10 Dollar Store Things That Are Worth The Money

Dollar stores are incredibly popular these days. While many things are not worth buying, some things are worth the money. The best part is that shopping at a dollar store will not wreck your budget. Here are ten things you will not regret buying at dollar stores:

1. Cleaning products
Despite the renowned belief that brand products are the best ones, when it comes to cleaning products, the brand does not matter at all. Sponges, dishrags, brushes, dishwashing liquid, glass spray, and toilet bowl cleaner are all great at dollar stores. Cheap cleaning products work just as well as the expensive ones.

2. Dishes
If you feel depressed every time dishes break, it is because you spend too much money on them. Dishes at dollar stores are budget-friendly so you can buy many of them and do not worry about breaking them.

3. Hair accessories
It is okay to spend a few bucks on high-quality hair ties that you are going to use once in a while. However, if you have kids or you love experimenting with different hairstyles, head to the nearest dollar store and find cheap yet good quality hair accessories you need.

4. Clothing
Okay, you will not find a wonderful dress or super stylish jeans at dollar stores. But socks, sweatpants, and T-shirts are incredible and ridiculously cheap there. Can you imagine shopping with five dollars in the pocket?

5. Picture frames
Want to frame your old pictures but have no money for those cute frames that cost tons of money? It is time to go dollar store shopping. There is a great variety of beautiful picture frames at dollar stores. They are all awesome!

6. Party supplies
Are you a party junkie? The next time you throw another party, consider getting your party supplies at dollar stores. Stock up on balloons, wrapping paper, bows, greeting cards, decorating items, dishes, and tableware. You will save more than you may expect.

7. Office supplies
From paper clips, pushpins and pencils to pens, calendars and notebooks, you can find many cheap office supplies that are of good quality. Just make sure you choose wisely.

8. Pregnancy tests
Surprised? Many women claim that dollar store pregnancy tests are astonishingly accurate. You can get one for less than $15. Give it a try and let us know if it is really accurate.

9. Wire or plastic hangers
Just moved to a new place? You probably need a lot of hangers. No worries. You can buy a pack of 10 or 20 wire or plastic hangers for a dollar or two. Isn’t it cheap? Exactly.

10. Books
I love books, but oftentimes they cost a lot of money, so dollar stores are my safe bet. I usually visit several dollar stores when I need to find some interesting yet cheap books. If you are looking to bestsellers, though, dollar stores might not be for you.

Find out what things you can buy at dollar stores to save money on monthly expenses. You never know what you may discover. Share your dollar store experiences with us.

Mother’s Psychiatric Diagnosis No Threat To Baby’s Health

Depression, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder represent no threat to the health of pregnant women or their babies, although there may be slight risks associated with medications used to treat those conditions, according to new Yale study appearing Sept. 13 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

“I think a major take-home message is that women are not harming their babies if they have one of these psychiatric conditions,” said lead author Kimberly Yonkers, professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, as well as director of the Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers.

The Yale team followed 2,654 women at 137 clinical practices in Connecticut and Massachusetts to assess the impact of psychiatric disorders on pregnancy outcomes.

They did not find that maternal or neonatal outcomes were worse in the women who had panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder compared to women without these conditions. They found that maternal use of benzodiazepine, commonly prescribed for panic and general anxiety disorder, led to slightly lower birthweight, and their babies needed additional ventilator support in 61 of 1,000 cases. Use of a common class of antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors also shortened gestation by 1.8 days. Antidepressants were linked to hypertensive diseases in 53 out of 1000 pregnancies and led to more cases of minor respiratory interventions after birth.

“Many women require treatment with these medications during pregnancy, and these findings do not suggest they should discontinue treatment,” Yonkers said. “Instead, women should work together with their doctors to find the lowest possible dosages and adhere to good health habits like healthy diet and exercise and avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol.”

Heather S. Lipkind of Yale was senior author of the study, which was funded by National Institutes of Health. Yale’s Kathryn Gilstad-Hayden and Ariadna Forray are co-authors of the study.

5 Important Things to Know about Life during Pregnancy

Deciding whether to go through with a pregnancy and to give birth to a little miracle is one of the toughest choices any woman can and probably will make. The outcome of the decision is one that will change a life forever. These helpful steps will help you weigh the pros and cons of doing the right thing before and after giving birth to a baby, ranging from finances and emotional readiness to nutrition and making sure that the future father is ready for the arrival.

Life During Pregnancy: What to Expect Before and After Birth
1. Successful conception
First of all, congratulations for conceiving successfully! If you and your partner were thinking about starting a family, then you are obviously sure of your decision and are aware of what it takes to raise a child. But if you didn’t plan this, you have a lot of thinking to do, and a few tips are waiting right here!

