Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dispelling Myths About C-Sections

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about this common procedure. We set the record straight on the five biggest ones.

You've heard: If you don't want to wind up in the OR, watch out for doctors whose practices have higher than average C-section rates.

The truth: Before you judge your doctor by the number of C-sections she’s performed, you need to know her patient population. “Some of our finest OBs have rates that are 60 percent,” says Hope Ricciotti, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. In many cases, that’s simply because more experienced doctors tend to handle the kind of high-risk or multiple pregnancies that are more likely to be delivered surgically.

You’ve heard: Celebrities always demand early C-sections.

The truth: Indeed, says Sheryl Ross, an obstetrician in Santa Monica whose office sees its share of boldfaced names, “A-listers are more likely to convince their doctors that an elective C-section is more appropriate for them.”

Most of them use their busy schedules and need for privacy as excuses. But doctors warn against having the procedure more than a week before your due date. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine study early this year found that babies delivered by elective C-section before 39 weeks to mothers who previously had an elective C-section had more difficulty feeding, breathing, and required more medical assistance.

Babies at 37 weeks are up to four times more likely than those delivered at 39 weeks to need mechanical ventilation, have low blood sugar, and require a stay in the neonatal ICU.

You’ve heard: There’s no limit to the number of C-sections you can have.

The truth: “The risks start rising as you have more and more Cesarean sections,” says Ricciotti. That’s because the more scar tissue that forms on your uterus, the more likely you’ll run into problems with placenta implantation, bladder lacerations, bowel complications, and infection.

“If you’re going to have one or two kids, a section is no big deal,” says Ricciotti. But as you start having three, four, and five kids, the risks start going way up.”

You’ve heard: You’re always better off scheduling a section when you’re past your due date than trying to induce.

The truth: While induction before your cervix is dilated does increase the chance that you’ll need a C-section in the end due to the possibility that the induction will fail to cause contractions, “in general, trying an induction is the way to go because many people can have uncomplicated vaginal deliveries with less maternal morbidity than with a Cesarean,” says George Macones, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.


Twins Born in Poland to Different Fathers

A pair of twins have been born in Poland - with each child being fathered by a different man.

The mother of the twins submitted her children, a boy and a girl, to DNA tests after filing for divorce from her husband, accusing him of denying his paternity so as not to take financial responsibility for the twins.

The DNA results showed that the woman's husband was the father of the boy and the woman's boyfriend was the father of the baby girl.

This is the seventh known case in the world where a pair of twins have been born with two different fathers.

Local media reports say the mother is living with both twins and her boyfriend.


How About a Gender Neutral Baby Name?

A Canadian professor reports a rise in gender-neutral names.

Though the top baby names in Canada this year are the solidly gendered Ethan and Olivia (according to the National Post), Canadian studies professor Paul Stortz says that over time naming has begun to "de-emphasize the component of gender." A peek at's most popular baby names of 2010 reveals this may be a trend outside Canada as well. Addison/Addyson and Bailey/Baylee were both in the top 10 for girls, and gaining in popularity, while Riley/Rylee climbed the charts for both boys and girls. In a lot of ways, this seems like good news — it would certainly be nice if we didn't treat a person's gender as so obviously the most important thing about them.

Unfortunately, gender-neutral naming doesn't usually go both ways. Naming your daughter Charlie supposedly makes her ballsy and can-do, but naming your son Ashley can lead to ridicule. Dr. Lisa Wade of Sociological Images has a helpful explanation:
Femininity is just for chicks. When men do feminine things, they are debasing themselves. Masculinity is awesome and for everyone. When women do masculine things, they're awesome. This is sexism: Masculinity rules, femininity drools.
And then of course there's the phenomenon of women encouraged to use gender-neutral names or initials in order to be taken more seriously in their publishing or professional lives.

Are you considering a gender-neutral baby name?


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Pregnancy Stories of 2010

2010 is coming to a close and like most people, we're taking stock of the entire year. Here's a look at which stories garnered the most attention during 2010.

1. More Pregnant Women are Drinking - The debate over drinking during pregnancy was revisited many times throughout 2010.

2. 10 Biggest Pregnancy Myths Debunked - There is a lot of false information that circulates about pregnancy.

