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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Pregnancy

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How do you decide whether to pass down the risk of disease to your kids?

For people who carry BRCA, the so-called breast cancer gene, having children is a fraught choice. The same goes for any person carrying a gene linked to an increased risk of disease. There’s always a chance they might pass that gene on to their kids, along with the psychological burden that comes with carrying such a gene.

Now, genetic testing is increasingly allowing parents to choose whether to pass such genes down. While at first, it might seem like a no-brainer — why wouldn’t you want to prevent that fate for your children? — in reality, the decision is far…


More than 40% of women are changing their procreational plans

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

In late winter of 2020, when quarantine still seemed like it would last just long enough to binge The Crown, Americans busied themselves with making masks, sourdough, and — many joked — babies.

Fast-forward to summer, however, and the bloom was off the rose. In June, digital health clinic Nurx told USA Today they’d seen a 50% increase in requests for birth control from patients. That same month, the Brookings Institute estimated that there could be between 300,000 and 500,000 fewer births in 2021. Also in June, a survey by the Guttmacher Institute reported that because of the Covid-19 pandemic…


An OB-GYN reviews the early research and the protective role of the placenta

A mother who tested positive for Covid-19 while she was pregnant and after she delivered is isolated from her son at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, Texas. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Giving birth in a pandemic considerably ups the stakes of concern. Pregnant women around the world are worried they will catch Covid-19 and pass it on to their newborn baby. And we know that viral infections in pregnancy and postpartum can lead to poor outcomes in babies.

Much remains unknown about the coronavirus’s effects on pregnant women and babies, but a recent prepublished manuscript titled “Infant Outcomes Following Maternal Infection With SARS-CoV-2” demonstrates highly encouraging results.

The new data shows that babies born to women with Covid-19 demonstrate no increase in low birth weight, difficulty breathing, apnea, or respiratory infections…


An OB-GYN answers questions and explains best practices

After testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the morning, Manuel Carchipulla cries as he sees his wife Diana Garcia Garcia hold her baby Danaey for the first time via FaceTime, at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, New York on April 28, 2020. Photo: Newsday LLC/Getty Images

“Will they take my baby away if I have the coronavirus?

New moms ask this question every day in my Texas OB-GYN practice located in the heart of a Covid-19 hot spot. During each office visit, providers and pregnant patients discuss the challenges of the pandemic as it relates to pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn care.

No expecting couple ever wrote a birth plan listing “have my baby in the middle of a global pandemic” as a goal. Everyone wants to share the magic of childbirth with the people they love. …


An OB-GYN summarizes the coronavirus advice for pregnant and nursing parents

Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Millions of pregnant women are worried and trying to understand what to do. They want to protect their babies and find out if they are at risk.

General Covid-19 information

The coronavirus is a new virus. The human race has never been exposed. We have no baseline immunity or protective antibodies. We do not have a vaccine, and there is no effective medication to treat it. We are all susceptible to becoming sick with Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Covid-19 is spread through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets. Droplets spread through coughing, sneezing, and breathing. Particles get on our clothes…


New research suggests that costly extra services lack evidence that they work

Credit: Science Photo Library/Getty Images

When Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos and her husband were trying to conceive with in vitro fertilization (IVF), they were presented with many “add-on” procedures that they were told would increase their chances of a successful pregnancy. “We were relying on the physicians to give us the information and guide us,” she says.

After several years, three IVF cycles, and $50,000 later, Tsigdinos and her husband were still unable to conceive. “Most women don’t talk about it because it’s traumatizing,” says Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority.

Couples often pay a premium price in hopes of conceiving a child. A single cycle of…


What to say — and, just as importantly, what not to say — when someone you love is grieving

Credit: Jutta Kuss/Getty Images

When my grandmother died at age 96, I was crushed. At her funeral, I gathered with family and friends to share memories and console one another. The accompanying rituals — the eulogy, the heaps of Southern food shared with loved ones — all helped me process her passing.

It was all a stark difference from three years prior, when I suffered another devastating loss: I terminated a much-wanted pregnancy at 13 weeks after discovering that the fetus was nonviable. A handful of people helped me through it, but overall, I was floored by the collective ignorance about this profound grief…


What you should know if you’re considering this kind of contraception

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In 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the first time, approved an app for use as a contraceptive method. The app, called Natural Cycles, uses an algorithm that aims to predict the days of the month a woman is likely to be fertile based on daily basal body temperature readings and menstrual cycle information (and optionally, results from a home test kit measuring luteinizing hormone in urine). The approval sparked conversation around how people are using fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) to prevent pregnancy today, and what options are available to them.

Currently, only about 3% of…


A new study links men’s marijuana use to miscarriage. But there’s more to the story.

Credit: Diverse Images/UIG/Getty Images

New research suggests that men who use marijuana more than once a week prior to conception have double the risk of a partner’s pregnancy ending in miscarriage compared to men who use marijuana less than once a week or not at all. So does this mean that men who toke are to blame for miscarriage, or that they should stop smoking altogether if they’re trying to get pregnant? Not necessarily.

The data, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference last week, comes from the ongoing Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO) at Boston University. The researchers surveyed men and women…


How doulas help lower maternal mortality rates

Credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

June Eric-Udorie remembers the exact moment she decided to become a doula — a trained professional who provides physical, emotional, and educational resources for women throughout the spectrum of pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum.

Eric-Udorie, a 21-year-old student at Duke University majoring in African and African American Studies, was distraught after reading that college-educated black women were more likely to suffer major complications in pregnancy or childbirth than white women without high school diplomas. But the issue of racial disparity in maternal mortality became more pressing to her in 2018 when Serena Williams publicly shared her birth story.

“This superstar…

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