STUDY – Vitamin D deficiency linked to primary C-section rate

image-3931619-35797336-2-websmall_0_dd0f5a04af6e73346ed777299ec88556_1A small study found that twice as many women (28%) who were vitamin D deficient at the time of giving birth had a Caesarean delivery compared with those with normal levels (14%).

Read the article from Medscape

Karen Robinson, a local Certified Professional Midwife, said the following about the benefits of vitamin D during pregnancy:

Vitamin D is getting a lot of scrutiny lately and is being found to be a superstar vitamin that we haven’t paid enough attention to.

Vitamin D supplementation can help increase immunity and decrease the impact and frequency of colds and common viruses.

Its role is also being looked at closely in the implantation of the placenta, how well the placenta functions, and therefore prevention of pre-eclampsia.

In our world of indoor jobs and layers of sunscreen when we do go outside, it’s easy to see how the majority of us may be deficient in Vitamin D.

The best places to get Vitamin D include a bit of sun exposure every week (so that the body can manufacture its own Vitamin D), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, etc), fish oil (especially cod liver oil) and beef liver.

So, one thing doulas can do for their clients is to encourage good diet (lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, clean meats and plenty of fats) and suggest they consider supplementation of Calcium/Magnesium, Folic Acid, and Vitamin D.

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Excercize, Pregnancy, and Pre-eclampsia

A new study has appeared in orgyn.com, a website dedicated to the research in the field of women’s health.  This study details the effects of exercise during pregnancy and the preventative factors with respect to preeclampsia (a condition diagnosed by high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy which, if left untreated, can lead to maternal seizure and death mother and/or baby).

Previously it had been thought that exercise could prevent preeclampsia since exercise lowers blood pressure.  This study showed that among the low to moderate exercise groups the rate of preeclampsia wasn’t affected at all.  However, in the high exercise group (over 420 minutes of exercise per week) the rate of preeclampsia actually increased.  While it’s good to be in general good health during pregnancy and exercise is a part of that, this seems to show that it’s not a good idea to exercise to the brink of body-builder status 🙂

Here is the full article:

AXX9K1Exercise and pre-eclampsia risks

Issue 25: 5 Jan 2009
Source: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2008;in press
Researchers have found that physical activity in early pregnancy may not have a protective effect against pre-eclampsia, and that high levels of exercise may actually increase the risk of developing the condition.

In a new paper published in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the researchers from centers in Copenhagen and Odense, Denmark, in Oslo, Norway, and in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, write that it has been thought that physical activity in pregnancy protects against pre-eclampsia. This is based at least in part on physiological principles (such as exercise being understood to lower blood pressure) and has been supported by the findings of some case-control studies.

However, the researchers write, high quality empirical evidence on the association between physical activity and pre-eclampsia is limited. For the new study they analyzed data in the Danish National Birth Cohort, the largest prospective database of its kind, which enrolled 101,045 pregnant women between 1996 and 2002.

The study population consisted of 93,315 women with singleton pregnancies, of which 92,676 resulted in a liveborn child.

The women in the cohort were categorized into seven groups according to the amount of leisure-time physical activity they performed in the first trimester, as documented by telephone interviews. The groups were: 0, 1-44, 45-74, 75-149, 150-269, 270-419, and 420 or more minutes per week.

The researchers assessed the risks of pre-eclampsia and of severe subtypes of pre-eclampsia (including HELLP and eclampsia), according to the level of activity. They found no statistically significant relationships, including no protective effects, except for in the two groups with the highest levels of physical activity – where the risk of severe subtypes of pre-eclampsia was significantly raised.

The odds ratios for severe subtypes of pre-eclampsia, compared with the reference group who took no exercise, were 1.65 (95 percent confidence interval 1.11-2.43) for the women who took 270-419 minutes of physical activity per week, and 1.78 (95 percent confidence interval 1.07-2.95) for the women who took 420 minutes or more of physical activity per week.

Lead author of the paper Dr Sjurdur Ollsen said: “In our study we were unable to substantiate that physical activity in early pregnancy has a protective effect against pre-eclampsia. Another unexpected finding was that leisure-time exercise, in amounts that were only slightly higher than the recommended amount, seemed even to be associated with an increased risk of severe types of pre-eclampsia.” He suggested that further research is need to investigate this association, ideally utilizing large prospective cohort databases, but that in the meantime current recommendations on exercise in pregnancy should remain unchanged.

The journal’s editor-in-chief, Professor Philip Steer, commented that clinical guidelines in the UK stress that selective and moderate exercise during pregnancy, including aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises, can be beneficial, but he added: “While general fitness is a good thing in many respects, these data suggest that it may be unwise to exercise to peak fitness levels.

