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January 6, 2011

Like From The Hips On Facebook

We've been posting our greatest hits over on our From The Hips facebook page. "Like" us, and you can stay in touch with the latest pregnancy, birth and baby news. Or just like us because you like us.

Here is the link.

Please join us. We'd love to have you.


Ceridwen + Rebecca

posted by ceridwen at 2:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 3, 2010

Come read us on Babble

We are currently blogging every day on babble.com on a blog called "Being Pregnant" so come read us over there...

posted by kanarick at 1:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2008

ok, maybe i'll have the salad

All this scary health news has dragged us out of a months-long blogless inertia. Among the disturbing health findings this week is a new study reporting that one and a half cups of coffee daily can double your miscarriage risk in early pregnancy, much less than previously thought. And then there's the NYT exposé on mercury in tuna sushi (login required).

Tests of tuna from twenty purveyors (high end restaurants and stores) produced such high mercury ratings that a good 1/3 of the fish could have been seized by the FDA. According to the readings, a single plate of tuna sashimi could exceed your maximum recommended mercury intake for a week. And that's not counting the yellowtail app or the toro scallion hand roll that finishes up the meal.

Mercury quotas are calculated for adults. My four year old is crazy for tuna sushi. I've been letting him have a piece or two every month or so, thinking how much mercury could be in one little piece? So much for that. Even a bite seems questionable when you're thirty-seven pounds.

I've been pretty tuna-avoidant for the past five years since I've been pregnant or nursing most of the time. Even when we went to Masa, I only got a half portion of the toro parfait. But we're a sushi-loving family... I can't just blow the whole thing off. I try to consult the NRDC's incredibly useful mercury in sushi chart when I can, often while sitting at the table (thank you, iphone).

And Sara Kate of The Kitchen (a fellow recent gestator herself) just wrote about Kona Kampachi, Hawaiian yellowtail that's supposedly toxin-free. I've got high hopes... and a lot of post-post-pregnancy cravings that need sating.

posted by rebecca at 10:25 AM | Comments (2)

September 1, 2007

through the eyes of a pregnant woman, or the worst part about breastfeeding is all that pumping

We went to a beautiful country fair in Maine this weekend, and while Alfred was thrilled with the rides and cotton candy....


... I found myself drawn to other "attractions."


posted by ceridwen at 7:28 PM | Comments (5)

July 30, 2007

antenatal sandwich blues

I have been struggling with the no-deli-meats pregnancy rule. My solution is often just to break it. But I have enthusiastically re-discoved a sandwich I used to eat all the time when I lived in Australia but had completely forgotten about: the SALAD ROLL. This sandwich--usually served on a multigrain roll- is packed with greens, cheese, beets, avocado and tomato (see below). Though it may sound like some sad, lo-cal item from the calorie-counter section of the menu, it's not. It's substantial enough to make you wonder, who needs that wad of boiled ham anyway? In Aus, the Salad Roll is as common as the meat pie or a chocolate frog; you can literally buy one at a highway snack shop or a 7/11. Of course the foodies are always tinkering and modifying, replacing the standard cheddar with some fig-wrapped artisinal wedge, but the basic pile-up is fine with me:

grated carrot
sliced beets
sliced avocado (often)
sliced egg (sometimes)
aussie margarine (often made with olive oil), salt and pepper

I've been making these at home but I've also found that the odd well-stocked and cooperative NYC deli will cobble together a decent version. At places where salad bar fixings such as sliced beets are not available (and based on looks I've gotten from some dumbfounded sandwich-makers, this is often the case) I go for the Italian Hero adaptation: provolone or mozzarella, tomatoes, red peppers (or antepasti like artichoke hearts), onions, lettuce, oil and vinegar, salt, pepper and maybe hot peppers.

Hope this helps other pregnant sandwich lovers. More suggestions are welcome, I have 5 months to go!

posted by ceridwen at 8:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2007

skinny moms make fat kids?

In the same week the March Of Dimes comes out with a warning about how we should stop already with this notion of "eating for two" and aspire to a lean pregnancy, we get this news: a rat study suggests that if you don't eat enough in pregnancy your baby may grow up to be obese.

