women

6. Your Nutrition

Many women use sugar and/or artificial sweeteners before pregnancy. Are they safe during pregnancy?

Caloric sweeteners include processed and unprocessed sugars, such as granulated sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup. Unprocessed sugars include honey, agave nectar and raw sugar. Caloric content ranges from 16 to 22 calories per teaspoon. If you use caloric sweeteners, you’re adding empty calories to your meal plan.

Artificial (noncaloric) sweeteners help a woman cut calories. Some common artificial sweeteners include aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose, stevia and saccharin. Can a pregnant woman use artificial sweeteners?

Aspartame is used in many foods and beverages to help reduce calories and is sold under the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal. It’s a combination of two amino acids—phenylalanine and aspartic acid. If you suffer from phenylketonuria, you can’t use aspartame. You must follow a low-phenylalanine diet or your baby may be adversely affected.

Sucralose, sold under the brand name Splenda, is made from sugar and is found in a variety of products. It passes through the body without being metabolized. Your body doesn’t recognize it as a sugar or a carbohydrate, which makes it low calorie.

Stevia is a product made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It’s been sold for decades in other parts of the world. It was approved for use in the United States in 2008 and is sold under the brand names PureVia and Truvia. Ask your healthcare provider for information about using it during pregnancy.

Saccharin is an artificial sweetener used in many foods and beverages. Although it is not used as much today as in the past, it still appears in many foods, beverages and other substances. Saccharin is also added to many foods and beverages.

Research has determined that artificial sweeteners are probably safe to use in small amounts during pregnancy. However, if you can avoid them, it’s best not to use them during pregnancy. Eliminate any substance you don’t really need from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Do it for the good of your baby.

Grandma’s Remedy

If you want to avoid using medication, try a folk remedy. If you experience foot odor, spray some antiperspirant on your feet—it helps reduce odor and may prevent skin cracking.

7. You Should Also Know

Hearing Your Baby’s Heartbeat

It may be possible to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope at 20 weeks. Before we had doppler equipment to hear the heartbeat and ultrasound to see the heart beating, a stethoscope helped the listener hear the baby’s heartbeat. This usually occurred after quickening for most women.

The sound you hear through a stethoscope may be different than what you’re used to hearing at the office. It isn’t loud. If you’ve never listened through a stethoscope, it may be difficult to hear at first. It does get easier as the baby gets larger and sounds become louder.

If you can’t hear your baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope, don’t worry. It’s not always easy for a healthcare provider who does this on a regular basis!

If you hear a swishing sound (baby’s heartbeat), you have to differentiate it from a beating sound (mother’s heartbeat). A baby’s heart beats rapidly, usually 120 to 160 beats every minute. Your heartbeat or pulse rate is slower, in the range of 60 to 80 beats a minute. Ask your healthcare provider to help you distinguish the sounds.

Could You Have Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones lose density and the spaces within them grow larger, resulting in increased chance of breakage. It’s typically diagnosed in older, postmenopausal women. However, it’s now being diagnosed in younger women.

We believe low-calorie diets, excessive exercise and drinking lots of diet soda may be possible causes. In addition, low body weight, anemia and amenorrhea (menstruation stops) may add to the problem. Your lifestyle may put you at risk. Women who smoke or drink a lot of alcohol may increase that risk.

Osteoporosis at a young age can be serious. Bones may become so thin they actually break. In later years, osteoporosis may be severe.

If you believe you may have a problem, talk to your healthcare provider about it. If you do have osteoporosis, it could have an effect on you during your pregnancy.

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus (WNV) is spread to humans by mosquito bites. If you get WNV, you may have no symptoms; 80% of those with West Nile virus never develop symptoms. Or you may get West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease. It’s estimated that 20% of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever.

Symptoms appear within 3 to 14 days after being bitten and include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and body aches. A skin rash on the torso appears occasionally. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.

Symptoms of severe disease, also called West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis, include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks.

We don’t know what percentage of WNV infections during pregnancy result in infection of the unborn child or medical problems in newborns. The CDC and state and local health departments record birth effects among women who had West Nile virus during pregnancy.

There is no treatment for WNV infection. If the illness is diagnosed, a detailed ultrasound can be done to evaluate the fetus for structural abnormalities. This should be done 2 to 4 weeks after onset of the illness.

If you’re pregnant and live in an area with WNV, use caution to lower your risk. Avoid mosquito-infested areas, use screens on windows and doors, wear protective clothing and use an EPA-registered repellent (one that has been reviewed for safety by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). You can use insect repellent containing DEET. There have been no reported harmful events following use of repellents containing DEET in women or their babies. The CDC also recommends using picaridin on skin and clothing, and permethrin on clothing. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is another recommended option, but it isn’t as long-lasting.

If you become ill, call your healthcare provider. If he or she believes you may have contracted the illness, diagnostic testing can be done. After baby’s birth, if you have symptoms of West Nile virus, don’t breastfeed.

8. Exercise for Week 20

Kneel on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Keep your back straight. Contract your tummy muscles, then extend your left leg behind you at hip height. At the same time, extend your right arm at shoulder height. Hold 5 seconds, and return to the kneeling position. Repeat on your other side. Start with 4 repetitions on each side, and gradually work up to 8. Strengthens buttocks muscles, back muscles and leg muscles.

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