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Pregnancy is a beautiful phase of every women's life; with little precaution this journey can be memorable. Hellodox wishes happy nine months with expert advice on yoga, exercise, meal plans, natural care and home care. Get the best pregnancy care tips and charts on HelloDox.
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Four Things Pregnant Women Should Avoid

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For an expecting mother, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of her unborn child.

Read on to find out the 4 things pregnant women must avoid at all costs in order to have a safe pregnancy.

Abdominal X-rays: Abdominal X-rays during pregnancy are a big no. This kind of X-ray exposes the abdomen of the mother, and the baby as a consequence, to high levels of radiation, which can cause changes in the baby's rapidly growing cells. As a result, the baby's chances of suffering from birth defects or certain cancers, such as leukaemia later on in life, increase rapidly. It is best to avoid X-rays until absolutely necessary. However, you must avoid self meditation.

Alcohol: All types of alcohol must be avoided during pregnancy. Consumption of alcohol during these 9 months has been associated with several birth defects such as poor growth, learning disabilities and mental retardation. In worst case scenarios, excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to what is known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS, which severely affects the mental development and physical growth of the unborn child, particularly of the face and skull. Also, you must quit smoking.

Caffeine: It's wise to avoid coffee, tea or even sodas that contain caffeine, as it can adversely affect the baby's heart rate. Some studies go on to suggest that the consumption of caffeine may even increase the risk of miscarriages. Not only that, the intake of caffeine by the mother can increase the chances of the baby getting diabetes. So anything that contains caffeine must be avoided at all costs.

Heavy exercising: While moderate exercising during pregnancy is very healthy for both the baby and the mother, extreme exercising can give rise to quite a few complications. Exercises, which cause the heart rate of the mother to exceed the mark of 160 bpm (beats per minute) may result in the supply of less oxygen to the baby. This can lead to foetal hypoxia, a condition in which the supply of oxygen to the brain of the baby is restricted, resulting in brain damage. Exercises that must be avoided include abdominal crunches, exercises that hurt the mother's joints or strain her back or which require her to hold her breath for too long.

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Seven Common Problems Faced By Pregnant Women!

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Pregnancy can put quite a strain on your body. As your body changes to accommodate the growing baby, you may find yourself suffering from a few common discomforts associated with the various stages of pregnancy. Most of these are nothing to worry about. Here are a few of the most common problems faced by pregnant women.

Backaches: As the body’s ligaments stretch and become softer to prepare for labour, you may feel a strain on your lower back and pelvis. This can cause a chronic backache. The growing weight of the fetus within your body can also add to this discomfort.

Morning sickness: Despite its name, morning sickness can affect you at any time of the day. Most women begin to experience nausea and an urge to vomit from the 4th or 6th week of pregnancy, but this usually resolves itself by the 16th or 20th week of pregnancy. Some women may even feel sick for the entire day.
Bleeding gums: Pregnancy hormones can make your gums more vulnerable to the build-up of plaque. This can lead to inflammation and bleeding gums. This condition may also be known as pregnancy gingivitis.

Cramps: Many pregnant women complain of cramps in their calves and feet. This usually is more common at night, but the cause behind it is not clear.

Urinary incontinence: Urinary incontinence is a problem experienced by many women during and after pregnancy. They often find themselves involuntarily urinating while coughing, laughing or sneezing. In most cases, this is a temporary problem caused by the relaxation of pelvic floor muscles (to prepare for delivery) and should resolve itself after delivery. Women may also find themselves feeling the urge to urinate frequently. This may be because of the pressure being placed on your bladder by the uterus.

Skin and hair changes: Pregnancy hormones can make birthmarks, moles and freckles darken. Your nipples may also turn darker. In addition to this, you may notice the bumps around the nipples become more prominent. Pregnant women may also find their skin more prone to sunburns. You may also notice an increased rate of hair growth.

Feeling hotter than normal: The hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy can make you feel warmer than normal because of increased blood supply to the skin. You may also find yourself sweating more than usual. In addition, you may also feel faint because of decreased blood supply to the brain.

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Storing Water - Which Type Of Vessel Is Best For It?

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One of the most important aspects of staying healthy is to keep your body hydrated by drinking enough water. When it comes to drinking water, we stress on purifying it but do you ever stop to think about how you are storing your water? The vessel in which water is stored in not only contains it but also interacts with it and influences the chemical elements in it. In the old days, water was stored in earthen matkas but today, water bottles have become more popular. These bottles are commonly made of glass or plastic both of which can be harmful in the long run. Instead, Ayurveda suggests the use of copper vessels to store water. Here are a few reasons for this.

