Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Harley Pasternak Dishes on Hilary Duff's Workout Routine [People]

Stay-At-Home Moms Lift Almost a Ton of Baby Each Day [Fox News]

Mom better than dad at soothing baby's pain: study [Reuters]

Mothers-to-be show of their bumps in pregnancy pageant [Daily Mail]

Stopping Meds Does Not Increase Prenatal Depression Risk [HealthNewsDigest]

Concentration of Maternal Ether Linked to Birth Weight [Doctors Lounge]

6 Ways to Divide Parenting Tasks [The Stir]

20 Telling Stats on Parenting Today [Medical Billing & Coding]

10 Reasons to Take the Kids to the Sitter’s Home [BabysittingJobs]

Fetal Pain Recognized Late in Pregnancy


The concept of fetal pain has spurred much debate throughout history. Many people once believed that babies didn't develop the ability to feel pain until well after they were born. Anti-abortion advocates have long argued that ultrasound pictures reveal expressions of pain very early in pregnancy. A new study's findings land right in the middle of these two ideologies.

Researchers from University College London used electroencephalograph (EEG) meters on premature babies in order to learn more about the sensations babies feel when they should technically still be in the womb. The scientists took EEG readings as they lanced the babies heels for blood samples, a routine procedure. They noticed that before babies reached 35 weeks, they expressed a general burst of neurological activity in response to the lancing, but after 35 weeks, the expression became localized, which the scientists say is a sign that babies are probably registering the sensation as painful. Dr. Lorenzo Fabrizi, who led the research, said of the findings: “We are asking a fundamental question about human development in this study - when do babies start to distinguish between sensations? In very young brains all stimulations are followed by 'bursts' of activity, but at a critical time in development babies start to respond with activity specific to the type of stimulation.”

The researchers note that since the babies cannot actually communicate whether they feel pain or not, that they can’t say for sure whether or not fetuses feel pain prior to 35 weeks. However, they also spoke about previous studies that show a common connection between premature infants and sensitivity to pain that can last throughout their lives – they are usually either more or less sensitive to pain than babies born to term. It’s unclear if such research would affect fetal pain laws that have been taking root across the nation, where abortions are banned after 20 weeks based on the unsubstantiated premise that fetuses feel pain after that time. Nevertheless, the findings could change the way medical professionals view and treat premature infants in the near future.

If you’ve had a premature baby, do you think they were unable to feel pain prior to 35 weeks?

Babies 'recognise pain in womb' [Press Association]
Alabama latest state to impose abortion restrictions [WashTimes]

Thursday, September 08, 2011

More Business of Being Born (Part 1)

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein are back to take on the way we view birth in the United States. More Business of Being Born will have four parts, with a release date of November 8th, 2011. The first film that the duo produced, The Business of Being Born, is a must-see for any expectant parents and their book Your Best Birth is a valuable resource during pregnancy.

Part one of More Business of Being Born is a very organic, interview-based segment that focuses on the work of world renowned midwife, Ina May Gaskin. Ricki and Abby are delighted to meet the author of Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, which have become the go-to books for mothers who want a drug-free, homebirth experience or something within that vein. The pair of women venture out to The Farm, the communal living settlement in Tennessee where Ina May and many other midwives practice. They talk to Ina May and the other midwives about a myriad of topics including induction, breech birth and episiotomy. An interesting conversation about autism takes place as well, where it’s revealed that the midwives have not seen a single case of the condition on The Farm. Eventually, the film narrows in on a topic that Ina May has been speaking about publically for quite a few years: the rising maternal mortality rate in the United States.  The women discuss causes of death during and after childbirth and pay tribute to the women who have died due to medical oversights.

