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Gluten-Free Pregnancy Resources

Posted by Administrator to Pregnancy
For the last few weeks, I've been learning a lot about gluten-free pregnancy resources because I've been researching and coding the Maternitique pregnancy products that are gluten-free. 

Why? 

Everywhere I go these days I hear people talking about a gluten-free diet or see products labeled gluten-free. Two of my friends have been eating gluten-free for almost a year and one of them is now pregnant. 

Part of the prevalence of the gluten-free label I see is because I'm in Portland, Oregon, which one of our local newspaper food columnists calls "one of the most vibrant gluten-free communities in the country." I've been in five or six grocery stores in as many days over the last week (including Safeway, Thriftway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Trader Joe's) and in every single one of the stores I've seen shelf space dedicated to gluten-free products or shelf-talker labels denoting those products that are gluten-free. 

According to a press release last week from Celiac.com, the popularity of eating and living gluten-free is "exploding," with gluten-free purchases expected to top $5 billion by 2015. And a Forbes.com reporter says 25% of Americans are worried about gluten in their diets. 

In the same release mentioned above, Celiac.com notes that a gluten-free lifestyle isn't just another diet fad. According to a University of Maryland study published in 2010 and referenced in the press release, celiac disease (an autoimmune disease in which the body is effectively allergic to the protein gluten) has been doubling in prevalence every 15 years since 1974

A quick spin around the Internet introduced me to a handful of women writing on celiac support forums who say that they were first diagnosed with celiac disease during pregnancy, or at the same time that they were told they were pregnant. 

Pregnancy, it turns out, can actually trigger the onset of celiac disease

A UK study published in 2009 suggests that as many as 1 in 80 pregnant women have celiac disease. (I told you pregnancy changes everything. For some unfortunate women, it even affects your tolerance for gluten. Yikes.) 

Despite the suggestion from the University of Maryland study that says the rates of celiac disease are doubling, estimates are that still only about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, but if you're one of the "chosen" ones with this intrusive autoimmune disease, and you're in search of some help with gluten-free pregnancy questions or concerns, I have some places to point you. 

First, I want to mention that here at Maternitique, you can search for pregnancy products that are gluten-free. This means that I've spoken with the manufacturer and had them verify that their formulas are gluten-free and they've been produced in gluten-free facilities. To find them easily on our site, select "gluten-free" from the second question of the home page shopping assistant that reads: "What's your skin type, or preferences?"

Next, I want to mention that you shouldn't go on a gluten-free diet during pregnancy unless you discuss it with your health care provider and it's recommended by her/him. Whole wheat and barley flours are great natural sources of both folate and vitamin B6. Research shows that insufficient folate during pregnancy may cause preterm delivery, so skipping those whole grains isn't the way to go if you don't have to. That said, untreated celiac disease seems to cause fertility problems and pregnancy complications, so it's just as important to talk to a health care provider if you *think* you might be gluten intolerant. 

Okay, without further ado, here's the list you're looking for. 

Gluten-Free Pregnancy Resources 


1. "Managing a Gluten-Free Pregnancy," an article by the staff of Pregnancy.org includes sample menus and important information about celiac disease and pregnancy. A search for "gluten-free" at Pregnancy.org will also yield you a handful of recipes as well as other articles, including "Living on a Gluten-Free Pregnancy Diet" and "Gluten-Free Breastfeeding Guide and Checklist."

2. Gladly Gluten-Free blogger Rachel Young at ChicagoNow.com writes an overview of how she coped with the challenges of early pregnancy as a gluten-free person in her article "A Gluten-Free Pregnancy: The First Trimester." In this post, she mentions foods she eats, what common pregnancy medications are gluten-free and which gluten-free prenatal vitamins she takes. You can read more of her gluten-free pregnancy experiences on her blog. 

3. Robin Elise Weiss has a thought-provoking overview of "Celiac Disease and Pregnancy," in her authoritative About.com pregnancy guide. Specifically, she talks about how frequent misdiagnosis of celiac disease can have negative impacts on fertility and pregnancy.  

4. Gluten Free Chickie is a blog written by a Canadian woman with celiac disease. She was due with her first baby in May 2012 and wrote "Experience with Pregnancy and Celiac Disease" at the start of her fifth month of pregnancy. Unfortunately, she hasn't blogged much since then, but she promises to be back soon. Like Rachel Young (above) we can hope she'll share more resources, information and first-hand experiences of her gluten-free pregnancy. 

5. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has several articles pertaining to the specific topics of gluten-free pregnancy, including: "Gluten-Free Nutrition and Pregnancy" and an overview of celiac disease and how it affects fertility and pregnancy in "Pregnancy and Celiac Disease." You can read some women's personal stories about how celiac disease affected their fertility and pregnancy experiences by searching the site for the keyword "pregnancy."

6. In "Eating a Gluten-Free Diet While Pregnant," author Christine Boyd, who has celiac disease, discusses some of the questions people commonly asked her about her gluten-free pregnancy diet. While not incredibly extensive or informative (it's a short article), it may give you some help anticipating what you'll hear from others and how to respond.   

7. Most of the gluten-free pregnancy forums I found were old and hadn't seen any activity since 2009. The most recent and active group I could find was on BabyCenter.com called "Gluten-Free." You may get some helpful suggestions and, pardon the pun, food for thought from members of this support group.  

8. Probably the most extensive blogging about gluten-free pregnancy that I found was on the blog Loving a Gluten Free Life. Author and new mom Brandi writes about things that are sure to be on your mind, too, such as iron in pregnancy, prenatal vitamins, things to ask your pediatrician, and weight gain.  

I hope those links help you if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease (or suspect you do). If you have resources or helpful books about gluten-free pregnancy, fertility or breastfeeding to recommend to others, please feel free to leave them in the comments. 

Thanks for reading and sharing,

Tara

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