Archives for September 2007

Intense excercise leads to Miscarriage

A new study in Denmark found that women who exercise intensively during the first phase of pregnancy are 3.7 times more likely to miscarry than pregnant women who don’t break a sweat.

The highest risk is during the first trimester, for women who play high impact sports or exercise strenuously for at least seven hours a week. After the 18th week of pregnancy, this specific risk to the baby seems to disappear.

The findings are not meant to discourage expecting women from excercizing, but do insist on caution and “argue in favour of a review of exercise guidelines for pregnant women.” Read more here.

Bright ray of hope for Pregnant women with Cancer

I’m thinking about the Grey’s Anatomy episode where a pregnant woman is admitted to the hospital with cancer. She is given the dreadful choice that has been given to most pregnant cancer patients: Delay treatment until delivery, which means risking the mother’s life, or start treatment during pregnant and most likely harm the baby. If I remember correctly, the woman on the show decided abort, but then changed her mind and decided to sacrifice herself for the sake of carrying her baby to term.

But according to this incredible article, there is a third choice.  The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, has pioneered the once controversial treatment of pregnant breast cancer patients since 1989. Last year they “formed the basis of the first national guidelines for the treatment of pregnant women with breast cancer… [which says that] chemotherapy can be safely administered beginning in the second trimester. Radiation shouldn’t be given until after birth.”

There is obviously a fear that chemotherapy will harm a developing fetus, and the main concern of mothers who come to M.D. Anderson’s is for their babies, rather than themselves.  Cancer drugs have caused abnormalities in babies exposed during the first trimester, before doctor and patient knew of the pregnancy, the most formative period for organ development.

“But there wasn’t much difference in the rate of abnormalities in babies exposed to chemotherapy during the second trimester and the rate in babies never exposed. The risk was just under 20 percent when chemotherapy was given in the first trimester, but less than 1.5 percent when given in the second trimester and when not given at all.”

In the past 18 years, 68 breast cancer patients at M.D. Anderson have given birth, and all the babies are developing normally except for one born with Down syndrome, a condition doctors say was unrelated to the chemotherapy program.

“Of course, it’s too early to pronounce the treatment of pregnant cancer patients completely risk-free… But so far, with the eldest child born in the program now 18, the news is only good.” Says Dr. Theriault, the leader of M.D. Anderson’s program, “It’s like having a lot of grandchildren. There’s a happy feeling you get, knowing you were able to help the moms have normal kids.”

How accurate are at-home Pregnancy Tests?

That is what I was wondering after I read that Halle Berry took 35 pregnancy tests before one of them showed up positive!  She says she believed she was pregnant, but the tests kept on coming up negative.

According to WebMD, “The home tests have similar results to the pregnancy tests done on urine in most health professionals’ offices if they are used exactly as instructed.” BabyHopes says they are about 97% accurate. Home pregnancy kits work by detecting levels of hCG, a hormone that is produced during pregnancy and released in the urine.

In the first few weeks of pregnancy, the amount of hCG in the urine rises very quickly, doubling every 2 to 3 days. This is why most tests are the most accurate after the first week of pregnancy. Before then, the levels of hCG might not be high enough to influence the test results. You can buy super-senstive tests that detect these levels right away, but be aware that 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, often very early.

For tips on how to get the best results from you at-home pregnancy test, read this article at BabyHopes.

Milla Jovovich’s feet might hurt, but she loves being pregnant

millabump.jpgDo you sometimes feel like balancing your daily tasks while enduring things like the fatigue and discomfort of pregnancy should put you up there with Superwoman?

Milla Jovovich agrees. “I thought making action films was challenging, but this puts all of that in second place! I mean it’s hard, man. Women are amazing!”

Among her maternity woes, she complains that her bones feel soft, her feet are killing her and it hurts to walk, and she’s grown 3 shoe-sizes!  She has also gained 63 pounds, but is not concerned about losing it, or losing it too quickly. She went from 130 to 193 lbs.

Nevertheless, Mila has been enjoying the wonder of preganancy. “I think it’s so incredible to feel my baby moving. Just the whole feeling of being pregnant. I’ve discovered what it is to be a real woman, that’s for sure.”

So there’s one Hollywood actress you can identify with and admire!

The connection between Oral Health & Pregnancy

Your teeth and gums need special attention during pregnancy. Conscientious brushing and flossing, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that may accompany pregnancy.

Pregnant women who have gum disease may be more likely to have a premature, underweight babies. More research is needed to confirm why this is, but it seems that “gum disease triggers increased levels of biological fluids that induce labor.”

Studies show that many women experience pregnancy gingivitis, plaque build-up on the teeth which irritates the gums. Symptoms include red, inflamed and bleeding gums. Pregnancy gingivitis occurs because the increased level of hormones exaggerates the way gums react to the irritants in plaque. Keeping teeth clean and cutting back on sweets can help keep plaque at bay.

Let you dentist know you are pregnant when you schedule an appointment.  X-rays, dental anesthetics, pain medications and antibiotics are usually not prescribed during the first trimester, and some things are not advisable throughout pregnancy. Your dentist may also want to consult with your physician before starting any new treatment.

