something fishy

The importance of including fish during pregnancy – Omega 3

 Tracey Quinn looks the importance of including fish, most notably Omega 3 during your pregnancy and also when nursing.

For many women pregnancy is a time that is associated with feeling quite sick. It can often be the case that women will only eat a limited array of foods during those particularly trying weeks where morning (or all day) sickness may be ever present. Crackers, toast and generally plain foods appear to be a popular choice for a lot of women during this time.

Tiredness is another massive symptom during early pregnancy. In fact it is said to be one of the reasons why a lot of women consider that they may be pregnant. It has been described as a tiredness like no other. I recall it myself, going to bed the minute I arrived home from work. No more energy to do anything but lie in bed. It makes sense when you think about it. There is a lot of work happening behind the scenes as your body works really hard to help your baby grow and thrive during early pregnancy. There are also a lot of hormonal changes which can result in energy levels dwindling.

By the time the second trimester comes around many women claim to feel a lot better. The sickness tends to subside and energy levels begin to rise. It is often the time where women begin to enjoy different foods again and enjoy some semblance of a social life with their friends and family. This is a time where introducing Omega-3 fatty acids would be an excellent idea. Fish is a valuable source of protein and vitamin D which are both necessary for bone development.

Fish is a food group that is enjoyed by many people. It is a popular choice in restaurants and home-cooking, however there are a vast number of women who claim to really dislike the flavour. Pregnancy certainly would not feel like the best time to force oneself to eat something that they do not enjoy though. For this reason your doctor, midwife or a medical professional may recommend taking some form of a supplement.

For example, there are a plethora of fish oils available on the market. They can be taken daily to ensure that your intake of Omega 3 is adequate for a healthy balanced diet. Pregnancy is a time where it really is more important than ever to fill your body with all the good things in life. Your body is working harder than ever as it helps your baby grow and thrive while at the same time continuing to look after you also.

The importance of including fish during pregnancy

There are many benefits to eating fish or including fish oils in your diet when you are pregnant. Fish is rich in minerals such as Zinc, selenium and iodine which are required for a healthy immune system. Naturally pregnancy is a time where your immune system is more important than ever. Avoiding viruses and any form of illness is ideal at this time when you want to feel your very best.

Your diet is also very important when you are breastfeeding your baby. Good nutrition is important all round for the entire family but when you are a nursing mother it is particularly important to fill your body with nutritious and healthy foods. This will benefit both mother and child.

There are a number of ways that a woman can ensure that she is eating enough Omega-3 fatty acids during this time. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are foods rich in it. These can often be foods that the whole family can enjoy. A fish pie with lots of tasty salmon or fish cakes might go down a treat with the kids. If you struggle to encourage your family to eat these foods, or if you do not enjoy them yourself, there are a number of different fish oils that can be taken to ensure your intake of these foods are enough.

Have you heard about “baby brain”? It  is a term so often mentioned among mothers and fathers. It relates to the fact that parents experience a certain level of change in their behaviour when they have a baby. Forgetfulness is one of these changes that we hear about time and time again. It is a time where your entire universe is focused on caring for your baby so it really is no big surprise. There are studies which have shown a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and improved concentration, less anxiety and a sharper memory. These are all traits that a new mother could definitely reap the benefits from.

Omega 3 is a food group that contains so many benefits for a pregnant woman. The same can be said for a woman who is breastfeeding her baby. For this reason it is recommended to eat these Omega-3 rich foods as often as possible. Oily fish is one of the best sources but you can also choose rapeseed oil and walnuts as another good source.

As part of their healthy eating guidelines the HSE advocates that we should “choose fish more often”. They encourage families to “try eating oily fish – rich in vitamin D – twice a week”. This is due to the fact that our bodies cannot produce Omega-3 fatty acids independently. We must take it in via food or by supplementation with fish oils.

The importance of including fish during pregnancy

 TIPS For A Well-Balanced Diet During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Avoid excess sugar and caffeine. These foods can be associated with limited and sudden bursts of energy which can then result in a “crash” of sorts.

Choose wholegrain and wholemeal foods where possible. These will be rich in Fibre, vitamins and minerals. Bread, Pasta and Rice are all foods which can be consumed in this healthier way.

Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is of paramount importance. Many breastfeeding mothers experience an overwhelming thirst during those first couple of weeks.

Eat little and often. It is important to ensure that you are having enough food and calories throughout the day. It is a time where you will need it most.

Including oats in your diet has a positive affect on a woman’s milk supply. It is also a slow release food which in turn keeps you fuller for longer periods of time. This is ideal for a busy mum.

Consult your pharmacist or doctor about the supplementation options available to you such as fish oils and pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamins.

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


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Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.