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Friday, August 15th, 2014
We know we’re all about the healthy lifestyle once that pregnancy test is positive, but researchers are discovering that the health of mom and dad way before the baby is conceived plays a part in their child’s future health, too.
According to a new paper by researchers at the University of Adelaide, there’s evidence that poor health pre-conception can preprogram your baby to have poor health in his future, too. “Many things we do in the lead up to conceiving is having an impact on the future development of the child — from the age of the parents, to poor diet, obesity, smoking and many other factors, all of which influence environmental signals transmitted into the embryo,” Professor Sarah Robertson, a coauthor of the paper “Parenting from before conception” published in the journal Science, says.
The study authors found links between parents’ poor health and a child’s future poor health, including increases in diabetes, heart disease, and immune disorders.
So if you’re even thinking about getting pregnant, now’s the time to start building good health habits—quitting smoking, eating healthier, and boosting your fitness levels. That can help ensure that your baby gets the best start in life.
Test your pregnancy IQ with our quiz. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and information.
Image: Newborn by Inara Prusakova/Shutterstock.com
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Monday, May 12th, 2014
Most people follow astrology for fun. I admit it—the horoscope page is one of the first I read in a magazine. But many Chinese people are notoriously superstitious when it comes to the Chinese zodiac. So much so that in China some couples are rushing to get pregnant now—in the Year of the Horse, one thought to be a good luck charm—so their babies won’t be born in 2015, the Year of the Sheep, the Washington Post reports.
In Chinese astrology, those who are Sheep are thought to be passive, natural born followers rather than strong, outspoken leaders. And the bad luck doesn’t stop there: Supposedly they’re unlucky in business as well as relationships, with popular folklore saying that only one out of 10 people born in the Year of the Sheep finds happiness, the Post reports.
Because couples trying to conceive are getting impatient, and they don’t want to risk having a “doomed baby,” fertility specialists say they have seen a huge increase in business in recent months. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Sheep begins February 19, 2015, so the window for conception closes around the end of this month.
Couples are so worried that their babies will be born unlucky, that they are even asking about early delivery via C-Section to guarantee their children are born in the Year of the Horse—whether they’re ready to come out or not!
While I can’t imagine planning my pregnancy around my future child’s horoscope, if you truly believe in the Chinese zodiac, why would you want your child to be destined to a lifetime of unhappiness?! As moms and moms-to-be, we want the absolute best for our children. So while these couples may sound crazy to some, I think it’s actually a super-sweet gesture to try to give their kids the best possible life path—even if that means speeding up their pregnancy plans.
That said, early C-Sections are not a good idea! The March of Dimes believes the best gestation period is at least 39 weeks long in order to have the optimal brain and lung development and to have the highest chance of having no visual or hearing problems. I hope couples considering that make sure that they are allowing their baby to fully develop before making that kind of decision. Because causing a premature birth and all of the complications that go with that—when it can be prevented—is no way to start a child’s life.
TELL US: Would you time your birth around astrology?
Wondering if you’re having a boy or a girl? Check out our Ancient Chinese Birth Chart!
Image of Chinese baby courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Thursday, March 13th, 2014
I’ve heard playing music for plants can actually help plants grow to be taller and stronger, thanks to the mild vibrations the music emits. But could the same technique help to fertilize eggs during IVF? A new study suggests yes.
This far-out idea could potentially help the 7.3 million infertile couples in the U.S. as well as millions of others struggling to have children around the world. While infertility affects one in 8 couples in America, one in four couples are plagued by it in developing countries. That is a lot of people who want desperately to have kids, but can’t.
This promise of new hope is music to their ears. At the Institut Marques fertility clinic in Barcelona, Spain, researchers studied whether playing music in IVF labs would boost the odds of fertilization by injecting sperm in almost 1,000 eggs and putting them in dishes in incubators.
Then they divided the incubators in half. Five hundred received no music, while the other 500 had speakers placed in them, where everything from pop tunes by Michael Jackson and Madonna to rock songs by Nirvana and Metallica to classical works by Mozart and Vivaldi were played 24/7.
Not all of the eggs were fertilized, but fertilization rates were 5 percent higher in incubators with music (there seemed to be no difference in success rates based on type of music played). The theory is that musical vibrations could mimic what occurs naturally during conception, where the fertilized egg is rocked as it rolls down the fallopian tube, and then receives gentle contractions in the womb. As bizarre as it sounds, according to The Daily Mail, “Music is thought to ease the passage of nutrients into the egg and speed the removal of toxic waste, so increasing the odds of fertilization taking place and the fledgling embryo surviving.”
Though it is too early to say whether the technique makes a significant difference in the odds of giving birth, couples in 17 countries have become parents thanks to the unorthodox technique. So just as music can help a couple get in the mood for baby-making, it seems it has the same effect on your eggs—even if they’re in a petri dish.
TELL US: Do you think music really can make a difference in conception? If so, what tunes would you want on your eggs’ IVF playlist?
Take our fertility maximizer quiz to see if you’re making all the right moves to get pregnant.
