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Mama-to-be holiday gift guide

Posted by Lara Salahi November 30, 2012 08:55 AM

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be receiving more gifts for my bump than myself this season.

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Battling inevitable weight gain; feeling healthy about it

Posted by Lara Salahi November 27, 2012 08:53 AM

It’s one of the first things a woman is asked to do when she enters the exam room at a prenatal wellness visit -- step on the scale.

The number climbs slightly with every visit. It’s perhaps the one period in life where it should.

Still, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think about life after pregnancy and
whether the 20-plus added pounds that have come on so far will ever come off.

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Should 'the pill' be sold over-the-counter? OB/GYN group says yes

Posted by Lara Salahi November 21, 2012 12:30 PM

Women should no longer need a doctor’s prescription to get birth control pills, according to a new opinion statement released Tuesday by one of the largest physician-based women’s health care organizations.

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5 pregnancy myths I wish were true

Posted by Lara Salahi November 19, 2012 08:07 AM

Finding out you’re expecting can bring on the barrage of happy and horror stories from just about any woman you come into contact with -- whether you know them or not.

This is where pregnancy-related selective hearing works well. That is, the happy stories will make you feel like this little person is the best thing that will ever happen to you. The horror stories you’ll just block out and replace with the phrase, “well, every woman is different.” Translation: That’ll never happen to me. (Right?)

The statements below are some of the most common myths held by women that we may be wishing were true.

Indeed, at some point early in my pregnancy -- or perhaps even before -- I fell victim to selective hearing on a few.

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Flu Linked to Autism? Treading Pregnancy Studies with Caution

Posted by Lara Salahi November 12, 2012 10:00 AM

New survey results from a Danish study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that mothers who reported having the flu during pregnancy were at least twice as likely to have a child with autism as those who did not report having the flu.

It’s flu season, and at first glance, the finding can sound terrifying. Fortunately, when the result of the study is put into context, it isn’t.

While the study does not suggest that having a high fever or getting the flu causes autism, headlines that read similar to “Flu During Pregnancy Linked to Autism” can concern many pregnant women.

Unfortunately the headlines are not the first to oversimplify a study’s findings and what it means for women. Here’s another recent headline that also initially sounds alarming: High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy May Lead to Low Offspring IQ.

Even though it shouldn’t, one-liners like these can bring stress, worry and anxiety – three pregnancy faux pas!

Pregnancy is a time when a woman either feels totally in control of her body (i.e. eating healthy, attending all scheduled appointments) or not in control at all (i.e. genetic history). It’s a jolting ride and as much as we try to control our emotions, the unpredictable waves of hormone changes don’t help the cause. One of the worst possible feelings a woman can have before, during, or after pregnancy is feeling she did not do everything controllable during her pregnancy to protect her child. Misinterpreting news stories like the one above can be dangerous -- especially if there’s any suggestion that a child’s autism is in any way the mother’s fault because she had the flu.

Here are a few red flags you should look out for when reading about this and future pregnancy-related studies:

Beware of surveys. Studies that rely on survey results have two major weaknesses. They rely on the survey taker’s response to be accurate, and in many cases are not proven by medical records. Also, because survey takers may be asked to recall something that happened in the past, their memory may not be as clear.

In this study, the survey takers had to respond to more than 200 questions, mostly about infections they had during their pregnancy. While some of the questions asked about high fever, none of the questions addressed the flu specifically. Some women mentioned having had the flu, but their reported condition could not be backed up by a formal medical diagnosis.

Association does not mean causation. Just because study results suggest that there may be a link between two conditions does not mean that one causes the other.

According to the researchers, the study was not designed to look at the flu, but some of the survey takers brought it up. For that reason, the link between the flu and autism may have been by chance.

Even with this information, studies like this may still be worth reading. They let us know what kinds of pregnancy-related topics researchers are studying. Here are just a couple of messages we should get out of this particular study:

A mother’s immune system may affect her baby’s brain development. This is something researchers have known for a while now, but it’s unclear how exactly, and which babies may be more vulnerable to deficits in brain development. A majority of the research so far has been done in animals. This current study is one of a few currently looking into whether the conclusions in animal studies can be translated to humans. So far, there’s no definitive answer.

Get the flu shot. Certainly this study does not suggest that getting the flu shot prevents autism. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women get the flu shot at any stage of their pregnancy. There are some things in our pregnancy that we can’t control, and there are some things that we can – a good philosophy is to do the things we can. Getting the flu shot is one way to protect your immune system and prevent some strains of the flu.

There are many pregnancy stressors. But from now on, drawing scary conclusions from studies without acknowledging the simple red flags should not be one of them.

Great 'Expect'ations

Posted by Lara Salahi November 8, 2012 09:30 AM

Welcome.

Whether you’d like to learn more about fertility or get comfortable with your changing body during pregnancy, this blog is for you – even if you have what seems like just a few minutes left before full-on motherhood.

A bit about me – I’m pregnant! Six months, to be exact. Although I’ve labored through some parts, I have loved my pregnancy so far. I say this in earnest because, compared to what I've heard from many other women, I've had it easy. I really cannot say that about any other period in my life (not even when I was planning my wedding!).

It’s no exaggeration that this experience has changed me in every way (Yes, even physically). While I've tried my best to embrace the changes and roll with the punches and kicks, every week has also brought its own set of questions. 

One question in particular -- “what’s happening to me!?” 

One day, baby is the size of a lemon (courtesy of www.thebump.com). The next, she’s the size of an eggplant and I feel like I’m staring at a stranger’s wardrobe 30 minutes before I have to find something suitable for work.  

As a self-proclaimed healthy young woman who has never had to see the doctor for more than the routine check-up, I've been forced to get comfortable with my family and genetic history. I chart my blood pressure and say, “it’s right on track,” before the nurse gets that chance. I've used a Punnett Square to predict our little boomba’s genetic future. These diagrams are all works of art hanging in my home office, soon to be replaced with boomba’s masterpieces.

According to professor Punnett, she may have a .06 percent chance of becoming the next Picasso. Regardless, I’m sure we’ll brag about whatever brush stroke she makes on that paper.  

I’ve shown up to the store forgetting what I needed to buy. My husband has reminded me about full blown conversations that I can assure you never took place. These scenarios have happened more times than I’d like to remember. (Pregnancy brain? More on whether that really exists in a later post…)

Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes I’m scared this is forever.

Google -- the search engine known to give us answers -- has never seemed more indecisive about pregnancy. Every symptom could be either really good or really bad, depending on what site I click. More than a nap, I just want some scientific truth.

Surely many of you have felt the same way. That’s why I have chosen to start this conversation with you. 

I have learned through my own pregnancy that as much as our own mothers try to walk us through the process, chances are we will not have a pregnancy similar to the women a generation before us. Sorry, Mom. Sure, genetics do play a role in how we carry, but each pregnancy round is different. Each comes with its own heap of experiences to share.  New scientific findings have given way to emerging medical practices and new ways of thinking about pregnancy have given way to new trends.  

Many women and their partners can attest that there are more questions pre-, peri-, and post- pregnancy than they had ever imagined, and even more lessons to be learned -- even if it’s not their first time.

This blog is not meant to offer medical advice. Being pregnant doesn't make me an expert in pregnancy. However, I am a journalist, and for that reason, I’d love to get us some answers.

I hope this blog will serve as a resource to share the latest in pregnancy-related trends and a place where we can share our experiences, whether they are successes or failures.   

This blog is for you, mama want-to-be, to-be, and soon-to-be-again. Please share your experiences and questions with me! 

About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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