Archives for January 2009

New IVF Technique Improves Success

Scientists are perfecting a technique called array CGH (Comparative Genomic Hybridization) in which eggs are examined for abnormalities which would cause IVF to fail.

According to BBC, the team at the CARE Fertility clinic have found a way of extracting a “spare” set of chromosomes inside the egg and rapidly analyzing them. The main reason why two out of three women fail at each attempt at IVF is believed to be due to chromosomal abnormalities in their eggs. CGH has the potential to significantly improve couples’ chances of having successful treatment.

There should be just 23 chromosomes in the egg which contain the woman’s share of the genetic code – the other half come from the sperm after fertilization. Apparently there are “spare chromosomes” in the polar body, near the edge of the egg. A laser cuts a hole in the edge of the egg and the polar body is sucked out. By analyzing the chromosomes found there, scientists can work out what is left behind in the egg, without disturbing it.

If they find a chromosome missing from the egg, then any subsequent embryo will fail. If they find an extra chromosome, it could lead to a miscarriage or a pregnancy with an inherited genetic disorder.

“We know that at least half the eggs and embryos produced are wasted due to chromosomal abnormalities. If we could chose those with normal chromosomes logic tells us we double the chances of pregnancy and that’s what we hope.”

Dr Fishel also says that it could help reduce the number of twins and triplets associated with fertility treatment.

“In this country we have to reduce the incidence of multiple pregnancy and there’s a big drive to put a single embryo back. That could reduce all women’s chances of pregnancy but not if we choose the embryo that is most viable and has normal chromosomes. Ultimately we could reach the holy grail of one cycle of IVF, one egg, one embryo and one baby.”

The first woman in the world to be successfully treated is 41, and had thirteen previous attempts at IVF and three miscarriages. She is now six months pregnant. Dr Simon Fishel, director of the CARE fertility group, believes it could help many more women. But years of research are yet to prove whether CGH is going to transform success rates.

Although this research is seen as “exciting and promising” – Tony Rutherford, chair of the British Fertility Society also urges caution: “All too often we see ground-breaking news about techniques that seem to offer great hope, but fail to live up to expectations when applied in widespread clinical practice.”

image: The

How to be a Pregnant Father

A husband should sympathise with his wife’s pregnancy symptoms… to an extent, gentlemen!!

My brother and his pregnant wife spent the weekend with us. I haven’t seen them since she was in her first trimester, and not showing yet. Now she is definitely showing! I told my mother later on that I wasn’t sure who gained more pregnancy weight, my brother or his wife. My mom was not amused.

Not only has he gained weight, he seemed exceptionally tired. Both of them dozed off on the couch quite a number of times. Having been twice been pregnant myself, I understand the sheer exhaustion that comes with growing a baby. But what was his excuse? (Ya, sure, you were up late studying on Thursday, uh huh…) And I saw him in the kitchen polishing off the rest of the brownies. Pregnancy cravings are reserved for the Mama, so stop eating! At least he wasn’t racing her to the bathroom every five minutes….

Well I don’t know what we can attribute my brother’s new appetite, added pounds, and drowsiness to, but some men experience a real, medical condition, complete with morning sickness and vomiting! According to, it’s called Couvade Syndrome.

Couvade comes from the French word couvee meaning “to hatch”. It has come to mean a man having a “sympathetic pregnancy.” Yes, ladies, this means that your partner could start to vomit, gain weight, and have many of the “joys” associated with pregnancy.

Generally, couvade syndrome begins in the end of the first trimester and increases in severity until the third trimester. The only known cure for couvade is — birth.

You may be skeptical (especially if you’re the pregnant woman!), but this is something that has actually been researched and found to be quite real. Some estimate that nearly 80% of men feel some form of the symptoms of a sympathetic pregnancy. Believe it or not, some men even experience labor pains (but if they expect to get sympathy for that, they better think again!)

Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome include:

  • nausea and morning sickness
  • weight gain
  • heartburn
  • fatigue
  • bowels changes
  • cravings
  • headache
  • abdominal cramps
  • changes in sexual desire.

