Friday, August 21, 2009

Talk, drug therapy may ease depression in pregnancy

Women who are depressed during pregnancy can take hope that antidepressants and/or "talk therapy" may be safe and appropriate treatment options, according to new professional guidelines made public this week.

"Depression in pregnant women often goes unrecognized and untreated in part because of concerns about the safety of treating women during pregnancy," lead author of the guidelines, Dr. Kimberly Ann Yonkers, from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement.

The guidelines on depression in pregnancy, which are based on an extensive review of prior research, were issued by the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

There are both pros and cons to using antidepressants during pregnancy, the report states. The drugs can effectively treat mom's depression, which has been linked to problems in the newborn. However, there is also evidence tying them to birth defects and reduced birth weight.

Psychotherapy may be a suitable alternative to antidepressants for some women with mild-to-moderate depression, the report indicates.

According to the report, women thinking about becoming pregnant may possibly taper or discontinue their antidepressants if they have had mild or no symptoms for 6 months or longer.

However, they may need to continue their medications if they have a history of severe, recurrent depression or other major psychiatric illness.

The guidelines suggest that women see a psychiatrist for aggressive treatment if suicidal or acute psychotic symptoms are present.

Pregnant women currently taking antidepressants may be able to remain on the medications if they discuss the pros and cons with their doctors, the guidelines state.

Depending on their mental health history, these women may attempt tapering and going off their medications if symptom-free. Pregnant women taking antidepressants may benefit from psychotherapy if symptoms are still apparent, according to the document.

Pregnant women not currently taking antidepressants may consider psychotherapy as alternative to antidepressants, the report indicates.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Best Health Blogs for Soon-to-be Moms

Whether having your first child or you already have a few, the internet can give you resources that were never available before. Below are some of the best blogs for expectant mothers and fathers for help with everything from birthing to breastfeeding and more.

Best Health Blogs by Professionals for Expectant Parents

  1. Motherlode Blog: Lisa Belkin is a contributing writer for “The New York Times Magazine” and worked for nearly 10 years as the Life’s Work columnist for “The New York Times.” Read her blog on everything from tips for expectant mothers to raising happy children.
  2. Momma Data: Polly is a psychologist, mother of three, and child-research junkie eager to check up on the accuracy of parenting information. Visit her for what parents don’t always learn from journalists, parenting experts, pediatricians, or the know-it-all mom down the street.
  3. Mommy Track’d: This community of mothers take you through all aspects of parenthood. Get a survival guide, use the virtual toolbox, and much more on this site.
  4. Pregnancy Information: Get tons of resources on iVillage in addition to their useful blog. You can get tips on conception, pregnancy, what to expect during the first year, and a recent article taught how to tell your boss about a pregnancy.
  5. Pregnancy Blog: The experts at “Pregnancy Weekly” bring you this blog for your most important 40 weeks. Recent posts dealt with folic acid and at home gender tests.
  6. Pregnancy & Birth: Parent Dish is a popular online community and offers tips on a variety of motherhood issues. The pregnancy section can help with many issues such as names, health, the latest issues, and more.
  7. Pregnancy Blog: Kim and Pattie blog for on all aspects of pregnancy. In addition to topics such as probiotics and postpartum depression, you can also get links to other resources offered by the site.
  8. Getting Pregnant: Blog: The experts at “Getting Pregnant” bring you a blog full of advice for expectant mothers. Visit here for the latest news, product reviews, and more.
  9. Pregnancy at More4Kids: More4Kids is dedicated to bringing quality pregnancy, parenting, and educational resources to their visitors. Recent posts included the early signs of pregnancy, along with danger signs.
  10. The Pregnancy Zone: Stop here for many posts by experts on various pregnancy topics. Recent entries include miscarriage, preeclampsia, and the most important exercises for pregnant women.
  11. MomWithAStethoscope: A middle aged mother and M.D. inhabits a midatlantic state with a middle of the road frame of mind. She writes about being a mom, wife, physician, and more.

Best Community Blogs for Expectant Mothers

When one blogger isn’t enough, visit here to get the best in varying opinions or even to dish out your own two cents.

