Pregnancy and childbirth bring a lot of changes to a mother’s life. This goes without saying. Your body changes. Your family increases by one. Your brain changes. Your heart changes.
I found, that with these changes, something else happened: people felt like they could comment on my body.
I know. Pregnant women are beautiful. And there is something so exciting about a woman on the verge of becoming a new mother. I find myself smiling at pregnant moms or moms with newborns. And I enjoyed being smiled at when it was me with the large belly or the wee baby in a sling.
The reaction is automatic. I want to say: “You look GREAT!”
Some better things to say would be: “How are you feeling?” “You seem so happy/calm/excited!” “How about this weather?” Even “That’s a cute shirt.
I also felt beautiful when I was pregnant. And in many ways I loved hearing “You look great.” But it also somewhat diminished how I felt. I felt vital and strong and happy and nervous. I loved my taut belly and my growing breasts. I secretly hated the stretch marks that took my once smooth, white belly and zigged it through with dark purple.
And people did say I looked great. And one family member good-naturedly told me my butt was getting big. (Which actually really hurt my feelings, despite the fact that I enjoyed my bigger butt.) But comments on butts aside, I liked hearing how good I looked.
But the postpartum period is problematic. Look at how we treat celebrities. We all marvel at how quickly they get their “pre-baby bodies back.” No one needs to say that it is unrealistic to expect anyone to present with washboard abs mere weeks after delivering. And even if I know intellectually that that is an impossible standard and that surely no small amount of photoshopping or working out or dieting or styling helped achieve that enviable postpartum look, it doesn’t change the fact that women’s bodies are routinely objectified.
(click link at the top to read blog on mothering.com)
As it turns out, I am closer to an endurance athlete than I ever imagined. That’s not my opinion, that’s what six researchers found in a study published by Duke University that focused on finding a limit to human endurance. Apparently and shockingly, pregnant and lactating women live in the limit zone. What the what?!?
(Click link above to read the article)
Only 4 percent of women give birth on their estimated delivery date. That’s because of the natural variation in how long it takes a baby to grow and because of our limited ability to predict due dates.
Medicine, it turns out, is surprisingly bad at measuring the precise age of a fetus or how far along a woman is into her pregnancy.
Having concrete information about a baby’s “gestational age” wouldn’t just help moms plan their pregnancies. It would also help doctors better determine whether a fetus is developing as it should, and what extra care may be needed for safer births. Doctors also have no way of accurately predicting whether a baby might arrive too early — a leading cause of infant death globally.
(Click link at top to read on vox.com)
“THE notion that nothing good happens after midnight does not seem to apply to times of birth. Around the world the peak hours for vaginal births that have not been induced by drugs fall between 1am and 7am; the numbers then dwindle throughout the rest of the day. This has led many scientists to believe that giving birth during the early morning offers some sort of evolutionary advantage, perhaps gained long ago when hunter-gatherer mothers and their infants would benefit from having their group reunited during the small hours to help with care and to defend them against any predators.
The problem with this theory is that almost all the information on the timing of human births comes from modern, urban settings, such as clinics and hospitals, which could produce artificial conditions that skew the variation in timings. Not so, it turns out. As Carlye Chaney of Yale University shows in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, early-morning births are common to communities with both modern and traditional lifestyles.”
(click link at top to read this fascinating article on economist.com)
If it baby announcements seem to come all at once from a close group of friends, research shows there may be a reason: Pregnancy can be contagious.
“A friend’s childbearing positively influences an individual’s risk of becoming a parent,” concluded the authors of a 2014 study published in the journal American Sociological Association.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on 1,720 women who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) in the United States from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Tracking female participants who were at least 15 years old in 1995 with home interviews throughout the next decade, the researchers saw that roughly half of the women had a child by the time the final interviews were conducted in 2008 or 2009.
(Click link at top to read the studies)
A conversation with Erica Chidi Cohen feels like one big pep talk. A doula, author and co-founder of LOOM (a education hub for pregnancy and parenting in L.A.), Erica has attended more than 300 births. “You’d think after so many years I’ve had my fill of babies,” she says. “But I’m always overwhelmed by the pure joy that fills the room. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a mother and child take each other in for the first time.” Her guidebook, Nurture, comes out tomorrow, and here Erica shares 10 things she tells new mothers…
Solid interview with my friend Erica Chidi Cohen. Click link at top to read on cupofjo.com, and order her book Nurture on amazon.com while you’re at it! 🙂
(click link above to read on npr.org)
Every day in the United States, millions of expectant mothers take a prenatal vitamin on the advice of their doctor.
The counsel typically comes with physical health in mind: folic acid to help avoid fetal spinal cord problems; iodine to spur healthy brain development; calcium to be bound like molecular Legos into diminutive baby bones.
But what about a child’s future mental health? Questions about whether ADHD might arise a few years down the road or whether schizophrenia could crop up in young adulthood tend to be overshadowed by more immediate parental anxieties. As a friend with a newborn daughter recently fretted over lunch, “I’m just trying not to drop her!”
Yet much as pediatricians administer childhood vaccines to guard against future infections, some psychiatrists now are thinking about how to shift their treatment-centric discipline toward one that also deals in early prevention.
In 2013, University of Colorado psychiatrist Robert Freedman and colleagues recruited 100 healthy, pregnant women from greater Denver to study whether giving the B vitamin choline during pregnancy would enhance brain growth in the developing fetus.
(click link at top to continue reading)