Many experienced mothers or those who wish to learn more about childbirth will find part one of the new film series to be informative and fascinating. Although the information would be valuable for first time moms, it can be frightening to hear without knowing more about the topics and shouldn’t be the first resource to dive into upon finding out your pregnant. Experienced mothers will probably get the most out of this film, particularly those who are already familiar with the wisdom of Ina May Gaskin. You can learn more and pre-order the new film series here. It is also available for immediate viewing by downloading the film from the website

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy Links


How To Make A Baby [YouTube]

Erykah Badu is a doula, working to become a midwife [TorontoSun]

Sperm Bank Baby Booms May Be Putting Children At Risk For Incest [IBTimes]

It May Be Time To Wean My Three Year Old [Kveller]

Incredible Pictures of Animals in the Womb [TheSuiteWorld]

"Baby Wrist" Afflicts Many New Moms [EmpowHer]

New data on phthalates risk and children [WashPo]

Weight difference increases risks for twin babies [Independent.ie]

OTC Pain-Relieving Drugs Double Risk of Miscarriage [Google]

Parental Leave Grants Aussie Dads Quality Time with Newborns [IBTimes]

Baby's Birth Month Could Influence Future Occupation


Some eyebrow-raising information was released this week that claims a child's birth month can be an indicator of what occupation they will find themselves taking up in the future. Apparently, if you want your child to become a dentist, the likelihood is greater if he's born in December.

The United Kingdom's Center for National Statistics compiled occupational data based on a person's birth month and discovered some interesting trends. January babies were more likely to become debt collectors and less likely to work with sheet metal. February saw a significant portion of babies turn out to be artists, but less likely to become physicists. There are a number of March babies who become pilots or musicians. April and May babies seemed to have more flexible occupational outcomes. People born in the summer months were unlikely to become doctors or dentists. September babies were more likely to become professional athletes or physicists and less likely to become hairdressers or bricklayers. Many people born in December have become dentists.   

The information is being met with skepticism across the web, but research has previously found a person’s birth month to have a significant effect on their future, particularly in regard to developing certain diseases. It seems that science might be gradually replacing astrology as a way to predict a person’s fate based on their time of birth.

Do you know anyone who matches these occupational statistics?

Give birth in March for a pilot, June for chief exec or December for a dentist... [DailyMail]

Monday, September 05, 2011

Toddlers Use Grammar to Decipher Word Meaning


Your toddler may comprehend more of your conversation that you think, according to a new study. Researchers discovered that before toddlers could understand many words, they were able to use general grammatical rules to make guesses about meanings of words. The findings highlight the importance of speaking in full sentences to children in order to help them learn language better.

Two-year-olds were tested by researchers at the University of Liverpool’s Child Language Study Center to see how well they understood grammatical structure. The toddlers were shown pictures such as an image of a rabbit lifting the leg of a duck and then an image of the same characters acting independently. The researchers then made up verbs to describe the interactions between the characters in the images, for example:  “the rabbit is gorping the duck.” They then broadcast the statements over a loudspeaker as the toddlers were viewing the images, who were asked to point to the correct picture. The researchers were surprised to find how often the toddlers were correct in their choices.

Caroline Rowland, lead author of the study, said of the findings: “The beginnings of grammar acquisition start much earlier than previously thought, but more importantly, it demonstrates that children can use grammar to help them work out the meaning of new words, particularly those that don't correspond to concrete objects such as 'know' and 'love.’”

Do you speak to your toddler in full sentences?

Toddlers Understand Complex Grammar, Study Shows [LiveScience]

Breastfeeding Mothers Show More Aggression and Lower Blood Pressure

Scientists are calling it the "mama bear effect," a term for the newly discovered aggression found in breastfeeding mothers. Apparently, when breastfeeding mothers are confronted with competitive situations, they react with increased aggression but their blood pressure remains low, which could enable them to more effectively face situations where their baby is in danger.

The researchers at UCLA’s department of psychology must have had some fun when breastfeeding mothers, formula feeding mothers and women without children were asked to compete in computer games against an overly rude assistant. The participants were given a button to push that enabled them to send the competitor a loud noise if they won. Upon winning, the breastfeeding mothers consistently blasted the opponent with the noise louder and longer than either of the other groups. However, even though the breastfeeding mothers acted more aggressively, their systolic blood pressure remained 10-12 points below the women in the other two groups.

The findings correlate with animal studies that have revealed a reduction in the body’s fear response in lactating mammals. This new study demonstrates that the same effects are present in humans, possibly enabling mothers to respond more effectively to dangerous situations.

Like mama bears, nursing mothers defend babies with a vengeance [Eurekalert]