Tag Archives: health

Alcohol and Drugs During Pregnancy

20 Feb

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ALCOHOL

Putting it simply, anything that goes in your mouth goes straight into your blood stream and is passed through the placenta and into your baby! When you think about it like that, it’s like feeding your baby a cider or glass of wine, and that doesn’t sound so sensible does it?

Your baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and even then it does not fully mature until very late into the pregnancy so your baby can’t process alcohol like you can, and too much exposure to it can seriously harm their development. It is even suggested to limit your alcohol intake before your become pregnant to get it out of your system as much as possible. It can help conception too.

During your pregnancy, it is advised by the NHS to limit your intake to less than 2 units of alcohol per week if any at all. 2 units is equal to a pint of beer or 1 standard size glass of wine. It is absolutely imperative to avoid getting drunk. Getting drunk changes the way you think, you may do things you wouldn’t normally do which could harm the baby. Your vision may become distorted and your balance negatively effected giving you more chance of falling over and harming yourself and your baby.

If too much alcohol is consumed, the baby may face problems associated with FAS – foetal alcohol syndrome. Children with this syndrome can suffer from restricted growth, facial abnormalities, learning and behavioural disorders.

Some tips to avoiding the alcohol 

  • Finding a non alcoholic drink you really like and can drink while your friends are having alcohol.
  • Finding places to go with your friends/other half that don’t involve drinking but you can still have fun.
  • Carry a picture of your scan in your bag when you go out to remind yourself why you are doing this when temptation starts to creep in.

DRUGS

Illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine and heroin can have very harmful effects on your unborn child. If you currently use them you need to seek advice on the best way to stop using them. Depending on the frequency of use, it can also be just as harmful to stop abruptly as the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous too. Talk to a doctor or relevant health professional about the best plan of action for you. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell your doctor about your drug habits, they won’t judge you as they want to help you and this is the time to get it sorted if any. Don’t leave it a second longer.

Some legal medication can be harmful to your baby too and this can include some standard painkillers so it is important you are aware of what you are allowed to take during this time. If you have a long term condition such as underactive thyroid, diabetes, asthma etc just check with your doctor that what you are taking is safe during your pregnancy. The medication to treat these long term conditions can often be fine but it is better to check anyway.

Some medication that IS safe to take during your pregnancy 

  • Paracetemol
  • Most antibiotics
  • Dental treatment
  • Local anaesthetics
  • Some types of vaccinations e.g flu and tetanus
  • Nicotine replacement therapy

The trick is to always ask your doctor if you are unsure. They are more than happy to advise you on your health and I’m sure you would prefer to pester your doctor than to discover that you’ve been taking something you should have been late into your pregnancy!

Caffeine – good or bad for you?

14 May

caffeine

 

As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant and a drug and we are all warned that if we consume too much of it, we are at risk of addiction and the associated health problems. However, the reason most of us are confused at how much we are supposed to have is because there are contradicting articles telling you that caffeine will help lower your chance of getting cancer and suffering from heart disease etc. Too much information leads us to huge confusion and so I am attempting to simplify some of the information out there about caffeine and the effects it has on your health – both the good and the bad.

 

  • Caffeine can be a mood booster. It stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine which activates the area of your brain responsible for productivity and alertness. The amount it may boost your mood and the time it lasts for depends on the amount of sugar consumed with the caffeine. For example, if your put a lot of sugar in your coffee, your mood may be boosted a fair amount however once your blood sugar level drops down again, you will notice a pretty sudden decrease in alertness and productivity!
  • Coffee has been proven to help lower the risk of oral cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that there is a strong connection between the increased caffeinated coffee consumption and the lower death rate from oral cancer. Research is ongoing on this topic.
  • Having too much of anything is a bad move and it is no different with caffeine. Too much of it can cause nervousness, “the shakes”, insomnia, irritability, upset stomach, muscle tremors and irregular heart beats. Everyone will have a different tolerance so the amount of caffeine that works for your body will be individual to you but any more than 500mg (equal to 4 cups of coffee) can produce these effects on most people, especially if you are not used to taking in this much caffeine.
  • A healthy individual should try to remain under 300mg of caffeine a day which equals around 3 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea. Pregnant women should limit their intake to under 200mg and children should consume no more than 50mg daily. Remember caffeine isn’t only in coffee and tea, it is also in sugary energy drinks that you may give your children.
  • Caffeine may NOT help weight loss!! Although many people use the zero-calorie coffee as a diet aid, research has not confirmed that it helps with weight loss. Caffeine does temporarily speed up metabolism leading to a few more calories being burned, however it also leads to the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is linked to weight gain and of course stress!! Research has also shown that the extra calories burned does not equate to an amount that will drastically help with weight loss.
  • Be careful which source of caffeine you choose! Health professionals always prefer you the get your caffeine fix from a natural source such as coffee or tea. Energy drinks are design to give you a quick boost of energy, and generally do just that, however the amount of sugar that is added to them can add up to about 70g. That is the equivalent to 17 teaspoons of sugar. These energy drinks can be dangerous to consume because as well as the huge amounts of caffeine and sugar in them, there are additives and stimulants that are thrown in there as well. These can cause the shakes, anxiety, irregular heart beat and also decrease the effect of any prescription drugs or antibiotics being taken.
  • Caffeine is used by athletes for exercise benefits. When caffeine is consumed in a fasted state, it stimulates the release of fatty acids into the blood therefore making it the preferable source of energy over carbohydrates or lean muscle.

The list of positive and negative effects that coffee has on our health is ongoing and there is no way I could talk about it all today but I hope those couple of facts have perhaps taught you something new, or cleared up something you weren’t quite sure on. We do not have a clear cut answer to the question in my title, the answer is that in moderation there should be no problem but you have to find the right amount for you as an individual!

Enjoy your day, stay healthy, stay active and … watch that caffeine intake!