they don’t know where to turn to for accurate information so they end up “winging it.”

Discovering how common this is and knowing how difficult it to find credible sources on eating well during pregnancy, I decided to reach out to the founder and CEO of Parsley Health, Dr. Robin Berzin to find out everything there is to know about nutrition during pregnancy.

It’s my hope that Dr. Berzin answers will provide you with all the confidence you need to have a thriving and nutrition packed pregnancy.

  1. What are the “DO’S” of pregnancy nutrition, the things you definitely want in your diet and why?

First, you want to balance blood sugar because when you’re pregnant, you make more glucose which makes you more likely to get Gestational Diabetes. Although the temptation for many women is to eat a lot of carbs during pregnancy, we must avoid carbs and sugars to avoid Gestational Diabetes.

Instead, we want to feed ourselves and our baby a nutrient dense, low carb diet. Unfortunately, most standard diets today are nutrient poor, high-carb diets, and that’s the opposite of what we need. So, focus on lots of fruits and veggies, lots of bright colors in your diet, lots of lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats.

You also want to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids in your diet which are things like fish oils, walnuts, and flaxseeds. These fatty acids are essential for your baby’s brain and for breastfeeding. It’s because of this that we made sure to include omega-3 fatty acids in our Parsley Health prenatal vitamin.

Lastly, drink plenty of water. Hydration is very important during pregnancy.

So to summarize it’s all about protein, hydration, fruits, vegetables, fiber and healthy fats.

  1. What are the “DON’TS” of pregnancy nutrition, the things you definitely don’t want in your diet and why?

Often times, we’re focusing on the scary things to avoid during pregnancy, which is why at Parsley we really help our members optimize their diet towards what grows a healthy baby as opposed to just avoiding the bad stuff.

But, of course at the same time, there’s a number of things we want to avoid during pregnancy. So first of all, mercury. There’s a lot of mercury in our fish these days, especially in tuna and swordfish, but there’s also a guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council that I recommend here.

Next is unpasteurized food, which are foods that haven’t been heated enough to kill off bad bacteria. In the OB/GYN world, it’s recommended to avoid everything unpasteurized but I tend to think that’s a little extreme because the reality is we’re swimming in a world of bacteria and you’re not going to live a sterilized life nor do you want to. So, I highly recommend taking a probiotic during pregnancy, avoiding unpasteurized dairy and raw sushi generally speaking, but when it comes to having something like a bit of kombucha here and there, I think it’s low risk.

In terms of other things to avoid, I would say a lot of foods that are common in the American diet like carbs and sugars, meaning pastas, cookies, breads and cakes. Avoiding processed foods, particularly the ones that contain dyes, preservatives, chemicals and other products that we not only don’t need in our bodies, but that have also been shown to be hormone disruptors.

  1. What are some things vegan / vegetarian women should consider when it comes to their eating habits during pregnancy?

Generally, pregnant women are fine as long as they are eating well and taking a good prenatal vitamin. Unfortunately, not all prenatals are created equal. It’s important to make sure that your prenatal vitamin isn’t filled with chemicals, dyes and other poor quality ingredients. Many prenatals out there don’t have a good nutrient panel across them and only have a couple of the basic things, so make sure you look into the one you take.

For vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters, it really comes down to quality of food and quality of ingredients. However, the truth is that at the end of the day, it’s important to test your nutrient levels throughout pregnancy. This is why at Parsley we run a pregnancy panel around week 10, 20 and 30. That way, three times during pregnancy can make sure that nutrient levels like B12, omega-3 and folate levels are optimized.

We also check your iron levels to make sure that you’re not anemic. Most women tend to get a little bit anemic towards the end of pregnancy, which is why most prenatals include iron.

Many women ask about calcium. Generally, we all get enough dietary calcium. What’s more important is taking vitamin D, because a lot of people are low in vitamin D and without vitamin D, you’re not able to absorb calcium from the diet. If you are dairy free, you might be eating enough calcium but then if you’re really low in vitamin D, you might not be absorbing it right. So in truth, it’s really about just testing and seeing where people are and then optimizing from there.

  1. How much protein is recommended during pregnancy and why?

Protein needs are highly variable, and it really depends on your goals and your activity level. I don’t think that there’s an exact number. However, if you’re vegan and you’re not getting any source of animal protein whatsoever, it can be really difficult to get good sources of complete protein. Plant proteins are rarely complete proteins in themselves, although you can combine certain plants to get complete proteins.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s not that you can’t get enough protein to have a healthy pregnancy. It’s just that you have to work a little harder at it and think about it a little bit more. I recommend working with a nutritionist, or with one of our health coaches at Parsley if you’re worried about making sure you get enough protein in your diet.