  1. Café Mom: Join the over 1 million mothers who have entered this online community. They have many groups for expectant mothers, or you can even get a baby name finder and ticker.
  2. Real Mom Blogs: Fit Pregnancy has tons of resources for expectant mothers, including many expert blogs. You can choose blogs on pregnancy, diet, real life stories, or even from a professional labor nurse.
  3. Pregnancy: Part of BlogHer, you can get tons of stories on the latest in pregnancy. Read the blogs of top editors, regular women, or start your own.
  4. Mom Central: Revolution Health has many communities with a health related theme, including those for mothers. Groups include new moms, moms with toddlers, stay at home moms, and more.
  5. Childbirth Connection: Both parents and healthcare professionals will enjoy this site due to its content specified just for them. Expectant mothers can get information on all different sorts of birth methods, recommendations on books and resources, or they can even read the information for the health professionals.
  6. Type A Mom: This site is designed for all sorts of mothers, even beyond Type A. Get tons of useful articles, tips, and even eBooks.
  7. Babies Online: Get a load of resources on pregnancy, babies, and more on this blog. You can even get links to free baby stuff, along with help and resources.

Best Blogs for Expectant Mothers by Other Mothers

Everyday mothers share their wisdom, experience, and tips on these blogs.

  1. Octopus Mom: Not the other one, this mom has only three children and juggles many tasks, making her an octopus mom. This short blog already has nearly 40,000 hits and covers many topics such as prenatal ultrasounds, how to prevent childhood obesity, and more.
  2. Bellyitch: JJ is a “mompreneur” and a mother of three. Her top posts include best diaper bags, prenatal and postnatal exercise, and snarky responses to annoying questions.
  3. Pregnancy Glee: Dana Prince offers information for pre-conception, pregnancy, and beyond. Recent posts were on anemia, transitioning to stay at home mom, and how to quit smoking when pregnant.
  4. Natural Pregnancy Project: Katie believes in empowerment for natural pregnancy and childbirth. You can get information on a ton of topics including breastfeeding, different trimesters, diet, videos, and more.
  5. Preg’s List: Get information for moms and dads on pregnancy, product reviews, and advice. Get answers to interesting questions such as cesarean birth, orgasms, and organic choices.
  6. Adventures in Babymaking: Even though they haven’t updated in a while, parents looking to create a baby will enjoy reading the story of how these parents got their twins through IVF.
  7. Stirrup Queens: This is a blog about infertility and pregnancy loss, an exploration of adoption, a bitch session about daily life, and much more. Visit for humor, news, stories, and her forthright opinion.
  8. BlueSuitMom: In addition to her blog on working and motherhood, you can also get advice on career, money, health, and more. You can even listen to her on Mom Talk Radio.
  9. Silicon Valley Moms: A variety of moms contribute to this blog on all things motherhood. You can also get links to many other blogs including moms by area or moms 50 and older.

Best Blogs for Soon-to-be Dads

Move over moms, dads have a part in this too. Check out the below for the best in fatherly advice.

  1. Daddy Types: Greg specifically designed his blog to give tips, advice, and answers to new dads. Posts often include products and news of interest for fathers.
  2. I’m Not a Slacker: This father does not believe in outsourcing parenting and is very proud. Get interesting and often humorous stories on this blog.
  3. Rebel Dad: Are you one of the many growing stay at home dads? Then learn how to do it right with the help of this blog.
  4. Great Dad Blog: Get many useful tips and product reviews with the father in mind. You can also get advice on how to help with pregnancy.
  5. GeekDad: This father is busy raising the next generation of geeks. Find out which products interest him, along with fun projects to do with the kids.
  6. Digital Dad: New dads interested in technology for themselves and their children will enjoy this blog. Read about the latest technologies, along with parenting advice.
  7. Modern Day Dad: Get loads of advice on parenting from this self described “new school dad.” He even includes things that interest him such as how to play lullaby versions of rock songs and purchase alphabet shaped tater tots.
  8. Best Dad Blog: Ken recently found out that he and his wife are expecting. Read more about his adventures in this newly started blog.

Best Blogs From Medical Professionals for Expectant Mothers

These blogs are ideal for getting the free and expert opinion of a nurse, obstetrician, midwife, and even medical librarian.