2. The cost of raising a child
The costs of raising a child are what most couples call “mouth-opening”. According to a few statistics, it takes approximately $218,000 to raise a child until the age of 18, which will give you a good idea about what kind of funds you will need to provide to make sure your child lives a healthy and happy life. You and your partner will need to figure out lots of schedules, and it is recommended to create a budget to control spending and to make sure that most of it goes into prenatal care and then, of course, the care of your child.

3. Emotional exhaustion
Then comes the emotional exhaustion. Looking at your cute little bundle of joy sleeping in your arms is an unrivaled feeling, but so is having to deal with all the loud noises, the created messes, and the necessary cleaning, every day for at least the next few years or so. All of this will create a great feeling of exhaustion and will make the day seem 10 hours longer, but this is where your partner should come in and help you out in a time of need. You may feel like screaming and crying all day because of depression or because of the loss of freedom, but remember that the baby is the most important person right now, and you will be rewarded for your troubles.

4. Healthy eating
Supplying healthy and nutritious meals is a very important part of having a healthy pregnancy, and later, a healthy baby. The best prenatal vitamins include Vitamin A, which helps in bone and tooth growth and can be found in milk, eggs, and plenty of vegetables, Vitamin E, which helps form muscles and red blood cells and can be found in vegetable oil, spinach, and in certain cereals, Vitamin C, which can help build a healthy immune system and can be found in strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Your daily eating plan should also include Iron, which can help prevent low birth weight and premature delivery and can be found in beef, pork, and dried fruits, Protein, which helps in the reparation of cells and can be found in most animal foods, and Zinc, which helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood and can be found in red meats, whole grains, and dairy products. All of these will provide a healthy diet, and are highly recommended for the mother and the baby during as well as after pregnancy.

5. Communication
Speaking to your partner about the baby can be a tense conversation, because he may not have the same idea in mind as you. He might be looking forward to a baby-free life, or in general, may not want to be responsible for the baby. Or, he might be very excited and want to help you in every way. There are plenty of different emotions that can come out of a future father, and whether they are good or bad, they need to be talked about, and some agreements need to be made. This step is very important, as you will not be able to handle a pregnancy alone, and will need all the support you can get.

There are plenty of aspects of pregnancy-related problems to be stressed about, and there are a lot of things to be excited about as well. Being able to become a mother is a gift that needs to be cherished, and only the best has to be given in order to raise a happy and successful child. Are you ready, future moms and dads? A journey awaits, and you will never forget it!

Mom shares photos three weeks after giving birth to show ‘realistic’ post-pregnancy body

Mom shares photos of her stomach three weeks after giving birth.  (iStock)

When you’ve just given birth, weight loss should be the farthest thing from your mind. After all, you just brought a tiny human being into this world (one that’s pretty demanding). Still, society puts a lot of pressure on women to “bounce back” immediately—and one mom isn’t having it.

Kristen Sullivan recently shared before and after photos of herself on Instagram. In the “before” she’s heavily pregnant; in the after, she’s three weeks postpartum and still has a little belly. “I’m sharing this to show moms that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re thin, ate right, and exercised during pregnancy, sometimes your body grows in such a way that simply doesn’t allow you to ‘bounce back,’” she wrote in the caption.

Kristen says she’s seen a bunch of photos from new moms who look amazing just a few days after giving birth, but that’s not realistic for many people. “While I won’t be totally sure till 6 weeks, I have a strong feeling that I’ve got #diastasisrecti (separation of the abs), in which case I’m determined to get the PT I need to heal,” she continued. “I’ve also been wearing a postpartum corset for extra support.”

But, she adds, she’s also “giving [her] body a chance to breathe.” “There is no race to bounce back moms,” she concluded. We’ll get there!!”

Kristen’s post has been liked more than 3,000 times, and people thanked her in the comments for her honesty. “Thank you for sharing!! I have had the most unkind thoughts about my pregnant body. Its been extremely challenging as I’ve gained the baby weight,” one wrote. “Currently my situation! Been really hard on myself, as others have remarked my stomach didn’t bounce back right away after my first. I have decided to take my time and recover at my own pace,” another said.

Kristen is right: Every woman and every pregnancy is different. There are plenty of factors that can influence how quickly your body returns to normal, including how much you worked out before you gave birth, any complications you may have had during the pregnancy, how quickly you start moving again after giving birth, stress levels, and what you eat, says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. But again, a lot of getting back to what’s normal for you happens with time.

The postpartum period can be tough for many reasons—so take Kristen’s advice and stop stressing about “bouncing back.”

Supplements for Pregnancy & Nursing: What I Take

I often get comments and questions asking about the supplements for pregnancy and while nursing that I take. I talk about the prenatal care options I choose in this post, but wanted to write about the specific pregnancy supplements I take.