The idea seems to relate to the yo-yo diet: your metabolism goes into starvation mode and becomes more efficient at storing fat. In the case of the malnourished expectant mother, the baby is the one who becomes programmed to hang on to whatever fat comes his or her way. For life.

It's nice to know that a little pregnant flab may keep your future kid from requiring Shaq's Big Family Challenge. But pregnancy weight gain warnings never make me feel all that good. You're either too fat or too skinny!

posted by ceridwen at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2007

antidepressants and pregnancy: good, bad, or...

Here's something on Huff Post that would have opened a big old can of antenatally depressed worms had it been written (or performed) by Tom Cruise. But it comes instead from a boring, old doctor. His heavily footnoted message is thus: antidepressants are not a good idea for pregnant women.

The headlines and the CDC press release were incredibly misleading. In the CDC study, several severe birth defects were doubled or nearly tripled in frequency when SSRIs were taken in the first trimester. This combined with the other known toxic effects of SSRIs, including brain damage and dysfunction, make these drugs contraindicated in pregnancy.

Here's one of the headlines he refers to: Antidepressants Rated Low-Risk in Pregnancy (New York Times: June 28. 2007). The guy is not a quack. He has a good resume but he obviously has a HUGE beef with SSRIS.

The studies are clearly being interpreted differently depending on who is doing the analysis. This guy thinks it's a big deal when there are 2.8 times as many babies getting fetal (fatal) deformaties. But if the risk is only 4 in 10,000 births to start with that's still a very small number, even when multiplied by 2.8. I'm not sure if his article is hugely significant from a medical standpoint. It's certainly upsetting to anyone who feels miserably depressed in the first trimester of pregnancy and has been given the OK to use SSRIs. I do buy his argument that the perhaps overly enthusiastic headlines may increase prescriptions for even mildly depressed patients for whom the cost/benefit analysis hasn't been thoughtfully applied. Maybe that's the real question to think about: not whether SSRIs in pregnancy are good or bad but whether they are being over-prescribed.

posted by ceridwen at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

pregnancy and depression: it happens

A pregnant documentary film maker writes about her depression the Boston Globe. She points out that antepartum depression is still considered very taboo so it's great that she's come out with her story. I am always amazed (though not surprised) by how often "lack of support" is associated with depression (of the ante and post varieties).

posted by ceridwen at 9:37 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2007

the politics of eggs

Thank God Peggy Orenstein is the person telling us about the current state of infertility options. Her piece in the Times yesterday about donor eggs covers a lot of controversy in a totally even-handed and thoughtful way. Having tried it herself, she's well-qualified to talk about the complex emotional responses women have to the process without calling its legitimacy into question.

One observation that that really struck me was the difference between how sperm and egg donation is perceived and packaged. Here's Peggy scanning the potential egg donors at Ova The Rainbow with one of the women she interviewed:

I stood behind her, watching the young women go by. Each was accompanied by an assortment of photos: girls in caps and gowns graduating from high school, sunburned and smiling on family vacations, as preschoolers in princess frocks, sporting supermodel pouts in shopping-mall glamour portraits. Sperm banks rarely provide such visuals, which is just one disparity in the packaging and treatment of male and female donors, according to a study published last month in The American Sociological Review. Egg donors are often thanked with presents and notes by recipients for their generous “gift.” Sperm donors are reminded that they’re doing a “job,” providing a “sample,” and performing an act they’d presumably do anyway — which may be why many men in the study were rattled when told a pregnancy had actually occurred. And although the men could admit they were in it for the cash, ovum donors were expected to express at least a smidge of altruism.

She also talks extensively about different answers to the "when and how to tell" question and errs on the full-disclosure side. This article is really worth reading, and seems especially crucial-- if emotional-- for those trying to decide between an egg donor and adoption. The final sentence is spot on:

“I’m just happy,” she said. Finally, Becky would be a mother, her husband a father, the two of them building a family with all the conflict, joy and unpredictability that entails — regardless of whose genes are involved.

posted by ceridwen at 9:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2007

will this pinot noir really hurt the fetus?

