Pregnancy: Eating Well Cuts the Risk of Birth Defects – TIME Healthland

Need more of a reason to eat a healthy diet? Pregnant women who load up on fruits, veggies and whole grains have a reduced risk of having babies with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida or cleft lip, according to one of the first studies to look at the connection between diet and birth defects.

What that means for expectant mothers is that it’s not enough just to take folic acid, which doctors recommend as a way to prevent up to 40% of neural tube defects (NTDs). As word has spread among pregnant women about the importance of a folic-acid supplementation, the number of babies born with NTDs has declined — but it hasn’t dropped to zero. “We need to keep searching for answers,” says Suzan Carmichael, lead author of the study published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 

Carmichael, an associate professor in the pediatrics department at Stanford University, decided to look at the importance of overall nutrition rather than focusing on a single nutrient such as folic acid.

Read more:  Pregnancy: Eating Well Cuts the Risk of Birth Defects – TIME Healthland.


Fathers Programmed to Care for New Baby After Birth | Suite101.com

New research confirms that new fathers may in fact be wired hormonally to nurture and care for their babies after birth.

Having a new baby in the home seems to bring out the softer side of fathers, according to new research.  A brand new study published in the September 12, 2011 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that new fathers actually experience hormonal changes after they become fathers that may play a role in their ability to care for their children.

High Levels of Testosterone Found During Mating

According to scientists from Northwestern University in Newfoundland, Canada, certain species involve the male partner more in the role of caring for the young. During the process of competing for the female to mate with, testosterone levels in these species are at the highest level.

Yet after the offspring is born, experts have seen that the levels of testosterone in the male partner decline substantially. This change may be an important factor in the males ability to care for his young.

When Do Testosterone Levels Change in Men?

Until recently, experts have known that testosterone levels in human males are lower among new fathers. However they have not known until now whether men with low testosterone are more likely to become fathers or if the low levels of testosterone in men have occurred as a result of fathering children.

In order to find out more, Canadian researchers took a large group of over 600 men from the Philippines to test levels of testosterone in men. They began with a group of single nonfathers and tested their testosterone levels in the morning hours as well as in the evening. Results in the human studies seemed to be consistent with what happens with other species in nature.

Read MORE via Fathers Programmed to Care for New Baby After Birth | Suite101.com.


Prenatal Exercise Benefits Baby After Birth – Centreville, VA Patch

When a woman becomes pregnant, she’ll often adopt healthier habits and put the needs of her unborn child first. Studies over the past few years have proven that exercising is good for both the expectant mother and her baby. One of the most promising benefits is that exercise helps strengthen a fetus’ heart control.

But, research released this week shows that exercising during pregnancy also goes a long way to help your child’s heart even after birth. That is welcome news in a society with a large focus on the heart health of school-aged children. Government organizations, school systems and nonprofits are all working to create programs to improve a child’s health. Turns out, the intervention needs to happen sooner—a lot sooner. And the first person who can do something about it is an expectant mom.

The study was done at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences by exercise physiologist and anatomist Linda E. May, who has been investigating fetal heart rate development for the past four years. In 2008, May and her team found pregnant women who exercised at least 30 minutes, three times a week, had fetuses with lower heart rates during the final weeks of development. A lower resting heart rate is a sign of a healthy heart, both in a fetus and in adults.

READ MORE via Prenatal Exercise Benefits Baby After Birth – Centreville, VA Patch.


Only 1/3 of OB/GYN Clinical Guidelines Grounded in Evidence

Scientific Evidence Underlying the American College of Obste… : Obstetrics & Gynecology

OBJECTIVE: Clinical guidelines are an important source of guidance for clinicians. Few studies have examined the quality of scientific data underlying evidence-based guidelines. We examined the quality of evidence that underlies the recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College).

METHODS: The current practice bulletins of the College were examined. Each bulletin makes multiple recommendations. Each recommendation is categorized based on the quality and quantity of evidence that underlies the recommendation into one of three levels of evidence: A (good and consistent evidence), B (limited or inconsistent evidence), or C (consensus and opinion). We analyzed the distribution of levels of evidence for obstetrics and gynecology recommendations.

