When you become pregnant, your whole life will change… starting with your diet. It’s a common myth that pregnant women are now “eating for two” and are able to eat whatever they want – here are some guidelines on what pregnant women should eat to support the healthy growth of their baby.

 Pregnant woman

Proteins

It’s recommended that you eat a good source of animal protein – be it lean meat and chicken, fish, or eggs – while plant-based proteins are just as important. Beans, legumes, lentils, quinoa, nuts and seeds, are not only fantastic plant-based proteins but also provide expecting moms with many other nutrients and iron require for a healthy pregnancy.

 

Fruit and veggies

The more colourful your platter of fruits and veggies, the better for your body and your baby. Different fruits and veggies are packed with all the essential vitamins and minerals and trace elements that will form the building-blocks for your baby’s health. It’s important that fruits and vegetables are eaten fresh, but if you cook the veggies, be sure to not slather them in salt, oils and sugar and try to eat them as naturally as possible.

 Pregnant woman eating

Starches and carbs

While you will benefit from the energy from rice, pasta, and bread, it’s important to also eat natural white carbs like rice and potatoes. However, try the healthier options of brown rice and sweet potatoes too.

 Food for pregnant women

Fats

Fat in your diet is an important element, especially for your growing baby, but fats should not make up more than 30% of your daily intake, and then also only “healthy fats”. You can get these from avocado, nuts, and fatty fish, but try to avoid animal fats.

 

The healthier your diet during pregnancy, the healthier your baby’s own nutritional springboard will be.

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If you’re feeling tired all the time, even when you feel like you’re getting enough sleep, and your doctor has ruled out all the other potential conditions that may leave you feeling sluggish, with low energy, headaches, and even joint and lymph node pain, it may be due to chronic fatigue syndrome. Even though it’s a controversial condition that is difficult to diagnose, good medical aids will provide cover for the doctors’ appointments required to make this diagnosis.

 Chronic Fatigue

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is classified by its symptoms (as there are no screening tests to determine if you have it or not), which include an intense tiredness and body fatigue that no amount of sleep can cure. It can get worse if you persist with certain mental and physical activities, however, it might not be attributed to any specific cause.

 

The causes of CFS

There are a few different causes of CFS, including viral infection, which may account for the pain the joints and lymph nodes. Other causes include high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as hormonal problems and general immune system impairment. If you are overweight or lead a particularly inactive lifestyle, are prone to the effects of stress, or the right environmental factors for CFS are present, you are considered high-risk for developing chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue

How does CFS manifest?

The first signs of CFS will be a feeling of being tired all the time – so tired that it interferes with your daily ability to function. You may be diagnosed with CFS when you have experienced this intense fatigue that isn’t cured with bed rest, for six months. If this is paired with an inability to concentrate, waking up feeling tired, inexplicable muscle and joint pain (without inflammation), headaches and sore throat, as well as tender lymph nodes in the armpits and neck, it’s very likely that you may have CFS.

 

Because a CFS diagnosis is difficult for doctors to make, it’s important that you persist in finding the cause of your chronic fatigue and help your doctor to rule out any other conditions so that there’s no doubt when he makes a CFS diagnosis. From there, the correct treatment plan can be administered.

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There’s no substitute for good nutrition as the basis for a healthy pregnancy, but because of how rapidly your baby grows and the demands this places on your body, it’s advisable to take additional supplements to ensure you’re providing enough nutrients and vitamins for both you and your baby. The following are good supplements to take during pregnancy:

Healthy Pregnancy

 Folate

Folic acid is a commonly recommended supplement to take before and during your pregnancy, but this is the synthetic form of folate. Folate is critically important to ensure healthy neural tube development and without it, your baby runs the risk of developing conditions such as spina bifida. Speak to your doctor about the correct doses of folate and folic acid, and how to adjust them based on where you are in your pregnancy.

