I’ve been trying to take more random photos to use in my posts as I think blog posts are always better with a picture attached. Don’t you agree?
Last week was my second appointment with Sarah, and it simply couldn’t come fast enough, after an indulgent Thanksgiving weekend and a few days of swollen ankles. The appointment lasted about 40 minutes and started with some discussion time that gave me a chance to have all of my questions and concerns for that month answered.
My first question was about heartburn, something I’ve been dealing with for several weeks now. As the pregnancy progresses my uterus pushes my organs further and further out of the way, forcing some of my stomach acids back up into the esophagus. I’m also releasing more of a hormone called progesterone, which (yay!) helps my uterus to relax, but (boo!) also causes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach to relax as well. Sarah suggested several things:
- Don’t eat right before bed, and try to avoid lying down right after eating.
- Avoid greasy/spicy foods.
- Avoid tums and other similar OTC antacids. Although some suggest that using medication like Tums can be beneficial because they are calcium based, I’d prefer to get my daily value of calcium through my food. Sarah advised me to avoid Tums because of recent studies suggesting a link between asthma and antacid use during pregnancy. The Los Angeles Times reported a study which followed 585,000 children born in Sweden and linked mother’s use of antacids to a 43% greater likelihood that a child would have an allergic condition, with asthma being the most common. My heartburn is not severe enough for me to feel that taking Tums is worth the risk of allergies/asthma in my child. I’m allergy/asthma free myself and would love to do whatever I can to make it so for my baby!
- Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s a folk remedy with no scientific backing so I’m not likely to try it anytime soon as I can only imagine the nastiness associated with drinking that substance plain. I can hardly stand the smell! A little bit of googling suggested that baking soda dissolved in water is an even better home remedy. The TV show “Food Detectives” did a piece on this that might be helpful if you can track it down.
- A food based supplement called Zypan. I bought a bottle but haven’t used any yet.
- Ginger tea, made by steeping ginger root. Some internet searching suggested peppermint tea as well. [Editors Note: Apparently the internet were very, very wrong in suggesting peppermint tea. All commenters so far who suffer from GERD, acid reflux, etc, have said that this is very, very wrong. Go with the ginger tea.]
I tend to avoid taking supplements/medications if possible, largely due to a tight budget and laziness, so my favorite method of coping has been drinking lots of water. My heartburn hasn’t been severe enough to keep me up at night or engaging in my normal routine, so this will likely be my coping method of choice unless something changes drastically.
My second question was in regards to swelling. For several days after Thanksgiving my legs and feet had swelled to awful proportions, and I was ready to do anything to bring the swelling down. Sarah’s suggestions were tough, but doable, and I saw immediate results when I followed her advice:
- Eliminate all carbs possible, and replace them with protein. This is by no means the Atkins diet, rather a focus on severely limiting refined carbohydrates, potatoes and other starches, and instead making the focus of my caloric intake protein. Lots and lots of protein. I’m already at an average of about 80 grams of protein/day, but the day I met with her I kept my carbohydrate intake (barring fruit, I eat as much fruit as I want always) to two tortillas with dinner. Breakfast was fruit, lunch was salad, snacks were vegetables, and lots of protein in my tacos for dinner. All of the sudden my swelling was gone! Then my parents came this weekend and I stopped being so diligent about my carb avoidance and I felt the swelling creeping back up on me again. Guess I know how I’ll be eating the rest of my pregnancy…
- Eliminating sugars. This goes hand in hand with eliminating as many carbohydrates as possible, and works just as well. Again, I don’t consider fruits something to eliminate.
- Lemon water. Another folk remedy that I haven’t tried yet, but I actually enjoy squeezing lemon slices into my glasses of water so if limiting carbs and sugars isn’t helping I’ll add this to my routine as well.
- Drink more water in the morning. I tend to drink all of mine at night, when I’m sitting in front of the computer blogging or editing. I’m still not very good at this one, but I’m working on filling a glass and setting it next to my computer as soon as I wake up in the morning.
- Exercise in the morning. Because I’m still not really exercising routinely in general, this one is the hardest one. I tend to work through the night and wake up in the early afternoon each day so I’ll probably never get all sweaty in the morning, per se, but I am working on moving my infrequent exercise sessions to the beginning of my day, whenever that occurs, rather than the end.
My third question, as you might expect after yesterday’s post, was in regards to my rapid weight gain. I brought in my laptop and we looked through the days I had logged my diet using Fitday, and then Sarah gave me a few suggestions for areas where I could focus on making simple changes:
- Eat eggs in the morning instead of cereal. She would even rather see me add some bacon in there to keep things exciting for me, rather than a bowl of crunchy and delicious cereal full of fiber. (Can you tell I really like my bowl of cereal int he morning?) This change works well with my attempt to reduce carbs and increase protein.
- If I want juice, drink a little with my pills in the morning. Whole fruit has more fiber and is a better choice.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. To make it even more appealing, she added in that moms who exercise during their pregnancy have easier labors, something I’ve heard many times from a variety of sources. I’ve started adding random squats into my day on top of trying to get in more exercise sessions during each week.
- Beans and meat, beans and meat, beans and meat. Meat for the protein and beans for the fiber.
My last question was the one I didn’t want to ask, but felt I should. Gestational diabetes? Sadly, at this point she’s thinking I should get tested. We’ll continue to watch my weight gain, and I’ll be watching for warning signs like sharp pains in my chest, but 6 weeks from now I’ll likely be enduring a sugary drink and blood test to find out if GD is affecting my baby.
At the end of my appointment she measured my blood pressure (98/65), and busted out the doppler to listen to the baby’s heartbeat (140 bpm). The scale spit out the number 182.6 and I tested my urine and found slightly elevated leukocytes which Sarah wasn’t worried about. We scheduled my next appointment for the end of December and I headed home hoping that talk of gestational diabetes wouldn’t come up again at my next appointment.