RESULTS: A total of 84 practice bulletins that offered 717 individual recommendations were identified. Forty-eight (57.1%) of the guidelines were obstetric and 36 (42.9%) were gynecologic. When all recommendations were considered, 215 (30.0%) provided level A evidence, 270 (37.7%) level B, and 232 (32.4%) level C. Among obstetric recommendations, 93 (25.5%) were level A, 145 (39.7%) level B, and 117 (34.8%) level C. For the gynecologic recommendations, 122 (34.7%) were level A, 125 (35.5%) level B, and 105 (29.8%) level C. The gynecology recommendations were more likely to be of level A evidence than the obstetrics recommendations (P=.049).

CONCLUSION: One third of the recommendations put forth by the College in its practice bulletins are based on good and consistent scientific evidence.


(C) 2011 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

via Scientific Evidence Underlying the American College of Obste… : Obstetrics & Gynecology.


Discouraging Inductions and Early Elective Caesareans – NYTimes.com

A Campaign to Carry Pregnancies to Term


The March of Dimes opened a new campaign this summer to curb the large and growing number of otherwise healthy pregnancies that are deliberately ended early by induced labor or Caesarean delivery.

Research has clearly shown that a change in approach that emphasizes allowing babies to develop fully when both mother and baby are doing well could result in healthier babies and lower medical costs. The campaign is called “Healthy babies are worth the wait.”

What prompted the campaign is what many experts view as an alarming trend in American obstetrics — the steady rise in elective deliveries of singleton babies before 39 weeks of gestation, when fetal development is complete. Gestation is calculated from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. Studies have shown that as many as 36 percent of elective deliveries now occur before 39 weeks, and many of these early deliveries are contributing to an unacceptable number of premature births and avoidable, costly complications.

Although guidelines issued 12 years ago by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cautioned against elective delivery by induction or Caesarean before 39 weeks, an overwhelming majority of new mothers and many doctors who deliver babies believe it is just as safe for birth to occur weeks earlier.


But the medical facts say otherwise. With each decreasing week of gestation below 39 to 40 weeks, there is an increased risk of complications like respiratory distress, jaundice, infection, low blood sugar, extra days in the hospital (including time in the neonatal intensive care unit), and even deaths of newborn babies and older infants.

Although tests may show that the baby’s lungs are well developed at, say, 37 weeks, research has demonstrated that the risk of newborn complications is still significantly higher than if delivery occurs two to three weeks later. In a study published last December of babies demonstrated to have mature lungs before birth, those delivered at 36 to 38 weeks had two and a half times the number of complications compared with those delivered at 39 to 40 weeks. Problems more common among babies delivered earlier in gestation included respiratory distress, jaundice and low blood sugar.

READ MORE via Discouraging Inductions and Early Elective Caesareans – NYTimes.com.


News: Baby’s Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth : NPR

Want your child to love veggies? Start early. Very early. Research shows that what a woman eats during pregnancy not only nourishes her baby in the womb, but may shape food preferences later in life.

At 21 weeks after conception, a developing baby weighs about as much as a can of Coke — and he or she can taste it, too. Still in the womb, the growing baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid daily. That fluid surrounding the baby is actually flavored by the foods and beverages the mother has eaten in the last few hours.

“Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk,” says Julie Mennella, who studies taste in infants at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. In fact, Mennella says there isn’t a single flavor they have found that doesn’t show up in utero. Her work has been published in the journal Pediatrics.

The Scent Of Amniotic Fluid

To determine if flavors are passed from the mother to the the baby via the amniotic fluid, researchers gave women garlic capsules or sugar capsules before taking a routine sample of their amniotic fluid — and then asked a panel of people to smell the samples.

“And it was easy,” says Mennella. “They could pick out the samples easily from the women who ate garlic.” The sense of taste is actually 90-percent smell, she added, so they knew just from the odor that the babies could taste it.

READ MORE via Baby’s Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth : NPR.