Important Note

These are the supplements I chose to take after consulting with my doctor, thyroid specialist and midwife. I share these for informational purposes only and not in any way as a suggestion of medical advice. This post is strictly informational and should only serve as a starting point for a conversation between you and your medical provider about the best supplements for pregnancy in your specific case.

Why Supplements for Pregnancy?

Pregnancy and nursing are times of a woman’s life when it is important to be vigilant about getting enough nutrients to nourish her little one and supplements can be helpful. There are also some supplements that are important to avoid during pregnancy and nursing and any pregnant woman should work directly with her care provider to make sure she is taking the correct supplements for her body and pregnancy.

As someone who has quite a bit of experience being pregnant and nursing over the last decade, I’ve seen first hand how supplements can make a pregnancy (and delivery) easier!

Each woman’s dietary and nutrient needs will vary, but as a general rule, a nutrient-dense diet is the most important factor in her ability to get enough vitamins and minerals during pregnancy and supplements can’t take the place of a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits.

When I am pregnant, I focus on consuming the following:

Lots of high quality protein from high quality sources like grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild, caught, sustainable seafood (smaller fish preferable). Organ meats from grass fed sources are also wonderful for pregnancy and nursing and can help reduce the chance of anemia.
Large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones! Green veggies have folate, which is important for fetal growth, and are also high in many other nutrients. They help prevent the constipation that can sometimes occur during pregnancy, and are great for making sure nursing moms are getting enough vitamins. During pregnancy, I live by the motto of “When in doubt, eat more veggies.”
Healthy Fats galore! Pregnancy and nursing are not times to skimp on healthy fats. Quality fats are absolutely vital for baby’s brain development, organ and tissue growth, and good milk production for mom. Sources like healthy meats, coconut oil and coconut products, olive oil, avocados, and nuts are especially good during pregnancy.
Other high nutrient foods like homemade bone broth, soups, fermented vegetables like homemade sauerkraut, fruit (especially berries) and green smoothies are also great for pregnancy and nursing.
Supplements for Pregnancy

Even with the most solid diet, it can be difficult to consume enough of the necessary nutrients for pregnancy, especially with our modern food supply. For this reason, I take certain specially selected supplements while I am pregnant or nursing:

Folate

The supplement folic acid is commonly recommended, but there is substantial difference between folic acid (the synthetic form) and folate (the natural form). This article explains the difference in detail. The dosage is also slightly different, and some sources recommend as much as 1200 mcg of folate per day for maximum benefit. This amount should include the amount in multivitamins and any additional folate supplement (be sure to check multivitamins, as many contain the synthetic form!). Folate is one supplement that has been extensively studied for use in pregnancy and is extremely effective at preventing neural tube defects. It is also very inexpensive and easy for every pregnant woman to take.

NOTE: People who have a MTHFR defect will need to consult with a specialized practitioner and will probably need to take L-5-MTHF which is the methylated form of folate. I explain more in this post.

Prenatal Multivitamin

There is some debate on if a full multivitamin prenatal is necessary during pregnancy or not. While I don’t routinely take a multivitamin, pregnancy and nursing is one time that I do. A deficiency in a vitamin or mineral won’t make a tremendous, immediate impact on an adult in most cases, but during the intensive developmental phases of pregnancy, a nutrient deficiency can have lasting consequences for baby.

A high quality prenatal is an “insurance policy” or sorts to guard against deficiencies but should accompany a high nutrient diet! Many prenatals contain iron, though this isn’t necessary if you are consuming red meat from healthy sources and organ meats. Just make sure it doesn’t contain folic acid (but folate or methyl folate). This is the brand I use.

Probiotics

Probiotics are critical, especially during pregnancy. During the birth process, babies culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what the receive from mom when passing through the birth canal and from nursing in the months afterward. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t happen in the same way with cesarean deliveries, but research is finding ways to help facilitate this process.

Quality probiotics (I take these) help ensure that baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria during a normal vaginal delivery, which can reduce risk of ear infection and illness in the first few years. Good gut health also has a tremendous impact on lifelong health, and this is one of the most important things you can do for your baby’s health. Probiotics also help mom avoid illness and constipation during pregnancy, and might reduce the risk of Group B strep. Since baby’s gut bacteria continues to culture during the nursing time, it is good for mom to continue to take probiotics during this time as well.

Vitamin D3

There is a lot of emerging research that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for baby’s bone and hormone development and helps support mom’s immune system during pregnancy. Some research suggests that nursing babies may be able to obtain Vitamin D from the mother’s milk if mom is getting more than 5,000IU/day. I take 5,000 IU/day while pregnant or nursing, unless I’m able to get 30 minutes or more of midday sun.

When supplementing, I only take Vitamin D3 with K2 and I occasionally test blood levels of vitamin D to make sure my levels don’t get too high.

