It’s not pretty, but it is very important and serves as grist for lore and ritual the world over: Some cultures bury it, some consider it the baby’s sibling, some even eat it. Not only is the placenta the trading post between the mother’s and the baby’s blood supply, at around week 12 it takes over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy. And recent research found that its structure may even determine the length of a pregnancy.
Although the placenta usually functions flawlessly, occasionally a problem arises:
Eight years ago when I had my first son, I initially met with an OB-GYN recommended to me by a friend. I adored him—as well as his partners: a dynamic team of certified nurse-midwives. After learning that midwives tend to spend a lot of time with patients, have relatively few patients who require Cesarean sections and also encourage medication-free deliveries, I decided to have a midwife from the practice deliver my baby.
While many doctors and women feel that bed rest can't do any harm and might do some good during certain high-risk pregnancies, a recent review of research suggests otherwise. Often-overlooked side effects include muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, potential bone loss and depression, says study author Judith A. Maloni, Ph.D., R.N., a professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Three decades ago, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Yvonne Thornton, M.D., was determinedly shedding the 67 pounds she gained during her first pregnancy when she found out she was expecting another baby. Thornton vowed not to let that derail her healthy eating habits again. “There was a strong dictum back then that no matter what you weighed, you should gain 26 to 35 pounds during pregnancy or risk fetal death,” says Thornton, now an OB-GYN professor at New York Medical College.
Fit Pregnancy has always viewed Sean Daneshmand, M.D., a high-risk OB-GYN in San Diego, as our own personal hero. An advisory board member to the magazine, he puts in countless hours reviewing articles and guiding us in topics that need attention.
We're not alone, apparently, in our appreciation for this amazing doctor: He's been named a CNN Hero for his work in establishing Miracle Babies, a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to families with babies in a neonatal intensive care unit.
“After my emergency Cesarean section, I was shell-shocked that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.” Jennifer O’Brien, East Greenbush, N.Y.
The treatments themselves don’t make a pregnancy high risk; the medical issues that often cause female infertility, such as diabetes, endometriosis, fibroids or simply being older, may. (“Male factor” issues are responsible for the infertility approximately 40 percent of the time, but treatment is often the same.)
However, up to 40 percent of such pregnancies result in twins. These pregnancies carry a three to six times higher risk for problems, such as high blood pressure, preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.