  1. Pregnancy Week by Week: Mary is a certified nurse and midwife at the Mayo Clinic. In addition to the informative blog, expectant mothers can also get tons of information on pregnancy and health.
  2. Ob/Gyn Kenobi: Get an inside look at pregnancy from this OB/GYN. A recent entry dealt with getting paged for various emergencies.
  3. The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book: Marjorie is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Visit her blog for expert advice, reviews, and more.
  4. At Your Cervix: This blog contains the musings, ranting, ravings, and other crazy thoughts from a labor and delivery nurse. In addition to her work, you can also get posts on her daily life.
  5. The Adventures of a Traveling OB Nurse: This nurse is from Redding, California and has just recently given up her post to become a traveling nurse. A heart breaking entry dealt with a meth addicted mother’s birth.
  6. Mostly True Stories: Visit her for tales from nursing school, travel, labor, and delivery. Get many true life birthing stories told in a humorous and frank manner.
  7. Women’s Health News: Rachel is a medical librarian from Nashville and often blogs on pregnancy issues in addition to women’s health. You can also get posts on news, politics, and other related information.

Best Health Blogs for Birthing

Once the nine months is up, mothers can be in for the experience of a lifetime. Learn what to expect by reading these blogs, along with your various options.

  1. Giving Birth With Confidence: Judith and Charlotte are the co-authors of “The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence,” which is the only book endorsed by Lamaze International. They often take a birthing headline, give their opinion, and often allow comments or guest bloggers.
  2. Birth Network: Mothers looking to examine all of their birthing options should visit here. You can get the latest news, studies, and other resources for alternative birthing methods.
  3. Spinning Babies: Learn the Optimal Fetal Positioning technique to learn how to naturally ease your baby into the world. You can also get real stories, research, and useful links.
  4. The LaborPayne Epistles: This blog is written by a nurse and mother who calls herself a “birth apostle.” Get her alternative point of view, along with musings.
  5. Pregnancy, Birth, and Babies: On this blog you can find information about different topics for expectant and new parents, as well as local resources for Orange County, California. In addition to the blog, you can get birthing videos, pictures, and links to other sites.
  6. HypnoBirthing Blog: Learn more about this drugless alterative to traditional labor by visiting here. Katherine shares her experiences with this practice, along with videos of actual births.
  7. The Trial of Labor: Kimberly James has had a number of miscarriages and shares her story hear. She also finds posts related to different birth methods and gives her thoughts.

Soon to be moms and dads can save hours of sifting through internet sites and blogs by visiting these top pregnancy and parenting blogs. Be sure to remember that any medical advice given on these blogs should be spoken about with your doctor and that every family is different.


Do hurricanes induce labor in pregnant women?

There is widespread debate about whether a rapid and steep drop in barometric pressure -- the weight of the atmosphere pushing on the surface of the Earth -- can induce labor in women who are at or near term. The lower the barometric pressure, the more intense the storm. And, according to several hospital accounts in past years, the higher the number of deliveries. Broward General Medical Center received 17 babies in a 24-hour period during Hurricane Frances. Holy Cross Hospital delivered 21 babies in one day.

Official studies are inconclusive.

In any case, if you’re pregnant, here are some things to keep in mind before and immediately after a hurricane:

  • Talk to your doctor well in advance about what precautions you should take. The main concern is that you avoid having to travel during a storm if you go into labor. Hospitals usually don’t allow spouses and others to stay during a storm.
  • Careful what you drink. Everyone needs to be mindful of boil-water advisories that tend to pop up following big storms. But pregnant women, in particular, are at greater risk of complications if they get sick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Better just to stick with bottled water.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning. The CDC, in its advisory on hurricanes and pregnant women, warns moms-to-be of steering clear of generators, kerosene heaters or camp stoves indoors. Those pieces of equipment should not be used in a closed space. The colorless, odorless gas is toxic for anyone. And it can poison both you and your baby.


Céline Dion Pregnant with Embryo Frozen for Eight Years

Céline Dion, now expecting her second child, is “very excited,” says her doctor, Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, who performed the in vitro fertilization procedure that made the 41-year-old singer’s pregnancy possible. When he called her earlier this week to say the pregnancy test was positive, “You could hear her chuckling,” he says. “She was very happy. So was René. They are both very thankful.”

Dr. Rosenwaks, director of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at New York-Presbyerian Hospital/Weill Cornell Center Medical Center, transferred a embryo that had been kept frozen in liquid nitrogen for the past eight years. “She is very, very early in her pregnancy,” says her doc.