For more information, please see Craig Daily Press.

Kicking, screaming, and cursing through labor

Baby Chaos has a page on Pain Relief Options, and at the very bottom it says, “Shouting, screaming and swearing; as loud as you like, it will make you feel better (don’t worry, the midwives have heard it all before). Chanting has a very calming and soothing effect, but it doesn’t quite give the satisfaction, as a string of well timed expletives!”

Hmm, maybe this helps some women through the labor, but is that really the first thing you want your baby to hear as it enters the world? Especially from mommy?!

Hypnosis and Childbirth

If you are looking for a way to give birth naturally, yet minimize the pain that inevitably accompanies labor, you may want to investigate hypnosis. “Hypnomoms” use hypnosis to eliminate pain and fear from the birthing experience and induce relaxation. This technique is used to train the mind to “experience discomfort as only pressure” and “programing” the inner mind to believe that birth will be comfortable, easy and joyous.

Today, hypnosis is used therapeutically in many areas of medicine, dental anesthesia and personal therapy sessions. Yet many misconceptions regarding hypnosis remain. If you are a skeptic, there are a few things you should be aware of, says Kerry Tuschhoff of iVillage:

  • All hypnosis is self-hypnosis; the hypnotherapist is only the guide. A person chooses to enter into a hypnotic state, stay in and come out at will.
  • Stronger-minded and stronger-willed people are easier to hypnotize — not the other way around as is usually assumed.
  • Hypnosis is merely a way to direct your inner mind toward the positive.
  • Natal Hypnotherapy has some more info if you want to learn more, and also offers a birth preparation CD which “guides mothers into a deeply relaxed state using breathing techniques, guided imagery and visualisation.”  The CD continues with a detailed visualisation of giving birth, with soothing predictions of how you will feel and respond to the sensations and changes during labour.

    Anyone out there actually used hypnosis to give birth? Tell us about it!

    First pregnancy announcement: Husband!

    I personally hate announcing my pregnancies. I don’t like the enthusiastic exclamations, the emotional tears my mother is famous for shedding on such occasions, and all such similar reactions. I make my husband do the announcing. So it’s no wonder that I have never had the urge to be “creative” in this area, especially with my husband. He is usually the one prodding me to take a pregnancy test and then reminding me to call the doctor for the results.

    But, apparently, not everyone feels this way. So if you are dying to get as much bang for your buck as possible, here’s an article by the American Chronicle with “unique ideas”to tell your husband you are expecting… making the occasion “so much more memorable” and creating a “great story to tell your child when they grow up.”

    I admit to being pleasantly surprised and thinking that some of the ideas are actually cute!

    How to survive your unpaid maternity leave: Plan ahead!

    The bad news is that according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, paid maternity leave is still not standard, even at the best US companies: Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of the best employers for working mothers provide four or fewer weeks of paid maternity leave, and half (52 percent) provide six weeks or less.

    The good news is that if you start planning early on in your pregnancy, you should be able to ensure your financial stability even during those unpaid weeks of maternity leave.

    Suite101 provides some guidelines on how to plan for those first precious weeks with your baby.  They point out that, although saving money can be a daunting task if you are among the 41 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, it is most definitely possible with a bit of forethought and planning.

    Most companies provide up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, though this is usually unpaid. The first thing to do is find out from your Human Resources department exactly how much time off you can get and how much of it will be paid. Even 50% of your paycheck is helpful. Also, some companies will allow you to use any your sick days and vacation time first.

    Draw up a careful list of how much you have been spending every month (rent, bills, groceries, eating out, insurance, car payments, and all the miscellaneous items), and compare it with how much money is coming in. Calculate how many paychecks you’ll be missing when the baby arrives, and how much money you will need to have saved to pull you through that time period.

    You can start saving money by cutting back on the things that are non-essential, such as eating out and weekly manicures. Put this money into your savings.  If you’ll be receiving any extra money for birthdays, tax refunds, or a bonus at work, Suite101 suggests putting that directly into your savings account as well.

    Lastly, when calculating how much time you’ll be taking off to care for your  new baby, err on the side of caution.  You may find that you wish you had more time with your little one. It is always easier to return to work early, rather than trying to extend your maternity leave. You can also find out if there is an option to start back part-time, or even work from home for a few months. This way you can ease back into the working world while still maximizing your bonding time with your precious baby.

    The deal with Anti-D

    With both my last pregnancy and this one, I had an anti-D injection. If you are wondering what this is and whether you will need one as well, here’s some info on the subject.

    Anti-D is not harmful to you or your baby in any way. To the contrary, it can prevent complications and even save your baby’s life in extreme cases. Basically, when the mother’s blood type is RhD-negative, and she is carrying a RhD-positive baby, there is some concern that her immune system may react to the baby’s blood as if it were a “foreign invader” and produce antibodies against it. Once these antibodies are made, they cannot be removed, and in subsequent RhD-positive pregnancies they may attack and destroy the baby’s red blood cells, causing anaemia, jaundice,  liver or heart failure.

    These problems can be prevented by giving RhD-negative mothers an injection of anti-D, and it is now routine procedure at about 28 weeks.

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