The Biggest Pregnancy News of the Year

It was a big year in pregnancy news! From the latest new research about pain relief and new rules about employment discrimination in pregnancy to why you really don't want to get an ultrasound for fun at the mall, here's what you may have missed. 

Pain Relief When You Want It

Epidural News for Pregnant Women Getty Images

A new report says that women in labor don't have to wait for an epidural if they want one. The research, published in The Cochrane Library, shows women who received epidurals early in labor were not at any more risk of undergoing a C-section than those who waited longer, as some past studies have suggested. Learn more

A Life-Saving Pregnancy Shot

The best way to protect your newborn from pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is to get vaccinated yourself during pregnancy so you pass your antibodies to the baby, according to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the injection in your third trimester—the ideal time being between Week 27 and Week 38. Learn more

How Third-Trimester Exercise Benefits Your Baby

Exercise duing pregnancy can keep weight gain in check, reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, decrease discomfort, and set you up for an easier labor and delivery. Now, new research shows that breaking a sweat, especially after 29 weeks, has a big benefit for your baby, too. Learn more.

New Rules About Employment Discrimination in Pregnancy

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently updated its guidelines on pregnancy discrimination for the first time since 1983 to help guide pregnancy-related policies in the workplace. Here's a look at some of the new measures, and what they mean for you. Learn more.

Can Morning Sickness Make Your Baby Smarter?

It may not be the prettiest part of pregnancy, but all that rushing to the closest trash can to throw up, thanks to the good ol' morning sickness, is actually good for your baby. Yes! Nausea and vomiting means fewer miscarriages and birth defects, along with smarter kids. Learn more.

Drinking While Pregnant Is Worse Than We Thought

We've all seen the Surgeon General's warning: Pregnant women should not drink. But many moms-to-be (about 1 in 13) still do—and it can harm your baby even more than previously thought. As many as 1 in 5 American children could have one of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), according to a new study. Learn more

Why You Should Skip a "Keepsake" Ultrasound

We know how precious those first ultrasound images of your baby-to-be are. But before you head out for commercial imaging at the mall or another location, you should know the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers that a big no-no. According to a new update from the FDA, ultrasound imaging as well as Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors (that let you hear that amazing heartbeat) should only be administered by trained health care pros. Learn more.

Your Premature Birth Risk, State by State

Pregnant women in the next state may be at a lower risk for preterm birth (babies born before 37 weeks). The March of Dimes released new data grading each state's premature birth rate. Vermont, California, Maine, New Hampshire, and Oregon had an A rating (meaning preterm births were at or below 9.6 percent), but Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, were among the worst with premature births at 14.6 percent or more. And Florida and South Carolina aren't far behind with D ratings.  Learn more

Can Low-Dose Aspirin Prevent Preeclampsia?

Women at high risk for preeclampsia who took low-dose aspirin every day after their first trimester lowered their risk of the high blood pressure complication by 24 percent, according to new research. Plus, their risk for preterm birth dropped 14 percent, and their risk for intrauterine growth restriction dropped 20 percent. Learn more.

New Rules on Prescription Safety

If you've ever been confused about what medications are safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, things just got clearer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is changing their guidelines for how prescription medication and biological products (such as vaccines) must be labeled. Learn more.

Your C-Section Odds, State by State

Whether you have a cesarean delivery may have less to do with your health and preferences and more to do with your zip code. The likelihood of an American woman having a C-section in 2009 and 2010 varied tenfold depending on her state, according to a new study. Learn more.

Vitamin D May Make Childbirth Less Painful

The best way to relieve pain during childbirth may start with the sun. Pregnant women that had low levels of Vitamin D had more painful labors, according to a new study released by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. All the women in study requested epidurals during childbirth, but those who tested to have a Vitamin D deficiency prior to delivery consumed higher levels of pain medication while pushing, according to the study. Learn more.

Too Many Pregnant Women Are Taking Opioids

Ready for some crazy stats? One in five women have taken an opioid (a heavy-duty painkiller like codeine or hydrocodone) during pregnancy, according to a recent Obstetrics & Gynecology study that looked at pregnant Medicaid recipients. And 14 percent of of commercially-insured women did the same, according to a study published in Anesthesiology. Learn more.

Mom's Pregnancy Weight Affects Baby Girls

Mom's Pregnancy Weight Affects Baby Girls Getty Images/Image Source

Expecting a girl? Your pregnancy health could determine if she's overweight later in childhood, according to a new study published in Diabetes Care. The research shows that daughters of women who developed gestational diabetes were more likely to struggle with obesity in adolescence. Learn more

Secondhand Smoke and Premature Birth

When researchers analyzed 11 studies involving more than 2.5 million births, the found that hospitalization for preterm births and asthma attacks dropped 10 percent the year after smoke-free legislation was put into effect in locations in the U.S. and Europe, according to a review published in The Lancet. Learn more.

The Weather Report That Could Induce Labor

Too much heat can result in an early delivery, suggests a recent study in the journal Epidemiology. Canadian researchers looked at the records of 219,319 live births in relation to temperature, and found that heat waves (defined as temperatures above 32 degrees C or 89.6 degrees F for four to seven days in a row) were associated with a 27 percent greater risk of an early-term pregnancy, compared to more moderate temps. Learn more.