Most of the bacteria we encounter do no harm. Many do quite a bit of good. But moms-to-be are often certain that all bacteria are out to get them, thanks to a few bad players like Listeria monocytogenes, sometimes found in unpasteurized soft cheeses, and Salmonella, a potential hazard when meat and eggs are undercooked.
You are what you eat. That’s old news. So is the fact that your diet during pregnancy affects your newborn’s health. But the new news is that what you eat in the next nine months can impact your baby’s health, as well as your own, for decades to come. Here are 10 easy nutrition rules that will benefit you both.
“While most such creams don’t contain any ingredients that will hurt you or your baby, they won’t help much, either,” says Ava Shamban, M.D., a Santa Monica-based dermatologist. The caffeine found in most firming creams may create a temporary tightening effect, but you’re better off using a cream with emollients to soothe the itchiness caused by your rapidly expanding skin, says Shamban.
During pregnancy, the weight of your developing baby can put pressure on the blood vessels in your pelvis. This causes blood to back up into the veins of the legs, enlarging them. Wearing support hose as well as getting regular exercise can help minimize the risk for developing varicose veins during pregnancy, says Macrene Alexiades, M.D., a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Yale University of Medicine. After delivery and once you finish breastfeeding, small spider veins can be treated by a dermatologist with a laser or injection procedure.
Tucked inside you like a walnut in its shell and cushioned by amniotic fluid, your baby seems safe and secure. Sure, the outside world is filled with environmental threats, but isn’t it the job of the placenta to filter out substances that can harm the fetus? Well, yes—but. While the placenta does a crackerjack job of screening most infectious agents—rubella and HIV are notable exceptions—it’s permeable to most pollutants, including pesticides, PCBs, perchlorate, bisphenol A (BPA), lead and mercury.
When Traci Miller was pregnant, the 32-year-old commercial property manager from Mountville, Pa., dreamed that she drove away with her baby still in the car seat on top of her car.
Prenatal testing can be a multi-edged sword. Usually, test results are reassuring, which puts expectant parents’ minds at ease. But some people argue that because birth defects are rare, these tests in most cases cause undue stress; others argue that they allow people to create “designer” children. Then there are the parents who discover very real, sometimes dire, problems with their babies and face the decision of whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy.
Once you’ve decided on a type of childbirth class, how do you pick a teacher? “Find an instructor whose agenda is yours, not her own,” advises Lisa Gould Rubin, a childbirth educator, doula and co-author of 2005’s The Birth That’s Right for You. Ask these questions before you sign up:
Experts agree that both hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) are a threat to pregnancy. However, they differ in whether all pregnant women should be screened for these disorders. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says you don’t need to be tested unless you have symptoms or a history of thyroid disease. Others argue that because screening is relatively inexpensive and simple—and has such a potentially profound effect—all pregnant women should be screened.
The twin birth rate in the United States is close to 1 in 31, a nearly 40 percent increase since the early 1980s.
That’s because there are growing numbers of older moms (hormonal changes are believed to be responsible for the release of more than one egg at ovulation) and more successful fertility treatments.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), or high blood sugar during pregnancy, used to be relatively rare, occurring in about 3 percent to 4 percent of pregnancies. But in recent years, the rate has doubled— now, up to 6 percent to 8 percent of moms-to-be are diagnosed with this prenatal complication. And new recommendations lowering the cutoff point for diagnosis may lead to an even more dramatic increase.