Céline had her embryos frozen when she went through IVF while trying to conceive her first child, René-Charles, who was born in January 2001. When she completed her performance run in Las Vegas in 2007, she consulted Dr. Rosenwaks about trying again. “She came back to have the embryos transferred back because she wanted to have another baby,” he says.

According to the fertility specialist, freezing an embryo for eight years is not necessarily a problem. “There have been embryos that have been [frozen] for more than 10 years, and even more than 15 years, that have successfully thawed and resulted in a pregnancy,” says Dr. Rosenwaks.

Meanwhile, the doctor says, “She is feeling well. So far, so good. I look forward to hearing the fetal heartbeat. René and Céline are both looking forward to a pregnancy that is a healthy one.” He adds, “There is no question she is ecstatic.”

Céline is due in May 2010.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Johnny Knoxville and Girlfriend Expecting a Baby

Jackass star Johnny Knoxville is going to be a dad for the second time, his rep confirms to

His girlfriend of nearly a year, Naomi Nelson, is three months pregnant.

"Yes, they are expecting and very excited," his rep tells Us.

Knoxville already has a 13-year-old daughter, Madison, with ex-wife Melanie Clapp. He and Clapp wed in May 1995 and were married for 12 years before separating in July 2006. One year later, Knoxville filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.


Colin Farrell To Be 2nd Time Daddy?

Colin Farrell and girlfriend, Ondine co-star Alicja Bachleda-Curus, were spotted at LAX this past weekend and it seems as though they’ve been keeping a little secret – Alicja is very obviously sporting a baby bump!

Photos posted on Colin’s fansite show the happy couple holding hands while Alicja keeps one hand on her burgeoning belly.

Recently there have also been stories circulating about Colin, 33, supposedly purchasing a $1 million home in Poland for the 26-year-old actress.

This will be the second child for Colin, who is already father to his son James who turns 6 next month. In 2007 Colin revealed that his son has Angelman Syndome, a rare genetic disorder also known as “happy puppet syndrome”.


Celine Dion Is Pregnant with Second Child

Making good on her expressed desire to have more children, Céline Dion is pregnant.

A family member tells PEOPLE, "We learned this morning." While a rep for the 41-year-old singer confirmed the news to various outlets saying, "Celine and René are very happy," and "They are crazy in love over the news ... they are overjoyed."

Herself the product of a family of 14, Dion only learned of her condition on Monday, reports Tuesday's Journal de Montreal, after she and her husband, René Angélil, 67, conceived with the help of a team of fertility doctors in New York.

The couple's one child together, son René-Charles, was born January 2001. The rep tells ET Canada that he "starts his first day of private school today."

Angélil also has three other children from two previous marriages.

According to reports in the French language press, Dion, whose concert tour ended in March, took time off this spring to concentrate on becoming a mother again. She also visited the clinic of Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, the Manhattan-based fertility expert who helped with the birth of René-Charles.


Mom's story of 'pregorexia' sets off a firestorm

In the 1987 family photo, Maggie Baumann's red shirt is tucked tightly over a flat stomach. She smiles next to her husband and their 1-year-old sitting in a high chair.

She's six months pregnant and starving herself, she writes on the popular blog, Momlogic.

Last month, when the picture and essay went online, Baumann was ambushed by anonymous reader comments.

``You selfish (bleep)!''
``They need to throw her skinny butt in jail.''
``You should be sterilized so you are unable to harm more children!''

More than 20 years have passed since Baumann, who lives in Laguna Niguel, Calif., struggled with anorexia while pregnant. She's now a therapist who specializes in treating the shame and secrecy of eating disorders. But going public with her ``pregorexia'' in the instant vitriol blogosphere brought back painful emotions of how she harmed her baby and how she punished herself.

``I never imagined the depth of hatred I would receive,'' Baumann said. ``My whole body was just numb reading these things. Then I started to understand where these people were coming from.''

``You sound like a completely self-absorbed person. I am SO thankful you're not my mother,'' one person wrote.

``I had no idea how big Momlogic was,'' Baumann said. ``I didn't even know if anyone would read my story.''

``Our readers had a very strong, visceral reaction to her post,'' Gillian Sheldon, managing editor of Momlogic, said in an e-mail.

``Moms have all been through the ups and downs of pregnancy and what it means to `eat for two.' Many moms were outraged that her addiction put both her children physically in jeopardy -- and made that opinion known. Other moms, however, related and applauded her work and ability to conquer her anorexia.''