Image of woman with headphones courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Conception, conception study, fertility, In Vitro Fertilization, infertility, IVF, Music, pregnancy, pregnant | Categories:
Must Read, Pregnancy News, Pregnancy Tips
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
NPR reports that according to a study in Fertility & Sterility, more than half the 1,000 women ages 18 to 40 from different races, ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels surveyed didn’t realize that folic acid supplements need to be taken at least a month before conception to prevent neural tube defects, and many didn’t know that the older a woman is the higher the risk of miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. About a quarter of women didn’t know that obesity, smoking and irregular periods can all decrease fertility.
So what does increase fertility? Elevating the pelvis during sex or using specific positions does not, which more than a third surveyed did think boosted the chances of conception. Only 10 percent of women knew the optimal time to try each month to get pregnant.
Dr. Jessica Illuzzi, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Yale University School of Medicine, says an astoundingly low number of women are aware that you have to have intercourse before ovulation to get pregnant. “About 60 percent thought the best time was after ovulation.” But the ideal window of fertility is actually two days before you ovulate. Who knew? Um, I mean, of course I knew that. Didn’t you?
Illuzzi goes on to say that it’s probably best to have sex on both of those peak days rather than listening to doctors usual advice for couples trying to conceive—which is to have sex every other day—because then you might miss your fertile window. But don’t get overly ambitious and have sex multiple times a day thinking more sperm means more chances of getting pregnant. In fact, Illuzzi warns, “If he ejaculates too often, his sperm count goes down.”
So there you have it, some big baby-making misconceptions have been debunked!
TELL US: How do you think you would have scored on this survey? Did you learn anything new from the results?
Image of couple in bed courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, November 25th, 2013
Food is such a hot topic when it comes to pregnancy—what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat, what’s a healthy amount of weight to gain while pregnant…the list is endless! The amount of information out there can be overwhelming! So I spoke to Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietician and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy, to give you a quick and easy rundown of what to eat and what to steer clear of. Here are her recommendations.
The five best foods for fertility and pregnancies:
• Eggland’s Best Eggs: “EB eggs contain four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs and they provide a lean source of protein,” says Ward. “In addition, they contain no trans fats and nearly all the fat in EB eggs is unsaturated. Eggs are also a source of choline. In observational studies, choline has helped reduce the risk for birth defects in the first month of life. During pregnancy a child’s brain is developing at a very rapid pace. It needs the omega-3 fats found in seafood and in Eggland’s Best Eggs, which provide twice the amount of omega-3s in ordinary eggs. Healthy women can have 2 EB eggs a day.”
• Canned light tuna and salmon: “They are excellent sources of vitamin D and lean protein. They are also relatively low-risk fish in terms of mercury. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two fish meals a week.”
• Legumes: “Chickpeas, black beans, and other beans are free of trans fat, are low-glycemic carbohdyrate sources and are full of filling fiber. Start with 1/4 cup to your daily diet, and you can eat up to a cup of beans daily.”
• Fortified whole grains: “Whole grains have fiber and are low-glycemic carbohydrate sources. Women should eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.”
• Full-fat vitamin-D fortified milk: “According to the research, full-fat dairy is associated with fertility. A total of three servings from the dairy group daily is the goal.” Also, according to some research, drinking milk while pregnant can cause your children to be taller!
Five things to steer clear of if you want to get pregnant or are pregnant:
• Alcohol: “Alcohol is of course bad for pregnancies, but what all women don’t know is that drinking can also put a damper on fertility.”
• Caffeine: “It may also be surprising to know that there is a lot of conflicting research about caffeine. Some studies say it causes miscarriage and small babies and others say no. I err on the side of caution and go with the March of Dimes suggestion to limit caffeine during pregnancy to 200 milligrams a day or less. When you’re trying to conceive, excess coffee may be crowding out other more nutritious beverages but may not actually be limiting fertility.”
• Red meats: Lean red meat is one of the best sources of iron, “but fatty meats should be avoided.”
• Trans fats: “Things like French fries, donuts and pastries, and margarine may sabotage fertility.”
• Refined carbs: “Excessive amounts of refined carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc) and added (not naturally occuring) sugar are also problematic.”
According to Ward, “Women should take their preconception diet and lifestyle very seriously.” Weighing too much delays time to conception (being underweight can, too) and starting your pregnancy overweight may mean a bigger baby who goes on to be overweight later in life. “The number one issue for women,” says Ward, “is achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight (based on BMI) on a balanced diet to encourage fertility and to help insure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.”
Always try to start pregnancy in the best shape possible. “Manage any underlying health conditions, including body weight, high blood pressure, and anemia before conception occurs,” advises Ward. “There’s no way to figure how much of a change women will see in their fertility based on healthy eating but it is known that they will begin pregnancy in a much healthier state that will reduce complications for them and their child.”
TELL US: Did you make any dietary changes before getting pregnant or during your pregnancy?
NEXT: Your personal pregnancy calendar (It’s free!)
Image of woman drinking milk courtesy of Shutterstock.
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