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Got “Pregnancy Feet?” Time To Hit The Mall!

Monday, March 4th, 2013

pregnancy feet can mean shoe shopping funLet’s face it—pregnancy super sizes your whole body. Even if you stay fit and healthy, you’ll have a pregnancy bump, and almost definitely a pregnancy bum and pregnancy boobs to complete the look. But the one upsizing that many moms-to-be don’t expect is pregnancy feet.

A recent study by the University of Iowa confirmed that up to 70 percent of women will see their feet grow by up to half an inch in length during pregnancy. That’s a whole different shoe size, ladies! And although I’ve heard that a lot of moms’ feet eventually shrink back down to their pre-pregnancy size, the researchers in this study are saying that for many mothers, the growth is permanent.

I know, I know. I can already hear you guys groaning over never again being able to fit into those gorgeous strappy wedges you saved for (and only wore twice), but we all know there’s an obvious upside to having pregnancy feet. This is a bonafide, no-excuses-necessary pass to go shoe shopping to your heart’s content. You’ll need flats, sandals, boots, heels–heck, maybe even new bedroom slippers! I mean, you? Barefoot and pregnant? No stinkin’ way.

Honestly, pregnancy feet might just be the best thing to happen during pregnancy besides, well, having a baby!

Do you (or did you) have pregnancy feet? How much did your feet grow? Inquiring minds want to know . . .

Image of women with pregnancy feet via Shutterstock.

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5 Reasons Why I Should Have Crashed Kristen Bell’s Baby Shower

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Kristen Bell at her baby showerFact: Kristen Bell had her baby shower a few days ago. Another fact: I was somehow not invited. How I was overlooked from the guest list is an absolute mystery to me, but I really should have taken matters into my own hands and crashed the freaking party anyway.

If you’re wondering why I’d do such a thing and not just leave the lady alone to celebrate her impending mommyhood with her closest circle—let me explain. Here are five (clearly very good) reasons why yours truly should have been partying with Kristen Bell last weekend:

1. A long time ago, we used to be friends.
Okay, Kristen Bell and I never really used to be friends, but we SHOULD be friends, because we have so much in common. I mean, we both went vegetarian when we were 11, we both love corgis, and we’re both hockey fans? BFFs made in heaven. Obviously.

2. Because I have questions
Rachel Bilson was there, and I absolutely need to talk to her about Hart of Dixie and The O.C. I wonder if she got to keep Princess Sparkle. And . . . was Adam Brody a good kisser?

3. I bet the sloth was there

4. To party down
Because it looked like the most fun baby shower ever. Not convinced? Check the picture (above) of Kristen Bell holding nipple pumps up to her breasts. Ridiculous, and ridiculously awesome.

5. The most obvious reason of all!
To wish her and Dax Shepard my absolute best. Kristen and Dax seem so real and cool—and their baby is going to be incredible. Basically, I’m psyched for them and want to raise a glass!

Love Kristen Bell as much as I do? Wish her well (and give her any baby tips you’ve got!) in the comments.

Photo of Kristen Bell at her baby shower via Lockerz.com.

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The Mediterranean Diet—A (Near) Perfect Pregnancy Plan

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

mediterranean diet is good for pregnancyBig news, you guys. You know that delicious bowl (or, um, sometimes pseudo-bucket) of olive oil they give you at every Italian restaurant? The one you sometimes feel a little guilty about sopping up with tons of gorgeously crusty bread? Well, scientists have just proven that indulging in a bit of olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet can dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease. And? It’s a smart diet to borrow from during pregnancy—minus the recommended glasses of vino, of course!

Along with a focus on olive oil, the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet studied included servings of fish every week (make sure it’s not a high mercury fish!), including plenty of nuts and legumes, and avoiding processed meats and snacks. No calorie counting. No cardboard-tasting diet foods. Just a delicious “diet” that can save your life.

The really cool thing is that the Mediterranean diet has extra health benefits for pregnant women and their babes-to-be: olive oil (and the olives it comes from), fish, and legumes all contain healthy fatty acids, which are vital in developing your baby’s nervous system—including her brain. Add in a bunch of fruits and veggies for balance, and you’ve got yourself a smart and scrumptious pregnancy feast!

Can’t wait to try the Mediterranean diet? Try this Grilled Greek Salad or Tilapia with Lemony Herb Salad. Yum!

If you’ve got any other good recipes that would go with the Mediterranean diet, put them in the comments.

Image of olive oil via Shutterstock.

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Which Super Baby Do You Want: Superman or Batman?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

super baby genetically engineered babyLet’s face it, everybody who wants a baby wants a Super Baby. Although so many parents-to-be say they’re simply hoping for healthy children, I know deep down that many would prefer to go a step further and have a disease resistant babies. Calm babies. Happy babies. Genius babies. Gorgeous babies. Gifted and talented babies. Essentially, people want tiny little superheroes to call their own.

And, as I learned at last night’s Intelligence Squared debate on genetically engineered babies, the super baby of the future may not be that far away. Private companies around the world, including here in the U.S., have already been altering the genetic makeup of human eggs, sperm, and zygotes. Most of this work has been done in the interest of allowing women who could by no other means give birth to healthy biological children to do so—but clearly, genetically engineering babies could lead to many other “tweaks” that go beyond health and into looks, abilities, personalities, and more. The super baby of the future could truly mirror a super baby we’re already very familiar with—Superman, whose father, according to his back-story, was in fact, a scientist.

