Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending June 18, 2017.

Trump punts paid parental leave to the states

Initially, Trump’s paid parental leave plan was only going to apply to birth mothers. It has been amended to include fathers and adoptive parents, so that’s a step in the right direction. But it is still only for six weeks – the minimal amount of time that doctors recommend for recovery for a normal, standard, no-complications vaginal birth. And it lags way behind what most other developed nations provide. And it does not even guarantee or mandate paid parental leave at the federal level; it leaves provisions up to each state. Read more here.

This is important for you because regardless of if you even need or use this paid leave, it is an important statement about our society’s priorities.

Science Moms to the rescue

We all just want to do their best for our kids, and will do everything we can to keep our kids healthy and safe. It is not always so easy to know what the best course of action is, though – especially with complicated issues like food safety, and especially with different people preying on our worst fears. A group of mothers hopes to dispel these fears by bringing clarity – and facts – to parenting. Read more about them here.

This is important for you because it is not always easy to know the best thing to do for your baby, and there is A LOT of misinformation out there. Use your head. It is also important because it provides a great reminder that moms can still be productive and impact the world!

Out of the box

Hospitals here have copied those in Finland, which has a low infant mortality rate, and given new parents cardboard boxes in which their newborns can sleep. But experts are not convinced of the boxes’ safety, and claim that Finland’s low infant mortality rate is due more to their (free) maternal health care system. Read more here and our own article about Finnish boxes here.

This is important for you because it is a good reminder to think critically about what experts say – there are at least two sides to every issue.


Father births clone of himself. They’re both fish.

Elementary school kids know that sperm cells and egg cells each have half of the number of chromosomes an organism needs to survive – that way, when they get together, the embryo has a complete set. But in a species of fish found in the Iberian peninsula, sperm have all the chromosomes the offspring need. And it has generated an offspring. This is NOT the way the fish usually reproduce – researchers think it is quite rare – but it did occur, confirming that nature still has surprises for us. Read more here.

This is important for you because you should be grateful you’re human, and get sex as a means of reproduction.

So much for the sexual revolution

Millennial women – those between the ages of 22 and 35 – are extremely concerned about their reproductive care (i.e. birth control): what exactly it will entail, who will provide it, and how it will be paid for. Affordable birth control does no less than enable women to control our own destinies, an option unavailable to most women living in other times and places, so no wonder they are concerned. Read more here.

This is important for you because regardless of if you need birth control, pre- or post-natal care, or neonatal care right now, you and those you love will certainly require health care over the course of your life. Watch policy debates closely.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was What Happens When You Need an Episiotomy? An episiotomy is a surgical cut made in your perineum, the area between your vagina and your rectum. It used to be fairly standard, as it was thought to prevent the tearing of perineal tissue; that idea has been debunked, however, and now an episiotomy is usually only used during a difficult vaginal delivery. Read it here.

This is important for you because if your doctor decides that an episiotomy is warranted, you should know what it entails.

Diana Gitig
Dr. Diana Gitig has a Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University, and has been writing about issues in biology – from molecular biology to cancer to immunology to neuroscience to nutrition to agriculture - for the past fifteen years. She has three teenaged children.

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