Raising a single kid is a hectic affair these days with exuberant school fee structures, overcharged delivery expenses and the increasing financial costs. Parents either don’t want to plan for a baby forever or most of them wish to just stop with one owing to personal choices or health conditions of the mother. Experiencing the pain of childbirth too plays a vital role in this. This decision might suddenly seem unfair to you once your child grows up a little and feels lonely looking at his/her friends and their siblings, family might pressurize you to go for a second one or you might be the sole reason for the change in your own decision. Once things settle down and you decide to plan for a second baby the first question that comes to your mind is the ideal time gap between two pregnancies.
Ball is in your Court
I am sure that most of you reading this article are blessed with siblings and your age difference is anywhere between 2-5 years. Defining age gap between pregnancies is purely your choice and you need to decide after considering various factors foremost of which is the mother’s health before choosing the right time for your next bundle of joy. Two things: to decide to have a second baby and timing the second pregnancy, both are in your hands but none of it must be at the cost of the mom’s health.
Couples plan their first child with utmost caution leaving a gap of even five years after marriage before settling the family way. Some couples plan the number of children, time gap between every two kids and carry it out perfectly (if nature obliges so!) settling into marital bliss. Whatever your plan is, it is top-most priority to never compromise on the mother’s health. Every plan has its pros and cons. Pregnancies that are too closely or too distantly spaced carry their own set of resulting consequences.
All is Well that Ends Well
If your babies just have a gap of 12 months or 18 months there is no chance of sibling rivalry that exists as the prime cause of fight and jealousy among siblings. Rather, they might be best friends sharing a strong bond and having similar wavelengths due to minimal age difference. All these advantages are countered by the disadvantages it imposes on the mother’s health. The mom’s sleepless nights double, responsibility increases two-folds as both the kids are small unable to attend to their needs by themselves and such a less gap might even result in preterm deliveries and low-birth-weight infants.
Couples who space their pregnancies two years from each other are doing a good job with their planning as the first child is old enough to express his/her needs and the mom would have almost recovered from her previous pregnancy. Pregnancies planned with three years gap are even better as the first kid becomes old enough to be quite independent, mom’s health is 100% fine and she can attend to both the kids needs as their requirements are completely different from each other. Waiting for more than five years is again a pain as research shows that it increases the mother’s chances of developing health problems, especially in those women who are of an older age. Paternal age too decides a healthy pregnancy and if you are surprised by this statement, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com for more details.
Not Too Less, Not Too More
WHO guidelines recommend not less than 24 months before getting pregnant with the second child. In worse cases, there must be at least 18 months difference maintained. But a new research suggests changes that one need not wait as long as 18 months before getting pregnant and its enough to just wait for a year between giving birth and getting pregnant again. This comes as a welcome relief to many women over the age of 35 planning to go the family way. This study shows that time gap between 12-18 months is more than enough time to giving birth and getting pregnant again. Risk of premature labor and maternal mortality dropped significantly once the woman spaced her pregnancies 12-18 months apart, according to the study. Pregnancies that have a very short spacing either are unplanned or are planned purposefully by older women. Within the stipulated time gap it is up to the mother to use contraceptives wisely and abstain from pregnancy.
World COPD Day (November 21st 2018)
Shortness of breath after running, exercising on the treadmill, going for a walk in high altitude regions or rock climbing is common. There are some who feel short of breath every single day in life making their journey a challenging one! Almost one in 7 people suffer from this issue but often don’t realize its existence which makes it even more complicated. This World COPD Day take a pledge to screen your lungs for COPD if you suffer from such symptoms and safeguard yourself from its consequences.
Shortness of Breath Cannot Shorten Life
Its not fair to allow shortness of breath to stop you from living your life or fulfilling your dreams. Before knowing how to handle the disease lets know about it.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) is a group of lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema that cause difficulty in expelling air out of the lungs due to narrowed airways. These conditions can either occur individually or exist together too. In bronchitis, the airways are inflamed and narrowed where the individual often produces sputum or phlegm whereas in emphysema the air sacs at the end of the airways are affected due to which the lungs are filled with holes that trap air. All these make breathing difficult as lungs inhale less of oxygen and exhale less of carbon dioxide. While there are options to make breathing easier in no case can the damage be reversed.
