The Truth About Eating Raw Fish During Pregnancy

When I was pregnant, all of my friends and family warned me to avoid eating sushi because sushi was one of my favourite foods! Though devastated, I knew I had to make those sacrifices when I got pregnant – raw fish being one of them. And for the sake of my unborn child, I never bothered to question it.

Literally 2 minutes after I had delivered my baby girl, I joked to my doctor and said, “God, I can’t wait to eat sushi again!” My doctor looked at me and said, “…who said you couldn’t before?” I looked back at her puzzled and realized, I never actually asked my doctor if I had to avoid raw fish during pregnancy! I just assumed that it was the obvious thing to do! 

Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels

So if you didn’t know, now you know. To all my sushi loving friends, it’s generally safe to eat sushi and raw fish when you’re pregnant and when you’re breastfeeding! Hooray!

The FDA does state that pregnant women and young children should stay away from raw fish as they have weaker immune systems and are at more risk for food borne illnesses but raw fish served in sushi and sashimi is not included in this recommendation!

In fact, the FDA states that eating a variety of fish when pregnant or breast feeding can provide health benefits for mom and baby! (Keyword: variety! Don’t just eat the same type of fish every time you do!)

Eating fish provides:

  • Protein
  • Omega 3 fats (aka DHA and EPA)
  • Very high in Vitamin B12 and vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Minerals such as selenium, zinc, iodine

And these nutrients contribute to healthy growth and development of your baby. They even provide heart health benefits and lowers the risk of obesity.

Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

2 Things to look out for when eating raw fish

1. Parasitic worms

It’s the parasitic worms found in raw fish that actually make you sick. Ingesting and getting infected with the worms (aka anisakis) results in a painful condition called anisakidosis. These worms invade and penetrate your stomach lining. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction
  • Death in very rare cases!

Other parasitic worms present in fish is tapeworm. Fishes potentially infected with tapeworm include:

  • Pike
  • Perch
  • Anadromous fish (fish that migrate up rivers from the sea to spawn such as salmon)

Learn more about parasites from the Seafood Health Facts website!

2. High levels of mercury

Ingesting high levels of mercury can lead to birth defects specifically affecting the brain and nervous system. Mercury is present in streams, lakes and oceans and are either naturally occurring or man made. Mercury turns into methylmercury which is found in nearly all fish but in different amounts. It is this type of mercury that is harmful to us in high amounts.

These fish have the highest mercury level and should be avoided:

  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna, big eye 

There is no way to prepare or cook fish to lower its mercury level because the mercury is in the tissue of the fish. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid eating fish entirely during pregnancy due to its considerable health benefits. Just consume fish that are low in mercury and avoid fish with high levels.

Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

Fishes low in mercury that you should eat:

  • Anchovy
  • Atlantic croacker
  • Atlantic, and pacific chub mackerel
  • Black sea bass
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Pickerel
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Sole
  • Tilapia
  • Freshwater trout
  • Canned light tuna
  • White fish
  • Whiting

… and many more! Learn more about which fish is best to eat here on the FDA website.

Remember, a variety of fish in your diet is key!

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Farmed Fish and Freezing Methods

Some farmed fish used in sushi such as salmon or tuna are very unlikely to be infected with the parasitic worms because of the methods used to farm these fish for mass human consumption.

Also, freezing raw fish kills any worms present which makes it safe to eat. When preparing sushi in your own home, make sure to freeze the raw fish for at least 4-7 days.

Learn more about farmed fish practices here!

Photo by ray rui on Unsplash

What about shellfish?

Shellfish is totally okay to eat when it is cooked. Raw shellfish contains harmful viruses and bacteria that can cause food poisoning so if you’re pregnant, you should probably avoid that scallop ceviche dish!

Shellfish include:

  • Shrimps
  • Prawns
  • Crawfish
  • Crabs
  • Scallops
  • lobster

Keep these tips in mind when you’re at the sushi restaurant and about to enjoy some delicious sushi rolls with you baby bump! But beware of the concerning stares – they don’t know any better…

Thanks for reading everyone!

5 Reasons Why You Need A Crib Mobile

Are crib mobiles really necessary? Or are they just a decorative piece to add to your nursery?

I always thought that new parents spent way too much money on baby items that they really don’t need, and this included the crib mobile.

But one night as I was putting my baby to bed, I noticed her toy bear sitting on the shelf. I held the toy bear in front of her face and instantly, her eyes lit up, she began to smile, and her arms and legs flailed and kicked like I had never seen before! And I thought, “oh my goodness, maybe crib mobiles really are necessary!…” So I decided to do my research and this is what I found.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you need a crib mobile!

1. Visual Stimulation and Eye/vision Development

Babies start to learn and take in information from their environment right from birth. Therefore visual stimulation is very important in the development of your baby’s eyes and vision. Your baby will track and follow the rotating toys on the mobile improving eye movement, vision, and strengthening eye muscles. From 0-3 months, your baby will see contrasts of black and white at first. As they grow, they will begin to see bold colors such as red, blue, yellow, and green. Colourful toys that rotate and encourage eye movement is definitely something to consider when purchasing or making a crib mobile. Even better, some crib mobiles come with lights that project stars and other images on the walls to help soothe your baby to sleep.

