Worried about how you'll manage the pain of childbirth? Your doctor or midwife may prescribe more sunshine. Recent research from the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests vitamin D may help ease labor pains.
For years, the medical world has tied vitamin D deficiency to higher rates of depression, anxiety and pain. But now, this new study correlates low vitamin D levels with more pain medication during labor. The more depleted your vitamin D stores are, the more medication you'll need come delivery day.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claims that a deficiency is no stranger to moms-to-be. Pregnant women with limited sun exposure and those who are vegetarian and minorities, have the highest risk of showing low levels of vitamin D.
"Given the research results, prevention and treatment of low vitamin D levels in pregnant women may have a significant impact on decreasing labor pain in millions of women every year," said Dr. Andrew W. Geller, an anesthesiologist and senior author of the study.
How to up your intake
Before you make any lifestyle or dietary changes during pregnancy, it's important that you have your doctor's permission to do so. Some practices will order blood work to check your vitamin D levels. Your doctor may prescribe a vitamin supplement if you're deficient. Other ways to boost your intake include:
Sunshine: While dietary changes can increase our vitamin D levels, we simply can't get the stores we need from food alone. Luckily for you, the sunshine is an abundant source. But be careful to get your sun in moderation. Especially during pregnancy, your skin is sensitive to pigmentation. Get 15 minutes a day on your arms and legs – but wear a hat and smooth sunblock on your face.
Fish oil: Talk to your health care provider about adding a fish oil capsule to your daily vitamin routine. Varieties such as cod liver oil contain as much as 1,200 international units. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends healthy adults consume around 2,000 IUs each day.
Fortified cereal: Many commercial cereals, breads and rice are fortified with vitamin D. The average breakfast cereal that boasts added vitamins can raise your daily intake by about 100 IUs. Some dairy milk and juices may contain additional vitamin D too. Check the label to know for sure. Any fortified food or drink will list the vitamin in its ingredients.
So, what do you think? Does this story give you hope for reducing your pain in labor? What are some other ways you're planning to manage the pain? Share your thoughts in the comments below.