While smoking and exposure to dust/chemicals are the most common causes of COPD, anyone above the age of 35 who has been/was a smoker is likelier to develop the condition. Also, it seems to be a genetic problem and if either of your parents suffered from the condition you are susceptible to developing it. Symptoms include:
Living Healthy with COPD
Though there is no cure for the disease, the affected patient can do as much as he/she can to live a healthy life:
Quit smoking: Take a pledge to quit smoking today. Try to avoid second hand smoking as much as possible. These have immediate positive effects on the body.
Vaccination: Get yourself vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza
Follow a healthy diet: A healthy diet is a sure-shot way to keep yourself energized and prevent any further deterioration in health. Make it a habit to include foods from all five food groups. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to help you eat a well-balanced meal and also help you avoid weight imbalances.
Stay active: Research on COPD shows that doing physical activity regularly can help you stay fit, improve quality of life and keep you energized.
World COPD Day
While life with COPD can be difficult as it is a progressive disease (meaning it has no cure) one can always take steps to reduce its impact as much as possible and make life easier and more comfortable to live. The World COPD day celebrated on November 21st this year aims to spread awareness about the disease and improve care of those patients suffering from the disease. More than 50 countries participate actively on this day holding different events, campaigns and activities to improve the condition of those people suffering from COPD and also to make people come forward and get themselves tested if they fear symptoms of the same. The theme for 2018 is ‘Never too early, never too late’ which seems apt as there is no upper limit or lower limit for taking care of yourself.
Generally, physicians, dietitians and nutritionists commit towards controlling various health issues through a well-planned meal routine and physical activity. Exclusions always exist and one such is hypercholesterolemia that is characterized by extremely high cholesterol numbers despite regular exercise and a proper diet. Strange, isn’t it?
Not a Clean Gene
Genes define our lives and when some of them are faulty we might become victims of certain diseases and illnesses. One such is hypercholesterolemia-presence of high cholesterol levels throughout the life of an individual and this is inherited.
Cholesterol is not bad but an essential substance that becomes good or bad depending on the levels you maintain in the body. Our body is almost self-sufficient in producing cholesterol and we need to include a limited quantity of fat in the diet to produce the remaining cholesterol levels needed to stay healthy. The fat and cholesterol are absorbed in the intestine and transported to the liver. Here, the fat is also converted into cholesterol by the liver and this cholesterol enters the bloodstream. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad) are the two types of cholesterol which impact the body in various ways. High levels of LDL can cause a heart disease while greater quantities of HDL can protect against heart disease.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a condition characterized by increased levels of cholesterol in the blood due to genetic abnormality. In general, increased cholesterol levels are the result of unhealthy food habits and lifestyle issues but hypercholesterolemia is unrelated to diet and lifestyle. There are cases where the person suffering from FH follows an unhealthy lifestyle and there are also cases where some individuals stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle like glue but still suffer from the consequences of high cholesterol levels as it is an inherited disorder. This is fate!
The commonest cause of FH is a mutation in the LDLR gene. This gene helps the body produce a protein known as the low-density lipoprotein receptor which binds to low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). These LDLs carry cholesterol and the LDL receptor aids in cholesterol removal by removing LDLs from the blood. While this process happens smoothly in a normal individual, people with FH face difficulty due to decreased production of LDL receptors or improper removal of LDLs by the receptors due to gene mutations. There are several other gene mutations that can result in FH and when any of these occur, receptors function improperly and pave way for high cholesterol levels irrespective of diet and exercise routines. All these impact cholesterol levels and cause increased cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
The gene mutation can be inherited from either parent or both parents which determines the severity of the disease. Though rare, a gene mutation inherited from both parents can cause hazardous effects. It is usually passed down from one parent and when this is the case, the risk of acquiring the disease is only 50%. Whatever be it, there is every chance of the disease as the mutation is present in the egg or sperm cell.
When one or both parents suffer from hypercholesterolemia there is every chance of the kid suffering from the disease and the first step includes testing cholesterol levels of the child. This test must be performed when the kid is between 2 and 10 years of age.
A normal person is at an elevated risk of high cholesterol levels later in life due to accumulated years of inactive lifestyle or unhealthy diet routines. FH occurs right from birth and does not boast of its presence by giving out clear symptoms or indications. Rarely, people with hypercholesterolemia might experience:
Any cholesterol buildup around the eyes is an instant indication of FH. A physician asks for the patient’s family history and checks out on the person’s symptoms to diagnose the disease. Even a blood test for total cholesterol levels might be recommended to confirm the condition. When total cholesterol values are higher than 300 mg/dL or 250 mg/dL in children, it becomes a case of dire attention immediately. The bigger step would be for a genetic testing that is sure to notify the physician of the presence of any genetic mutation.