3. 11 Important Baby Cues - Babies communicate in many ways.

4. Groundbreaking MRI Shows Childbirth From the Inside - This amazing footage gave us a glimpse of what's really happening during childbirth.

5. 10 Tips to be a Helpful Dad During a Winter Pregnancy - Hopefully, there are a few more comfortable pregnant women this winter.

6. 5 Breastfeeding Myths - Some of these myths even permeate the medical industry.

7. Top 10 Things They Really Should Warn You About Before You Get Pregnant - As you probably know, pregnancy is not all sunshine and roses.

8. Mariah Carey is Pregnant With Twins - The songstress diva will be welcoming two fabulous babies in 2011.

9. Can you Create a Smarter Baby During Pregnancy? - According to this author you can.

10. Study Shows Pregnant Mother's Diet Impacts Infant's Sense of Smell - You are what you eat and so is your baby.

We'd like to thank the many readers who have commented and subscribed to the blog! Hopefully, we can continue to provide useful information throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Have a wonderful new year!

Cow Milk Formula Leads to Quicker Weight Gain in Infants

Researchers report that infants fed cow milk formula gained more weight more quickly than infants fed protein hydrolysate formulas, which are also known as hypoallergenic formulas meant for babies that have problems digesting certain proteins. The proteins in the formula have already been broken down to make digestion easier.

Investigators led by Julie Mennella, PhD, from the Philadelphia-based Monell Chemical Senses Center, a research institute dedicated to studying the chemistry behind taste and smell, compared the benefits of drinking cow milk formula vs. protein hydrolysate formula.

Sixty-four healthy infants aged 0.5 months to 7.5 months were randomly assigned to one of the formulas for seven months. Infants were weighed and measured once a month to assess their growth. The two groups of infants were similar in birth weight and length at birth. Feeding time lengths were also similar between the two groups; the infants were also introduced to solid foods at about the same time.

Differences in the rate of weight gain appeared as early as two months after starting the study. Although infants fed the protein hydrolysate formula gained weight at a normal pace, infants fed the cow's milk formula gained more weight more quickly. Overall, the protein-hydrolysate-formula-fed infants had lower weight-for length scores than those children given cow’s milk formula.

The researchers proposed a few theories to explain the differences in weight gain between the two groups.

“Infants may dislike the taste of protein hydrolysate formula and consequently consume less, thereby gaining weight more slowly,” the authors wrote. It’s also possible the higher-protein content of this particular formula made infants feel fuller quicker, so they didn’t need to eat as much. Researchers also question whether the amino acids in protein hydrolysate formula may play a role in absorption and metabolism. All of these theories would require further evaluation.


Alicia Keys Releases Song About New Baby

Alicia Keys has penned a new song and it's inspired by her son, Egypt Daoud Dean, born on October 14. Her husband Swizz Beatz debuted the song, called Speechless, on his website.

Before the first verse kicks in, Keys says, "Im at a brand-new time in my life and a brand new feeling, and it's like this little guy, man, he takes my breath away."

The proud new mom took to her Twitter page on Monday to introduce the track.
"Speechless is a little freestyle treat 4 the holidays. It's not a new album, not a single it's something special 4 U! My gift to you ... a little song about my lil guy ;-) love to you....let's make 2011 incredible!!!"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Elton John Welcomes a Son!

Elton John, 62, and his partner of 17 years David Furnish, 48, welcomed a newborn son this Christmas through a surrogate. Little Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and was born on December 25 in California. Elton and David say they plan to protect the identity of their surrogate and will not reveal further information about her.

Just over a year ago, the couple was heartbroken that they weren’t eligible to adopt an HIV positive infant from the Ukraine that they bonded with while on a charity visit to his orphanage. David and Elton vowed to support the infant financially even though they couldn’t adopt the boy. (They didn’t meet the requirements that adoptive parents be married, since their union isn’t recognized under Ukranian adoption law, and no more than 45 years older than the child they’re adopting.)

Back in 2001, Elton spoke about how much he adored his godchildren, of which he has 10 including Brooklyn Beckham and Damian Hurley. He vowed to leave his fortune to them, and it looks like he’ll have another heir now. Congratulations to Elton and David on their new arrival!