Magnesium

I take magnesium all the time, but find it especially helpful in pregnancy. Severe magnesium deficiency can lead to poor fetal growth, preeclampsia, or even fetal death. Proper magnesium levels also help mom’s tissue growth and recovery during pregnancy and may help baby receive more nutrition through the placenta. It is very difficult to get enough magnesium from food sources anymore, so I typically use magnesium oil on the skin, or an ionic supplement. As a general rule, I don’t exceed 500 mg from all sources unless advised by my doctor.

Coconut Oil

During pregnancy and nursing, I take several tablespoons of coconut oil and other healthy fats in smoothies or tea daily as a supplement in addition to cooking with it. It is naturally immune boosting, supportive of baby’s brain development, and contains many of the components of breast milk to support nursing as well.

Third Trimester Pregnancy Tea

In the third trimester, I add in Red Raspberry Leaf Pregnancy Tea (here’s the recipe). There is some limited research that Red Raspberry Leaf may increase the strength of contractions without increasing the pain and that it may shorten labor. While scientific studies are limited, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from women who swear that RRL helped shorten their labors or make it easier.

I personally mix RRL with with herbs and drink as a tea in third trimester because it is refreshing and an easy way to sneak in some extra nutrients since I’m already trying to consume more fluids.

Things I Avoid

Just as deficiency of some things can be dangerous during pregnancy, consumption or contact with other things can be harmful to a developing baby. In general, these are things I avoid during pregnancy (and all the time- not a complete list… do your own research):

Artificial sweeteners
MSG or chemical additives
Diet Sodas or foods
Vegetable Oils and trans fats
Any herbs, drugs, or medicines without approval from your midwife or doctor (or your own research)
BPA and plastic containers
Aluminum in antiperspirants (make your own)
High fructose corn syrup
Sugars or sweeteners
Artificial dyes or colors in food
Chemicals in laundry detergent, personal care products and household cleaners
Did you take supplements during pregnancy? Are you pregnant now? Share below!

9 early signs of pregnancy that are easy to miss

If you’re trying to get pregnant, it can seem like eternity until you get a positive pregnancy test. To make it even more of a challenge, many of  the early signs of pregnancy can be mistaken for your menstrual period, a stomach bug or even stress.

1. Increased vaginal discharge
If you notice an increase in vaginal discharge, you might think you have a vaginal yeast infection or, if your cycles are irregular, you might think you’re ovulating.

But leucorrhea, a clear, odorless vaginal discharge that doesn’t cause itching, is an early sign of pregnancy. Leucorrhea is a result of the increased blood supply to the vaginal and genital regions which increases vaginal fluid, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a board-certified OB-GYN in Mt. Kisco, New York, and author of “The Complete A to Z for Your V,” told Fox News.

STI SIGNS: HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE NORMAL DOWN THERE

2. Spotting and cramping
It’s easy to mistake spotting and cramping for the start of your period, but it can also mean you’re pregnant. “Often times when the embryo implants in the uterus, [women] can have some spotting or light bleeding that oftentimes [they] will mistake as a period,” Dr. Kelly Kasper, a board-certified OB/GYN at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, told Fox News.

Although this implantation bleed is nothing to worry about, it’s always a good idea to put a call into your doctor if you have any of these symptoms to rule out miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the embryo implants itself in the fallopian tube or in the abdomen. This condition affects between 1 and 2 percent of pregnancies, according to a 2014 article in the journal American Family Physician.

3. Fatigue
It’s easy to blame feeling run down on clocking long hours in the office, a hard workout, lack of sleep or stress. Yet for some women fatigue, especially if it’s overwhelming, is the first sign that they’re pregnant.

4. Strong — or brittle — nails
Many women notice that their nails are stronger than ever, and although this is due in part to pregnancy hormones, taking prenatal vitamins before conceiving has a lot to do with it too.

HOW TO GET PREGNANT IF YOU AREN’T GETTING YOUR PERIOD

5. Increased sense of smell
If you live for your cup of joe in the morning but all of a sudden the aroma makes you sick, you might want to take a pregnancy test. “Sense of smell can become extraordinarily keen, and in fact, certain smells that people might have enjoyed in the past, they may find to be totally nauseating,” Dweck said.

6. Bloating and constipation
It’s easy to blame bloating, gas or any change in bowel habits on a change in diet, a vacation or PMS. In the early weeks of pregnancy when progesterone starts to rise, however, everything can slow down. If you’re craving carb-heavy fare and can’t stomach vegetables, it can also affect your GI tract.

7. Frequent urination
An increase in both blood volume and the filtration rate of the kidneys will make it so that you need to urinate more frequently.

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8. Mood swings
Chalk it up to not sleeping well, PMS or stress, but irritability can mean you’re in the early weeks of pregnancy.