A note to the men: Pregnancy etc suggests that there are more constructive ways for men to experience your own sympathetic pregnancy, rather than laying on the couch, moaning. Or eating her ice cream. Don’t forget that she is probably feeling a more intense version of what you’re feeling — take good care of her! If you want to be supportive, try the following:

  • Cravings: Your wife may have cravings — weird cravings — indulge her, but be careful about indulging too much yourself. Avoiding these typically fatty, spicy and sweet treats will help you avoid the sympathetic heartburn, weight gain and indigestion associated with sympathetic pregnancy. Keep some healthier versions of her cravings around so that you can eat alongside her without fearing the extra fat and calories. It may be a good thing — she may choose to eat healthier alongside you.
  • Exercise: If you find yourself indulging a bit too much in your wife’s pregnancy cravings, encourage her to get out for a walk with you, or take a yoga class with her. You may be surrounded by pregnant moms, but they’ll all appreciate your effort!
  • Sleep: Sleep deprivation is a common pregnancy woe. New dads may be doing their own tossing and turning due to the stress and worry of a baby on the way. They may also lose sleep because their wife is having difficulty sleeping. Make your wife comfortable, sleep in the guest room or buy a bigger bed!
  • Stress/Anticipation: You and your wife may be worried about your new baby, especially if it is your first. Support your wife and alleviate your worries by taking childbirth education classes, participate in a daddy boot camp and help your wife prepare for the baby by getting the nursery ready, getting the baby’s layette, etc. Being prepared can go a long way in alleviating the stress and associated side affects of pregnancy.

A note to the women: Though you might be tempted to roll your eyes and tell your dear husband to knock it off, you might have to admit that his symptoms are not purely psychosomatic . Associated Content says that According to Science Daily, a Canadian study points to hormonal changes as a possibly cause for Couvade Syndrome. Researchers found elevated levels of the hormone estradiol and lower levels of testosterone and cortisol in expectant dads. The hormone estradiol is connected with motherly feelings. A previous study also noted an increase of the hormone prolactin, a female hormone that is linked with the production of milk in women. So it looks like approaching fatherhood leads to hormonal changes too… Pregnancy is full of changes on many levels, and fathers may feel it as well!

Spend time together. Talk about your feelings, talk to your doctor, take a birth class or a tour of the hospital. Decorate the nursery, or shop here for new baby items together! Make it a bonding experience!

How to be a Pregnant Father: This is an actual book! Get in on!

After Birth: What to expect physically and emotionally

Information contained in the following article is from


Giving birth is a strenuous and exhausting effort. Add to that few sleepless nights, engorged breasts, and recovering from stitches or a C-section, and you may feel like you’ve been run over by a bulldozer. Hopefully, your little bundle of joy evens out the scales and makes it all worth it.

image: blogforbrains

Severe fatigue: It’s essential to have help from family and friends. Although you’ve heard it before, you really should try to take advantage of daytime opportunities for rest (ie: when the baby is sleeping, you should be sleeping!) Avoid the urge to try and keep up with the housework or resume other tasks. RESTING will help your body recover more quickly.

Afterbirth Contractions These contractions indicate the uterus is shrinking to normal size, and are often strongest during breastfeeding (hormones associated with lactating also help the uterus return to normal size). Generally, after a first birth, these contractions are light or can’t even be felt at all. They become increasingly severe with later births.

Bleeding: Your body will shed the uterine lining over a period of about four to six weeks. It will initially be bloody, then thinner, pinkish and eventually yellow. It should not have an unpleasant odor.

Hair loss: During pregnancy, your hair may have seemed more luxuriant because hair-follicle growth became synchronized. Now your hair may temporarily appear thinner as this extra growth falls out. Increased perspiration is also common as the body loses some of its extra fluid.

Engorgement: Because your breasts are now supplying milk for your infant, breast enlargement and often engorgement occurs 3-4 days after the birth. Breastfeeding mothers can ease the discomfort by wearing a supportive bra, feeding the infant on demand and using acetaminophen. Bottle-feeding mothers should also wear a well-fitting, snug bra and use cold compresses.

Pain while Breastfeeding: It is very important to make sure your baby is latching on properly during feedings. Soreness is normal in the first couple weeks, but painful feedings are a sign that something is wrong. If you are experiencing cracked or bleeding nipples, seek the help of a breastfeeding consultant.

Vaginal Soreness: After stretching, tearing, or being incised and then stitched, the crotch area will be quite sore. It will be especially obvious while using the bathroom. The healing process normally results in a return to comfort within a few days. It is usually advised to wait 6 weeks before resuming sexual activity, as your vagina and vulva may feel dry and tender for weeks after any stitches heal, due to normally low levels of estrogen during milk production.

Extra pounds: Within the first day or so after birth, you’ll quickly loose about ten pounds. The remaining weight will be lost gradually, about 15 pounds in the next six or more weeks.  You may be anxious to have a waistline again, but women loose weight at different rates. Eating properly and exercising can hasten this process and add to a sense of well-being.