A pregnant Swede looks at what she considers alarmist alcohol prohibitions. Of note:

The strict alcohol consumption guidelines set up by Swedish, UK or US health care authorities, agencies and associations all share the aura of scientific and medical credibility. However, a study in 2006 by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology concluded that there was no convincing evidence of adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure at low to moderate levels, where moderate was defined as 10.5 units per week (not at one sitting).

Messages to eliminate all alcohol are purely motivated by the true danger of a fetus’ exposure to high levels of alcohol which results in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

The presumption: ”If large amounts are dangerous, small amounts are probably dangerous too” argument is unfair. Instead of fact, fear is used to support a “better safe than sorry” defense for zero tolerance while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Here's how I feel about it: I have the occasional long slug of really delicious cold beer when it's hot and miserable out. I pour myself half a glass of wine if I'm enjoying a decent meal. Do I think some alcohol is 100% safe? I'm not sure. A huge part of the problem with "policy" on all this is that women metabolize alcohol differently. One drink does different things to different bodies. Also, do you guzzle a beer before eating and push that blood alcohol way up? Or slowly sip on some while eating a three course meal?

There's an incredible story in Dan Savage's amazing book about his experience adopting, in which he learns that his street punk birth mother was consuming fairly large amounts of beer. His web search for "alcohol and pregnancy" was so terrifying, he considered bailing out. But then he contacted top researchers in the field of FASD and they ALL reassured Dan and his partner that moderate, even regular drinking has not been proven dangerous. (They emphasized binge drinking as the proven cause of problems). The baby was fine. It's a radical story in many ways and I mention it here only because it's another example of the "medical recommendation" vs. what-the-doctors-know. (Also because I really love that book!)

The cultural background is also interesting: I have a friend who spent her first trimester in France. People offered her drinks and all but blew smoke in her face. But when it came to cheese she was forbidden from even looking at it. In America, alcohol is considered scarier than cheese-- partly because we have a different attitude towards drinking, partly because most of our cheeses are pasteurized.

It's all a bit scary really. Or not. I accidentally ate some sliced ham the other day and waited for the hard-to-detect symptoms of listeriosis to kick in... for about five minutes. Then I had to get on with my life.

posted by ceridwen at 9:17 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2007

prenatal screening can take years off!

The Canadians are saying that 40 is the new 35 when it comes to prenatal testing. A new study suggests that the automatic high-risk label should not be slapped on every woman over 35. This is a big shift in thinking and may change prenatal procedure in Canada.

In an opinion paper published today in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that maternal age should only factor into a decision about amniocentesis when a woman is over 40.

The researchers state that many women between 35-40 need not be fast tracked to an amnio. (They also question a recent US study that put Amnio risk at 1-1,600). They reckon screenings can offer a good enough understanding of risk. Of course figuring out how to deal with all this info-- the stats about miscarriage and risk-- is often so hard and involves many factors about your situation including how you interpret good odds (screenings are between 94% and 97% accurate in assessing risk).

As a crusty, old pregnant woman (39), I must say I was pleased to learn, after my recent nuchal ultrasound, that I was more like a 29 year-old! (Been acting like one ever since.) And reading this, I thought, damn, how nice to hear someone, anyone, even a Canadian! in the medical establishment say that us geezer moms are not just disasters waiting to happen.

posted by ceridwen at 6:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2007

more on pregnancy risk

What's a leading cause of death in pregnancy? Homocide.

I just told my husband this and he said, "You gotta do it before the baby comes out or else you're screwed." Hmm. This seems as good a time as any to announce my second pregnancy. (Due Christmas). If my husband suddenly takes up fishing ... may this blog be used in court.

posted by ceridwen at 7:51 PM | Comments (2)

risk of listerioses vs risk of neurosis

We are frequently asked why we wrote From the Hips. We have a long answer but another shorter answer might be that we were anticipating this woman's complaints. (Now we just need that UK edition!)

posted by ceridwen at 1:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2007

Auntie Flo doesn't visit here anymore

The FDA has approved a birth control pill that will eliminate periods. There’s an excellent account of the pill and surrounding debate at Slate. The basic back–and-forth goes:

It’s not natural to stop periods!
It’s not natural for women to have so many periods!