Plastic vs Glass vs Copper

One of the chemical elements present in all plastic bottles is Bisphenol A or BPA. This chemical has been linked to a number of diseases including cancer. They also contain a number of other toxins that are gradually absorbed by the water inside the bottle. Exposure to BPA when pregnant can lead to a woman giving birth to an underweight baby. This chemical can also affect the development of the brain and behaviour. Disposable mineral water bottles should never be reused for this reason. Plastic bottles also absorb odors and tend to leak after repeated use.

The glass is an inert material and hence when used to store water, does not influence it in any way. The two things you should look for, if you choose to buy glass bottles is that they are lead and cadmium free. However, glass bottles are not cheap and have a tendency to crack or break. Once broken, these bottles cannot be reused.

Copper also influences the chemical balance in the water. However, this does not harm the body in any way, but in fact, has a number of benefits. Copper acts as a natural sterilizer and has an oligodynamic effect on water stored in it. It has the ability to destroy a number of harmful pathogens that are commonly found in water. Copper is an element needed by the body and drinking water stored in a copper vessel supplies our body’s daily copper requirement.

Copper can also help regulate cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure levels. Copper has also been associated with an ability to regulate thyroid functioning, ease joint pains, improve fertility, heal internal wounds, help in hemoglobin synthesis and in maintaining the proper acid-alkaline balance in our bodies. A copper bottle may seem a little expensive when you buy it but there is no chance of breakage. Hence, if handled properly, a copper bottle can last a lifetime.

From the given arguments it is clear that using a copper vessel is the best way to store water.

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Flu shot myths and facts

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October is the start of flu season. It’s also the time of year when people have questions about flu shots and flu prevention. To clear up some common concerns, here are some of the most common myths about flu shots, along with the facts.



Myth: You can get the flu from the flu shot.

Fact: This is simply not true. In fact, it’s impossible.

“It is not a live vaccine,” explains Alexis Valente, interim manager of occupational health, safety and wellness at Women’s College Hospital. “You cannot get the flu from the flu shot because it is an inactive virus that is in the shot.”

Even though the vaccine used in flu shot injections contains no live vaccine, this is one of the most common myths about flu shots. Some people report that they became ill after having the shot, but they had probably already been exposed to whatever made them ill.

“It’s likely because something was already in their system, but they weren’t showing symptoms yet,” Valente says. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, so people are still at risk immediately after getting a shot. That’s one of the reasons people are encouraged to get their flu shot early.



Myth: I don’t need a flu shot because I got one last year.

Fact: To be protected, you need to get a flu shot every year.

There are two reasons for this. One is that a flu shot’s protection wears off over time. The second is that the flu virus changes – or mutates – over time. The vaccine is updated from one year to the next, to try to make it as effective as possible against the current flu virus.

“There are different strains of flu virus,” Valente says. “So each year a new vaccine is formulated based on research predicting which viruses are likely to be common this season.”



Myth: The flu shot is not effective.

Fact: The flu shot does not always provide complete protection, but it is the best protection available.

There are different strains of flu virus, and the vaccine does not protect against all of them. Effectiveness can vary from year to year depending on how accurately the vaccine matches the strains that are circulating that year.

“Last year, for the 2015-16 flu season, the flu shot was 64 per cent effective,” Valente says. “That’s not as high as some other years. However, it’s better than being zero per cent effective if you don’t get a flu shot.”



Myth: I eat well and exercise, so I won’t get the flu.

Fact: Anyone can catch the flu.

That’s why the flu shot is recommended for most people over six months old. A healthy lifestyle is very important to your overall well-being and long-term health, but flu shots and good hand hygiene are the best defence against flu.

The flu virus spreads through droplets that are transported when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. People nearby can inhale these droplets and become infected. Infected people can also leave droplets on surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, or other surfaces that many people touch. Another person can become infected by touching these surfaces and then touching their own nose, mouth or eyes. That’s why it’s so important to clean your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

“Two things we really promote here at Women’s College Hospital are good hand hygiene and getting a flu shot, because in healthcare the rate of getting flu is much higher than in other workplaces,” Valente says.



Myth: The flu is no big deal.

Fact: Flu can be a serious illness.

Valente notes that complications that can arise from flu include pneumonia, hospitalization and, in rare cases, even death.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are about 1 billion cases of flu worldwide every year, and 3 million to 5 million of those cause severe illness. The flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people worldwide every year. The most vulnerable groups include people over age 65 or under age 5, pregnant women, and people with other health conditions.

Even in cases that don’t become severe or life-threatening, the flu is very unpleasant and usually lasts 10 days to two weeks.

Another thing to consider is the possibility of passing the flu virus to someone more vulnerable.

“You can pass it on to a family member, a colleague or a member of the public,” Valente says.



Myth: Pregnant women should not get a flu shot.

Fact: Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) notes that pregnant women are at increased risk for complications from flu, and recommends flu shots for all pregnant women.