Your Feelings

image: crying baby tips

Because you are experiencing exhaustion, ecstasy, soreness, and hormone changes all at once, it’s important to understand your feelings and foster open communication with your partner.

Family Time: As a couple, you must decide on your level of interaction with friends and family. Some new parents want to spend time alone, bonding with each other and their new baby. Others relish visits with friends and family. Your decision may depend on the personality type and level of helpfulness. For instance, some grandparents are a pleasure to have around; others are critical, demanding or unavailable. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are resting or just not feeling up to have visitors at the present time. In most cases, they will understand!

Be Realistic: After birth, gourmet meals, fashion dressing and immaculate housekeeping are unnecessary. Allow your spouse or partner to maintain the household while you rest.  Accept any offers of help, even if you don’t normally feel comfortable doing so.

Range of Feelings: Your life has changed forever, which can be wonderful and daunting at the same time! Women may be surprised at the intensity of feelings associated with a new baby. You may be madly in love with your tiny, perfect angel. You may be in awe at the new life in your care.  But you may also be overwhelmed by the responsibilities. You might feel anxious about your body’s slow healing and return to your pre-baby figure and pre-baby routine. You might worry that you’re not doing things right. You might even swing back and forth at times. It’s important to have the support and involvement of loved ones. Online forums where you can chat with other women in the same situation can also be helpful and comforting.

Intimacy: Sex may seem uninteresting, even impossible, at first. The baby is hungry or needs to be rocked, you’re sore, and most of all tired. You and your partner will  need to be patient. Interest in sex comes back, proven by the number of second and third siblings in the population.

Warning Signs

Not all warning signs mean something is wrong, but they indicate that you should talk to a doctor or caregiver to make sure everything is OK. Use this list as a guide.

  • Severe persistent pelvic pain, especially with fever.
  • Very heavy bleeding or a malodorous discharge after the first few days.
  • Distinct area of redness and pain in a breast, especially if accompanied by fever.
  • Worsening pain or swelling of the vaginal area after the first few days.
  • The loss of sexual desire or pleasure is a problem for either partner.
  • Inability to carry out baby care; uncontrollable crying.
  • Morbid concern about baby
  • Paralyzing indecision about job.
  • Persistent depression.
  • Inability to sleep, eat and concentrate on performance of daily activities
  • Hatred of baby

We hope that your new baby brings you incredible joy and fulfillment, and that you are able to adjust smoothly to the new challenges and changes in your life! Visit the pregnancy & new baby pages at iVillage for more information on baby care… and new mommy care!

Virgin Cocktails for the Pregnant Gals

This comes a little late for the holidays (sorry!), but here’s a good book to know about in case you have a party coming up (or just feel like mixing a fun drink to enjoy with your husband or a friend)! Haute Mama published the following two recipes from a new book called “Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be,” by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen (the Liquid Muse).

Here are two sample drinks to try out…

Chanukah Bubbly Bubbala
Celebrate the Festival of Lights while sipping Bubbly Bubbala and impress your Mommy-to-be guests with a perfectly palette pleasing combination to tantalize those taste sensitive tongues.

• Champagne flute
• Sparkling concord grape juice
• ½ ounce lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1 lemon wheel
• Pour sugar and lemon juice into a champagne flute. Fill with sparkling concord grape juice.
Garnish with lemon wheel.

Christmas Spice of the Season Mulled Wine

Simmering spiced wine on the stove makes the whole house smell like Christmas. With this alcohol-removed version, you don’t have to miss out on that special sense-memory.

• Wine goblet, or other heat resistant glass
• 1 bottle Fre® merlot alcohol-removed wine
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 cinnamon sticks (If desired, buy additional cinnamon sticks and garnish each cup with one).
• 3 whole cloves
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• Pour wine into a double boiler pot, over medium heat. Add other ingredients, and stir until honey has dissolved. Reduce heat, cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally. Serve…

…serve what? Serve warm? Not sure, it was cut off 🙂 But in any case, if you are expecting a little one but don’t want to miss out on any of the fun, this is a good book for you!

If you decide to try out any of the recipes, let us know how they turned out! Happy celebrating!

When Family Planning and Financial Planning Clash

Alicia and Craig Relford had a carefully thought-out family plan.

The Zionsville couple would wait four years between pregnancies. This way, they would never have to try to put two children through college at the same time.Advertisement

Last year, their daughter, Sydney, turned 4. But that family plan is on hold — a casualty of an economy in tatters.

The Relfords are one of many couples making the same pragmatic yet heart-wrenching decision to postpone starting or adding to their families.

