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Bereaved Parent, International Speaker and Author of
Empty Arms:Coping with Miscarriage,Stillbirth, and Infant Death

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Studies and Articles

Promoting Healthy Pregnancies and Babies
-- Website and authors do not promote, endorse, intend to treat or diagnose in any way. These are shared with the reader as educational material.

Five Tips for a Healthier Pregnancy and Healthier Children

Natural News ( Feb 19, 2009
Pregnancy can be a very tough time both physically and emotionally, especially in view of the toxin and stress bombardment of modern society and the fact that our bodies are generally weaker today than those of our ancestors. A few recent studies have surfaced some areas for expectant mothers-to-be to take note of. These tips and suggestions will help toward having a smoother pregnancy, as well as toward healthier mothers and newborns.  (the rest can be in a link, showing only this paragraph on front page)

1. Do Not Smoke
Do we even need to mention this? The fetus gets its nutrient and oxygen supply from the mother. When a pregnant women smokes, it then logically follows that all that nicotine, tar and oxygen deprivation are also going to affect the little one.

And it is not just short-term detrimental effects we are talking about - the adverse impact can surface years later. A study commissioned by the newspaper "The Australian" and carried out by the Cancer Institute in New South Wales, for example, found that pregnant woman who smoke are elevating the risk of their children getting serious cancer later in life. Heightened risk included 70% increase for leukemia and 80% increase for brain and central nervous system cancers, among others.

"There is more and more evidence accumulating that pregnancy and smoking don't go together. But it is clear that we can do something about those complications - that is not to smoke during pregnancy," said Professor Jim Bishop, who is the chief executive of the institute.

Another recent study published in the journal Development and Psychotherapy had also reported that women who smoked during pregnancy had a higher chance of giving birth to aggressive children.

2. Consume Enough Fiber
A study which had analyzed food questionnaires filled in by about 1,500 women found that those who consumed the recommended doses of fiber - 20 to 30g per day - had 70% lower risk of getting preeclampsia, as compared to those who had less fiber. And the research team said that adding an extra 5g of fiber could further reduce the risk of the condition by 14%.

Preeclampsia is a dangerous ailment which 3% to 7% of pregnant ladies may encounter. According to maternal fetal medicine specialist, Dr Tanya Sorensen, "it consists of high blood pressure developing, and then often the baby will be affected, be growth restricted, and then the mother actually can get very ill from the disease and need early delivery".

This study was discussed on the website, although no references to where it was conducted or published were revealed.

3. Try Aquarobics
A Brazilian study which was published in the journal Reproductive Health found that doing aquarobics during pregnancy helped reduced the amount of pain-killing drugs requested by the women during labor.

The study had looked at 71 pregnant women - half of them went through three sessions of aquarobics each week during pregnancy, with each session lasting 50 minutes. "We found no statistically significant differences in the duration of labor or the type of delivery between the two groups. However, only 27 percent of women in the aquarobics group requested analgesia, compared to 65 percent in the control group. This represents a 58 percent reduction in requests," said Rosa Pereira from the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, the leader of the study.

This study cast some light on the issue of safety of exercise during pregnancy, with the main worry being exercise having adverse effects on fetal / placental demands, thereby compromising the development of the fetus or increasing the risk of abnormalities. The study team, however, concluded that the wellbeing of both mother and children were not adversely affected.

"We've shown that the regular practice of moderate water aerobics during pregnancy is not detrimental to the health of the mother or the child. In fact, the reduction in analgesia requests suggests that it can get women into better psycho-physical condition," added Pereira.

4. Maintain Healthy Levels of Weight Gain
A study conducted at the Harvard Medical School found that children borne of women who put on too much weight during pregnancy may not only be heavier babies, but bigger teenagers, too.
The study found that those whose mothers had put on more than the recommended pregnancy weight gain had a 42% higher likelihood of being obese, an increased risk which was independent of other factors, for example the mothers' weight prior to pregnancy.

The Institute of Medicine in the United States recommends that women in the normal-weight range put on about 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. The corresponding increases for women who were overweight before pregnancy was about 15 to 25 pounds, and those who were underweight before pregnancy was 28 to 40 pounds.

Read more about this study at

5. Avoid Exposure to Hairspray
A groundbreaking study which was jointly conducted by the Imperial College in London, University College Cork and the Centre for Research in Environment Epidemiology in Barcelona found that ladies who were exposed to hairspray while at work during the first trimester of their pregnancies had two to three times the likelihood of giving birth to a son with hypospadias.

The study was funded by several UK and European governmental organizations and was recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It has been suggested that this association could be down to the presence of chemicals found in hairspray called phthalates, which are mainly used as plasticizers to improve the flexibility of plastics.

Hypospadias is a condition whereby there is displacement of the urinary opening to the underside of the penis. It is one of the most common birth defects to affect the male genitals.