Baumann, 48, believes the seeds of her eating disorder were in place long before she ever experienced the panic of pregnancy taking control of her body. She and her twin brother were put up for adoption when they were 6 months old. She later learned that her birth mother had not been responsive to her hunger cries and probably suffered from an eating disorder.

`All my life I've been able to turn off my hunger,'' she said. ``In my disorder, I was petrified of feeling hunger. It was like the fear of death.''

When she was pregnant with her first daughter, Christine, she gained a healthy 33 pounds. She remembers dishing up seconds on Thanksgiving -- a first that drew looks from her family. But she also started restricting her calories in the final months.

During her next pregnancy, Baumann's doctor told her she wasn't gaining enough weight and ordered her to stop exercising. She gave up the gym, but she continued to diet and found other ways to work out.

When she went into labor, nurses complimented her tiny belly, too small for maternity clothes. Baumann was 5 foot 8 inches and weighed 135 pounds. Her baby girl, Whitney, weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces, and later developed seizures and attention deficit disorder, likely the result of inadequate nutrition in the womb.

When the girls were older, Baumann's husband, Mike, barred her from grocery shopping and meal preparation. Finally in 1998, after ending up in the emergency room on the brink of a heart attack, she sought treatment at Remuda Ranch in Arizona.

Baumann concluded her post by writing of her love for her daughters, ``I can never take away what I did, but I can and have forgiven myself for these actions.''

Since the Internet backlash, Baumann has been crying more. She's been reminded of her own guilt, but also of her thankfulness that her youngest daughter survived the deprivation in the womb.

She's glad she opened herself up to help other struggling women.

``I've learned in my own recovery to get over your shame, you have to share it,'' she said.


Pregnant with cancer

When Sarah Joanis found out she was pregnant, she was so thrilled -- and surprised -- that she took 12 home pregnancy tests in a row and photographed the positive results. Just to make sure.

Three months later, however, Sarah and her husband, Kevin, received another shock: The Plainfield woman's ovarian cancer had returned. She was 29 years old.

One of every 1,000 pregnant women in the U.S. has cancer, a relatively rare but stark convergence of life and death. For these women, treatment is possible. But it comes with a host of terrifying decisions for the family.

Do you start chemotherapy, which could harm the fetus? Or do you delay treatment, risking the mother's life?

Sarah desperately wanted her baby. Kevin wanted to grow old with his wife even more. Ultimately, after many heart-wrenching conversations, they agreed Sarah and their unborn baby would go through her chemotherapy and ovarian surgery together.

Statistically, Sarah was an unlikely candidate for epithelial ovarian cancer. She was 26 and working as an engineer for Ford Motor Co. in Detroit when she was diagnosed with a disease that typically targets women over 55. She had no family history of ovarian cancer.

But on Super Bowl Sunday in 2006, Sarah woke up with a sharp abdominal pain that turned out to be a cancerous tumor. Doctors were able to successfully remove the growth, along with her left fallopian tube. Because Sarah was young and wanted children -- and everything else looked good -- she did not undergo chemotherapy, which could have damaged her fertility.

The cancer scare gave Sarah a new outlook on life, and for the next two years she seized her moments. An ambitious and independent woman, she finished her MBA at the University of Chicago by commuting from Michigan on weekends, married her soul mate, went sky-diving, traveled to Hawaii and moved back to the Chicago area, where she had grown up.

For months the couple tried to get pregnant, but a reproductive endocrinologist told them that Sarah's one fallopian tube was blocked and that in-vitro fertilization was their only option. To their astonishment, pregnancy happened naturally, prompting Kevin to rush out and buy a dozen pregnancy tests at Costco for confirmation.

Then, on April 4, 2008, during a routine pregnancy ultrasound, her doctor found more cancer. This time it had spread across the pelvic region.

"I was supposed to be OK," Joanis wrote on her blog, "I Want to Breathe" (, which chronicles her fight with cancer. "I was supposed to go on with life with one less fallopian tube. Big deal. But here I am now. Standing at the start of what is going to be the longest and hardest journey of my life."

Treatment began with a risky surgery to remove her left ovary, which had been engulfed by the tumor. Doctors worried that if the uterus were stimulated during the operation it might contract, triggering premature labor at 28 weeks.

