Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending October 29, 2017

Take Labor Lying Down

Nurses, doctors, and well-meaning mothers and mothers-in-law often encourage women in labor to walk around to speed things along. But a new study done in Britain suggests that lying on your side is more effective at shortening labor and increasing your chances of an unassisted vaginal delivery. Read more here.

This is important for you because you should do what is most comfortable for you and medically sound, but certainly don’t feel bad about lying down during labor.

Sweet Caroline

Trendsetting mums across the pond are bringing back super sweet baby girl names, like Alice, Clara, and Thea. And if the history of pop music is any indication, what is popular in the UK tends to become very popular in the US. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you’re having a baby girl, you can start a new British invasion.

The White House endorses the rhythm method

In a strange move for an administration that claims to want to curb abortions, the Federal government also seems to want to limit access to birth control. This is alarming, because rates of teen pregnancies and abortions have fallen in recent years and policies that make it harder for young women to manage their own reproductive capacities could reverse this trend. Read more here.

This is important for you because birth control is vital for women to become active players in society. Trump’s withholding it is tantamount to his re-shackling women back to their homes and hearths.

Genetic testing of IVF embryos can open an ethical morass

Genetic testing of preimplantation embryos can reveal the presence of mutations whose exact functions are not known, and sometimes parents opt to implant embryos even when those embryos carry mutations with adverse effects. As the technology available to examine genetic data continues to surpass our understanding of what these data mean, IVF doctors and potential parents will have to grapple with some difficult questions about the babies they are making: which embryos to implant, the factors that go into making that decision, and who gets to decide. Read more here.

This is important for you because thinking about how society values genetic information, and the different traits that genetics can impair, is always valuable.

In utero surgery

In babies with spina bifida the spine does not form properly. Since the 1990s doctors have been operating prenatally to try to mitigate the condition, but it has not been clear that this prenatal surgery was helpful. A new, experimental approach removes the mother’s uterus from her body – with the fetus in it – and operate laparoscopically on the fetus through tiny incisions in the uterine wall. Although this method is more technologically challenging it may ultimately be safer for both mothers and babies. Read more here.

This is important for you because well hopefully, it isn’t. But medical advances are generally cool to know about.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week, by far, was Understanding the Stages of Labor. Labor differs for every woman and every pregnancy, but familiarizing yourself with the general progression can alleviate anxiety over the whole process. Read it here.

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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