Dispelling the Most Common Fears of Giving Birth

It's normal to be scared in the hours before delivery, but are the most common fears valid?

1. How painful will it be? Every woman about to give birth for the first time worries about this. There are plenty of medications to relieve labor pain, from a pudendal block to an epidural. Taking childbirth classes, such as Lamaze, might help soothe your worries and prepare you for labor.

2. What if I'm in labor for 60 hours? Everyone has heard the horror stories about someone being in labor for days, but in reality, the average labor lasts 18 hours, and doctors rarely let the process go past 20 hours. If your labor stalls, there are things your doctor can do to augment the process, such as giving you Pitocin to make your uterus contract, or allowing you to continue your labor in a hot tub.

3. I'm afraid of an epidural injection gone wrong. You've gotten past the fear of painful labor by arranging for an epidural, but now you're terrified that a terrible complication will occur. Relax. The risk of permanent paralysis, as well as death or a heart attack, from an epidural falls in a range of one in 20,000 to one in 1,000,000. Anesthetists are highly-trained doctors who perform epidurals every day.

4. I'm afraid of losing control. Whether it's a fear of pooping on the delivery table or a fear of cursing uncontrollably, the possibility of not having total control over bodily functions can be very scary -- if not completely horrifying. However, labor and delivery nurses, obstetricians and midwives have seen and heard it all, so you don't have to worry about shocking them. If you are really concerned about losing bowel control, you can always opt for an enema in the early hours of labor.

5. I don't want a C-section. You've decided you are going to go the natural childbirth route. You've even taken hypnobirthing classes to prepare yourself. Unfortunately, when the time comes, a complication such as the baby's heart rate becoming irregular or your baby being too large to pass through can happen, and your doctor may tell you he or she is going to have to perform a cesarean section. While this may come as a disappointment, think of it as a means to an end -- a glorious end of having a healthy baby. If you fear the cesarean possibility, it may help for you to read up on what happens during the procedure so that you will know what to expect if it does happen.

6. I'm afraid of tearing. This is a very common concern among mothers-to-be, and rightly so, because tears in the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) are common, especially in first-time births. Most perineal tears are superficial, and only 4 percent of women suffer serious tears. Fortunately, there are things you can do at home before having birth that can help prevent tearing, such as doing Kegel exercises to make the perineal muscles stronger, and massaging your perineum to increase blood flow and the elasticity of the muscles.

7. Will I need an episiotomy? Twenty years ago, an episiotomy was a routine procedure performed before labor to prevent the aforementioned tearing. However, studies have shown episiotomies really aren't necessary, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended against the procedure.

8. What if I don't make it to the hospital in time? This seems to be one incident that really only happens in the movies and on television, but it is possible. In only less than one percent of births does a pregnant woman suddenly feel the urge to push without labor symptoms or contractions. However, it can happen, especially if you have had a previous quick labor. If you do find yourself in this situation, the American College of Nurse-Midwives has a document, A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth that gives step-by-step instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.

9. I'm afraid the umbilical cord will strangle my baby. While this fear conjures up a frightening image, could it really happen? The cord can end up around your baby's neck during delivery, but it is important to remember that he or she is not breathing through his or her mouth yet. You are still breathing for your baby. Even if the cord gets stretched, there are mechanisms in place that allow them to continue working properly. If your baby is born with his or her cord around the neck, all the doctor needs to do is untangle it after birth before clamping it.

10. I'm afraid I will die. This fear goes through the mind of every mom-to-be because, although the risk is low (13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. in 2006), it's still a remote possibility, especially if you have a cesarean section. However, taking childbirth classes, as well as taking a tour of the labor and delivery department of your hospital, may ease your mind. Talking to your obstetrician about this worry will also help your state of mind.


Low Vitamin D in Newborns Linked to Wheezing

Infants at age 3 months who had newborn blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D - a measurement of vitamin D - below 25 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) were twice as likely to develop respiratory infections as infants who had levels at 75 nmol/L or higher, according to an international study.

That finding is based on umbilical cord blood samples taken from more than 900 infants to measure blood vitamin D levels. Earlier research has suggested that mothers who have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to infants who are at a lower risk for wheezing.