Sarah, who had convinced herself Natalie would be born that day, was shaking before surgery began. Kevin was stoic and strong for his wife but broke down privately afterward. Even her gynecological oncologist, Sudarshan Sharma of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, felt anxious. "Cancer surgeries are full of surprises," Sharma said.

For three days after the procedure, Sarah experienced violent contractions, but she hung on to her pregnancy. Her doctors remained concerned. "My heart was breaking during the surgery," said Sarah's OB-GYN, Julie Jensen of Edward Hospital in Naperville, who held the uterus -- and felt Natalie kicking -- throughout the operation. "We knew it was likely her only biological child."

Then came another agonizing decision: Whether to start chemotherapy.

For years, the medical professional has wrestled with how to treat pregnant cancer patients, and whether women with cancer should even continue their pregnancies. The fear was that chemotherapy -- drugs that kill off fast-growing cells -- would damage the unborn child or that pregnancy itself might exacerbate the condition.

But research has since shown that some forms of chemotherapy are safer than others. While children exposed to the powerful drugs in utero have a higher risk of stillbirth, birth defects, low birth weight and other complications, the risks decline after the first trimester when most of the major organs have developed.

Still, there is no long-term data on how chemotherapy can affect a fetus' brain development or whether a child exposed in utero will have increased susceptibility to cardiac problems, fertility problems and secondary cancer, issues that still weigh on Sarah and Kevin.

Moreover, going through chemo while pregnant creates its own set of challenges. The fatigue was so punishing that Sarah slept 18 hours a day. When she was awake she vomited and her muscles ached, making it almost impossible to walk up the stairs. The fear of what the drugs were doing to the baby was constant.

When Natalie was delivered early by Caesarean section on Aug. 8, weighing just 5 pounds but otherwise healthy, "an instant calmness came over me," Sarah said. "You're here now," she told her daughter. "Everything I do is for you."

That meant aggressively treating the cancer with more surgery and chemo. After Natalie's birth, Sarah had a hysterectomy, in case the cancer had spread to other organs. It had. Pathology results showed stage IIIC cancer -- it was found in a lymph node -- which has a five-year survival rate of 30 percent.

As a new mom dealing with postpartum hormonal changes, sleep deprivation and a colicky baby, Sarah weathered four more grueling rounds of chemo. This time the side effects were so debilitating that she was unable to take care of -- or even hold -- her new baby. "Cancer is sucking the life out of me," she wrote on her blog.

But by Christmas, four months after Natalie's birth, there was no sign of cancer in her body.

Cancer's threat still looms large. It's why Kevin's heart still jumps when Sarah calls after her regular doctor visit. It's why, as Sarah wrote, she wonders every day whether she will be able to watch her "little angel grow up and do wonderful things in the world."

But cancer also is why the words "Miracles. Believe in them" are painted on the wall in gold letters over Natalie's crib.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Did you know that MEN can breastfeed? It's true!

The notion of men breastfeeding is bizarre at first ... but doctors say it's entirely possible. Men possess the two most vital components for lactating -- mammary glands and pituitary glands. When those mammary glands are stimulated (by a baby's sucking), they can actually produce milk.

We swear, we're not making this up.

In 2002, a Sri Lankan man named B. Wijeratne lost his wife and was left to care for their 18-month-old daughter. When the child refused powdered milk, Wijeratne tried something different. "Unable to see her cry, I offered my breast," Wijeratne told a Sri Lankan newspaper. "That's when I discovered I could breastfeed."

David Livingstone, the traveler and explorer, notes an instance in Scotland of the male breast yielding milk. In this particular circumstance (way back in 1858), a man's wife had been put to death, and in his extreme desperation, the man put his son to his breast. To his surprise, the man found that his breast produced the needed milk.

In the Aka Pygmy society, a community of approximately 20,000 people who live in Central Africa, fathers commonly suckle their babies.

Even the Bible mentions male nursing. Numbers 11:12 says: "Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?"

In a British survey, nearly one in four (or 24.5 percent of men) in England and Wales said that they would breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, provided that they were physically able to do so.

OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz says, "While it may be theoretically possible for a male to lactate, it is the rare instance where this could actually happen -- and rarer still that it might occur spontaneously in a man NOT on a prolactin-increasing drug (for example, Reglan -- a common acid reflux medicine -- does this, and is used to increase falling milk supplies in nursing moms), or in a man with a pituitary prolactin-secreting tumor," she says.