A First Time Mom Contemplates Birth Options and Plans

I am nearly 40 weeks pregnant, and I just gave my OB our birth preferences sheet. As I have mentioned before, most of the decisions of this pregnancy have been fraught with worry, but our birth plan is one of the few items that involves other people. Lots of other people.

via The Birth Plan Debate: When Did It Become Us Vs. Them? : The Baby Project : NPR.


New Prenatal Yoga Class in the Valley

Mamaste Prenatal

Yoga Class

Starts Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
At 6:30PM
6 week session /$60 (first class is free!)

Contact: Shannon Callies
At 414.803.2224 or email at innerblissyoga1@gmail.com
to sign up today!

Come and take time to connect with your baby and learn relaxation and breathing techniques that will allow you a peaceful pregnancy and birthing process. Join us at any stage in your pregnancy, all levels of experience welcome!

Trillium Yoga Studio
103 E College Ave, Suite 302


Join us May 2nd!



Tools for a Natural Birth

by Anja Farin, Childbirth Educator, Doula, Midwifery Student

So you’ve done your research and decided that you want to have a natural birth. There are a lot of convincing reasons to choose a natural birth. Healthy, alert babies born to mothers who are conscious, alert and empowered are among the best benefits of natural birth. And while birth is by nature an unpredictable event, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of achieving a natural birth.

1. Choose your care provider wisely. Be sure that your care provider is not just paying lip service to a natural birth, but is instead a true advocate for a woman who wants to make that choice. How often do the women in their practice have an un-medicated, un-interventive birth? Make sure that you choose a doctor or midwife who sees natural birth as normal, and anything else is a risky intervention. Ask about your chosen practitioner’s rates of specific interventions—epidural, episiotomy, etc. If “normal” for your chosen provider is a birth full of intervention, don’t expect that you will receive anything other than the routine.
2. Educate yourself. Make reading and researching about childbirth issues a priority. Share resources with friends, and make good use of the internet. There are lots of great books with information about natural birth—check out ones by Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, and Mothering Magazine for starters. Take a childbirth class. Be sure that your childbirth class is taught by an independent instructor; a childbirth educator who works for you can be honest with you about issues and concerns that you have because she only works for you. Make sure that your class will focus on how to have a natural birth as well.
3. Consider hiring a doula. A doula is a woman who is trained to support a laboring woman. Again, be sure that the doula you hire is familiar with ways to support a woman who wants to give birth naturally. There are many ways a doula can assist at your birth—she can advocate for your wishes while you are focusing on your labor, she can provide hands on support (backrubs, water, food), she can assist you with breastfeeding, and postpartum adjustment. While your doula is an advocate for you, she can’t speak for you, or make medical decisions for you. You will still need to advocate for yourself for a natural birth. Expect to meet with your doula a couple of times prenatally, and then to be able to call her when you’re ready for support during your labor. She will be with you during your labor and birth, and will probably do at least one postpartum visit to make sure you’re adjusting well to family life. “Doulas clearly improve clinical and service quality; they provide an absolutely safe way to reduce cesareans and other invasive birthing interventions.” Coming to Term: Innovations in Safely Reducing Cesarean Rates. Medical Leadership Council, Washington D.C. 1996
4. Surround yourself with people who believe in natural birth. It’s a big deal to give birth to a baby, whether you’re planning to do it naturally or not. The last thing you need is people doubting you. Try sharing your perspective, but don’t try to spend a lot of energy trying to change other people’s attitudes. Be confident that you’re making your choices for the right reasons.
5. Believe in yourself. Women have been giving birth naturally for millennia, and you can too. Your body was specially designed for the work of pregnancy and birth ~ don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
6. Remain flexible. Childbirth, by its very nature, is unpredictable. Keep your goals in mind, stay positive and confident, and be flexible about your birth because it may turn out very differently than you originally thought. Remember that there are times when medical intervention is appropriate and even necessary. Natural childbirth isn’t an unreasonable goal; it also shouldn’t be an inflexible goal. The health of you and your baby are paramount.

Many blessings to you on this wonderful journey of motherhood!