Vitamin A and Pregnancy

The acceptable dosage of Vitamin A during pregnancy can be confusing to figure out. Vitamin A comes in two main forms: preformed (retinoid form) and beta-carotene (which converts to the retinol form within the body). Preformed Vitamin A is found in meats and fortified foods. Beta-carotene is found in fruits and vegetables. Multivitamins (including prenatal vitamins) may contain either form of Vitamin A.

Too much of the preformed Vitamin A can lead to birth defects and liver toxicity. This risk is highest during the first few weeks of pregnancy. You may consume as much beta-carotene as you wish at any stage of pregnancy. Beta-carotene only converts to the retinol form of Vitamin A when needed. Because of this built-in limiting mechanism, you cannot overdose on beta-carotene.

When looking for a prenatal vitamin, check both the source and amounts of Vitamin A to ensure that you do not exceed the recommended limitations (10,000 IU) during pregnancy. You must also keep in mind the amount of Vitamin A that you receive through your diet.  Promise Prenatal vitamins Stage 1 contain no Vitamin A for the pre-conception period through the first trimester. Stages 2 and 3 contain Vitamin A in the beta-carotene form to help nurture the baby’s growth and maintain the mother’s health.

Vitamin A helps maintain eye health and fight off infections and helps your body rebuild and recover after pregnancy. Your baby benefits from Vitamin A through cell growth, eye and health development, fat metabolism and bone growth.


May 19, 2008 at 11:49 am 10 comments

Ectopic Pregnancy Information

An ectopic pregnancy (also called tubal pregnancy) is one that occurs outside of the uterus. An egg can be implanted in the fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, or abdomen. Ectopic literally means “out-of-place.” Approximately 1.5% of all pregnancies are ectopic.


An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg does not make it down the fallopian tube correctly. This can happen as a result of tube inflammation. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a leading cause of blocked fallopian tubes. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can result in PID. Endometriosis is another cause of ectopic pregnancies. Cells from the uterus implant and grow in other areas of the body as a result of endometriosis.


Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include sharp abdominal pains, vaginal bleeding or spotting, low blood pressure, and problems with or pain while using the bathroom. Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy requires a positive pregnancy test accompanied by other criteria including low levels of hCG or an ultrasound.


About half of ectopic pregnancies resolve themselves with non-induced abortion. Intervention is usually required for the other half. If detected early enough, a non-invasive, non-surgical option exists. Methotrexate can be administered to the patient to disrupt the growth of the embryo and end the pregnancy. If the condition is diagnosed later in the term, laparoscopic surgery may be required. Sometimes, an untreated tubal pregnancy can result in a rupture that leads to shock. Ruptured ectopic pregnancies account for 10-15% of maternal deaths.


It is important to see your doctor when you think you have become pregnant. Close monitoring of any pregnancy is always advised to reduce the risk of serious health issues and treat any complications that may arise. A healthy diet and proper prenatal nutrient intake should be a part of every pregnancy.




American Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic

May 16, 2008 at 9:01 am 7 comments

New Pre-eclampsia Study

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects about 5-10% of pregnant women. Exhibited symptoms of the condition include high blood pressure and high levels of protein in urine. The condition typically occurs after week 32. Early onset pre-eclampsia can begin at week 20. Hypertension is the main complication of pre-eclampsia.

The only way to treat preeclampsia is through delivery of the baby. If you are far enough along in your term, it is not uncommon for your doctor to induce labor. Women who are diagnosed earlier in their pregnancy may be requird to submit to bed rest or take medication to reduce their blood pressure.

Swelling, headaches, blurred vision, and sudden weight gain are symptoms of the condition. It is important to maintain regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy and be aware of any symptoms you may be exhibiting. Talk with your doctor if you feel you may be at risk for preeclampsia.

A new study conducted in mice found that when a certain gene malfunctioned, the chance of preeclampsia was greatly increased. You can read about the finding at the Washington Post.

May 14, 2008 at 12:45 pm 1 comment

Prescription Prenatal Vitamins

When it comes to vitamins, we often think that prescription vitamins are superior to OTC simply because your doctor prescribed them. The truth is that just because they are prescription does not mean that they are better. No vitamin is FDA approved because vitamins are categorized as “medical food” by the FDA. There are, however, United States Pharmacopoeia standards for prescription vitamins. This means that they must meet certain quality and content standards to become prescription vitamins. However, a study of prescription prenatal vitamins conducted by the University of Maryland at Baltimore, School of Pharmacy, only 3 out of 9 prescription prenatal vitamins were found to release the amount of folic acid that they claimed to contain. If your prescription prenatal vitamin doesn’t give you all the folic acid you need (folic acid is a vital nutrient for pregnancy), then how can you trust it to provide the other nutrients it promises?

The main difference in prescription and OTC prenatal vitamins is the amount of folic acid. Most OTC vitamins have 400 mcg of folic acid, while prescriptions have 1,000 mcg. The recommended dose of folic acid for pregnancy is 400 mcg. Prescription prenatals simply provide more than enough folic acid (assuming that it actually releases as much as it claims). Iron is the other ingredient that differs with OTC vs. prescription prenatal vitamins. Most prescription prenatals contain a high dose of iron, which is often hard on a woman’s stomach. Some OTC prenatals contain no iron as a way to reduce nausea related to the supplement. Iron is important, but a woman can reduce her iron intake during the first trimester to alleviate nausea and morning sickness.