9. Breast soreness
If your breasts feel tender or your nipples are sore, it’s easy to think it’s your period but often the difference is the severity. “Even your shirt touching your nipples could be noticeable,” Dweck said.

Male birth control shots prevent pregnancy

Men can take birth control shots to prevent pregnancy in their female partners, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researchers are still working to perfect the combination of hormonal contraceptives to reduce the risk of mild to moderate side effects, including depression and other mood disorders.

While women can choose from a number of birth control methods, men have few options to control their own fertility. Available methods for men include condoms, vasectomies and withdrawal.

Better birth control options are needed for men. In 2012, 40 percent of all pregnancies worldwide were unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“The study found it is possible to have a hormonal contraceptive for men that reduces the risk of unplanned pregnancies in the partners of men who use it,” said one of the study’s authors, Mario Philip Reyes Festin, MD, of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. “Our findings confirmed the efficacy of this contraceptive method previously seen in small studies.”

The prospective Phase II single arm, multi-center study tested the safety and effectiveness of injectable contraceptives in 320 healthy men ages 18 to 45. The participants had all been in monogamous relationships with female partners between the ages of 18 and 38 for at least a year. The men underwent testing to ensure they had a normal sperm count at the start of the study.

The men received injections of 200 milligrams of a long-acting progestogen called norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) and 1,000 milligrams of a long-acting androgen called testosterone undecanoate (TU) for up to 26 weeks to suppress their sperm counts. Healthcare professionals gave the men two injections every eight weeks. Participants initially provided semen samples after eight and 12 weeks in the suppression phase and then every 2 weeks until they met the criteria for the next phase. During this time, the couples were instructed to use other non-hormonal birth control methods.

Once a participant’s sperm count was lowered to less than 1 million/ml in two consecutive tests, the couple was asked to rely on the injections for birth control. During this period known as the efficacy phase of the study, the men continued to receive injections every eight weeks for up to 56 weeks. Participants provided semen samples every eight weeks to ensure their sperm counts stayed low. Once the participants stopped receiving the injections, they were monitored to see how quickly their sperm counts recovered.

The hormones were effective in reducing the sperm count to 1 million/ml or less within 24 weeks in 274 of the participants. The contraceptive method was effective in nearly 96 percent of continuing users. Only four pregnancies occurred among the men’s partners during the efficacy phase of the study.

Researchers stopped enrolling new participants in the study in 2011 due to the rate of adverse events, particularly depression and other mood disorders, reported by the participants. The men reported side effects including injection site pain, muscle pain, increased libido and acne. Twenty men dropped out of the study due to side effects.

Despite the adverse effects, more than 75 percent of participants reported being willing to use this method of contraception at the conclusion of the trial.

Of the 1,491 reported adverse events, nearly 39 percent were found to be unrelated to the contraceptive injections. These included one death by suicide which was assessed not to be related to the use of the drug. Serious adverse events that were assessed as probably or possibly related to the study included one case of depression, one intentional overdose of acetaminophen, and a man who experienced an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat after he stopped receiving the injections.

“More research is needed to advance this concept to the point that it can be made widely available to men as a method of contraception,” Festin said. “Although the injections were effective in reducing the rate of pregnancy, the combination of hormones needs to be studied more to consider a good balance between efficacy and safety.”

The study, “Efficacy and Safety of an Injectable Combination Hormonal Contraceptive for Men,” will be published online, ahead of print.

Other authors of the study include: Hermann M. Behre of Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany; Michael Zitzmann of the University of Münster in Münster, Germany; Richard A. Anderson of The University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, United Kingdom; David J. Handelsman of the University of Sydney and Concord Hospital in Sydney, Australia; Silvia W. Lestari of the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia; Robert I. McLachlan of Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, Australia; M. Cristina Meriggiola of the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy; Man Mohan Misro of the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare in New Dehli, India; Gabriela Noe of the Instituto Chileno de Medicina Reproductiva in Santiago, Chile; Frederick C. W. Wu of Manchester Royal Infirmary in Manchester, U.K.; Ndema A. Habib and Kirsten M. Vogelsong of the World Health Organization of Geneva, Switzerland; and Marianne M. Callahan, Kim A. Linton and Doug S. Colvard of CONRAD, East Virginia Medical School, a reproductive health organization based in Arlington, VA.

The research was co-sponsored and funded by UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Program of Research, Development, and Research Training in Human Reproduction in Geneva, Switzerland, and CONRAD (using funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development). The injectable hormones were provided by Schering AG, which has since merged with Bayer Pharma AG.

How Thyroid Disease Affects Pregnancy and Fertility

There aren’t many things I can say I’m an expert at in this world. In fact, the short list would include accidentally killing house plants, procrastinating until I have 8 loads of laundry to fold, and cooking dinner one handed while holding a baby.