Read more about this study at


Smoking when pregnant increases risk of child cancer, study warns (,

Study: Fiber Lowers Health Risks During Pregnancy (

Aquarobics May Help Ease Labor (


Eating fruits and vegetables cuts risk of miscarriage, says study
Friday, December 08, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas (

The consumption of fruits and vegetables during pregnancy can reduce the chance of a miscarriage, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The study of nearly 7,000 pregnant women by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked for links between diet, lifestyle and miscarriage, and were detailed in the study led by Dr. Maureen Maconochie from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Maconochie and her colleagues studied thousands of pregnant women and concluded that those who ate fruits and vegetables often in pregnancy were 46 percent less likely to have a miscarriage compared to those who did not use fruits and veggies as often.
Products such as chocolate, vitamin tablets, dairy products, fish and white meat were also linked with a reduced risk of miscarriage. Regular chocolate eaters were 17 percent less likely to miscarry once becoming pregnant. In addition, pregnant women who were underweight faced a 70 percent higher risk of having a miscarriage.
Maconochie's team also associated stress with elevated risk of miscarriage, since those who experienced separation, divorce, illness and a stressful job were 60 percent more likely to miscarry.
Those who eat more fruit and vegetables, and take vitamins regularly increase their odds of a full-term pregnancy, according to a scientist affiliated with In fact, the more health-conscious tend to follow a healthy lifestyle which may also lead to increasing the odds of a successful pregnancy.

Most Women Unaware of Key Nutrient Needed for Babies’ Development During Pregnancy (press release)
Thursday, November 02, 2006 by: (

Most women are aware of only two of the “Big 3” nutrients considered essential during pregnancy and breastfeeding, according to a Kelton Research survey sponsored by the Society for Women’s Health Research, a Washington, D.C.- based national advocacy organization. The majority of women surveyed know the importance of including folic acid and calcium with vitamin D in their diet, but half of them do not know about the need for DHA Omega-3, a critical nutrient for the development and health of a baby’s brain, heart and eyes.
A growing body of scientific evidence continues to demonstrate that DHA Omega-3 is an important building block of perinatal nutrition. Often overlooked by mothers and health care providers alike, it is possibly the most important nutrient expectant mothers don’t know about. If taken during pregnancy, it may help lower the risks of pre-term birth and even post-partum depression. DHA Omega-3 is also important for ongoing health throughout life.
What to Expect When They’re Expecting? Apparently Not DHA
The vast majority of America’s recent moms and moms-to-be say it is common medical knowledge that folic acid and calcium with vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients for pregnant women. Seventy-nine percent were able to identify leafy vegetables as a source of folic acid and 97 percent named dairy products as sources of calcium. However, more than two-thirds of women (68 percent) say their doctor has never told them anything about DHA, and more than seven out of ten (72 percent) have absolutely no idea how to get DHA into their diet.
The Big 3 for Baby and Me
“Folic acid, calcium with vitamin D and DHA Omega-3 — together, they make up the Big 3 essential nutrients that are important before, during and after pregnancy. Fortunately, by paying attention to what they eat, women can easily obtain these nutrients through a balanced diet, fortified foods and supplements,” said Phyllis Greenberger, M.S.W., president and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research.
In addition to eating a balance of foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding, women should include the following nutrients in their diets:
• Folic acid: 400 mcg/day to make healthy cells and prevent certain birth defects. The recommendation for folic acid can be met by consuming enriched cereals and grains, by taking a multivitamin, or folic acid supplements.
• Calcium with vitamin D: 1,000 mg of calcium with 200 IU of vitamin D per day for strong bones and teeth. Calcium is readily available in dairy products and fortified foods.
• DHA Omega-3: 300 mg/day for a healthy pregnancy and ongoing health. DHA is found in cold-water oily fish, such as mackerel, herring and salmon. However, pregnant women and women considering pregnancy should not eat certain types of fish because of contaminants which have been shown to harm an unborn infant's nervous system, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An algal-based source of DHA has been added as an ingredient to some eggs, soymilk, nutrition bars and other foods, providing a safe and healthy alternative. Women should check nutrition labels and ask their grocers and health care providers what foods contain algal-based sources of DHA. Algal-based DHA is also available as a supplement.
Other Survey Findings:
• Wishful thinking: If they could choose to add DHA to a food, more than a third (39 percent) chose cereal or cereal bars, followed by milk (36 percent), orange juice (34 percent) and pasta (25 percent). A hopeful 19 percent wished that DHA could be added to chocolate.
• Eating more, but enjoying it less: Forty-two percent eat more food than usual during pregnancy, and 33 percent are unable to eat foods they normally like.
• The fish factor: Just 17 percent of women are aware that fish is a source of DHA. When informed that pregnant women are advised to minimize or avoid fish because it may contain mercury, 88 percent of respondents said they would be interested in purchasing a product that would help them get DHA without having to eat fish.
• Less educated are at a disadvantage: Awareness of DHA is higher (42 percent) among women who have college degrees, but dips to just 34 percent with those who have a high school diploma or less.
• A little knowledge goes a long way: Once advised of DHA’s benefits — including how it helps brain, heart and eye development in infants and lowers the risk of pre-term birth and the baby blues — more than nine out of ten say they would include DHA in their diet while pregnant (92 percent).
To learn more about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid before, during and after pregnancy, please visit
Source: Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)

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