TTC? The Surprising Habit That Could Hurt Your Fertility

Trying to conceive can be a stressful time. Maybe it leads to sleepless nights, and maybe that insomnia leads to late-night TV benders, or endless scrolling through a phone or tablet for Internet guidance. Does that sound like you? If so, you might have developed a coping habit that’s actually detrimental to your chances of making a baby.

According to a new report, women who are trying to become pregnant, and those who are already expecting, should avoid staying up late, or other exposure to light during the nighttime hours. The study, published in Fertility and Sterility and cited by LiveScience, suggests that sleeping in a completely dark room—that means no light from inside or outside, and no screens—is the most conducive environment for reproductive health, and for protection of a fetus in utero.

“If women are trying to get pregnant, maintain at least eight hours of a dark period at night,” said cellular biology professor Russel J. Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center in the study. “The light-dark cycle should be regular from one day to the next; otherwise, a woman’s biological clock is confused.”

Primarily, this is because turning on the light signals the body to turn down the production of melatonin, which is useful in protecting eggs, as well as maintaining healthy cycles for incubating babies. The researcher points out that evolutionarily speaking, humans’ sleep schedules were determined by the rising and setting of the sun, with the natural light-dark cycles regulating our circadian rhythms–and in short, modern conveniences can kinda mess us all up.

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So what can you do? If you wish, consider springing for a set of blackout shades. And if possible, avoid turning on the lights at night, even if you’re struggling to sleep. You might even find you can soothe yourself back to sleep more easily this way—and that’s the best thing for you for all sorts of reasons!

TTC? Talk to other women trying to get pregnant. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster

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Would You Sign a Pre-Baby Contract With Your Partner?!

Let’s go way back in time. Journey with me through 15-plus years of dating, which was exhilarating in its ways, of course—but also often frustrating and filled with wrenching heartbreak and uncertainty and powerlessness. (And let’s call that the understatement of the century.)

Then let’s flash forward to 2008, when I got serious with the guy who would become my husband, and that deeply longing part of me was at very long last fulfilled in the most incredible way. Four years into marriage, I’m loving just about every minute of my hard-won relationship.

And now that we’re expecting two newborns, everything’s going to change—and that’s really scary.

In fact, the unknown changes to the awesome dynamic I share with my spouse are some of the things I fear most as I enter into motherhood. I have heard kids alternatively described as grenades upon marriage (gee, thanks, Internet, for that visual), and as wondrous ways to foster an even deeper bond between parents than they ever even thought possible.

I’m really hoping it’s the latter, obviously; actually, I’m counting on it. To that end, I plan to prioritize dating my husband, keeping the lines of communication open, and dividing labor fairly, as much as possible. Of course, I know we’ll be at the mercy of desperate fatigue and overwhelm—and we’ll be calling audibles left and right.

But what if we didn’t leave it to chance? In a recent Slate piece, writer Rebecca Onion proposed the idea of a pre-baby contract as a way to preserve her relationship with her husband if they decide to go ahead with kids. The idea is sort of like a pre-nup, except it explicitly spells out a division of labor mutually agreed upon as fair between partners in advance, so that there are no surprises on the other side—relationship-threatening surprises.

The author asks, “Wouldn’t a not-at-all legally binding document, outlining expectations and setting a course for periodic re-examination of the division of labor, alleviate my fears, and prevent aggravation, or fights, or divorce, in the future? I find that any number of life challenges are more palatable when drained of their emotional content through quantification.”

I couldn’t agree more. In all aspects of life, if I see a problem, or a potential problem, I like to tackle it head on, and in a practical way. I make a lot of lists, and call a lot of family meetings. And I relate to and appreciate, for instance, some of the specifics of Onion’s concerns and potential contract points. For instance, she may not be the primary family breadwinner as a writer, but that doesn’t mean her work is not meaningful and valuable and worthy of preservation when time is a commodity. (Hear, hear!)

Still, I can’t help but wonder how practical such a document could be—or how executable, when the name of the game might just be surviving new parenthood at its basest level.

I’d love to hear from you: Would you draw up a pre-baby contract with your partner?

Pregnant? See what to expect week by week. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Sex After Baby: Surprising Things No One Told You About Sex After Baby
Sex After Baby: Surprising Things No One Told You About Sex After Baby
Sex After Baby: Surprising Things No One Told You About Sex After Baby

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The EEOC’s New Rules: Good for Pregnant Workers and ALL Working Families!