Prenatal multivitamin

Prenatal multivitamins are a vital way of ensuring you get the full range of additional vitamins and minerals your baby needs during pregnancy and nursing. It’s important not to rely solely on this multivitamin, but to pair it with a high-nutrient diet too.

Vitamin Supplements for Pregnancy

 Probiotics

Your baby’s gut will be sterile when she’s born – she will get all her important gut bacteria when she’s born and during nursing. You can ensure she has a healthy gut from the start by taking a high quality probiotic, which will set the stage for gut health for the rest of her life. And it’s pretty good for you too!

Magnesium

Magnesium is an all-important mineral during pregnancy because of its impact on your baby’s development – from muscles and tissue, to brain and bones. Using a magnesium oil on the skin or taking an ionic supplement during pregnancy should ensure that you don’t have any deficiencies, but speak to your doctor to find out more about your magnesium needs.

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When you discover that you’re pregnant, there are so many considerations to think about to make sure you gestate and deliver a healthy baby. It’s vitally important that you have all the right medical assistance to take you from pregnancy to delivery and paediatric care for your little one as he grows up. Whether you’re already on a medical aid or you need multiple medical aid quotes to find out which one to join, the following are important considerations that will help your decision:

Pregnant Women

Are you covered for pregnancy?

You will need to see your GP, who may be able to assist you during your full term, or he may refer you to a gynaecologist to provide more specific prenatal care. There will be scans and tests that are required to ensure a healthy pregnancy and that you’re all set for delivery. Your medical aid should cover the costs of these tests as well as any other medical assistance you may need during pregnancy.

What’s included for the birth of your child?

Whether you choose to have a natural birth or a caesarean, or you need a caesarean at the last minute due to complications, you need to find out from your medical aid how you’re covered for the birth of your baby. Also find out how you’re covered if you choose to have your baby at home.

Expecting Mother

This is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, don’t let your medical aid cover distract you from enjoying this moment.

There are many different medical schemes available, but it’s important that you find the one that suits your needs so that you can focus on your baby while your medical expenses are taken care of.

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All moms wish that their babies were idyllic creatures that latched on immediately, slept for more than three hours at a time, and were comfortable enough to not scream for no reason. Unfortunately, back here in reality, each baby is very different, communicates in their own way, and will display their personality traits from the time that they are just a few days old. However, there is a special kind of baby that really does stand out from the rest, and is known as a high-maintenance baby.

These are the traits to look out for with a high-maintenance infant:

They display intensity

High maintenance babies may behave (especially cry) with an intensity that make even the most confident moms worry. Their methods of communication are intense and demanding – they need immediate attention and command it because they know they’ll get it. All of their activities – from crying to laughing, to feeding, and even the way they clench their little fists all have an urgency to them that shows this inherent intensity.

Very happy baby

 They may appear hyperactive

Hyperactivity is very often a subjective matter, so we’ll clarify by saying that a high maintenance baby will not only express himself in a hyperactive manner, but will leave moms feeling drained – as though he has sapped every last ounce of energy from you with his hyperactive behaviour.

They may feed very often

High-maintenance babies need to keep their energy up to expend it on their intense, often anxious, behaviour, which is why they will want to feed often. Feeding may also be a form of comfort for them, which may also explain their huge appetite. In spite of how frequently they feed, they may also display behaviour indicative of insatiability – with everything.

They may display unpredictable behaviour

Hyperactive and hyper-sensitive (emotionally and otherwise), high maintenance babies are controlled by their need for constant attention, which may also make them unpredictable. These children will keep their moms on their toes.

 

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We often associate skin conditions with teenagers, especially when their hormones are awry, but eczema is a skin conditions found in babies, teenagers, adults, and even in mature adults. Eczema manifests as patches of skin that are red, dry, and itchy, and can be caused by a number of factors like irritants, dust mites, and allergens to certain foods.