If we were cranking out babies and breastfeeding starting at the “natural” age of about 15, we’d have way less periods. According to Reproductive professor Ian Fraser,

"Breast cancer in our society is 100-fold greater than in primitive societies and having lots of menstrual cycles probably plays a role in that."

This whole discussion echoes so many other debates about what’s "natural" for women. That word always makes me wary: while "natural" often connotes goodness, nature can also suck: morning sickness, the fact that a baby doesn’t easily fit through the pelvic bones, miserable periods, death! Sometimes when I hear someone say "your body knows what to do," I curse that knowledge!

I used to to think it was wrong to prevent menstruation. Partly, it’s because I have an association between being a woman and blood: stopping the periods felt like a denial of biology, even sexuality. After all, anorexics stop menstruating. Also, ovulating involves becoming, for lack of a better word, ripe-- which is part of the whole sexual arousal package. I'd miss that sexually charged mid-month feeling if it were hormonally erased.

But the idea that maybe it wasn't so great to have so many periods for so long is starting to make sense to me: The thought of raising a child with my high school boyfriend still makes me shudder, but my body was ready to start conceiving at 15. Had this pill been available earlier and had I been--in the promiscuous heyday of my immortal twenties--able to contemplate things such as cancer risk and a limited egg stash, maybe I would have taken a couple years off and saved a pretty penny on tampons, Advil and bleach.

posted by ceridwen at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

May 16, 2007

learning about "your baby"

According to Consumer Genetics Inc., you can now do a home blood test to find out the sex of a six-week-old embryo. It's all through international internet mail order, and the $215 will not be covered by insurance. Here's a story about the goings on with the company. Here's the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists telling everyone it's a bad idea to obsess over gender (at least this early in the game). What I want to know is when will we be able to get a home amnio kit?!

posted by ceridwen at 9:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2007

miscarriage break down

I just read Waiting for Daisy, Peggy Orenstein's new book about her six year struggle to become pregnant. I loved reading it; it's beautifully written and brutally self-aware. Orenstein does not hold back about what an obsessive, one-track minded freak she became, losing site of pretty much everything, including her marriage, in her quest for a child. I did enjoy the crumbling marriage stuff a lot. I know how hard it is when a kid comes into the picture, even just the idea of a kid! But my favorite parts are about miscarriage. Here's Orenstein on the confusing state of being pro-choice and embryo-obsessed:

...I'd already calculated my due date on a Web site, ogled pictures of "my baby's" development and joined an expecting club on iVillage... All of this encourages a mother-to-be to see the fetus as a person, at least in the psychological sense, at an ever earlier stage. You tell friends. Names are bandied about. The baby feels real. Yet, if the pregnancy goes amiss, that personhood is abruptly revoked and you're supposed to act like nothing ever happened...Voicing my confusion, admitting that the bundle of cells I so adamantly called a zygote had felt to me more like some sort of life, seemed like playing into the hands of the enemy.... What I'd experienced had not been a full life, nor was it a full death, but it was a real loss."

I recommend the book to anyone, but especially to anyone who's gone through miscarriage(s).

posted by ceridwen at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2007

keep your pants on

I've never been one for a snapping, pinching garter, but these pregnancy pants suspenders seem like a decent idea. Also available from these manufacturers are ultra-sized swaddling blankets which I would recommend (they are not always easy to find).

posted by ceridwen at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2007

an apple a day keeps inhaler away

Yet another amazingly specific piece of dietary information for pregnant women: Eating apples when pregnant may help reduce the chances your baby will get asthma. Something about flavanoids, you can read about it here. I guess at least finding a good apple is a tad easier than finding potent, non-mercury-laden omega-3's.

posted by ceridwen at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2007

want a girl? light up

A new British study shows that smoking can as much as double the chances for a girl. They don't know exactly why but theorize that there's something in the smoke that messes with life for the male sperm and possibly the implantation of a male embryo. Girls are so tough, even as blastocysts. According to the findings:

"Mothers who smoked during pregnancy were one-third less likely to have male children than mothers who did not smoke. If the father also smoked, and if factors such as the health and age of the mother were accounted for, the chances of having a male child reduces by almost half."