Treatment always starts with a lifestyle change and modification of food habits which brings about an immediate positive impact on some people. While none agree upon the best diet for cholesterol, most people suggest a vegetarian diet to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Even a Mediterranean diet is preferred which insists upon abundant produce and limited processed foods. You must consume only as much of calories as you burn out to maintain weight and if you would like to lose some extra kilograms, you must consume fewer calories than you burn. If you aren’t sure about following the right kind of diet to lose weight, get in touch with a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com.
The need for medications depends on your response to diet changes and your risk of heart attack and stroke. Statins are the commonly prescribed drugs for high cholesterol levels. Along with these, individuals must avoid smoking, keep their blood pressure levels controlled, maintain normal glucose levels and maintain a healthy weight to reduce their risk of coronary artery disease. Medications and lifestyle changes produce different results on different people. While diet and exercise changes lower cholesterol levels by 10%, medications can lower LDL levels by another 20-50%.
Every adult above the age of 20 is recommended to get a lipid profile test done every five years. When numbers don’t fall within the ranges, its time to alter your lifestyle and keep your cholesterol levels monitored more frequently.
The umbilical cord might be chopped off once the baby is born but the underlying bond between a mom and her child is irreplaceable and undetachable lifelong. Nutrition habits, exercise routines and stress levels of a pregnant mom affects the womb inside her as the fetus experiences her joys and sorrows, eats what the mum-to-be eats and grows accordingly. Even after childbirth, the nutrient quality of the food consumed by the new mum impacts the child strongly.
Alcohol & Breastfeeding
Anything that you drink or eat makes its way into your breastmilk and alcohol is no exception. One glass or two glasses, there is no recommended levels of alcohol that’s considered safe for a baby to drink. When you consume alcohol, it enters your breast milk at the same concentration as that found in your bloodstream. The infant could be exposed to only a small fraction of the alcohol his/her mom drinks, but one must also remember that a newborn eliminates alcohol from the body at only half the rate of an adult.
One might even hear of amazing folklore tales that insist that drinking alcohol improves breastmilk production, but research shows that drinking alcohol decreases breast milk production and further, presence of alcohol traces in breastmilk reduces milk consumption by as much as 20%.
A new study shows that children whose mothers consumed alcohol during lactation are likelier to experience dose-dependent reduction in cognitive skills at age 6 to 7 years, but the effect diminishes by 8 to 11 years. The study included 5107 infants who were assessed every two years. These infants were scored on three different streams and results showed that breast-fed infants whose moms consumed alcohol were likelier to have reduced scores at age 6 to 7 years. But there was no effect on babies who did not breast feed. Also, this association between alcohol consumption and cognitive decline was not present at ages 8 to 11 years owing to increased education in older children.
Alcohol concentrations in breast milk resemble those in the new mom’s blood immediately within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion. The quantity of alcohol in breast milk is almost 5-6% of the maternal dose and newborns eliminate this at only about half the rate of adults.
One important element missing in the study is that, this study neither recorded the amount and frequency of milk consumed by the infant nor the timing of alcohol consumption. Also, smoking during breastfeeding affected the results in no way.
Balancing Feeding & Drinking
There is no need to drink during breastfeeding period but if you intend to have a social drink, try avoiding breastfeeding at least 2-3 hours after drinking. This gives enough time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk. Either feed before getting your drink or express some milk ahead of the function and feed the baby with this milk. Whatever it is, ensure to empty your breasts some way or the other, otherwise they may become overfull and start paining. Don’t be misled by false assumptions that pumping and dumping milk quickens the alcohol elimination process from your body. The only use of this process is that, it helps you to maintain your milk supply as well as prevent overfull breasts that can lead to extreme pain later on due to clogged milk.