Investigators led by Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, examined whether vitamin D levels in the infants’ umbilical cord blood were associated with risk for respiratory infections, wheezing, or asthma.

Camargo and researchers from New Zealand analyzed data from the New Zealand Asthma and Allergy Cohort Study, which followed more than 1,000 children in the cities of Wellington and Christchurch.
Umbilical cord samples were available from 922 infants. Most infants were born to term at 40 weeks, and the average was about 3.6 kilograms or about 7 pounds and 9 ounces.

Mothers were also frequently interviewed about their children’s history of asthma, wheezing, and respiratory infection from age 3 months until the children turned 5 years old. Very few children in the study took vitamin supplements; their vitamin D status came mostly from sunlight exposure.

Researchers found that:
  • About 20% of infants had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 25 nmol/L, which is considered below normal vitamin D levels.
  • The average level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D was 44 nmol/L, which was still considered low.
  • Lower vitamin D levels were more common among children born in the winter, children of lower socioeconomic status, children who had family histories of asthma and smoking and who had been exposed to secondhand smoke at an early age.
  • Low vitamin D levels were associated with wheezing and respiratory infection, but not associated with being diagnosed with asthma. The findings do not establish cause and effect.
The study is published in the January issue of Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vitamin D, found abundantly in fortified dairy products such as milk and cheese, is known for helping children build strong bones, but it can also help bolster the immune system, researchers note. Vitamin D is also produced by the body when exposed to sunlight.

"Our data suggest that the association between vitamin D and wheezing, which can be a symptom of many respiratory diseases and not just asthma, is largely due to respiratory infections," Camargo says in a news release. "There's a likely difference here between what causes asthma and what causes existing asthma to get worse. Since respiratory infections are the most common cause of asthma exacerbations, vitamin D supplements may help to prevent those events, particularly during the fall and winter, when vitamin D levels decline and exacerbations are more common. That idea needs to be tested in a randomized clinical trial, which we hope to do next year."


Monday, December 27, 2010

Natalie Portman Is Engaged & Expecting!

Academy Award-nominated actress Natalie Portman and choreographer Benjamin Millepied are engaged and expecting their first child, People reports.

The couple met while making her latest flick, Black Swan. Natalie's performance in the film has earned her nominations for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award.

The 29-year-old V for Vendetta actress will next be seen in the romantic comedy, No Strings Attached, costarring Ashton Kutcher.

This will be the first child for Natalie who is due in 2011.


Alanis Morissette Welcomes a Christmas Baby!

What a special Christmas for Alanis Morissette!

The Canadian songstress and husband Mario 'Souleye' Treadway welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway, on Saturday December 25th, People reports..

"All are healthy and happy," her rep confirms.

The Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, 36, announced her pregnancy in August. She and Treadway, 30, wed in May at their Los Angeles home.

Congratulations to the Morissette-Treadway family!


Are you out of touch with reality? Baby can tell

Very young children - even infants - can realize that other people see the world differently than they do, a new study suggests. And, they seem to make this realization automatically, without deliberate effort, the authors report in journal Science.

The ability to infer others' intentions and beliefs, often known as "theory of mind," is an essential part of social interactions and may have been a central condition for the evolution of cooperative human societies. Until a few years ago, it was generally accepted that theory of mind abilities didn’t arise until children were three or four years old. Since then, a flurry of studies using a variety of methods has suggested that much younger humans might in fact possess this capacity.

Ágnes Melinda Kovács and colleagues have devised a new approach to this question and applied it to both adults and to seven-month-old infants. The experiments involved showing the test subject a series of animated videos in which a ball first rolls behind a small wall, and then either stays there, rolls out of view, or rolls away and comes back.

A cartoon character observes different intervals of this process. At the end of each video, the researchers measured how long it took the test subjects to detect the ball. (For the babies, the researchers inferred this based on how long it took the infants to look away from the screen.)

Both the adults’ and infants’ reaction times were faster when the cartoon character’s “belief” about the ball’s location matched the ball’s actual whereabouts. This was the case even when the cartoon character had left the screen by the end of the video. Kovács and colleagues conclude that from seven months on we automatically perceive other people’s points of view, and even when these other people are no longer present, we still remember their beliefs as alternative representations of the world.