Not to call this research into question--they studied 9,000 pregnancies--but Bacall and Bogart did have a son.

posted by ceridwen at 8:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2006

rachel weisz is takin' the chill road

According to this reliable source,Rachel Weisz says that European women drink while pregnant and that it's "fine." (In England, "one to two units" a week have been declared acceptable for expectant moms). Nice to see a laid back celeb mom. If only Weisz' knowledge of fetal development was as rock solid as her performance in The Constant Gardener we could all imbibe with a little more confidence.

posted by ceridwen at 2:08 PM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2006

hello, I'm 9 months pregnant, kindly let me sit the f*ck down

Next time you're pregnant and using mass transit in Korea you can enjoy the benefit of seats marked especially for you. After having witnessed many an appalling example of how a New Yorker's ability to block out the whirl of surrounding activity does NOT benefit pregnant subway passengers, I feel like the marked seats are not a bad plan. Though just yesterday I noticed a decidedly non-handicapped young man taking up TWO "priority seats" with his macho spread legs--so the signs might not work here. In Korea they are also handing out "badges" to not-yet-showing pregnant women so that strangers can give them preferential treatment. This seems a bit overly protective (and prying), though the badges could come in handy at a cocktail party or if you start vomiting in the middle of a staff meeting.

posted by ceridwen at 3:46 PM | Comments (1)

September 28, 2006

La Gioconda Gravida?

New scans of the world's most famous painting seem to imply that the model may have been pregnant. She's wearing some sort of veil that was customary for pregnant women back in the day... not visible to the naked eye, but discovered through some new fancy-pants scanning equipment. More here.

posted by rebecca at 8:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2006

on the wagon across the pond?

The UK is slowly starting to get more serious about pregnant women not drinking. Although the official recommendation suggests that light drinking (no more than 2 units a week) is still acceptable, a new campaign aims to inform/remind mothers-to-be that no booze=no risk. The signs will be placed in ladies rooms at pubs. Knowing the bathroom habits of sober pregnant women (and drunk un-pregnant ones) I'd assume that means they'll get seen. Still, it's a far cry from the requisite black and white signage behind every U.S. bar, where everyone gets an eyeful of the surgeon general's warning.

posted by rebecca at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2006

tap that bump

Inside her belly is more beer!

posted by ceridwen at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2006

more fish tales

Consumer Reports recommends a zero tuna policy for pregnant women, based on the use of unlabeled high mercury light tuna species in some cans of fish. 6% of cans tested way higher in mercury than most. Bet all the pregnant women who have been dilligently following the FDA's more tentative restrictions are feeling pretty excited about this. Here's an article comparing the two. The report suggests salmon, shrimp, clams and tilapia instead. Wonder how tilapia tastes with mayo.

posted by rebecca at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

UK vs. US, the battle of the booze

The UK officially says it's OK for pregnant women to consume "one or two units of alcohol" once or twice a week and that these small amounts have not been proven to do any harm. This two-drink maximum recommendation comes even when 1 in 100 UK babies are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (the milder form of fetal alcohol syndrome, also known as FASD). Meanwhile, stateside, things are moving in a somewhat different direction:

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

This, from the Washington Post re: new CDC guidelines. So while pregnant women overseas are trusted to make the right choices once they've conceived, women in the U.S. are so unable to make choices that they need to think of themselves as pregnant as soon as they possibly might be? Pretty terrifying.

posted by ceridwen at 9:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2006

the pregnant look

Maybe it's because all the celebrity muses are pregnant. This spring's fashion is looking remarkably belly-friendly. From Daryl K's 'Love Is A Battlefield' haute schleppiness to everything by Ella Moss to the pregnant bridesmaid look from Marc by Marc Jacobs, a lot of what's currently in the stores could easily hide at least five months worth. Before, or after.

