Posts Tagged ‘ In Vitro ’

Everyone’s Having Twins (& It’s Not Just IVF!)

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Fertility infertility twinsI’m sure I’m not alone in noticing there’s a major twin trend happening right now. I have three friends who’ve all given birth to twins within the last year, and stars like Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Angelina Jolie’s twins are paparazzi favorites. We as a society just can’t seem to get enough of twins. Why? It’s simple. Because there’s twice as much to love!

The double baby boom has been a long time coming. Between 1980 and 2009, the rate of multiple births increased by 76 percent. As of 2012, about one in 30 babies born in the United States is a twin. Two-thirds of the increase is likely due to the growing use of IVF. The remainder is mainly attributed to a rise in the average age women give birth. Older women are more likely to produce more than one egg in a cycle, and 35 percent of births in 2009 were to women over age 30, up from 20 percent in 1980 (This age-induced increase applies only to fraternal twins, though; the rate of identical twin births does not change with the age of the mother).

Due to IVF, many moms-to-be are faced with the question: How many fertilized eggs do I want implanted in my uterus? One is the safest for both mom and baby, but many couples who’ve suffered with infertility are afraid to rely on a single egg per try. Aside from it being a costly process (usually around $10-15k per cycle), the thinking is the more embryos the higher chance of pregnancy. But according to Dr. Amos Grunebaum, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at Weill Cornell, having multiple embryos implanted during IVF doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of pregnancy, it simply increases your chances of being pregnant with multiples.

In fact, when a woman carries more than one fetus, it’s less likely that she’ll be able to carry that pregnancy to term. Dr. Grunebaum thinks mothers should ask for only one embryo to be implanted because of the health risks involved with having multiples for both the babies and the moms (In some European countries it’s actually illegal for docs to implant more than one embryo because of the risks it poses to the mother’s health).

About 60 percent of twins are born prematurely (at an average of 35 weeks). More than half of twins are born at less than 5.5 pounds. Low birthweight babies—especially those born before 32 weeks and/or weighing less than 3.5 pounds—are at an increased risk for breathing, vision, hearing and heart problems.

Mothers expecting twins are in danger too. They are more than twice as likely to develop preeclampsia, a mix of high blood pressure, protein in the urine and general swelling that can be dangerous for both mom and baby. Gestational diabetes—which can cause the baby to be larger—is also common, and can increase risks of injury to mom and baby during vaginal births, and can lead to poor feeding, jaundice, breathing problems and seizures in infants. And, finally, women due with twins are more likely to need a cesarean section, which is a more evasive birth with a higher chance of hemorrhaging during and after delivery, and requires a longer period of recovery.

The stress of twins is not over once they’re born, either. Two babies at the same time means more feedings, diaper changes, and temper tantrums. More clothes, gear and childcare, which can add up to be very pricy. But it also means twice the smiles, hugs and giggles too. While the moms of twins I know love having twins, they’ll be the first to tell you it’s an awful lot of hard work—that goes far beyond picking out perfectly coordinated outfits. So think twice before you decide to implant yourself with more than one egg. You might not be ready for what you’re wishing for.

TELL US: Would you want twins? If you have them, how are you dealing with double the work, double the pleasure?

Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About Those Jennifer Aniston IVF Rumors . . .

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In Fertility TreatmentIn vitro fertilization is a very personal thing between you, your partner and your doctor. If you choose to share your story with friends or family, or other women going through the same extremely draining process, that’s up to you, and only you.

So I was really annoyed to see that In Touch is reporting that Jennifer Aniston is going through IVF in order to have a baby after 40 (don’t even get me started on how the tabloids always portray her as a pathetic victim who can never find love—um, have you seen Justin Theroux? She seems to be doing fine to me!) Who knows, maybe she is going through IVF. But is that really what so-called journalism has come to, trying to out a woman for using IVF? It’s like branding her with a scarlet letter.

I know Angelina Jolie shared her battle with breast cancer with the world, but that doesn’t mean Jennifer is obligated to share her most intimate details with us. IVF is not only emotionally taxing—never knowing whether it’s going to work or not—but it’s also very physically demanding. Women have to undergo daily hormone injections, and often end up bruised, sore and exhausted.

Of course, some women are open about their use of IVF and I applaud them for that. I’ve had friends who’ve needed someone to talk to about it because it was such an emotional roller coaster, and since their husbands were going through it with them, they didn’t want to burden their guys with even more baggage. They needed a sympathetic ear, and I was more than happy to be that for them.

Others are even more willing to include a larger group of people in their trials and tribulations with fertility treatments. Since IVF is so expensive (it can range from around $10-15k a cycle) and not all health insurance companies cover it, I’ve heard of couples getting very inventive and throwing fundraising parties to raise the cash for their IVF treatments, and even keeping “donors” abreast of their progress (more and more people are taking out IVF loans as well).

The point is that there are different ways of handling who knows whether you’re going through IVF, and how you tell them (in your own way and in your own time). No one should feel like they don’t have a choice in the matter—including Jennifer Aniston.

TELL US: Would you share your IVF story with others, or keep it to yourself?

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Image of Jennifer Aniston courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Baby Boy or Girl: Would You Choose Baby’s Gender?

Monday, July 8th, 2013

baby boy and baby girl baby gender choicesLots of women (and, yes, even men) have dreamt about what sort of—and how big of—a family they’ve wanted ever since they were little. Some dads want a “mini me” to throw the ball around with; others want a little girl to spoil, while moms might hope for a shopping partner to dress or a doting mama’s boy. But not all couples have to leave whether they have a boy or girl up to chance.

Did you know that the United States is one of the few countries in the world to allow parents to choose their preferred gender of baby during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? It’s called Pre-Implementation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), and after enough eggs are harvested for IVF, the eggs are implanted with sperm and only three days after fertilization scientists know whether the embryos will be boys or girls. A couple chooses which sex they prefer and only the embryos of the desired sex are inserted into the uterus (of course, a couple using IVF can choose to have both male and female embryos inserted as well).

England is one of the countries that still has a ban on this type of gender selection (other than in extreme medical cases where a horrible genetic condition is only passed down to one sex). But now some doctors are speaking out in the Telegraph, saying families have a right to choose their baby’s sex regardless of their reasons.

I understand why people are scared of this sort of technology—it’s something straight out of a sci-fi movie, where a crazy dictator decides to kill off all the women to form a “superior” race. And it’s not that far from reality. If used in parts of the world where they prefer boys (like Asia), it could lead to a shortage in compatible mates. In China, where they highly favor boys, and there’s a major push to abort female babies, The State Population and Family Planning Commission has already predicted by 2020 roughly 30 million Chinese men will be unable to marry on the account of gender imbalance.

That said, if I was given the chance would I want to choose whether my second child was a boy or girl? Yes! With my first, I was one of those people who truly didn’t have a preference. I was just so happy to be pregnant that I didn’t care what came out of me as long as it was healthy. Though, I knew friends who really had their hearts set one way or the other, and they were actually devastated when they found out that they were having the opposite of what they wanted. There was actually a period of mourning for a bit before they could truly be excited about their baby again.

Now that I have an amazing son, I would love to have a girl to see the other side of the baby bond. I could finally indulge in all of those fantasies of buying an adorable pink tutu and taking my daughter out for real tea with scones after years of imaginary tea party play. I’d have someone to pass down my mom’s jewelry to, and to give advice about boys. In my dream scenario, I cut out the part about mother-daughter drama that inevitably comes with the teen years!

TELL US: If you were able to, would you choose to have a boy or girl, or would you leave it up to chance?

Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.

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