Most people get too much protein or get plenty of protein in this country. But in some cases they’re not getting enough and in those circumstances, it’s really about quality and being mindful about how your proteins are coming in rather than shooting for an exact number.

  1. Is there a recommended amount of calories to consume per day while pregnant? If so, what is the recommendation and why?

The same number of calories that you consume otherwise. I think we’ve all been sold on the idea that we need to eat for two and we know now that that’s really not true.

In the first trimester, you don’t really need additional calories. However, as the baby begins growing, building muscles, bones and so forth, it’s said to add up to 300 additional calories per day, which is the equivalent of a handful of almonds.

I encourage women to eat regularly, keep their blood sugar balanced, focus on proteins, greens and healthy fats, and avoid the temptation to snack on unhealthy stuff, like refined carbohydrates because that creates other issues. eat normally and know that you don’t need to massively up your calorie intake in order to have a healthy pregnancy.

Interviewing Dr. Robin Berzin, I was blown away to hear about all of the revolutionary work she’s doing at Parsley Health to support pregnant women and new mother’s throughout their journeys.

Wanting to help more women through their pregnancy journey, we’ve decided to partner with Parsley Health to gift all of our Expectful users $100 off of their Complete Care annual membership or $50 off their one-time Parsley Assessment.

About Parsley Health’s Complete Care annual membership:

Our annual membership is for people who want to address a specific health concern and want advanced testing and regular tracking, and unlimited access to a world-class medical team.

As part of the Parsley membership, each patient receives a personalized health plan to guide them through lifestyle and nutrition interventions that we use in conjunction with prescription medications and referrals to specialists. Members receive five annual visits with a doctor (totaling nearly four hours) in addition to five sessions with a certified on-staff health coach, unlimited direct messaging with their health team, online access to their health data, exclusive perks and entry into a broader Parsley wellness community.

Click here to get $100 off your Complete Care Annual Membership and your coupon will be automatically applied during checkout.

About The Parsley Assessment:

This one-time physician + health coach assessment is for people who are generally feeling well but want to optimize their health. Think of this as a modern, in-depth annual physical that helps you be proactive, connect with your body, and identify issues before they become more serious. Includes in-depth biomarker testing, 75 min. history and physical exam, a personalized health plan for the year ahead with protocols for nutrition, lifestyle, mental health and medication, and a 45-minute health coaching session to tie it all together into actionable next steps.

Click here to get $50 off your Parsley Assessment and your coupon will be automatically applied during checkout.

It’s our hope that just as Expectful’s meditations nourish your mind, that Parsley Health’s nutrition coaching provides your body with everything it needs during pregnancy and beyond.

About Dr. Robin Berzin

Dr. Robin Berzin is the Founder and CEO of Parsley Health. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Robin went to medical school at Columbia University – where she co-founded the physician communication app Cureatr – and later trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. She is a certified yoga instructor and a meditation teacher, writes for a number of leading wellness sites, and speaks regularly for organizations including Stanford Medicine X, The Clinton Foundation, Health 2.0, Summit at Sea, and Further Future, on how we can reinvent health care.

Pregnancy can be a time of great excitement but also one filled with a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to things like what you can and cannot eat. It’s my hope that providing education around nutrition during pregnancy in this interview with Dr. Robin Berzin helps you to feel empowered throughout your pregnancy journey and informs you of the choices you have when it comes to your and your baby’s health.

Want to hear what other top experts in the pre and postnatal world have to say? Now, in addition to having access to Expectful’s guided meditations when you sign up at expectful.com, you’ll also receive exclusive interviews like this made specifically for you – delivered straight to your inbox – right when you need it.

The post Pregnancy Nutrition Tips with Parsley Health Founder Dr. Robin Berzin appeared first on The Expectful Blog.

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When I became a new mom, my life was all over the place.

Every day felt like a training day.

From getting a handle on breastfeeding to successfully changing diapers to learning how to put / keep my newborn baby asleep, everything was an uphill battle. And of course, as any moms reading this can attest to, the moment I did get the hang of any of these, my daughter’s habits would immediately change and I’d be right back to the drawing board.

With all of this “newness” going on, my focus and energy solely flooded towards my daughter. I had little, if any time to look outside of my new motherhood box and into the other areas in my life. This left a lot of things going to the back burner, including my physical health, my relationship with my husband, my nutrition and my personal time.

Looking back, I had numerous blind spots after having my daughter and by not seeing them, I made my postpartum journey more difficult than it had to be.

Realizing this, I reached out to the Cofounder of Handel Group and author of Maybe It’s You, Lauren Zander, to find out the top 10 ten pitfalls that new mothers run into after having a baby and what steps we can take to avoid them.