Treating eczema is easier in adults than it is in babies because of how sensitive babies’ skin is. Adults may be able to apply topical creams and cortisone, to take antibiotics for their condition, and try various medicines. Babies, on the other hand, need a variety of less invasive treatment options. Medical aids in South Africa will be able to cover pediatric appointments to properly diagnose your baby’s eczema, but it’s important to try a range of treatment options to see which works the best for your baby.

1. Avoid the obvious skin irritants

There are many skin irritants that could be causing your baby’s eczema – from fabric softener to soaps, bubble bath, lotions, and detergents. Try out hypoallergenic products to see if this has any effect on reducing your baby’s eczema.

2. Try different diet combinations

Eczema may also have a dietary origin. It may take a long process of elimination, but give your child different foods to see whether there’s any correlation with their eczema flare-ups. The foods that may be causing the eczema should subsequently be avoided.

3. Use a good eczema cream

Skin affected by eczema needs to be moisturised and soothed with a topical cream, but make sure that these lotions are fragrance-free, and also free of other irritants.

4. Don’t let your baby get too warm

Sometimes skin that is too hot can break out in eczema, so it’s important to keep your baby cool by dressing him with light, breathable fabrics. Avoid heavy fabrics that may also be scratchy, as this can only exacerbate the irritated skin.

 Speak to your pediatrician about prescribing a baby-friendly medication if your little one is really struggling with this skin condition.

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If you’re pregnant, the one guaranteed change you’ll have to deal with is how your body adapts to the growing baby inside. Different women’s bodies will morph in different ways, but there are four overall pregnant body types. Here are the best ways to dress them; and if you have an affordable medical aid, there’ll be more money available to spend on updating your wardrobe to elegantly show off your baby bump.

1. Big mamma

Even petite women can gain weight all over when they become pregnant. The trick is to lengthen your look with light, flowing fabrics – think chiffon sleeves with an eye-catching neckpiece to draw attention towards a specific point. Dark fabrics will create the slimming effect, as will dark, plain slacks or trousers. De-emphasise any roundness with a long, draping jacket or jersey.

Stylish pregnant women

2. A low package

If your baby is positioned lower on your frame, you may constantly look like you’re about to pop. You can change the illusion of your proportions by wearing a knee-length skirt and extending your legs. A V-neck top will also draw the eye upwards, away from your laid-back passenger. Wear tops that adequately cover your torso and spectacular bump. Long, dark pants will also have the same leg-lengthening effects.

3. A bump to rest your chin on

Some moms carry their precious cargo so high that they may look like an “apple on a stick”. The goal with this wardrobe is to create the illusion of a pinched waist and wider hips to create a curvy effect. Colour blocks in a dress – especially a wrap dress that can be used to create shape – work well to draw the eye to all the right places. Flared pants will also give a more feminine shape to the high carrying mom.

4. Petite and pregnant

The small mom with a baby bump will need to girl-up her boyish figure. This can be achieved with diagonal stripes in a top that’s pinched at the waist. Embellish your look with ruffles, bows, and other tricks up (and on) your sleeves.

visual courtesy of: allfashiontrend.net; babble.com
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To say that babies require your 100% attention is an understatement. As all moms know, parenting newborns and infants is a full-time job, which is why technology may come in handy when you just need some time to take a nap, have a shower, and regroup so that you can continue to be on-hand for your little one.

baby monitor

 Baby monitors come in a range of shapes and sizes – most of which are two-way radios that provide you with an ear in the nursery in case your child needs your attention. The rise in popularity of smartphones, however, has increased the level of technology available to parents. Nowadays, baby monitors include night-vision cameras that feed directly to your smartphone so that you have both eyes and ears in your baby’s room.

One such baby monitor is the Withings Smart Baby Monitor, which not only offers audio and video tracking of your baby’s activities, but it also monitors the room temperature and humidity and allows two-way communication. The night vision gives you a high-contrast view of your child, no matter how dark the room, and you can link the baby monitor feed to your smartphone and keep an eye on your little one, no matter where you are in the house.

