Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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If you're getting paid while on maternity leave, consider yourself lucky: Out of 173 countries worldwide, the United States is one of only five that don't guarantee paid leave to give birth and care for a newborn, according to a recent study by researchers at Harvard and McGill universities.
Angie Schneider, 30, and her husband have 5-year-old twins, and Angie is pregnant again—with twins. The first time, she conceived while on birth control; the second, while she was in the process of switching the dosage of her contraceptive patch. Bottom line: Both pregnancies were totally unplanned—and unexpected. Though she works as a communications consultant and he as an architect, the Seattle couple struggles to cope with money as well as logistics. "It just seems so insane and impossible sometimes," Angie says.
When Ronda Kelly, A 5-foot-5-inch jewelry designer in Portland, Ore., began trying to get pregnant more than three years ago, she weighed 110 pounds and hadn't had a menstrual period in 15 years. Gaining just 8 additional pounds helped Kelly, then 34, start having regular periods again, yet it still took a total of a year of trying and, finally, intra-uterine insemination to conceive her daughter, Lauren, now 2 1/2.
Drinking whole milk and heavy cream and eating butter and rich ice cream can lower the risk of infertility caused by ovulation disorders, say researchers. But not all fat is good: Eating the much-maligned trans fats found in fried foods, packaged snacks and commercial baked goods may increase the risk of this type of infertility.
Perhaps. While some studies have shown a 70 percent to 75 percent success rate in using timed intercourse to determine gender, other research has shown no influence.
Here's the theory behind timed intercourse: A child's gender is determined by a pair of chromosomes: XX for a female and XY for a male. Since a woman's eggs contain only an X and the man's sperm contain either an X or a Y, the sperm is the de facto decision maker regarding gender.
A pregnancy achieved through assisted reproductive technology, which includes in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), is not necessarily considered high risk. Yet a woman who conceives via either technique may have one or more pre-existing conditions, such as "advanced maternal age" or a history of miscarriage, that make it appropriate for her to see a perinatologist--a physician who specializes in the treatment of a mother and her fetus when either is at risk for complications.
In more than 100 years of observing women having children, physicians and medical researchers have noted that the natural timing between pregnancies for healthy women who are breastfeeding and not using birth control tends to be between 18 and 24 months. What's more, a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that spacing pregnancies less than 18 months or more than 59 months apart appears to be associated with a greater risk of problems such as preterm birth and low birth weight.
Spina bifida is a condition in which the neural tube--the embryonic tissue that becomes the brain and spinal cord--does not close properly. The condition can range from mild, with little or no impairment at birth, to very serious, causing severe disability or, sadly, death.
While inconvenient and uncomfortable, yeast infections--which are caused by an overgrowth of a fungal organism normally found in small numbers in the vagina--do not affect fertility or your ability to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. If you continue having such infections once you're pregnant, your doctor will likely recommend an anti-fungal agent that's inserted into the vagina; the medication is not absorbed into the bloodstream and is therefore safe for expecting moms. Also avoid douching, and wear cotton underwear.
When you're trying to get pregnant, timing is everything. Perfect eggs and flawless sperm are useless if they don't hook up at the opportune moment. To make that happen, you need to have intercourse within 24 hours of ovulation (when the ripened egg is released from the ovary). OB-GYNs and fertility experts recommend having intercourse every other day before ovulation, especially in the week preceding it. That way, you're sure to have sex at least once during your fertile period each menstrual cycle.
Undergoing fertility treatment is stressful enough, but women who conceive via in vitro fertilization (IVF) might have more tough times ahead once they become moms. While only 1.5 percent of women in the general population undergo IVF, Australian researchers found that 6 percent of women who sought help for postpartum depression and early-parenting problems had conceived using this method. Women who get pregnant with IVF should be forewarned that they could need additional support after delivery.
Properly spacing pregnancies may improve the chance of having healthier babies. Researchers analyzed 67 studies from around the world and found that intervals between pregnancies briefer than 18 months or longer than 59 months--counting from delivery to next conception--increased the risk of low birth weight and preterm birth. Waiting a long time between pregnancies wasn't as problematic as having the next baby too soon: Intervals shorter than six months boosted risk of preterm birth by 40 percent and low birth weight by 61 percent.
Women who take longer than 12 months to get pregnant are more likely to deliver a boy. According to a recent British study, 58 percent of women who conceived after a year of trying to get pregnant had male offspring, compared with 51 percent of those who got pregnant quickly. Possible reason: Male sperm are better able to swim through thick, sticky cervical mucus--and women with such mucus take longer to conceive.