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Should You Read to Your Unborn Baby?
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen are answering some of the biggest questions on the minds of pregnant women.
Reading to your unborn baby
Can my baby hear anything inside the womb? Should I be reading or talking to him while he's still in my belly?

While fetuses hear much the way that we hear a next-door stereo—lots of bass, not a lot of high frequencies—they are able to hear voices filtered through tissues, bones and fluid. And by week 24, they recognize—and are calmed by—their mothers' voices. Of course, they can't distinguish one word from another. Rather, the rhythm and melody of voices they hear serve as their foundation for language. That's why so many moms read aloud to their children, even before that first night in the crib.

We strongly endorse that practice too—not just for brain development but also to allow your baby to hear your voice and establish an auditory bond at an early age.

We also encourage you to listen to all kinds of music during and after pregnancy. This will help stimulate baby's senses and improve his brain development. Exposure to different sounds and scenes is essentially what helps establish connections from one set of neurons—the nerve cells of the brain—to another. This is how we all learn. These neural structures are shaped like a tree and root system. A baby's brain is extremely plastic, meaning that it can constantly adapt and make new connections between trees.

Find more pregnancy answers.

Do you have more questions about pregnancy health? Get even more answers from RealAge's YOU: Having a Baby Center.

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5 Pregnancy Questions Answered
Being pregnant is a lot like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon: On one hand, it's the most breathtaking thing you've ever experienced. On the other, it's a long way to the bottom—just as it is a long way from conception to birth. To make these 40 weeks less confusing, Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen answer five common questions about pregnancy.
Pregnancy questions

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The Lowdown on Prenatal Vitamins
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen are answering some of the biggest questions on the minds of pregnant women.
Prenatal vitamins
Everyone tells me to take prenatal vitamins. Exactly which vitamins and minerals should be in them?

Below is a rundown of the optimal daily amounts of key nutrients that we recommend to support a healthy pregnancy and grow a healthy baby. Of course, taking prenatal vitamins doesn't give you a free pass to eat "whatever" for 40 weeks straight. Make your best effort to eat healthfully. Try these tasty recipes.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A aids in both cell development and brain growth, but this vitamin does have a drawback. There have been links between excessive amounts of vitamin A and an increased risk of birth defects, especially neural tube defects. (Be careful not to eat too many protein, breakfast or meal-replacement bars, each of which may have 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin A. Get into the habit of checking the FDA nutrition labels on everything you eat.)

Aim for this amount: Consume no more than 15,000 international units (IU) a day while pregnant or just before becoming pregnant.

Vitamin B6
Low levels of B6 are associated with a delay in the development of the baby's nervous system. Plus, inadequate amounts are also linked to problems for mom, such as morning sickness, preeclampsia and complications during delivery.

Aim for this amount: 3 milligrams (mg) twice a day.


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8 Strategies to Help Pregnant Women Get Some Sleep
How to fall asleep when pregnant
I can't get comfortable, especially at bedtime. How can I fall asleep and stay asleep in a position that's safe for baby?

When it comes to sleep, you just can't impose your will on your body. So our goal here is to help you find the little things that will make you more comfortable, so your body follows what your mind wants.

Some suggestions:
  • If you have difficulty breathing (from the weight gain), try multiple pillows, which will pull the baby away from your diaphragm so it can move your lungs up and down.
  • Don't drink water after 6 p.m. to reduce the need to get up to use the bathroom. And no caffeine, either. Make sure that you do get your 2 quarts of fluid a day before that, especially if you're in a hot climate.
  • Don't try to suffer through all the aches and pains you might be experiencing. It's actually better for your mind and body to quiet the pain (with Tylenol) so you can get the restorative sleep you need rather than grit your way through the aches just to avoid taking medicine.
  • Try a small glass of warm skim milk. The lactose in the milk is a sugar, which stimulates insulin, which helps proteins like tryptophan in the milk enter the brain—and that can help people fall asleep. If you develop lactose intolerance, which many moms do during pregnancy, try soy milk or rice milk.
  • Create a dark and quiet environment in the bedroom, using the bed for sleep and sex only—and not for work or surfing the Web.
  • Ratchet up the air conditioner. It's easier to sleep in a cooler environment. Plus, pregnant women are extra hot.
  • Try sleep meds. If you want to try the pharmaceutical route, you should talk to your doctor. Benadryl is considered safe for pregnant women to take for sleep. It's sometimes even given to newborns. You can also consider an over-the-counter medication called Unisom, which has been shown to help promote sleep during pregnancy. Just don't use it for more than a week.
  • Lie on your side. We know you're not going to lie on your stomach as your belly grows and you enter the second trimester, but we do want you to avoid lying flat on your back. That's because when you do so, the weight of your uterus compresses the blood vessels that are feeding the placenta, creating a drought in the blood lake. Lying on your left side is better than lying on your right side because it allows more blood to flow to the uterus. Either side is better than lying on your back, because when you do, you also compress a large vein called the vena cava. The pressure (from that compression) reduces the flow of blood back to your heart, as if you were bending a water hose, and that decreases the blood flow to your uterus and to your baby.
Find more pregnancy answers.