The above story is just one told by the IndyStar in an article titled “A pregnant pause; Poor economy puts plans to have children on hold.” Demographers say fertility rates correspond with the ups and downs of the economy, for example during the Great Depression the nation’s fertility rate fell to a then-record low 2.1 children in 1936. A decade later, the fertility rate hit 2.9 (baby boom!) thanks to the end of the Depression and World War II.

The current fertility rate is once again 2.1, but demographers suspect it will fall if the financial situation worsens. Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C. says, “It depends on how protracted the current crisis is and how deep it goes.” He adds, “And sometimes delayed births are births that never happen.”

Alicia Relford, for example, was an only child, and would love for her daughter to have a younger sister. But now she says she doesn’t know whether a second child will ever become a reality for her and her husband. “We would rather have our wonderful one child and be somewhat secure and comfortable,” she said, “rather than put a strain on everything.”

If you ask me, that’s a real shame. I think some people have got their priorities wrong. Sure, you need money to survive, and it’s nice to be comfortable and not worry about paying for diapers, daycare, ballet class, braces, college… but isn’t it much nicer to have the family you’ve always dreamed of? Isn’t one more child that you will love more than life itself worth a little bit of sacrifice? Being a parent is about giving, and yes, it is about sacrifice. But the results are well worth it.

I have two beautiful children so far, and hope to have more. We live on a tight budget with no room for “extras” that others might take for granted. But I would never think of limiting the number of children in my family becuase of financial calculations. If you can pledge to love your children with all your heart, show them how to live responsibly and within your means, there will be enough money to manage a happy home where they will thrive. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I really believe it.

Don’t you?

Looking for a unique baby gift?? This is the site for you! Baskets, blankets, gift sets, CD’s and more!

Joined for Life: Mother of dicephalus twins resists abortion

You may have heard about the U.K. woman who’s pregnant with a two-headed baby… er, I should say dicephalus twins. Lisa Chamberlain, 25, is pregnant with twins who have separate heads but share a single body, and “is determined to allow her conjoined daughters a chance at life, despite doctors advice to kill the children in utero,” according to LifeSiteNews.

He and her husband Mike Pedace, who are both Catholics, said doctors advised Lisa to kill the children after a routine scan revealed that they had the extremely rare condition. But after trying to get pregnant for seven years, this couple sees their babies as a blessing.

“To me, my twins are a gift from God and we’re determined to give them their chance of life,” she said, adding, “I’ve even give the twins names – Layla and Kelsey – because I think they’re going to be little girls. I’ve been told that 75 per cent of Siamese twins are.”

Even some of their family members are urging them towards abortion. “We just want everyone to give us a chance,” said Mike. “We know it’s going to be very tough and we’re prepared for that as much as we can be. We’ve struggled so long for the chance to have children. Now that we’ve got that chance we’re not going to throw it away.”

The couple are encouraged by the example of Abigail and Brittany Hensel, 18-year-old dicephalus twins in the US, who lead lives as normal as can be expected, though they share a liver and rib-cage.

Doctors at St. Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth say that they will not know how many organs the twins share until the twentieth week of pregnancy. They have only detected a single heartbeat so far, but it is possible that another one may emerge.

Michaela Aston, of the pro-life group LIFE, the UK’s leading provider of crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counseling, commended Lisa on her decision.

“This young mother is an example to us all as she unconditionally welcomes her twins into the world,” Aston said in Press Association report. “She knows it will be difficult but she is focusing on the fact that she is already the proud mother of these babies and accepts them however they are. They may not be perfect in the eyes of the world but they are fully human and as such should have the same value and right to life as any other human beings. It is sad that this young mother must face a society which is increasingly unable to accept babies who are not genetically perfect and which may judge her for allowing her twins to continue to live,” Aston concluded.

Don’t you think their strength is amazing? There is no doubt they have a long, difficult journey before them, whether the twins survive or not. I don’t even want to think about what I would do if I was in their place, but I can tell you this, I probably would not be calling this pregnancy a blessing. I’d be terrified. But it looks like God knows what He’s doing when he matched up these babies with these parents. Lisa and Mike may call their babies a blessing, but they are no less a blessing for these babies. I wish the whole family much happiness… and continued strength. The world should look at them and be inspired.

All you need to know about Hernias and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is full of surprises. Although the bulge of your growing baby is cause for joy, there’s another type of protrusion that may be unexpected, and is definitely unwelcome… a hernia. The following info is from Bluegrass Moms:

A hernia is simply a hole in the muscular layer of the abdominal wall, which causes intestinal or fatty tissue within the abdomen to stick out. This can cause pain and, occasionally, intestinal obstruction.