“This new research is useful as it provides us with an indication of how much exercise pregnant women should take. As with everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad for you, and moderation in all things remains a good policy.”

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Story

Many women and midwives swear by red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy.  Here is information on the benefits of drinking the tea during pregnancy, though as always please consult your provider before taking any herbs:

This is from Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Natural Home Remedies:

The Raspberry Leaf Tea Story

Tea made from raspberry leaves is the best-known herbal aid in pregnancy. Rather than go into all the traditional lore about this herb, we present the following lengthy account, because it is both contemporaneous and highly specific.

“My mother was born and raised in Scotland, coming to America at the age of 26. Whenever a member of her family became ill or had a health problem, her mother had consulted an herbalist or herb doctor. As a result of this, I was treated with herbs as a child.
“Mother had always told me that red raspberry leaf tea would prevent miscarriage and was excellent for pregnancy and childbirth. When I became pregnant, I immediately sent for some raspberry leaf tea and began taking one cup of it each day, made from one teaspoon of dried leaves added to one cup of boiling water and steeped for 15 minutes. I had a very normal pregnancy. Then I went into labor, I truly expected to have an easy labor and delivery because I had faithfully taken the tea. While it is true that I did not have a complicated or extremely difficult time, it was not by any means easy. The tea had not lived up to my expectations.

“It was not until sometimes after the birth of my daughter that I read a book my mother had brought with her from Scotland entitled Dragged to Light by W.H. Box of Plymouth, England. In it I found the secret of just how to take the tea so it would truly work wonders during labor and delivery. Box said, ‘On one ounce of raspberry leaves pour one pint of boiling water, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, and when the time for delivery is approaching drink the whole as hot as possible.’

“There were a number of testimonials in the book written by women who had used this herb. Several took the strong solution over a period of time before going into labor. They were instructed in that case to take a wine glass full three times a day. They had ‘only two stiff pains and it was all over’ or ‘no after pains and very slight before.’ They never made it out of the house. Box’s instructions were, ‘But those who take the tea considerably before the time should not leave the house when the time is approaching as many mothers are delivered almost suddenly when at their work, to the great vexation of doctors and nurses.’

“When I became pregnant again I was determined to try it that way. I still took a cup a day as I had before. but this time when I went into labor I made a strong solution of it as I had read in the book. I put it in a container and took it to the hospital with me. I wasn’t sure how quickly it would work and I didn’t want to have the baby in the car. I didn’t think they’d allow me to drink it in the hospital so I drank half of it in the parking lot. I was afraid to drink all of it as it was so strong and I didn’t personally know anyone who had taken it this strong before. I had been having strong contractions but by the time I registered and was taken up to the labor room the contractions were so mild I hardly felt them. Upon examination they said I was ready to deliver and would not even give me an enema. In the delivery room I was quite comfortable and hardly felt anything. One hour after entering the hospital my son was born.

“In the recovery room there were several other young women who had just given birth also. They were moaning and groaning. I couldn’t imagine what they were making a fuss about as I felt like I could have gotten up and gone home. I had always read and heard about women getting after-pains with a second child. I never had even one. This was also the testimony of a number of women who were treated with the tea by Box.

“Later I thought I would have had an easy time anyway since it was my second child. I was anxious for someone else to try it.  A friend of mine was expecting a baby in a few weeks and she had been taking a cup of the tea daily and was also going to take the strong solution when she went into labor. She had had two previous pregnancies and both times nearly miscarried and had to take drugs and be in bed a good deal of the time. Both deliveries were extremely difficult. When she became pregnant this time she began spotting and it looked like she would have to go through the same kind of trouble she had before. Having used an herb I had given her for another problem, with success, she asked if there was an herb for this problem and I recommended raspberry leaf tea.

“She started taking it and the spotting stopped immediately and she had a normal pregnancy, much to the amazement of her family who remembered her difficulties in the past. When she went into labor she took the tea as I had and told me she had only 25 minutes of hard labor before her baby was born.

“I have told a number of women about this amazing herb through the years, but no one else seemed interested enough to try it. However, 1978 my daughter became pregnant and she was very much interested in having an easy delivery. She took the tea each day and had a normal pregnancy. She, too, took the strong solution of the tea with her to the hospital and also being a little wary drank only half of it. When the doctor examined her, it was late in the evening. He said the baby wouldn’t be born until six o’clock in the the morning so he went home. She was having hard contractions at this time and I was very disappointed and felt the tea hadn’t worked. An hour and a half later we recieved a call from our son-in-law saying we had a little grandson. The tea started working and the doctor had no sooner reached his home when he had to turn around and come right back to the hospital. My daughter said the next time she is going to drink all of the tea.”