2. Sound Stimulation and Hearing Development

Some baby mobiles play soft lullabies to help soothe baby to sleep. These songs helps keep baby stimulated, contributing to their hearing development, and aids in preparing your baby for bedtime.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

3. Motor Skills Development

When your baby watches the mobile toys dancing above them, they get excited! They will kick and move, strengthening their neck, arms and leg muscles. Pretty soon, they will start to reach for the toys which contributes to hand-eye coordination and their comprehension of depth, distance, and spatial awareness.

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

4. Bedtime Routine

Babies as well as their parents, love routine! And turning on the baby mobile as you settle your little one into their crib or bassinet for the night can help to soothe your little one and let them know that its time to sleep. Adding this step into our bedtime routine really helped. The key is to be consistent (easier said than done!) After a warm bath, I give my baby a calming lotion massage while the mobile plays its lullaby music. Then I put her into her crib, dim the lights, and let the mobile do its magic.

5. …Extra Sleep for Mommy and Daddy!

Last but arguably most important, the baby mobiles lets mom and dad sleep in for that extra half hour when your baby wakes up early. Your baby will keep themselves busy and entertained while you catch those last few precious z’s. Even if it’s 5 more minutes, I’ll take it!

Some things to Consider…

Crib mobiles can be very beneficial in your baby’s development but there are some things to consider when thinking about adding a mobile to your nursery.

It really depends on your baby! Sometimes, crib mobiles can be overstimulating which could hinder your baby’s sleeping habits. Also, some moms believe that toys in the crib will make the crib more of a playground rather than a place to sleep.

There are also hazards to consider as well. Make sure that your mobile is securely attached to the crib and that it is position far enough that baby cannot reach and grab it! Toys that can be detached from the mobile can possibly fall off causing a choking or suffocation hazard. Store bought mobiles are usually up to code but if you’re making your own, make sure the strings aren’t too long for baby to grab and pull.

As well, crib mobiles can be pricey! They can range from $30 to over $100 especially if the mobile has a music box, projects lights or is custom and handmade (like the ones you can find on Etsy). However they can be very inexpensive if you decide to make your own!

Check out my DIY Unicorn and Rainbows Crib Mobile coming soon!

All in all, I believe that the benefits of baby mobiles far outweigh the cons listed above. I believe that making your own gives the nursery a personal touch. It also makes a great keepsake or special gift! Our homemade mobile doesn’t play lullabies or project pretty lights on the walls at night, but our baby still gets excited whenever I put her in her crib for the night.

But my most valuable advice to my readers is to learn and understand your baby’s sleep behaviours and patterns. Understanding what helps your baby (and you!) go to sleep at night will assist in deciding whether a baby mobile is right for you and your family.

I hope this post helps. Thanks for reading everyone!

3 Easy steps to prevent and treat flat head syndrome

What is flat head syndrome?

Flat head syndrome is also known as plagiocephaly. (“plagio-” means slanted or oblique and “-cephaly” means head) It is also known as positional or deformational plagiocephaly.

It is where the back or the side of the baby’s head becomes flat, asymmetrical or slanted. Sometimes, the baby’s head may also widen and the forehead bulges out in more severe cases. This is due to prolonged external pressure on one spot of the newborn’s soft and malleable skull.

It is more common today because of the Safe to Sleep® campaign recommending that babies sleep on their backs in the first few months of life to prevent SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).

Other causes of flat head syndrome include the following:

  • Medical problems or delayed development which makes it harder for babies to move and change positions
  • Stiff or tight neck muscles limiting neck movement (Torticollis)
  • Premature babies have softer skulls than full term babies and also move their heads less
  • Plagiocephaly can also occur in the womb such as overcrowding with twins or the mothers womb has an unusual shape

SIDS

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the death of a healthy baby who is less than a year old during sleep (also known as crib death). The cause of death is unknown even after a complete investigation but is believed to be linked to defects in the baby’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. It is also said to be a combination of physical and environmental factors in the baby’s sleeping environment such as in the crib, however research is still ongoing.

I highly recommend mothers to visit this website, Safe to Sleep® campaign to learn about SIDS and how to reduce the risks.

Should I be concerned about plagiocephaly?

Experts have dismissed plagiocephaly as an aesthetic issue because not everyone has a perfectly round shaped head. Also, it is also believed that asymmetrical heads should resolve itself over time as the baby grows.

Because flat head syndrome is a fairly new concern, there is limited studies on the matter. There is a 2010 study from Seattle Children’s hospital that has found an association between flat head syndrome and developmental delays, specifically motor, language and cognitive delays. This means there is no actual cause and effect between flat heads and child development but there is some link between the two.  In fact, the study suggests that a flat head may be a marker to identify children who are at risk for developmental delays, not that flat heads actually cause such delays. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer at this time and research is still ongoing…

Learn more about this study at Seattle Children’s Hospital website here.