Do you have more questions about pregnancy health? Get even more answers from RealAge's YOU: Having a Baby Center.

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15 Ways to Relieve Morning Sickness
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen are answering some of the biggest questions on the minds of pregnant women.
Relieve morning sickness.
Why am I so nauseated? Is there anything I can do to relieve my morning sickness?

A couple of things could be happening to make you feel so queasy. A vomiting center in your brain (didn't know you had one, huh?) is more sensitive, and your digestive tract is more relaxed, making it more likely that foods travel up as well as down. These factors, plus the heightened sense of smell you have during pregnancy, create a swirling GI storm that can make you sickened by the mere mention of food.

A lot of things can help you feel better, but that doesn't mean they all will. So, unfortunately, this is one of those areas in which you may have to experiment a bit to see what therapy may be best for your body.

Here are 15 things that have been shown to relieve the misery:
  • Keep 100 percent whole grain crackers by your bed. Eat a few as soon as you wake to get something in your stomach before you start moving around.
  • Eat a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • Sip chicken broth to help you get some calories in along with the liquid.
  • Stick with cold foods—hot foods have a stronger smell, which can trigger queasiness.
  • Take a 6 mg vitamin of B6.
  • Eat leafy greens because they're rich in vitamin K, which seems to help.
  • Eat brown rice— try this RealAge recipe.
  • Try acupuncture.
  • Wear acupressure wristbands to stimulate pressure points.
  • Brew fresh ginger root in a cup of tea, or take a 300 mg capsule.
  • Get light exercise.
  • Use a mouth rinse after vomiting and after each meal to keep your mouth fresh, reduce nausea and reduce the amount of tooth decay that can occur from the interaction of stomach acid with enamel.
  • Meditate to help control stress. Morning sickness is more common in women under a lot of stress.
  • Explore homeopathic remedies. They are hotly debated within the medical community but are unlikely to cause harm. Nux Vomica seems to help with nausea and irritability.
  • Consider meds. If your morning sickness is really bad, talk to your doc about prescription medications like scopolamine, promethazine, prochlorperazine and trimethobenzamide.
Find more pregnancy answers.

Do you have more questions about pregnancy health? Get even more answers from RealAge's YOU: Having a Baby Center.

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Toxins in Food and Medications to Avoid When You're Pregnant
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen are answering some of the biggest questions on the minds of pregnant women.
Toxins to avoid when you're pregnant
I'm trying to steer clear of toxins. What are the major offenders?

The last thing you want to provide your bubby with is an in-womb environment that resembles a landfill. And although your placenta does a fine job of filtering nutrients between mother and child, it's just not equipped to handle all of the things that we're seeing in today's diet and environment.

It lets everything through that's below a certain size. That means any toxins that make the size cut can get passed to the fetus, whether it's gunk from cigarettes, saturated and trans fats, alcohol or other nasty substances.

So you're wise to get rid of the most harmful toxins in your life as soon as you decide to get pregnant or once you find out you are. Major ones include:

Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs
  • Tobacco and secondhand smoke.
  • Alcohol.
  • Marijuana and other recreational drugs.
Chemicals
  • Spray paints and paint thinners—use latex paint instead.
  • BPA, or Bisphenol-A, commonly found in plastic water bottles. Look for the number 2 or 4 inside the triangle on the bottom of the bottle—but not 3, 6, 7, 8 or 9. A 1 is acceptable but not reusable.
  • Phthalates, found in composite dental fillings and also released when plastic is microwaved.
  • Fluorotelomers, which are in linings of microwave popcorn bags, and stain-resistant carpets and furniture.
  • PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, which are organic compounds in fish caught from polluted waterways.
  • Pesticides.
  • Heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
  • Organic solvents such as toluene, xylene, benzene, tetrachloroethylene, ethylene oxide, acetone, acetonitrile (in nail salons) and formaldehyde.
  • Anaesthetic gases.
  • Excess radiation and radon. So avoid X-rays and frequent long-haul flights, and splurge on a $10 radon kit. Leave it in the basement overnight to check if your house is leaking this dangerous gas from the soil.
Foods
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats and saturated fats. These contain nitrates and methylates, which unwind the DNA that's not supposed to be unwound.
  • Trans fats (e.g., any "partially hydrogenated" ingredients).
  • High-fructose corn syrup.
  • Sushi, undercooked meat, soft cheeses (like brie or gorgonzola) and unpasteurized cheese and milk.
Medications
  • Pain-killers: Ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead.
  • Acne medication: Accutane (isotretinoin).
  • Note: Don't stop any medications you're currently taking before talking to your doc. The issue of medicine is often a risk-versus-benefit decision. If you're at high risk of a complication by not taking your medication, you may very well be putting your baby in harms way by stopping.
Find more pregnancy answers.

Do you have more questions about pregnancy health? Get even more answers from RealAge's YOU: Having a Baby Center.

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