posted by rebecca at 8:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

another fish story

This time, it may actually be GOOD news. After all the confusion (it's good for you! it's bad for you!) on fish and toxins, it was slightly reassuring to read this report from a recent medical conference. We'd heard rumblings of these findings months back but hadn't seen it laid out quite so clearly. A study in the Seychelles, where fish is a primary part of the local diet, discovered that mercury levels in women's hair did not correlate to any neurological damage in their offspring to date. So for the moment, pregnant women can enjoy the occasional (well done) tuna steak in peace. Until the next study....

More on the fish confusion from Marian Burros last week in the New York Times (registration required)

posted by rebecca at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

No Fat Chicks

Another pregnancy scandal from the soap opera world: Kari Wurher, who built her career on MTV and Howard Stern, is suing ABC for firing her when she told them she was pregnant. The network counters the accusations with a truly low blow, saying she was fired because she wasn't sexy. The Times article on the subject refers to the Hunter Tylo vs. Melrose Place case a few years back, in which she was awarded 5 million dollars after the show axed her (post-pregnancy-announcement). They also list a few examples of movies/shows accomodating pregnant stars, with this reprimanding quote from a producer: "There are lots of ways to work with pregnant actresses. You just don't freak out and say, 'We can't deal with a woman who is pregnant.'" but without stating the obvious: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, and Mariska Hartigay are all STARS. The choice to accomodate them was not about 'not freaking out' or being otherwise understanding. It was about not losing money.

posted by rebecca at 9:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 5, 2005

cruise baby

Katie is pregnant! Let's hope she takes those vitamins.

posted by thenewmoms at 9:10 PM | Comments (1)

October 3, 2005

the early bird gets the heartache?

One byproduct of tecnological advances in pregnancy testing, according to some doctors in the UK, may be seemingly higher rates of early miscarriage. The theory is that since these super-sensitive tests can detect HCG levels even before a woman's period has been missed, she can then end up suffering the grief of a miscarriage when she gets her period after the pregnancy doesn't implant successfully. This may contribute to the perceived rate of miscarriage, but not necessarily the number of actual early miscarriages (since early testing wasn't available before, these women would theoretically not think they were pregnant in the first place.) The upside, according to another doctor, is that if this happens over and over again, it can help diagnose an implantation problem.

posted by thenewmoms at 8:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2005

extrauterine pregnancy!

whoa. A baby was born after gestating for 8.5 months in the abdominal cavity, OUTSIDE of the uterus. Only 5 cases like this have ever been reported. They're already clucking about male gestation...

posted by thenewmoms at 4:42 PM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2005

'massive' attack

Not that we haven't had a (chicken)bone to pick with B.Spears, but someone needs to tell these poisonous British teen magazines that 170 lbs is not MASSIVE for a pregnant woman. And that it's normal for skinny women to gain more weight during pregnancy. We can't all live on cottage cheese and tomatoes. We're guessing we'll be seeing plenty of that ol' familiar midriff sooner than we think. Lets just hope Britney doesn't get a uterine prolapse from whatever hideous workout awaits her on the other side.

posted by thenewmoms at 1:48 PM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2005

early onset mommybrain

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.

posted by thenewmoms at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2005

...and you thought New York was a tough town

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.

posted by thenewmoms at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2005

asthma and pregnancy

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.

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!

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.

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?? )

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:

posted by ceridwen at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

biological clocks that keep on ticking

A new study has identified a gene that actually keeps a woman's ovaries from aging, allowing her to conceive and give birth for a longer period than most. Maybe someday there will be a test a woman can take early on to find out exactly what time zone her biological clock is operating on, and theoretically, we can plan our families accordingly. But most women we know who are on the late side of the reproduction spectrum weren't just dillydallying around thinking their fertility was infinite. They were not ready to have kids for one reason or another...ie relationships that were not up to co-parenting snuff. Who would we all have bred with if we found out our biological clocks were on overdrive when we were 20?

posted by thenewmoms at 2:30 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2005

fishy info

Eating fish when you're pregnant will make your baby smarter! Or maybe dumber! It depends on the fish. In a recent study of babies born to fish-eating women, scientists found that "For each additional weekly serving of fish, the babies' intelligence scores increased by 4 points, or an average of almost 7%. But for every increase of 1 part per million of mercury, the babies' intelligence scores dropped by 7.5 points, or 12.5%."