Plagiocephaly may also be mistaken with craniocynostosis which is very different! Craniocyntosis  is where the baby’s skull fuses too early preventing normal development of brain growth. Babies with craniocyntosis will have uneven head shapes and this may also look like flat head syndrome. Check with your doctor to make sure!

Treatment & Management

Treatment depends on your health care provider, the age of your baby, the potential cause and so forth. It is very important that you seek professional medical help if you are concerned!

Your baby’s soft skull will start to fuse together and harden at about 9 to 18 months.

If the cause of your baby’s flat head syndrome is due to how they sleep, nap and lay, treatment may include positioning your baby’s head in different ways and avoiding pressure on the flat spot. It is also important to limit the time your baby spends in their bouncers, car seat or anything that applies pressure to certain parts of their head.

If your baby is diagnosed with stiff neck muscles (torticollis), your doctor may recommend special exercises or refer you to a physiotherapist.

If after 6 months, there is no improvement after trying to reposition your baby’s head first, your doctor may recommend helmet therapy. The plastic helmet, lined with foam fits snugly on the round parts of your baby’s head, and loosely on the flat spots to allow the flat spot to expand and even out as your baby grows. Generally they are worn for about 23 hours every day from about 1 to 6 months but it depends on your child’s age and case. Also, helmets can be very pricey!…

Learn more about plagiocephaly at Seattle children’s hospital website here.

How we fixed our baby’s flat spot with 3 easy steps

A few months ago my baby started to develop a flat spot on the back of her head and I freaked out! I always put her down on her back for naps and at night (especially after reading about SIDS!) And I will admit that I put her in her bouncer when I’m busy around the house, and I let her finish her nap when she falls asleep in the car seat on our way home. I realized that all of these habits had contributed to her flat head syndrome!

I had spoken to my doctor about her flat spot and she said that I shouldn’t be too concerned because naturally, no one has a perfectly round head. Also, preventing SIDS far outweighs the concerns that comes with flat head syndrome. I mentioned that I had done some research about flat head syndrome and developmental delays but she assured me that more research is needed to conclude this hypothesis. After much discussion, she provided me with simple, at home measures that I could take to gradually mold my baby’s head naturally without a pricey helmet.

Today she is 6 months old and her head is as “naturally” round as can be.

With 3 simple steps, this is how we did it.
 

1. Repositioning

The first tip to try is to reposition your baby when he or she sleeps and naps. There are a couple of ways to reposition your baby without having to put them on their sides or stomach. Remember to always place your baby on their backs and for peace of mind, turn on that baby camera when your not in the room!

First, use interesting objects or toys that catch your baby’s attention such as a baby mobile. Position the mobile where you want your baby to turn his or her head when they lay on their backs.

Check out our post about the Top 5 Reasons why You Need a Crib Mobile.

Another tip is to place your baby the other way in the crib. For example, if your baby’s feet is towards to door of the room, instead place your baby’s head towards the door.

Lastly, you can also try rearranging your nursery in the room. Moving the crib to a different area in the room can help to move your baby’s head in a different direction.

2. Lots of Supervised Tummy Time

Tummy time is vital, not only for relieving the pressure off of baby’s head but also to help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles for crawling and sitting up. It also improves your baby’s motor skills.

Babies should be on their tummies for at least 2-3 times per day for short periods of time right from birth. As they get older, allow them to spend more time on their tummies with each session. Try not to leave your baby unsupervised when on tummy time! Also, never leave your baby on tummy time (or in any position) on a high area such as the bed or changing table. They may roll over and fall!

Tips for tummy time:

Lay out a blanket on the floor

Place their favourite toy within baby’s reach and help them learn to play and interact with their surroundings

Tummy time after a nap and diaper change is ideal

Avoid tummy time right after a feed, they may spit it all up!

Never leave baby unattended during tummy time

3. Head Molding Pillows

Right now, I’m using Babymoov Lovenest baby head support pillow when my baby sleeps or naps. She sleeps through the night for about 9 hours straight which applies a lot of pressure on the back of her head!

It is so important to put your baby down on their backs but this is probably one of the reasons why my baby developed a flat spot on the back of her head. So I did some research and found the Babymoov Lovenest pillow on Amazon for $19.99 CDN and had to give it a try. This pillow significantly relieve the pressure off of my baby’s head and I truly recommend it. I use this pillow every time I lay her down. It comes in a variety of colors. The fabric is soft, breathable and machine washable. If you don’t believe me, check out their reviews on amazon!

With these 3 simple tips, we saw a difference in just one month! Today, our baby is 6 months old and we continue to implement these steps when she sleeps. Her flat spot has evened out and we are very happy with the results!

Does you baby have a flat spot? Share your story in the comments below! We love to hear from you.