Promise Prenatal vitamins are not prescription vitamins, yet they are manufactured to the same high standards (USP) as prescription vitamins. There are three formulas: before pregnancy through the first trimester; second and third trimesters; and after pregnancy/breastfeeding. The formulas are designed to accommodate the nutritional needs of women at each stage. Stage one contains less iron to reduce nausea. The iron is a micro-encapsulated form of ferrous fumarate which slows the absorption and reduces nausea.

Prenatal vitamins should contain a low amount of Vitamin A (which can cause birth defects if too much is consumed during the first trimester). Calcium is an essential nutrient for pregnancy, but no prenatal will contain the entire recommended daily intake. You should talk with your doctor to see if you are getting enough calcium from your diet.

May 12, 2008 at 10:01 am 1 comment

Creative ways to say “I’m Pregnant”

Creative ways to tell your partner that you’re pregnant:

  • Make a meal of baby corn, baby carrots, baby back ribs, a salad of baby greens, etc. and see if he understands the hint. If not, ask him what the common theme of the meal is and if he sees any significance.
  • Use a photo editing program like (free with registration online) to morph your face and your partner’s. Give him the photo and label it as “Our future-due in 9 months”
  • Wrap up a baby name book and give it to your partner saying that you bought him a great book about his future.
  • If you have a dog that runs to greet people who come to the door, tie a note around the dog’s collar saying “Jenny’s pregnant” for your partner to find.

Creative ways to tell you family/friends that you’re pregnant:

  • Mail birth announcements with your due date and a question mark for the name, sex, and weight.
  • Give them a framed photo of your ultrasound.
  • Have your older child wear a shirt that says “I’m going to be a big sister(or brother)”
  • Gather everyone for an impromptu family photo. Have your partner take the photo and say “Ok everyone, say Lucy’s pregnant!” instead of “cheese.” You’ll get a great photo of everyone’s reaction.
  • Invite everyone over for a dinner and when your guests come to the door, answer it with a pillow stuffed under your shirt to look pregnant. It is best if you can do it with a straight face. When they ask what’s going on, just tell them you’re practicing for what’s coming up in the next few months.
  • Before your partner gets home from work, decorate the living room with balloons and streamers and a sign that says “Welcome home DADDY!”
  • And of course, a picture can say a thousand words. Try this one on for size:

Many women wait until the end of their first trimester to tell friends and family (other than their partner) that they are pregnant. The chance of miscarriage is highest during the first trimester and it would be quite disappointing to tell everyone you’re pregnant and then have to tell them that you miscarried. Once you find out that you are pregnant you should start taking a prenatal vitamin if you haven’t already.

May 9, 2008 at 9:51 am 9 comments

Fiber May Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Fiber is known for its ability to help people stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight but it can also help women to reduce their chances of gestational diabetes.

A study of 13,000 female nurses was conducted over a period of eight years. Each of the women gave birth to at least one child in the eight year period. 785 of these women had gestational diabetes. The study found that the women with the highest fiber intake pre-pregnancy also had the lowest occurance of gestational diabetes. In face, every 10 grams of total daily fiber intake reduced the risk of gestational diabetes by 26%.

The women mostly obtained their fiber through cereals and fruit, but it also came from whole grains and vegetables. It is unknown how fiber prevents gestational diabetes.

Women who are planning on becoming pregnant should follow a healthy diet and begin taking a prenatal vitamin to assure proper nutritional intake.

Sources: NBC5i health news

American Diabetes Association

May 7, 2008 at 12:05 pm 5 comments

The Basics of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the most natural and powerful way to nurture, feed and bond with your infant.However, many people do not understand that breastfeeding is hard work!It takes time, effort, concentration and above all, patience.Your baby has to learn to breastfeed – she has the instinct to suck, but does not know yet that a nipple produces food or how to get it out.Check to see if the hospital that you will be delivering has a lactation center that offers breastfeeding classes.Your first time breastfeeding your new baby will be at the hospital too, so a lactation consultant can come in very handy.

The first thing you need to know about breastfeeding is that the first milk produced by your body is not really milk at all – it’s a thicker, concentrated substance called colostrum.The operative word here is concentrated– it does not come in large amounts.A new baby will want to suck all the time and your breasts will be producing very little in the beginning – a new mother can easily have feelings of frustration and inadequacy if she feels that she is not making enough milk for her baby.It is important to let your baby breastfeed as long and as often as she needs at first.This will help establish your milk supply but unfortunately, in solving one problem you have unwittingly created another one.

Your nipples are most likely going to become sore and sometimes can be very dry and cracked, resulting in excruciating pain during breastfeeding.If pain becomes too severe, you may need to see your doctor because there could be an underlying medical cause for the pain.There are several things you can do to alleviate sore nipples, such as using lanolin or ice packs to help soothe the sensitive, and sometimes raw, skin.As tempting as it may be to substitute a breast feeding for a bottle (even just once), it is important that you continue to only breastfeed if at all possible for two reasons – a baby can become “nipple confused” because it is easier to get milk from a bottle than it is a human nipple and you will be left quite literally high and dry because she will prefer to take the bottle over your breasts.Without help, breastfeeding can become a frustrating and painful cycle that usually does not have a happy ending.If you find yourself struggling with breastfeeding, there are people who can help – just don’t be afraid to ask!

The number of women who breastfeed has risen over the past few years. Increased education about the benefits of breastfeeding, including boosted immunity and lower chances of obesity in later years may have contributed to this rising trend. Women can boost their breast milk by taking a prenatal vitamin and DHA supplement while nursing. You can read more about the increase in mothers who breastfeed in this article.

May 5, 2008 at 11:36 am 1 comment

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