But there are a couple other things I’m pretty close to expert status at after years of navigating them: pregnancy and thyroid disease. With about 5 combined years of pregnancy and almost that many since my thyroid diagnosis, I’ve learned the hard way how to navigate them both… especially together.

Thyroid Disease + Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be such a wonderful and joyful time, even though it has its struggles.

But there’s another side of pregnancy that can be heartbreaking and devastating…and that is infertility and loss. I recently shared a post about thyroid disease and the autoimmune condition often responsible for causing hypothyroidism, called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Not only can it cause debilitating fatigue, anxiety, hair loss, inability to lose weight and so much more — it can also cause infertility and problematic pregnancies.

This is something that the conventional medical community acknowledges, but there don’t seem to be many good resources for pregnant women with thyroid disease. During pregnancy and postpartum, our hormones go through the ringer. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but because of the overwhelming amounts of hormonal changes, it can trigger an adverse thyroid reaction.

An undiagnosed or not properly managed thyroid problem can also lead to various complications with pregnancy and birth. In fact, untreated thyroid disease increases the chances of premature birth, preeclampsia, miscarriage, low birth weight, anemia and even stillbirth.

Thyroid Problems: What To Look For

It took me years to get properly diagnosed, and I’m incredibly grateful that my children are healthy and my pregnancies were just fine. But, I also wish I’d known the signs and what to ask the doctors to test.

Thyroid disease isn’t something to mess around with, especially before and during pregnancy. Anyone who even suspects thyroid disease should get tested, preferably before pregnancy or as soon as possible. Ask to see the results and make sure the doctor is using the most up to date references. Depending on the doctor’s school of thought, they may be using outdated reference ranges.

5 Lab Tests to Request

Dr. Izabella Wentz, creator of The Thyroid Secret documentary series, recommends these five tests to help pinpoint a potential thyroid problem:

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)— This is the pituitary hormone that measures the level of thyroid hormone in the blood.
Free T3/Free T4— Will measure the level of active hormones in your blood.
Reverse T3— This will help determine whether you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. It tends to be low in hypothyroid cases and high in hyperthyroid cases.
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies/Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TPO/TG Antibodies)— Measures the antibodies and is a great test to spot the condition forming years before it manifests through the TSH test.
Thyroid Ultrasound— Especially recommended if your doctor suspects abnormal growth or if you have a known thyroid condition.
If any of these labs come back out of the normal range, work with your doctor to establish some best practices to get them back within normal range. Sometimes this might look like medication, and other times, it calls for lifestyle interventions like diet, supplementation, removing toxins from your life, etc.

The Gene Factor

There is a gene mutation known as the MTHFR mutation that can also have a really big impact on pregnancy. A lot of doctor’s are not familiar with the new research on this gene and don’t recognize this mutation as a risk… but it is!

Countless women have this gene mutation and here’s why it’s worth testing. There are now even at-home tests like 23-and-me that test for this mutation.

Folate vs. Folic Acid

One key part of the MTHFR gene mutation is the inability to methylate folate correctly (especially in the synthetic form of folic acid). So as the folic acid comes into the body, it doesn’t get processed and absorbed. Pregnant women need 400 mcg of folic acid per day because it helps prevent birth defects and is essential for baby’s growth. However, if you’re a woman who has this gene mutation, you’re not going to be able to absorb folic acid properly and need to be taking the real version of folic acid called folate.

It’s a real tragedy that babies aren’t getting the right nutrients and suffering the consequences simply because doctors are missing the signs that say these moms need to be on a different form (the real form!) of folic acid. Personally, even before finding out that I had an MTHFR mutation, I chose a prenatal with a natural form of folate… just in case.

Those with this mutation should consider removing folic acid from your diet completely. It is the synthetic version of folate and tends to hide in processed foods and enriched flours. It is better to opt for healthier alternatives like veggies rich in folate and low-glycemic fruits such as blackberries. Going gluten-free is another great way to avoid folic acid. I have great options in my Wellness Mama Cookbook that you and your family might enjoy.

Thyroid Flares During Pregnancy

The most common form of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is Graves’ disease. In fact, 1 in 1500 women will be affected during their pregnancy. This occurs when there are really high HCg levels in the body.

According to the American Thyroid Association, the most common type of hypothyroidism is caused by the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s. The ATA states that, “Approximately, 2.5% of women will have a slightly elevated TSH of greater than 6 and 0.4% will have a TSH greater than 10 during pregnancy.”

Both of these conditions can have adverse impacts on both mom and baby, so it’s important to address them. Taking ownership of your health during pregnancy is essential for both of you. If you’re currently struggling with infertility or have suffered from miscarriage(s), take hope that there are proven steps you can begin taking to better your health and improve your chances of conceiving.

Addressing Thyroid Triggers

One big step toward thyroid health is simply addressing triggers that could be causing the thyroid to get out of line.