Also, if you succumb to binge drinking, that is drinking more than five units of alcohol in one session, it makes you enter a different frame of mind and makes you less aware of your baby’s needs. If you drink alcohol, never share your bed or sofa with your little one as it can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Prioritize your newborn’s health above everything else and you would be able to work out wonders. If you are looking for post-pregnancy weight loss programs that can take care of your nutrients as well as help you lose weight, get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
Malnutrition-related deaths make us cringe with fear and sympathy dwelling on our state of life. Human lives are lost owing to inadequate food resources but almost 60% of biodiversity loss worldwide is due to our food system. One side we keep complaining of hunger and on another side we keep depleting available resources in the name of agriculture. None can be ignorant of the fact that almost 71% of our Earth is covered by water. Almost 70% of freshwater from lakes and rivers is utilized for agriculture for which most of the forest lands are cleared after all. Complains are constantly raised for converting green spaces into buildings that prove the mettle of fine engineering to accommodate the growing population providing them with houses. But none care about the rise in food needs that require more and more of agricultural land, use of water and release of much carbon dioxide into atmosphere to meet increasing meat and dairy needs. Food is responsible for nearly 20-30% of greenhouse gas emission globally and with growing food requirements these numbers are sure to grow affecting the entire environment and climate globally.
Well-aware of the basic needs for survival-food, shelter and clothing-there is no scope for decreased food production nor is there any chances of surviving without eating. The only smart way is to design a sustainable diet for people across age groups which helps us meet our nutritional requirements as well as save our planet from further damage. Follow these tips given below to eat more sustainably:
Be More Plant-friendly: Earlier, many individuals used to vegetarian style of eating started following a non-vegetarian-based diet for its taste and nutrients. One has always been doubtful of satisfying various nutrition needs from a vegetarian-based diet plan. Now, the reverse is becoming true. People are frantically hopping over to a vegan/vegetarian diet plan. Yes, a vegetarian diet mainly focused on vegetables, beans and nuts is the need of the hour. We can always refer to Asian cuisines and the Mediterranean diet too for tips on preparing different veggie-based salads, pasta, stews and rice varieties too.
Choose differently: Rather than sticking to your chicken and rice every day of the week for lunch start exploring new dishes and expanding your taste buds. It is always recommended to add colors to your plate to add various nutrients to your body. Choosing rainbow-colored fruits and veggies make your meal more tasty, flavorful and healthy.
Empty the bin: Shopping is relaxing and pleasurable. But it shouldn’t be that we directly shop for something and drop the things we bought right into the bin after a while. Sadly, that’s what we all do. We overstock our cabinets, refrigerators and finally our tummies too throwing away a quarter of what we purchased owing to various reasons. Its like simply dumping natural resources and our hard-earned money into the gutter. Waste less food.
Beat the Meat Mania: It all started sometime back when people became over-ambitious wanting to grow muscles in a week or so. These guys started eating chicken regularly to fulfill their protein needs and the world followed suit. Eating less chicken in no way asks you to compromise on your proteins. There are other healthy and sustainable alternatives to chicken available in different plant sources. Change the mindset and explore plant-based protein food options available at www.firsteatright.com to contribute towards a sustainable community.
Decrease your Salt & Sugar intake: There are no surprise elements here and as all of us know, the less of salt, fat and sugar we consume, better it is for our health and well-being.
“Hurray!!! I have lost 15 kilos and I am going to refurbish my wardrobe!” Such statements are often heard, and the individual actually spends thousands of rupees on new clothes. But wait, don’t be hasty and take decisions on the spur of the moment as new research suggests that you start putting back your lost weight almost immediately after you stop dieting.
Not One or Two, But Many More to Come
There are not few but many reasons for this weight regain after a diet program and one cannot single out a core reason.
The best solution to this problem is to adhere to a sustainable weight loss and maintenance principle. Try to make slow and small healthy changes that can be adhered to, even during your vacations or special occasions. In a nutshell, you need to invoke smart changes that allows you to try new foods but adhering to portion sizes.
What Does the Study Convey?
The study gathered information of 70 overweight/obese adults who completed a 12-week weight loss program. The participants lost around half a kilogram every week on an average, but once the program ended, weight regain started almost immediately. Every participant gained almost 0.07 kilograms every week for the first 11 weeks and around the 32nd week of study, the regain rate decreased slightly.
What surprised the researchers here is that, while they assumed weight maintenance to stay for a little more longer before the weight gain occurred, it did not match their expectations. Don’t be hasty and decide that it is impossible to keep off the weight loss forever. Many individuals are successful in maintaining the lost weight-they stay disciplined and follow the behavior changes they made during the weight loss program. Most of them also weighed themselves daily and this makes it easier for individuals to realize a weight regain more quickly and easily.