Baby girl with monitor

 Having a baby monitor of this level of technology in the room is no substitute, however, for your presence in the house. At no time should you leave your child unattended, thinking that you’ll have a constant view of her while you “quickly” dash out to the shops. A baby monitor is not a babysitter, but simply a means of letting you see how she’s doing without disturbing her. If you decide to use a high-tech baby monitor, research each product thoroughly before installation to ensure you are getting the right monitor for your needs.

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It’s fairly common for women in their third trimester of pregnancy to experience insomnia, thanks to a whole range of hormone fluctuations as well as body discomfort in the last few weeks before birth. The need to constantly get up to empty your bladder, or the persistent irritation from heartburn, as well as anxiety and leg cramps do little to allow you to sleep peacefully during this late stage.

Is insomnia harmful to you and your baby?

Unless you are chronically tired and still unable to sleep, you’re probably getting enough rest, and this inability to sleep could also just be your body’s way of preparing you for a gruelling post-natal routine. While some people thrive on eight hours or more of sleep, others can do with less. If you’re worried about not getting enough sleep or are feeling particularly fatigued, speak to your doctor and get to the root of the problem.

Pregnant women with insomnia Ways to conquer insomnia

The worst possible approach to not getting enough sleep is to worry about it, which will just keep you awake for longer. If you let go of the anxiety, it will increase your chances of getting some sleep. You can do this by quietly meditating, listening to soothing music, or relaxing in a long, warm bath before getting into bed. Try to keep as much of a persistent sleep routine as possible so that your body can get used to sleeping at a specific time at night and waking at the same time each morning.

self-help for insomnia

Languish over your dinner to reduce the effects of heartburn, and don’t drink tea or coffee for at least a few hours before bedtime. If you have trouble sleeping, rather opt for a warm glass of milk than juices or other sugar-drenched stimulants, and try to take in your last fluids early in the evening to avoid having to get up to go to the bathroom at all hours. Make sure that your bedroom temperature is comfortable and sleep with a pregnancy body pillow to ensure that your body is properly supported for a good night’s rest.

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In spite of all the child-targeted marketing, there are quite a number of foods that are not good for kids at all! We list some of them here, and recommend some healthy alternatives.

 Breakfast cereals

Many cereals aimed at kids are essentially sugar-bombs that your children get excited about eating in the mornings (especially if they can find a toy inside the box). Check the nutritional table on the box – if the word “sugar” appears close to the top of the ingredients list, you may as well be feeding your child a chocolate bar before school. Cereals should contain more than 3 grams of protein per serving and be high in fibre. A healthy alternative would be a warm bowl of oats, or fruit and nuts with low-fat yoghurt.

 Polony, hot dog meats, and chicken nuggets

Processed meats contain low quality animal products that have been cleaned at high heat and have had loads of sodium, preservatives, and colourants added to them. These processed meats contain nitrites and saturated fats which are incredibly bad for you – why would you feed them to your kids? Chicken nuggets are another culprit (for the same reasons) and because they’re deep fried in unhealthy oils. A healthy alternative would be to season and grill some chicken breasts and make your own chicken strips, serving them up with guacamole, chilli sauce, or chutney.

Hot dog

 Sweets and pastries

While kids love colourful lollipops and gummy sweets, as well as the decadence of jam-filled pastries, these treats will encourage your children’s bodies to constantly crave sugar (which will lead to bad habits later in life) and can cause unnecessary visits to the dentist. Frozen yoghurt ice cubes (made from low-fat yoghurt), fruit pops (with no extra sugar), or even delicious fresh fruit should be offered as alternatives. The natural fruit sugars will satisfy kids’ desires for something sweet, without the harmful side effects (including weight gain) from refined, processed sugars.

Donuts

Kids usually learn by example, so ensure that your own lifestyle reflects the kind of healthy eating and healthy living you want for your children.

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