Leaky Gut

Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability occurs when the body is unable to process food and nutrients the right way. In essence, the gut becomes leaky, and food and other bacteria slip through the cracks triggering digestion and absorption issues. If you’re a science lover like me, you may find this article really helpful for explaining the technicality of intestinal permeability.

Nutrient Deficiencies

This is a big one. Depending on diet, it is easy to be really low in some essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin D. Gut problems can also decrease the body’s ability to process these nutrients effectively. If there’s a problem in the gut, then no matter how much we consume of these supplements or eat nutrient-rich foods, the body won’t be able to snag all the goodness from them. This is especially important to address during pregnancy since there is an increased nutrient demand.

Adrenal Dysfunction

Symptoms like low blood pressure, decreased sex drive, mild depression, and feeling overwhelmed or indecisive, can all stem from adrenal dysfunction. Stress is a huge component to overall wellbeing. The ability or inability to handle stress can directly affect health. Our bodies release cortisol based on our reactions to circumstances and our environment. Our bodies can release too much or too little based on what it thinks it needs. When cortisol dries up, we enter a state of adrenal fatigue. (Source)

Food Sensitivities

Ever feel swollen or bloated after eating? Or get an upset stomach or experience a breakout…all of these symptoms can indicate that your body is sensitive to whatever you just ate. Food sensitivities like gluten, dairy and soy are quite common so try removing them from your diet and get ready for a huge improvement in the way you feel. Gluten can even cause leaky gut so for those trying to heal intestinal permeability, eliminating gluten is a must.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

This one goes hand in hand with supporting the adrenals. When we balance blood sugar, it can decrease anxiety and thyroid antibodies. Dr. Wentz recommends reducing refined carbohydrates and ramping up the good fats and proteins. Proteins and good fats tend to keep you satisfied longer and provide more energy for you to absorb.

Toxicity

A toxic buildup is also common in people struggling with thyroid disease. There are some things like the air we breathe that we can’t control. However, we can take some great strides towards detoxifying our homes. Perhaps it’s time to clean out the old products filled harmful ingredients and switch over to a more natural way of doing things. Check out my “Natural Home” and “Beauty” categories above for natural recipes to replace most household and beauty products.

Infections

Underlying infections and bacterial overgrowth like Candida are important to address, especially for those who are having trouble conceiving. There are many natural products that can help eradicate gut infections, but I recommend following a well-researched program and working with a trained practitioner. This is especially important for those who are currently pregnant!

Iodine During Pregnancy?

In the functional world of medicine, whether or not you should take iodine is a hot topic. Some people say you need it for proper thyroid function, while others staunchly oppose it. Depending on where you live in the world, you may not need additional supplementation.

During the first 10-12 weeks of gestation, the baby is completely dependent on mama for thyroid hormone. After that, the little one needs iodine in order to produce its own hormone. The World Health Organization recommends 250 µg/d of daily iodine intake, however, in the US, our diets usually provide enough iodine so check with your doctor to see if you need additional supplementation.

Find a Doctor Who Understands the Thyroid

This probably goes without saying, but finding a doctor who understands thyroid disease and how it affects pregnancy is vital for the conceiving process (for those with infertility) and throughout pregnancy. Look for someone who is knowledgeable about the thyroid and open to lifestyle interventions alongside necessary medications if they’re needed.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in all these years of managing pregnancy and thyroid disease together, it is this:

You are your own advocate, and you are your baby’s advocate. If you suspect something is wrong, be the voice for yourself and your child. Ask questions, do research, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

More Thyroid Help (For Pregnancy & Conception)

Wading through all the information about the thyroid and pregnancy can feel a little overwhelming. You’re not alone, and I want to share one resource I wish I’d had years ago. This new documentary series called The Thyroid Secret, has information from dozens of the top thyroid experts. It was created by my friend and Hashimoto’s overcomer, Dr. Izabella Wentz. There’s an entire episode dedicated to fertility and the thyroid so whether you’re trying to conceive, currently pregnant or struggling with postpartum thyroiditis; this series will be very helpful.

Dr. Wentz has invited Wellness Mama readers to join her for a free screening beginning March 1st. Reserve a spot here.

Do you or someone you know suffer from infertility or high-risk pregnancies? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Unhealthy diet during pregnancy could be linked to ADHD

Early onset conduct problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are a leading causes of child mental health referral. These two disorders tend to occur in tandem and can also be traced back to very similar prenatal experiences such as maternal distress or poor nutrition.

New research led by scientists from King’s College London and the University of Bristol has found that a high-fat, high-sugar diet during pregnancy may be linked to symptoms of ADHD in children who show conduct problems early in life.

Published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, this study is the first to indicate that epigenetic changes evident at birth may explain the link between unhealthy diet, conduct problems and ADHD.