Flu shots by injection are safe in pregnancy. In fact, NACI notes that vaccinating pregnant women protects against flu in their newborns (who cannot be vaccinated against flu until age six months).

“It’s recommended for pregnant women regardless of the stage of pregnancy,” Valente says. “And also for those who are breastfeeding, and those who are planning a pregnancy.”

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Research finds antidepressant use in pregnancy not linked to autism in children

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Women who need treatment for depression or anxiety while pregnant may find reassurance in a new study. The new research found no increased risk of autism associated with using antidepressant medication during pregnancy.

The study’s key findings include:

Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in pregnancy was not independently associated with greater risk of autism in children.
In women who had taken SSRI antidepressants during one pregnancy and not in another, there was no difference in autism risk between the siblings.
There was no difference in autism risk between children whose mothers took SSRI antidepressants in pregnancy, and children whose mothers stopped taking antidepressants shortly before pregnancy.
The study was published in JAMA on April 18, 2017, and included 35,906 births in Ontario from 2002 to 2010. The results may help women make decisions about treatment for depression or anxiety while pregnant.

“There is a great deal of pressure on women not to take medications during pregnancy,” says study author Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist at Women’s College Hospital. She notes that while it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of any medication, it’s also important to consider the effects of not treating a condition.

“I think people fail to consider that untreated mental illness in pregnancy can have serious impact,” she says.

Some of the risks of untreated depression or anxiety in pregnancy include:

Effects on the baby either directly through the illness itself, or through symptoms like poor sleep or poor nutrition that can affect the fetus.
The longer mental illness is untreated, the harder it can be to treat, and the higher the risk of chronic mental illness.
It may have a negative impact on the woman’s relationships with her partner and her other children.
The biggest risk factor for postpartum mental illness is untreated mental illness during pregnancy.
The study counters earlier research that suggested a possible link between antidepressant use in pregnancy and autism risk in children. Dr. Vigod says the new research used a more detailed approach to ensure an accurate comparison.

“The problem with those earlier studies is that for women who take antidepressant medications during pregnancy, there’s some reason why they’re taking the medication: they suffer from depression or anxiety,” she says.

That alone means there may be differences between these women and those not taking antidepressants, so a simple comparison of autism rates may be very misleading.

“It’s possible that depression or anxiety could have a direct impact on fetal brain development through physiological mechanisms,” Dr. Vigod explains. “It has been shown that depression and autism have a shared genetic predisposition. So if a woman has depression or anxiety, even if she’s not symptomatic in pregnancy, her child might have a higher risk of developing autism just by shared genetics.”

The symptoms of anxiety and depression may also have an effect on pregnancy.

“For example, if a woman has depression or anxiety she may also be more likely to not have as good nutrition, she might not be sleeping as well, she might be more likely to use alcohol or drugs, or she might have other medical conditions.”

All of those issues make it hard to isolate the possible effects of antidepressant medications from the potential effects of mental illness.

“We set out to try to balance out the groups to better understand whether this was a causal relationship or not,” Dr. Vigod says.

More accurate comparisons

To do that, she and her research colleagues used a special method called high dimensional propensity score (HDPS) analysis. This method looks for thousands of different types of health claims, from diagnoses and prescriptions to hospital stays and emergency department visits. The HDPS score of the women who took antidepressants in pregnancy was then matched to a more balanced group of women with a similar score, but who did not take antidepressants in pregnancy.

“When we did that in our main analysis, suddenly there was no longer an association between antidepressant exposure and autism,” Dr. Vigod says.

The researchers then looked at some of the results more closely.

First, they identified women who had at least two children, and who had taken antidepressants in at least one pregnancy and not in another. They compared autism risk in the siblings, and found no difference between the children exposed to antidepressants and those who weren’t.

Then, they compared the children of women who took antidepressants in pregnancy to the children of women who stopped taking antidepressants shortly before pregnancy.

“Again, in that analysis those children were not significantly different in their autism risk,” Dr. Vigod says.

These additional comparisons support the main study result: the findings showed no evidence that antidepressants in pregnancy are independently related to autism risk in children.

“What that suggests is that while kids whose moms took antidepressants may be at higher risk of autism, it’s probably not because of the antidepressants,” Dr. Vigod says.

“While we can never say that any medication exposure has zero risk, in general these medications are relatively low risk, so if women require them for their psychiatric stability, they can feel reassured that they are not unduly putting their children at risk.”

The study results may also be reassuring to mothers of children with autism who may have used antidepressants during pregnancy.

“These results may also be reassuring for those parents, to say that your child having autism isn’t a result of a decision you made,” Dr. Vigod says. “I think that can be very helpful, too.”

Dr. C  L Garg
Dr. C L Garg
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Dr. Vijay Badgujat
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Dr. Aakash Bora
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Dr. Dharmendra Singh
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Dr. Anushree Bhonde
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