Archive for December, 2008

Lead In Your Prenatals

You take prenatal vitamins on the advice of your doctor. You take them because you want to do everything you can to ensure that your pregnancy and your baby are healthy. You take them every day, feeling reasured you are doing something really good for that kid in there kicking you. You smile and pat your belly…

Then you hear that your prenatal vitamins may be laced with lead.

Yes, lead.

The Food and Drug Administration began testing vitamins for women and children in 2007, after hearing rumblings that there were elevated lead levels in some over the counter supplements. The vitamin research covered 324 multivitamin and mineral products available online.

Only four were free of lead. Out of 324. Yep.

However, in something that closely resembles English — but is not English — the government agency indicates prenatals, as well as the other tested vitamins for women and children, are not unsafe.

Estimates of Pb exposures for all products were below the PTTI levels for the at-risk population groups of children, pregnant and lactating women and adult women.

What’d I tell ya? Not English!

Here is the F.D.A. report, with a complete list of tested vitamins, as well as charts and graphs. You’ll feel like you’re back in college! In no time you’ll be looking for someone else to read the report for you — and take notes — while you go play frisbee.

Yeah, I know you. ;)

Back to the issue at hand, it is simply shocking, to me, that you would find any trace of lead in a product like prenatal vitamins, when we have been warned again and again about the danger of lead exposure to our children. The March of Dimes website says the following

Lead poses health risks for everyone, but young children and unborn babies are at greatest risk. Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birthweight and developmental delays in the infant. Lead is harmful even after birth. Children exposed to high levels of lead may develop behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing loss.

It’s really enough to make you want to cry.

So what do we do? Well, remember, this information only reflects testing on over the counter prenatal vitamins (Like the ones I took. Awesome). You could talk to your doctor about the prescription variety. I do not know if these vitamins have been tested for lead content, and — if so — how they fared. I’ll keep looking, and I’ll let you know what I find.

You could also take a look at the following lists, and choose your OTC prenatal accordingly…

Top 10 pre and postnatal vitamins with the lowest lead content
1. After Baby Boost 2
2. Nature’s Sunshine Nature’s Prenatal
3. Nature’s Plus Prenatal Liquid
4. Natrol PreNatal Care
5. Pregnancy Plus
6. Pure Encapsulations PreNatal Nutrients
7. Maxi Health One Prenatal
8. Nature’s Bounty Prenatal
9. Stuart Prenatal
10. Natural Wealth Prenatal

Top 10 pre and postnatal vitamins with the highest lead content
1. After Baby Boost 1
2. A to Z Naturals Wow! PreNatal
3. Vitamin Source Prenatal Complete
4. Prenatal Superior
5. Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System
6. Buried Treasure Prenatal Plus DHA Complete
7. DaVinci Laboratories Ultimate Prenatal
8. Life Time Professional Pre-Natal Formula
9. Daily Foods Baby & Me
10. Carol Bond Women’s Choice Prenatal

As far as vitamins for your infant (0 to 6 mos), here’s some good info…

F.D.A. tests found these products have no lead:

Natrol Liquid Kids Companion (Liquid)
NF Formulas Liquid Pediatric (Liquid)
Twinlab Infant Care (Liquid)

These products had some lead, but in the lowest levels detected in the F.D.A. tests:

Windmill Bite-A-Mins (Tablet/Capsule)
Kids Liquid Dolphin Pals (Liquid)
My First Flintstones (Tablet/Capsule)
Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins Plus Extra C (Tablet/Capsule)
Uno Diario Ninos (Tablet/Capsule)
Flintstones Plus Immunity Support (Tablet/Capsule)
Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins (Tablet/Capsule)

Information like this can overwhelm you, I know. I’ve met more than one mom who has thrown her hands in the air in desperate frustration because, no matter where she turns, she finds out another product she trusts may be dangerous to her child. I have surely felt this way myself.

This is what I do. I take a deep breath, and then I pick my battles. We can’t fight them all!** I think this is one we can manage, mom. We’ll just buy our vitamins a little more selectively.

Onward and upward!

For much more information on prenatal Health and Nutrition, please listen to our Pea in the Podcast on the subject here.

