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What We Learned in 2013 About Pregnancy

The year 2013 proved to be yet another year where Americans are more connected than ever. With all the convenient technology out there, mom and dads to be have a plethora of information at their fingertips. There are studies being released constantly and all the latest medical opinions and suggestions coming at your from every avenue. You want what is best for your growing family and the following paragraphs contain the major learning points from this past year. We hope you find it useful!

Sleep, as well as diet, can affect your fertility.
Several studies were released this year concerning this very topic. Lifestyle factors play a role in fertility too. It’s been suggested that women who do shift work may have disrupted menstrual cycles leading to reduced fertility. Women regularly getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night appeared to have the best outcomes for getting pregnant through IVF. Another study found that women who had PCOS could benefit from having a large breakfast in the morning and a smaller dinner in the evening. They found this helped with insulin levels which can affect hormones. Why some women seem to conceive with a mere sneeze and it takes months or years for others is often a mystery. At least rest assured knowing that if you get your 8 hours and eat healthy balanced meals you are taking the reins in one area of your fertility.

Fertility treatments lead to more multiples.
Why is this on this list? It doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? The United States has a much higher rate of multiple births now than it did decades ago. One study found that one third of all twin births and more than three fourths of triplet and higher order births were the result of some sort of fertility treatment. But don’t jump to conclusions!! The type of fertility treatment may surprise you. Ovulatory medications beat out IVF as the leading cause of multiple births.

Miscarriage is more common that most people realize.
Miscarriages are one of those painful things people do not like discussing. The truth is, many women probably miscarry their tiny babies without even realizing they were pregnant. But for those who did know they were expecting and then lost the baby before 20 weeks, it can be a very lonely and sad time. Experts say that miscarriages happen about six percent of the time. That result is quite a bit lower than the findings of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx who polled more than 1,000 men and women between that ages of 18-69. They estimate that miscarriages happen 15-20 percent of the time. Chromosomal abnormalities are usually the reason for miscarriage, not stress, oral contraceptives, or physical exertion as most women reported.

Exercising can benefit your newborn’s brain.
I think at this point most experts agree that exercise during pregnancy is healthy. It keeps your blood flowing to baby, oxygen level up, and gets those endorphins moving. One study found that a little moderate exercise, 20 minutes three times a week, could boost baby’s brain activity. Babies born to women who included regular exercise in their pregnancy routine processed certain sounds better. This led researchers to believe that this implies better brain development in the little one. "Our results show that the babies born from the mothers who were physically active have a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly." Now, many women think of exercise as the last thing they possibly want to do while they are feeling exhausted and sick. Try it out, though, exercise can lift your mood and give you more energy in the long run, not to mention prepare you for the most important physical exercise of your life…birth.

Food habits may begin in the womb.
In a study done on rats in Australia, researchers found interesting results when they studied their maternal diets. Can junk food addiction happen in utero? The researchers found that rats who ate diets high in fat and sugar produced babies who craved junk food more than those whit mothers who ate a diet low in fat and sugar. The gene expression in the reward pathways of the baby rats were changed and predisposed them to a junk food addiction after they were born. This study was done with rats, yes, and it is too early to apply the findings to humans, but it’s worth considering. Keep the junk food consumption down while you are pregnant and keep the healthy whole food consumption up!

Pregnancy interventions are not always welcome, but very common.
In a survey in the United States, 60 percent of women said they believed birth was a natural process that shouldn’t be interfered with unless medically necessary. Of these women, one fourth of them said they had three interventions during birth. The interventions ranged from drugs to speed up labor to C-sections. Of the women who were induced or had an epidural, twenty-five percent of them said they felt pressure at the hospital to be administered these drugs. Thirteen percent of women who had C-sections also felt pressure. Be sure to speak with your doctor and tour the hospital where you will be giving birth to make sure everyone is on the same page with your wants. Make it clear that you don’t want any interference unless it’s medically necessary and have your coach be your advocate.

Better birth outcomes are linked to midwifery.
Midwives have a reputation for letting things progress as nature intended and this includes letting baby come when baby is ready. Most women see OBs or family physicians leading up to their baby’s birth, but there is a growing trend in women seeing midwives instead. Women who worked with midwives had lower rates of episiotomy and epidural and were more likely to carry their baby to term. If going to a midwife is out of the question for you, choose a doctor that will do things the way you would like.

Delayed cord clamping is beneficial.
A lot of doctors clamp and cut the cord almost immediately after birth. One study found that waiting at least a minute or two after the baby is born to clamp the cord could increase the baby’s iron supply for up to six months after birth. Be sure to discuss cord clamping practices with your provider. It’s best to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before clamping it off.

Each of these points in this article could be expanded upon, but hopefully this will give you a nice oversight of the important things we learned about pregnancy in 2013. Have a great 2014!

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