If, like me, you’re committed to working throughout your pregnancy—and returning to work after babies—you’re going to want to read this.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made updates to its rules on discrimination and pregnancy for the first time in more than three decades.

It’s against the law to discriminate against employees who are pregnant (or were in the past, or might be in the future), and the commission made clear that adjustments may need to be made for pregnant workers—including providing the option of light duty—and clearly forbids employers from forcing a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence when she is able to carry on working.

And the new, tougher rules on pregnancy aren’t the only good news in the update: breastfeeding and parental leave are also addressed. The commission makes clear a policy regarding breastfeeding, characterizing lactation as a medical issue subject to legal protections. That means lactating moms must be provided a private location as well as the scheduling opportunity to pump milk.

Furthermore, employers who provide parental leave (separate from medical leave related to the actual childbearing or childbirth recovery) must do so equally for men and women.

It goes without saying that any improvements in support for pregnant women in the U.S. are good for working families overall.

Living in the only industrialized country in the world without any paid leave for parents of newborns (let that sink in), I’m happy and relieved whenever I see good news that suggests movement in the right direction here in America (and I can better manage my jealousy of my Australian friend currently on a year of paid maternity leave through various benefit channels)!

Pregnant? See how your belly will grow over the next weeks and months. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Your Pregnancy: 5 Early Pregnancy Symptoms Most Women Deal With
Your Pregnancy: 5 Early Pregnancy Symptoms Most Women Deal With
Your Pregnancy: 5 Early Pregnancy Symptoms Most Women Deal With

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Vanessa and Nick Lachey Are Expecting Baby No. 2!

Nick, Vanessa and Camden LacheyWhen Parents interviewed Vanessa and Nick Lachey for our June 2014 cover, the cute couple proclaimed, “We definitely want more kids” when asked if their almost-2-year-old son, Camden, would be a big brother anytime soon.

And back in February, Nick told People magazine that he’d love to have a daughter, saying, “I do want a girl. I think there’s something emotional about having a daughter that I definitely want to experience.”

Well, it looks like they’re getting what they want! As Nick announced in a sweet tweet, the couple are expecting a baby girl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick and his 98 Degrees bandmate-brother Drew are two and a half years apart in age, and he told Parents that he thought that was a perfect age gap. “You don’t want kids to have to share the same group of friends,” he said, while Vanessa added, “But you don’t want them so far apart that they have nothing in common.” While we don’t know how far along Vanessa is, exactly, it looks like Camden and his baby sis will have a similar age difference, which will suit their parents just fine.

Congrats to the family!

Should you parent a boy or a girl? Find out! And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game
Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game
Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game

Photo: Chris Craymer

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Christina Aguilera’s Baby Shower Cake: Worst Trend Ever?!

I thought my baby shower pushed the envelope, because I had cookies in the shapes of dead rappers like Biggie and Tupac, and a cake decked with personalized mix tapes. (All in service of my twin shower’s ’90s hip-hop “It Takes Two” theme! Get it?!)

But Christina Aguilera took the baby shower envelope pushing a few steps farther—emphasis on the “pushing.”

At a co-ed shower for about 50 guests, the star reportedly had a cake decorated with the image of a woman giving birth on a rug, explicitly showing the baby’s head emerging from you-know-where. According to reports, the writing said, “Push Xtina, push!”

Can you think of anything more appetizing than that?!

Well, this is one baby shower trend not isolated to celebs like Christina—though I kind of wish it were. No, indeed, plenty of examples of the graphic cake theme are illustrated all over the Internet. Trust me. Just search for the hashtag (sorry) #vaginacake or check out Pinterest.

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Honestly? If I see pubic hair—or even its sugar representation—on my dessert plate, I’m sending it back. But in general, I am all for thinking outside the (ahem) box when it comes to mixing up staid, traditional events like baby showers.

I’d love to hear from you on the explicit baby shower cake trend: Good fun, or gross?

Pregnant? See how your belly will grow over the next weeks and months. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Baby Shower Games: Star Onesies
Baby Shower Games: Star Onesies
Baby Shower Games: Star Onesies

Christina Aguilera photo courtesy of Shuttertock

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