Hernias can occur as a result of any increase in abdominal pressure. While straining and lifting are most commonly associated with hernias, the pressure in your abdomen will undoubtedly increase from a growing fetus.

Hernias do not go away. Once a hernia has formed, it will remain until it has been repaired. However, not all hernias need to be repaired, particularly hernias that are not causing any symptoms. This is particularly true during pregnancy.

Most hernias diagnosed during pregnancy can be treated without surgery and if surgery is necessary in most cases it can be delayed until several months after the baby is born. In many cases, the hernia becomes less painful later in pregnancy due to the uterus blocking the hole in the muscles.

Surgeons should consider the risks of surgery in considering repair. During the first trimester, the likelihood of a miscarriage is increased with an elective operation. During the third trimester, the likelihood of pre-term labor is increased. Elective surgery should only be considered during the second trimester (months 4-6). However, the growing baby and uterus will place increased stretch and strain on the repair and could result in an early recurrence of the hernia. In general, when hernias return, they are larger than they were originally.

In general, hernias are repaired with a soft and pliable material called mesh. Mesh is sewn around the hernia to reinforce the defect in the musculature. While mesh is very strong and is designed to prevent hernias from returning, it will not stretch. If a mesh is placed during pregnancy, it may tear away from the muscles as a result of the growing uterus, resulting in a return of the hernia. This can cause significant discomfort during the remainder of pregnancy.

Minimally invasive surgical techniques can be used to repair most hernias. Three tiny incisions are made, and a small camera is placed inside of the abdomen. Patients undergoing a minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, hernia repair will have less postoperative discomfort and a quicker return to normal activities while avoiding the larger incision associated with a traditional open operation. The long-term outcomes following hernia repair are comparable between traditional open surgery and minimally invasive surgery.

Even with a hernia, a Cesarean section is not usually necessary. Almost all women can safely deliver a baby vaginally. Your obstetrician or midwife can help you throughout the delivery process to ensure that the hernia does not become a problem during delivery.

The development of a hernia during pregnancy is not uncommon. The joy of future motherhood need not be interrupted by the development of this new bulge. By working closely with your obstetrician and hernia surgeon, most hernias will not endanger your well being or your baby’s.

Secondary Infertility: Getting Pregnant Again

Infertility is a horrible thing to deal with, but if you’ve gotten pregnant once, you’re good to go the second time around… right?

Not always.The bad news is, 20 percent of women have a condition known as secondary infertility, especially common among moms who waited to start a family until their 30s and 40s, when fertility declines. The good news? There’s a lot you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant These tips are from

Start prenatal vitamins now

Folic acid and iron can improve fertility. Regular multivitamins may not contain enough of these nutrients for you to get their full benefits, but you’ll be covered with a prenatal. Try to take it with food for better absorption.

Zero in on your window

Your eggs are fertile for as few as 12 hours each month! An ovulation predictor kit pinpoints the best time to have sex by showing when you’re most fertile. Disposable pee-stick tests cost around $40 for several; computerized kits, like the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor, are more expensive (almost $200) but also more accurate.

Create the right conditions

Antihistamines and vitamin C supplements can dry out the cervical secretions that escort sperm to your egg, so try to avoid them. A lubricant may sound like a good idea, but too much can block sperm’s path. Try Replens moisturizer instead. It lasts longer than lubricants (up to three days), so you can use less.

Get tested

If you’re 35 or older and have been trying to conceive for more than six months, see your ob-gyn. (Women under 35 can wait a year.) Your doctor will likely run you through a series of tests to try to find the cause of the problem. Make sure you’re up-to-date on your Pap smear, and also request a Day Three FSH/estradiol blood test. For $50, this test measures the hormone that revs up your ovaries for ovulation. High levels indicate that your body is working harder to get your ovaries moving — likely because your egg supply is low.


The stress hormone cortisol can interfere with ovulation and lead to low fertility. Do whatever calms you, whether it’s getting away for the weekend, exercising, or meditating. And consider talk therapy. In a study of women who weren’t ovulating, 77 percent of those who learned to reduce stress through therapy began ovulating again.

Try acupuncture

It’s safe and has several proven benefits for moms trying to conceive, including increased blood flow to the uterus and stimulation of fertility hormones. You’ll need anywhere from a couple of treatments to a few months’ worth, depending on your situation. Each session costs $50 to $90 (not usually covered in full by insurance). To find a practitioner, ask your doctor for a referral or search for one by zip code at the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture’s website

photo from

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