We've been in book-land for the past few weeks, but a recent New York Times article (about men getting post-traumatic stress from too much information in the birthing room) wrenched us away from the grindstone. Basically, the guy suggests that male participation in birth, or more specifically, access to the image of his wife being split open in one way or another, is potentially damaging to the male psyche, or maybe just the male hard-on. We've heard about this phenomenon, but not first-hand. We really want to know...if you're a parent reading this: did your sex life take a lasting hit from too much birth/body info? Why do you think there was/is so much weirdness? Is it better to go back to the daddy pacing in the hall, oblivious to the reality of the "bloody show"?
Researchers in Australia are investigating a possible link between "placenta brain" and Alzheimers. There may be a hormonal connection. I remember feeling dazed at work when everyone else was having hourly cows over idiotic things. I always thought I was experiencing moments of insight into just how beautiful and profound a journey I was on, but maybe I was just spacing out in front of my computer monitor.
Next time you're 9 months pregnant, cursing a city full of busybodies and bigmouths and assholes on the F train who won't meet your eyes (much less move their asses so you can rest yours) remember that things could be a whole lot worse. Yikes.
I asked my pregnant (and asthmatic) sister if she could explain the deal with pregnancy and asthma … She wrote me such a thorough and amazing response, I asked her if I could post it on thenewmom.com. Maybe this will be useful to asthmatic moms-to-be. Thank you Catrin.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
You know how you get easily winded when preggers? Like there isn't enough room or time to get the air you need? Well asthma is like that—but much more intense. Wheezing is the soundtrack of asthma. When I have asthma, I can hear the air whistling through the tight, inflamed airways (bronchial tubes) in my chest. It is often worse at night and when I am lying down. It is worse when our cat Fred is too clingy or when he sleeps near my face. And it is worse when I do anything active (which ain’t much these days), like carrying groceries, doing the laundry, or walking more than a few blocks. And my asthma feels worse after I eat—as if there isn't room for the food and the pee and the lungs and the baby in one body!
ASTHMA'S EFFECT ON PREGNANCY
Does asthma get worse during pregnancy? In other words, does pregnancy exacerbate asthma? The effect of pregnancy on preexisting asthma varies from person to person (shocker). According to one study, asthma symptoms worsened for 35% of women, improved in 28% and stayed the same for 33%. I looked at the website for the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology and learned that asthma tends to worsen during the late second and early third trimesters, though women may experience fewer symptoms during the last four week stretch of pregnancy.
ASTHMA, PREGNANCY, and RISKS
First, the literature, my DC allergist (and my GP here in Melbourne) all agree that the risks of uncontrolled asthma far exceed the risks of most asthma medications. Basically, if the mom's breathing is compromised, the baby's oxygen supply is compromised. If asthma is well-treated and under control, there is no greater risk of complications during pregnancy and birth than there is for non-asthmatic women. So that is reassuring. I guess the bottom line is that it is important to control the asthma.
But if the asthma is NOT controlled during pregnancy there can be serious problems, including impaired fetal growth and survival, premature birth, low birth weight, and blood pressure issues like pre-eclampsia. According to one website, “good control of asthma” means the woman is
--active without experiencing any asthma symptoms
--sleeping through the night, and not waking due to asthma symptoms; and
--attaining her personal best peak flow number. (You find out your peak flow by breathing into this special tube called a peak flow meter. It basically tests your capacity to blow out. Remember those old Primatine Mist commercials with the people blowing out birthday candles?? )
ASTHMA MEDS GENERALLY SAFE DURING PREGNANCY
According to the feds (the HHS Office on Women’s Health), inhaled asthma meds are generally safe during pregnancy—and during breastfeeding. Inhalers are often preferable because they are less likely to be passed on to the baby than oral drugs.
I use a lot (A LOT) of Ventolin (generic name is Albuterol). You’ve probably seen this ubiquitous inhaler; it’s your basic bronchodilator and tons of people use it, even fake wannabe asthmatics! Ventolin is a LIFE SAVER for me and I carry it everywhere (I could never go out without a purse because I felt naked without my inhaler!)
I have been using a lot lately because I also have a cold, which usually makes my asthma worse. (Any time my immune system is compromised, the asthma gets worse…it has always been the case). Anyway, Ventolin functions on the bronchia almost like a cortisone cream would on the skin. It gives quick-acting relief (it stops my bronchial passages from being in “spasms”) but it doesn’t harm the fetus. According to my doctors, the drug has a very short “half-life,” which means it doesn't stay in the body very long.
Another main category of meds are those that are used on a long-term basis to control asthma, including steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs. (I have taken these before). By the way, asthma care evolves rapidly. In the 90s the preventive meds were all the rage (you take them for x number of weeks and they prevent asthma from starting in the first place so you don't rely on the “band aid” of ventolin). But then I recently heard a much-publicized study found that relying on these quick-acting inhalers like ventolin was an equally good approach with no proven risk…
Sites to check out:
When my husband and I put our son into an unofficial neighborhood daycare (with a very loving, take-charge neighborhood woman down the street who juggles the needs of 4-6 kids every day in a house crammed with plastic stoves and dinged up babydolls), I did a little research. Daycare is actually a good idea. Even for small babies (mine was 8 months when he started). In the book MOTHER NATURE, Sarah Hrdy looked at cultures where babies are literally raised by "a village" and they were just as happy, confident and intelligent as children rasied by one primary caregiver (i.e., the mother). This all made me feel better about the fact that my kid would be coming home with a fever every other month (which he has). Anyway recently I signed up to get daily "Google Alerts" linking me to all stories containing the word "DAYCARE." It's so depressing, I rarely have the stomach to read them... just one horror story after another. Day after day, the same horrific stuff. I guess not all villages are so great.
When this article came to my attention, it seemed comparatively optimistic. A daycare in San Fran has kids (and caretakers) on "Big Brother" style cameras all day so that moms and dads can watch the goings on from their computers at work. This certainly does ensure maximum security, but it's pretty sad. Is this another step in the Security Mom direction or a really cool idea to stop anxiety from ruling a parent's life? Will mom and dad get any work done when they can easily log in to find out who is bullying who in the sandbox?