So women should eat good fish but avoid bad fish. Sounds easy enough, sort of. But which fish are good and which ones are bad? It's impossible to get a straight answer. Even the scientists seem confused. This article says that the worst kinds of fish are shark and swordfish, as well as white and albacore tuna. But then it says "Generally, the darker the fish meat, the higher the mercury content." Fine...except that every fish on the bad list actually has white meat.

Are we just supposed to guess which fish will make our babies geniuses, and which ones will give them brain damage? Is it size related? Fat-content related? Does geography play a role? Do some individual fish have more mercury than others? Can we get a little clarity on this issue? Or at least some innovation...pocket mercury detectors, clearly labeled low-mercury fish oil supplements...something?? And don't even get me started on those PCBs.

posted by rebecca at 9:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2005

too bad drinking age IS childbearing age...

So now they're saying that even drinking before you get pregnant can harm your baby?

"All women of childbearing age, including teenagers, must be counseled by health workers, educators, and family that drinking any amount of alcohol before or during the chance they may become pregnant is dangerous not only for themselves but for their developing baby..."

posted by thenewmoms at 4:29 PM | Comments (2)

June 8, 2005

pass the pint

Dieting during pregnancy may help keep you out of the dreaded x-large maternity wear, but it's more likely to make your baby fat, according to a Japanese news story. So, you now have medical permission to abandon the "Best Odds Diet" and eat avocados and gelato all day. And be sure to try every flavor to give those developing fetal taste buds a proper workout. Maybe it's not supersizing that's behind our obese kids, after all.

posted by thenewmoms at 3:09 PM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2005

this is the sound of two clocks ticking

A new study finds that a man's age may actually be more of a factor in miscarriage than was previously thought. If the sperm source is over 35, there's a 27% greater chance of miscarriage, even if the woman carrying the pregnancy is a "low-risk" spring chicken. I know this is not good news, yet part of me is a tiny bit pleased to hear that the daddy can carry at least one corner of that big ol' bio clock instead of women having to bear all the weight themselves. It's a pretty heavy, loud load to carry alone.

posted by thenewmoms at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2005

pre-partum depression

Here's some news that will come as no surprise to many moms...A recent study suggests that depression is just as common *during* pregnancy as post-partum. Maybe more attention on pregnancy and depression will help anxious and/or depressed pregnant women realize that they are definitely not alone... that huge numbers of moms have a hard time with this period of tremendous physio/psychological upheaval.

It's great that this issue is being recognized, now let's hope there is more research into causes and solutions... especially since a new study shows that some antidepressants (SRIs taken in late pregnancy) have associated risks for babies.

posted by thenewmoms at 3:12 PM | Comments (24)

April 1, 2005

incompetent research

It took me thirty seconds to find this definition of incompetent cervix on google.

Why, then, were the writers of the Gorgeous/Gruesome TV show Nip/Tuck (which I currently love but entirely expect to hate soon) Unable/Unwilling to make the thirty second effort to determine whether their story line was feasible?

If you haven't seen the first season and are spoiler-sensitive, do not read on.

I know that as titles of medical conditions go, "incompetent cervix" is about as Gorgeous/Gruesome as they come. And I know they needed some kind of "preventable" miscarriage scenario, but COME ON. The woman was eight weeks pregnant, and announced during her examination that she had never even heard of the condition, much less experienced it previously, which would make that diagnosis pretty much impossible.

Could they not have figured this out? Fact-checking? Vetting? Something? I realize that my standards for versimilitude are probably unrealistic, but it purports to be a show about medicine, after all. Mostly boob jobs, but medicine, nonetheless.

posted by rebecca at 9:50 AM | Comments (1)