**Actually, I have a good mommy friend who tries very hard to fight all the mommy battles out there, and actually manages to win most of them. I hate my friend. ;)

-Bonnie

Preggos: Eat more fish! Or not….

Sigh. I hate it when government agencies bicker! Particularly when it interferes with my ability to give mommies-to-be and new moms good information. Grrr….

So, the Food and Drug Administration has long discouraged pregnant women and nursing mothers (& women of childbearing age & infants & children) from eating too much seafood, because of its mercury content. The F.D.A. suggests you eat no more than 12 ounces a week, and NO shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. These are longer living and/or predator fish, so their mercury levels will be higher than other types of seafood. Also, the F.D.A. has urged pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna a week.

All of that simply means the F.D.A used to (apparently) think you should limit your fish to two meals a week, even though everyone knows that the omega 3s in fish oil are just about the best thing going for your gestating baby’s development, particularly its brain development.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when the F.D.A leaked a draft report saying it would urge the federal government to reverse the recommended limits on fish intake, and encourage everyone to EAT MORE FISH! It’s a fish free for all! Get it now, get it while it’s hot! The F.D.A. draft argues the nutrients in fish, including omega 3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals, could boost a child’s I.Q. by three points, and outlines several other benefits for your developing child linked to seafood.

I talked to a doctor who is all about the possibility that the government might urge pregnant women to eat more fish.

Listen to what Dr. James A. McGregor, a Visiting Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, has to say about the federal recommendations regarding fish and pregnancy here…

However, this is not the end of the story!

The Environmental Protection Agency heard about this F.D.A report and was all “No! Way!” The E.P.A was not happy.

This was reported in the Chicago Tribune, and printed in papers across the country…

EPA scientists say the FDA’s report reaches conclusions that aren’t supported by the studies it cites, and at various points either trivializes or overstates existing research.

Some suggest the F.D.A is playing politics, cow towing to seafood industry lobbyists who want current suggested limits reversed before President Bush leaves office. Interesting idea. It bears consideration.

Bottom line, for me, anyway…fish oil is important. It is linked to a whole host of good things for your gestating baby, your infant and you! Just scroll down this page for a run down of possible benefits. It’s glorious stuff. Worth its weight in gold. I take supplements now, and I can tell the difference in the way feel when I don’t. I give my three year old fish oil supplements, and have since she was a baby.

I also took purified (no mercury) fish oil supplements when I was pregnant and nursing. I did not, though, eat a ton of fish. (Sorry Doc McGregor!)

So why all the fuss about mercury? What’s wrong with that cool substance you used to chase around your lab table in science class? Well, ask that sushi loving guy from Entourage!

Seriously, though, for you as a mom or mom-to-be, the E.P.A. warns

For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development…Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb.

Down with mercury!

I think, though, this controversy and the associated cost/benefit analysis may be a bit easier to manage than many others we deal with as moms. Fish oil can add I.Q. points. Mercury can take them away. So, lets talk moderation, regardless of the recommendations, or future recommendations. You could take daily purified supplements, as I did, or you could stick with fish that are considered “safer”, like salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies, and limited amounts of tuna. You can find a balance that’s win/win, you know? At least I think you can.

If you have any questions about this or anything, talk to your o.b. or midwife.

What about the F.D.A and the E.P.A and their little spat? I say we get a big vat, fill it with fish oil, and let ‘em fight it out.

For much more information on prenatal Health and Nutrition, please listen to our Pea in the Podcast on the subject here.

-Bonnie

Orgasmic Birth: The Link Between Pregnancy, Birth, Nursing and Sex

I knew that would get your attention!

Debra Pascali-Bonaro is a childbirth educator and a doula, and she has done a documentary promoting the idea that childbirth can be a pleasure!

A real pleasure. ;)

Imagine that? Imagine the idea that you could go through your pregnancy without fear of labor! Imagine that some people may even enjoy it so much they have an orgasm.

I haven’t yet seen the documentary, but I’m sure Pascali-Bonaro isn’t suggesting labor is not work. I’ve spoken with many experts who say it’s called labor for a reason. It’s hard work. I’m also sure she’s not suggesting that labor is not painful, although several experts tell me the pain you experience is exacerbated by fear, because if you’re afraid of the pain, you are more likely to be tense. Muscle tension makes the birthing process more difficult. Your body begins fighting against the very thing that will ease your pain…the birth of your baby.