Early onset conduct problems (e.g. lying, fighting) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are the leading causes of child mental health referral in the UK. These two disorders tend to occur in tandem (more than 40 per cent of children with a diagnosis of conduct disorder also have a diagnosis of ADHD) and can also be traced back to very similar prenatal experiences such as maternal distress or poor nutrition.

In this new study of participants from the Bristol-based ‘Children of the 90s’ cohort, 83 children with early-onset conduct problems were compared with 81 children who had low levels of conduct problems. The researchers assessed how the mothers’ nutrition affected epigenetic changes (or DNA methylation) of IGF2, a gene involved in fetal development and the brain development of areas implicated in ADHD — the cerebellum and hippocampus. Notably, DNA methylation of IGF2 had previously been found in children of mothers who were exposed to famine in the Netherlands during World War II.

The researchers from King’s and Bristol found that poor prenatal nutrition, comprising high fat and sugar diets of processed food and confectionary, was associated with higher IGF2 methylation in children with early onset conduct problems and those with low conduct problems.

Higher IGF2 methylation was also associated with higher ADHD symptoms between the ages of 7 and 13, but only for children who showed an early onset of conduct problems.

Dr Edward Barker from King’s College London said: ‘Our finding that poor prenatal nutrition was associated with higher IGF2 methylation highlights the critical importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy.

‘These results suggest that promoting a healthy prenatal diet may ultimately lower ADHD symptoms and conduct problems in children. This is encouraging given that nutritional and epigenetic risk factors can be altered.’

Dr Barker added: ‘We now need to examine more specific types of nutrition. For example, the types of fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, from fish, walnuts and chicken are extremely important for neural development.

‘We already know that nutritional supplements for children can lead to lower ADHD and conduct problems, so it will be important for future research to examine the role of epigenetic changes in this process.’

Allergies during pregnancy contribute to changes in the brains of rat offspring

Animals that lived to adulthood after allergen exposure before birth showed signs of hyperactivity and antisocial behavior and decreased anxiety, found a research team.

A new study in rats could begin to explain why allergies during pregnancy are linked to higher risks for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism in children.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found significant changes in the brain makeup of fetuses and newborn rats exposed to allergens during pregnancy.

Animals that lived to adulthood after allergen exposure before birth showed signs of hyperactivity and antisocial behavior and decreased anxiety, found a research team led by Kathryn Lenz, an Ohio State assistant professor of psychology.

“This is evidence that prenatal exposure to allergens alters brain development and function and that could be an underappreciated factor in the development of neurodevelopmental disorders,” said Lenz, who presented her research Nov. 16 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Though there are established links between allergies and ADHD and autism — as well as between inflammation and risk of autism, schizophrenia and ADHD — the cellular-level changes that could contribute to those connections largely remain a mystery.

Autism and ADHD are both three to four times as common in boys than in girls, Lenz said. And so she and her collaborators set out to look for sex differences in the rats as well.

“We’re really interested in figuring out unknown factors in psychological disorders and in differences between male and female brain development as it relates to autism, ADHD and other disorders,” Lenz said.

To study the effects of allergies on offspring, researchers sensitized female rats to ovalbumin (found in egg whites) before pregnancy. Then, 15 days into their pregnancies, they exposed them to the allergen, prompting an immune response in the animals.

They analyzed whether prenatal allergen exposure changed the number and behavior of immune cells in the developing brain of offspring. They explored possible changes in young rats’ physical activity, anxiety-like behavior, ability to learn and sociability. And they examined the density of dendritic spines in the juvenile animals’ brains. The spines protrude from neurons and are vital to cellular-level communication in the brain.

Rats exposed to allergens before birth had higher levels of immune cells called mast cells in the brain and lower numbers of immune cells called microglia, regardless of the animals’ gender.

Animals with allergic mothers were hyperactive, but had lower levels of anxiety-like behavior. When they interacted with other juvenile rats, the males in the allergen group were less likely to roughhouse with their peers.

“Young rats engage in social play and males are more rough and tumble and usually play much more than females,” Lenz said.

“The males born to the allergen-exposed mothers looked more like females. They were more socially reserved. They were really hyperactive, but socially disengaged. That looks a bit like ADHD.”

And when the researchers looked at the animals’ ability to be mentally flexible, the rats born to allergic mothers had a tougher time, Lenz said.

“They have to use rules to find a reward — a Cheerio in a terracotta pot — and the rules we give them keep shifting,” Lenz said, explaining that in one test the treat might be in a pot covered in sandpaper and in another test it might be in a pot covered in velvet.

The rats in the allergen group weren’t as capable of adapting to the changing parameters of the test, and the males had deficits that were more significant than the females.

Early data from the study shows that the dendritic spines — the points of synaptic connection between cells in the frontal cortex of the animals’ brains — were decreased in males with allergy exposure and increased in their female counterparts.