After coaching thousands  of clients over the years, including Fortune 500 CEOs and top celebrities like Hugh Jackman, and Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams, I couldn’t think of anyone better equipped to identify where we get stuck in postpartum, and how we can get ourselves unstuck. [Not to mention the fact that she’s got three children under the age of 15] I hope Lauren’s thoughts and tips below inspire you to live your best motherhood journey.

The Top 10 pitfalls women run into as new moms (or about to be new moms!) and how to avoid ‘em by Lauren Zander

I’m not sure any of these are terribly original, but, Lord knows, they can use repeating and repeating to help us remember. No matter what, getting conscious of these pitfalls is a huge step in the right direction.

  1. Carbo loading: As we all know, pregnancy and postpartum aren’t times to eat for two. They are however, times to eat healthily as someone who is nursing or carrying a child. So if you find yourself feeling nauseous and craving carbohydrates and sugar, take a moment to realize that these foods aren’t going to make you feel better. Find something nutritious that will support your energy. Do your best to stay committed to having a healthy pregnancy and postpartum journey.
  2. Not staying active: With your doctor’s consent, continue some sort of exercise. Get out on a walk and you will feel better.
  3. Letting emotions run the show: Although your hormones are all over the place in pregnancy and postpartum, it’s important to remember that you can still be your best self to both you and to the people in your life. Offer yourself some compassion and be honest with your loved ones. If you’re feeling emotional, give them a heads up so they can support you the way you need.
  4. Losing patience with loved ones: When you give birth, your partner will no longer be in the front and center position of your life. No matter how much you love your mate, what you used to find cute enough or tolerable (i.e. not picking up his/her laundry) will not be even remotely adorable anymore. Still– you need to find your heart and your patience.
  5. Stepping down from leadership: Recognize that, more than likely, since giving birth you’ve stopped being the CEO of the relationship. Instead of holding yourself responsible for keeping the love, heat, and romance alive between the two of you, you’ve stepped down. Become aware of this when you can and see if you can get a new plan in place with the support of your other half.
  6. Playing small: Understand that this phase in life requires that you grow. You need to expand yourself as you have a baby (figuratively!) and not contract. Motherhood requires growth, new leadership abilities, and living a life by design vs just trying to survive and stay in control. If you stay contracted, you’ll lose a level when a baby comes in versus growing and expanding from it. Get conscious to it, and get designing it.
  7. Not having fun: We use having a baby as a legit doctor’s note excusing us from taking care of ourselves. First things thrown out with the baby bath water are our bodies, our sex lives, romance, and fun and adventure. So, although it makes perfect instinctual sense to put the baby first, we also use the baby to avoid looking at ourselves. Don’t do this. Take care of you.
  8. Putting dreams on hold: On that note: don’t use your baby as an excuse to not pursue your dreams. Baby or not, we sneaky humans are always willing to throw out what scares us. And what could possibly be more scary than growing a child, growing up as an adult, AND chasing our dreams?
  9. Not reading and learning: Read the right book for you that teaches how to train your child to develop good sleeping habits. Back in my day, “The Baby Whisperer” worked.
  10. Not renegotiating the marriage contract: This is perhaps the most important pitfall to keep an eye out for. Now that you have a baby, it’s time to have another look at your contract with your partner. See who is in charge now of each department in your marriage, from sex to romance to fun to home to health to community, etc. If you don’t know who should be in charge of what, here’s a how to divvy it up:  figure out which person is better at the department or, if no one is blatantly better, than the person who complains about a particular department the most is in charge of it.
  11. Not having sex: OK, I know I said 10 pitfalls … but this one is so important, I’m giving it its own category. Get some new promises in place around sex. Better yet, create some funny, irksome, self-imposed consequences to keep you keeping your sex promises. For example, if you don’t have sex (once your doctor has okayed it), at least X times per week (yes I said per week, NOT per month!), you lose your Netflix, your wine, etc. Fight the right fight. Not only to be the best parent ever, but to be the best partner who is fighting for their dreams. All of them!

So, in a nutshell, what’s the solution to the above pitfalls? Life by design, not default. Design who you are as a mom, as a partner, and in your relationship to yourself. In every area of your life, from your health to your sex life to your career to your fun and adventure to your community, I swear you have a dream, and do not let having a baby act as a doctor’s note allowing you to wave the white flag on what matters most to you. Sure you have to take care of yourself and your baby, but not at the expense of your dreams.

Divvy up the departments in your partnership/marriage. Renegotiate the contract. Yes, your relationship is a business and should be treated as such or the growing “company” won’t thrive.


Are you pregnant or new to motherhood?

Expectful is a digital platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new moms. Each one of our guided meditations has been created to support you throughout your pregnancy and motherhood journey.

Our mission is to help you give your baby the best start in life. Go to expectful.com and sign up for our free meditation trial.

The post Top 10 Tips For New Moms appeared first on The Expectful Blog.

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