Also, the researchers recommend individuals on a weight maintenance program to workout at least for 5 hours every week. We might say that doing 30 minutes of exercise on at least 5 days a week helps us remain fit. But, in reality you need to workout much more than this if you are genuinely interested in maintaining your lost weight.
Also, environment is the biggest threat to people. For instance, if you pass by a bakery daily while commuting to office, you are sure to be aroused by the aroma of those bread loaves or the cookies getting baked. In such scenarios, it is better to take a different route that trying to control your desire because one fine day you will surely succumb to your desires giving a lame excuse for it. Have your motive, be smart and work hard towards achieving your goal. If you are interested in taking a weight loss program or if you need any guidance in maintaining your weight loss, you can get in touch with reputed registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who are always there to help you lose/maintain weight in the right way.
Supersonic jets, countries battling against each other for the No.1 spot on the world’s fastest supercomputers and companies trying to maximize efficiency in minimal time prove time’s priceless worth. Every second counts in this fast-paced world. Technology has advanced, science has improved and mankind is coming up with new treatments and medications to speed up treatment procedures yet none can change the gestation period of a fetus inside the mother’s womb! That’s the beauty of nature.
Its great news for the family when a woman conceives and the immediate question that arises is regarding the due date. The time between conception and birth is the gestation period during which the baby grows inside the mother’s womb. Gynecologists use the term ‘gestation age’ to refer to the progress of the pregnancy period from the first day of the last menstrual cycle to the current stage of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy length is anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks. A complete 280 days is what it taken from the first day of the menstrual cycle of the conceived woman to calculated due date. This due date is called as ‘expected’ due date as this is the expected time around which delivery might happen and is not the final date beyond which one cannot wait. Only 3% of babies are born on the ‘expected’ due date and most babies are born a week ahead or after it.
The baby is classified under any of these categories soon after he/she is born:
Premature birth is a serious health complication which exists as the primary reason for death in children under the age of five globally. These babies are at an increased risk of health problems pertaining to the lungs, brain, hearing or vision compared to full-term babies. According to WHO estimates, almost 1 in 10 babies born around the world are born preterm and almost 1 million babies died in the year 2015 alone due to preterm birth. Almost 15 million infants are born preterm (3 weeks earlier than due date) every year. Even when these babies survive, most of them face a lifetime of disabilities pertaining to learning, visual problems and hearing complications. Preterm birth and a small physique that contribute towards low-birth-weight (LBW) are main causes of neonatal deaths. LBW causes around 60-80% of neonatal deaths and is extremely prevalent in developing countries.
Main causes for a premature birth include:
The best way to prevent health issues and problems of death due to preterm delivery is by ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Taking proper care before, during and between the pregnancy promises a woman of a healthy delivery. Leading a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and staying active can help a woman stay away from the risks of a preterm delivery. If you are planning for pregnancy or have just conceived get in touch with nutritionists/dietitians at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with your nutrition part and take you smoothly through your pregnancy term without any nutrient deficiencies.
More than three quarters of premature babies can be helped to lead as normal a life as possible by taking proper care during child birth. Administering antenatal steroid injections to the pregnant woman who is at an increased risk of preterm labor, helping the mother with kangaroo mother care where she carries the baby with skin-to-skin contact most times and breast feeds often and giving antibiotics to treat newborn infections can reduce the risk of infant death.
World Prematurity Day
World Prematurity Day celebrated on November 17th every year is a worldwide campaign held to raise awareness on premature births, the challenges faced by children born prematurely and their parents who face various hurdles meanwhile. The day is becoming increasingly important as more and more babies are born preterm.
Having a baby is a joyful experience but having to spend time at the neonatal care is the most unexpected of situations that traumatizes every parent who experiences it. Anger, fear, anxiety, irritation, frustration, confusion, guilt and shock are some of the common feelings experienced by all parents who have a preterm baby in the NICU. Avoiding a preterm situation is the best but if unexpected turn of events lead to a preterm birth, the physicians and family members are always there to care for you and your baby any time of the day. Families, hospitals and health professionals involved in preterm birth make World Prematurity Day a special one by organizing campaigns, events and activities to create awareness among people across the world.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.