I can already imagine saying, “Oh, what? Your baby is already rolling over? Yeah, well, my little one is flying. And curing cancer. And generally saving the world. Oh, and her poo doesn’t smell. At all. No big.”

While it’s true that the promise of super babies is pretty exciting, the genetic modification of human reproductive cells does raise a ton of questions. If a woman can’t have a healthy child with her own DNA without having that DNA altered, at what point does it cease to be her DNA, and start being something . . . else? What risks are involved—is it safe? Would genetically altered babies lead to a world where the super baby reigns over the normal baby? How expensive would these genetic modifications be, and who would get left behind the pay wall?

I’ve seen the sci-fi genetics thriller Gattica more than a few times (and not just because I’m nerdy, I mean, come on—late ‘90s Ethan Hawke, people), so I’ll admit I went into last night’s debate thinking I knew a lot about the Brave New World of the super baby—but I had no idea just how fragile the human genome actually is, and how little we know about genetically engineered children.

According to panelist Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University professor and Chair of the Center for Responsible Genetics, those who support the creation of super babies “think of the human genome as a Lego set, where pieces of DNA can be plugged in or out without interfering with the other parts of the system. Actually, the human genome is more like an ecosystem where all the parts interrelate and are in mutual balance.”

In other words? If we start altering a gene here or there, even with the best of intentions, we could majorly mess up a lot of other important things in a baby’s DNA—giving babies unpredictable, potentially deadly, and possibly never-seen-before disadvantages—much like Superman’s debilitating weakness toward Kryptonite. Youch. But then, when you think about it, good old-fashioned reproduction can yield babies with unpredictable and potentially debilitating disadvantages, too. Scientific intervention or not, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to babies.

All that said, Krimsky isn’t against the super baby, either. He went on to say that instead of looking to the risky world of genetic engineering, we should turn to more safe and dependable ways to impact a baby’s outcomes, touting things like nutrition, vitamins, yoga, and other social and environmental factors during pregnancy. And the thing is, there really is solid data showing that many of those factors can improve baby’s intelligence, immunity, and even temperament. In short, although all the prenatal yoga in the world can’t give an infertile couple the ability to give birth the way genetic modifications can, it’s still possible for the average fertile couple to have a super baby without using a scientific scalpel—just a different kind of super baby. Think more Batman (self-made) than Superman (science made).

Personally, I’ve always been way more into Batman—I love the idea that even normal humans can become superheroes—but the debate over who’s better: Superman or Batman rages on, much as I expect the debate over genetically engineered babies to continue for a very long time. Both superheroes (and both kinds of babies) have their advantages—but no matter how you shake it, they’re both super, and both aim to make the world a better place.

I hope both sides of the genetically engineered babies debate keep our superhero friends in mind as they forge ahead, funding research, creating new technologies, and writing policies.  Whatever is decided and whichever direction we go in, the first goal must be to keep our children safe and our communities healthy. Superheroes, like Batman and Superman, can afford to make life-or-death decisions like these on a dime, but since we’re simply mere mortals (for now), I hope everyone involved gives this debate the deep thought and analysis it deserves. Our future actually depends on it.

What do you think? Do you want a super baby? Are you more into Batman babies or Superman babies? Which side are you on in the debate over genetically engineered children? Comment below–this one is ready for a big discussion!

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Death At Downton Abbey: Preeclampsia Then And Now

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Downton Abbey preeclampsia then and nowPart of the reason why I love Downton Abbey is that it’s so real. No, of course there was no real-life Lady Mary, and the Dowager Countess never really asked, “What is a weekend?!” But the show is so well researched that I always feel I’m learning a bit of history while I’m getting my juicy TV fix. (Spoiler Alert! I will be divulging a major plot point, though won’t say which charatcer it affects.) This week’s episode was no exception, bringing maternal health into the spotlight when one of the characters died of eclampsia, a very serious complication of pregnancy that results from untreated preeclampsia.

Curious about what treatments were available for women suffering from preeclampsia in the times of Downton Abbey, I did a quick look into what maternal health practices were like back then. Turns out, preeclampsia wasn’t even a named disorder until 1920–the year this season is set in. Now I totally get why the attending doctor’s diagnosis of eclampsia was challenged on this week’s episode. Before 1920, eclampsia deaths were chalked up to “convulsions” and left at that, and even in 1920, since the identification of the disorder was so new, only the top doctors (like the ones the Crawleys have) were fully aware of it.

Luckily for moms-to-be everywhere, we’ve come a long way medically since the times of Downton Abbey. Although preeclampsia still affects five to eight percent of pregnancies according to the Preeclampsia Foundation–and yes, it still can be fatal–doctors know to screen pregnant women’s blood pressure and urine carefully at every office visit for signs of the disorder. Today, mild preeclampsia diagnosed pre-term can sometimes be held at bay through hospitalized bed rest, although many cases necessitate induced delivery to save the mother’s life.

Do you watch Downton Abbey? Were you as shocked by the eclampsia death as I was?

Image via PBS. 

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