But she is surely suggesting there is the possibility of pleasure during your birth experience.

Orgasmic pleasure…

What a revolutionary idea!

Some people are bound to find this icky. Heck, some people won’t even nurse because they claim “my boobs are for my spouse/significant other!” But we can’t help but acknowledge the parts most closely associated with your erotic life are also the parts with which you give birth and feed your baby. They just are. There’s a reason for that. Your baby comes out the same way it went in, if you know what I mean. Sex, pregnancy and birth are inherently linked. It’s ok, y’all. It’s not icky. Relax.

This taboo about acknowledging the link between pregnancy, birth, nursing and sex, which can lead to a sharp division between these amazing parts of your life, certainly impacted me. I was so ashamed when I noticed breastfeeding my baby felt good. That was my baby eating her dinner! What kind of sicko was I? I was embarrassed to admit this to my post-partum doula, but I did. She told me it’s normal for nursing to feel good.

It’s normal. I was normal. Not a sicko. Good to know.

The good feeling from breastfeeding is probably caused by the release of oxytocin, a hormone also released during labor and — yes — sex. And why shouldn’t nursing be pleasurable? After all, you may have to deal with sore, cracked nipples, pain from latch problems, cluster feeding that never lets you rest, and a variety of other challenges (more on the joys and challenges of nursing your baby in this podcast).

Think of it this way, it’s about survival of the species. If breastfeeding didn’t feel good, maybe we wouldn’t do it. Not so very long ago that was the only option, and if we didn’t like nursing, maybe we wouldn’t feed our babies. Nothing good could come of that.

Also, remember, feeding our babies the reason we have boobs in the first place.
That’s what they’re for, and that’s why men don’t have them. Any fun you have with them outside of feeding your baby is just gravy!

Really, really good gravy………………..but I digress….(sicko!)

So back to birth orgasms. Why not? Our hormones are surging all over the place, and the baby is coming out the same way it went in. If you can relax, and if you decide that physical affection with your partner makes you feel better (some women find they do not want to be touched during labor), maybe an orgasm will follow.

Or maybe not. I’m sure it’s far from a given. But what an interesting possibility!

Maybe you still think the idea is icky. That’s ok. But the idea that — even without an orgasm — the birth experience doesn’t have to be something you dread…well, isn’t that nice? Sure there will be pain, sure it will be hard, but if you can only relax, maybe it could also be pleasurable, you know?

Happy orgasms!

Please check out our podcast on labor options for much more information on how to make your birth experience as close to what you wish for as possible.

-Bonnie

Germ-Free Kids

So, there’s this doctor out there promoting a book saying he can teach you how to get and keep your child free of germs. Oh really? Do tell. Barring bubble wrap, I’m not sure how this would be done. Yes, sickness is no fun, and if you’re a working mom — like me — it’s inconvenient, can lead to missed days at work, a cross boss and a miserable child. So, yes. Sickness bad. But germ free?

Your kids are exposed to germs everywhere. At home, at school, at daycare and at the doctor’s office. On doorknobs, on the public bathroom faucet, in your grocery cart and on mom. There’s no way to avoid them. And a little germiness here and there may not be a bad thing at all. At least Baylor College of Medicine pediatrician Dr. Sara Rizvi thinks so, and I think whatever she thinks (I heart Dr. Rizvi). Dr. Rizvi and I also spend a little time in the following interview talking about probiotics (the good stuff in yogurt) and their impact on immunity…

Listen to what Dr. Sara Rizvi has to say about germ free kids here

I don’t know about you, but I want my kid to play with other kids and touch things and go to the store with me and generally be a kid, even if she catches a cold. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to host a pox party anytime soon, but I also refuse to hover over my three year old with a container of wet wipes. Sure, reasonable precautions are in order. We do frequent hand washing, and Dr. Rizvi has inspired me to run out and get some hand sanitizing gel for my impatient child, but a life in a bubble is not for my girl.

Of course, if your child has compromised immunity for any reason, please disregard everything I just said.

By the way, Dr. Rizvi is also featured in our podcast on Caring For Your Newborn. Check it out!

-Bonnie