The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Prenatal diet Children of mothers who ate apples and fish during pregnancy were less likely to develop asthma and eczema, according to researchers in the Netherlands and Scotland. Low-mercury varieties of fish with the fewest chemicals include wild Pacific salmon and farm-raised trout, says Anatoly Belilovsky, M.D., a pediatrician specializing in asthma and allergies in Brooklyn, N.Y. There’s also a link between low vitamin D levels in mothers and childhood asthma.
You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. Such an intense athletic event requires mental, physical and emotional preparation. The same is true for childbirth: Knowing what can happen during labor and delivery—and your options for pain relief—can alleviate your fears and boost your confidence. “Knowledge is power,” says Sheri Bayles, R.N., a certified Lamaze instructor who taught childbirth classes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for more than 20 years.
The longest weeks of my life were the ones right before my due dates. I was convinced with every pregnancy there was no way I'd go full term. I'd contract away for weeks in advance. I predicted undoubtedly 30-40 pound giants. So really, under those circumstances, what woman could go the full 40 weeks? Apparently, I could and they all turned out to be reasonably sized babies.
First, ask him how he feels about watching the birth and what he’s comfortable seeing. Explain your concern. Assure him it’s OK to stand at your head and focus on your face.
Fetal kick counts are a simple, noninvasive way to monitor your baby’s well-being. “Fetal movement is a reassuring sign,” explains William M. Gilbert, M.D., an OB-GYN specializing in maternal-fetal medicine at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, Calif. “When babies are in trouble, they don’t move as much.”
1. Enroll your dog in an obedience class so he’ll be on his best behavior when the baby comes home.
2. Avoid major renovations if you’re living in an older home with layers of paint or varnish that could release harmful lead dust. (This is true throughout your pregnancy.)
3. Nix hot tubs and saunas; high temperatures can affect your baby’s development during the early months.
4. Get a dental checkup (gum disease is linked to premature delivery), but skip the X-rays.
The words “easy labor” may seem like an oxymoron, but there are steps you can take, both throughout pregnancy and during labor, to make your experience less stressful and more comfortable, less clinical and more joyful. And although the following tips won’t guarantee you’ll have a sweat-free, pang-free birth, they can help make your labor and delivery more manageable.
Maite emailed and asked: Will perineal massage help me avoid a tear during delivery? Will the doctor do an episiotomy even if I don’t want one? Let me start with reassurance: While episiotomies are still performed, they’re not done routinely anymore.
What’s better: a tear or an episiotomy? The best choice is neither. Back in the olden days routine episiotomies were considered safer, cleaner and easier to repair. Nowadays, we know better.
They call it “momnesia”: those times you put the milk in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator; or you walk into a room, only to forget why you’re there. But “mommy brain” is more than a punch line, says Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Ramon, Calif., who specializes in prenatal and postpartum counseling. Experts say it’s a very real neurological issue resulting from powerful endocrine and brain chemistry changes. Fortunately, Bennett says, you can take steps to minimize the impact of mommy brain:
I was e-chatting with Sarah, a colleague of mine who works for CARE. I’m preparing to go the National CARE Convention in Washington DC next week, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on global maternal health issues. We had a laundry list of details to discuss. All we really wanted to talk about though was “doulas.”
So many experts…so many opinions. Yet, women are individuals and every pregnancy is unique. So many women write in with concerns that their bodies are doing something the experts say they're not supposed to yet or ought to happen later. Women feel what they feel. Who says those flutters you feel at 12 weeks can’t be baby kicks yet? Oh right, experts. How about those cravings? Experts say there’s nothing to them, they’re just excuses to overeat. Yeah, right. Tell that to any pregnant woman who knows she’ll just die if she doesn’t have a Haagen Dazs Bar.