"I have heard of adoptive moms breast-pumping relentlessly in order to produce milk and I guess a dad could do this too, but I am not sure that either scenario could reliably result in enough milk production to be the sole nutritional source for a newborn," the doctor explains.

"God bless that Indonesian dad, though," Dr. Gilberg-Lenz concludes. "Men and women DO share the instinct to protect their children at any cost."

Would you let your husband breastfeed your child?


Labor induction need not increase cesarean risk

Contrary to a belief widely held by obstetricians, inducing labor need not increase a woman's risk for cesarean section delivery in childbirth, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.

The research was conducted by a team affiliated with the Stanford-UCSF Evidence-based Practice Center. Findings of the study will appear in the August 18 edition of "Annals of Internal Medicine."

"It appears there is misunderstanding regarding the association of increased cesarean deliveries with elective induction of labor, a procedure which has been rising in frequency," said Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, lead author of the paper and a UCSF associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. "However, our findings need to be tempered with women's and physicians' expectations of choosing to induce labor."

"Elective induction can be done in such a way as to avoid raising c-section rates – it's possible," said Douglas Owens, MD, director of the Stanford-UCSF Evidence-based Practice Center, and an author of the study.

The scientists reviewed existing research that examined elective induction of labor, in which women have labor induced by choice rather than for medical reasons. Of note, the majority of the research findings were limited to women who were about one week past their due date. Although the rate of elective inductions has more than doubled since 1990, the practice has been poorly studied, and physicians have worried these inductions exposed women to higher risk for cesarean and the medical complications that can follow a surgical delivery, according to the research team.

But physicians' concerns may be unfounded. The confusion arises in part from a flaw in the observational studies that link elective induction to higher cesarean risk, Owens said. Observational studies usually compare electively induced labor at a particular gestational age with spontaneous labor at the same time in pregnancy.

"That comparison is misleading because it doesn't reflect the clinical decision that women and their physicians must make," Owens said. Women and their doctors can't decide to start spontaneous labor on a particular date; they can induce labor or wait. The risks of induction must be weighed against the risks of staying pregnant. Near the end of gestation, as the fetus gets bigger, staying pregnant increases a woman's chance of needing a cesarean. And past the full gestational period of 40 weeks, the placenta may transmit oxygen to the fetus less efficiently. Thus, in labor, there may be an increased need to deliver via cesarean to prevent fetal distress.

These studies indicated that elective induction of labor at or after 41 weeks' gestation lowered cesarean risk by 22 percent compared to waiting. The researchers also observed that women whose labor was electively induced were half as likely to have meconium-stained amniotic fluid, a sign of fetal intrauterine stress. Both findings suggest elective inductions may be safer than continuing pregnancy past 41 weeks.

"We're concerned that our findings may not translate to many hospital settings in the United States," said Caughey. Prior research has indicated that doctors often tend to proceed from starting an induction to cesarean fairly quickly.

But the take-away message for pregnant women, said Owens, is still that induction can be done without increasing cesarean risk if obstetricians are willing to give induction of labor sufficient time to work. "Women should talk with their physician about how they would handle induction and what their approach to the procedure would be," he said.

Further analysis of elective induction of labor in a variety of settings is badly needed, Caughey added. In addition to assessment of the risks of elective induction, researchers need to explore whether the procedure is cost-effective, since each induction adds about $3,000 to $5,000 to the cost of birth.

"It's pretty surprising that something obstetricians do all the time hasn't been studied all that well," he said. "If you're dealing with pregnant women, you don't want to take any unnecessary risks."


Permanent Birth Control Decision While Pregnant

When is enough, enough? For some women, the 40 weeks of pregnancy are plenty of time for them to decide whether or not they will continue to expand their family. At my last appointment, I was a bit shocked when the ob-gyn filling in for my doctor asked if I wanted my tubes tied. I thought he inquired since I'm expecting my third child, but he explained that I have to make the decision one month prior to delivery.

A friend who is expecting her second child was asked the same thing at her 32-week check-up. After discussing her scheduled C-section, her doctor asked her if she was considering a tubal ligation while she was in the operating room. He told her that if she was interested in the permanent birth control procedure, she couldn't decide on her way into the operating room. Though I think three will be my magic number, I don't like the idea of such a permanent procedure. What do you think?