weekend links

Some interesting links to keep you busy this weekend!

Sterile water injections for pain relief.

Nitrous oxide for the management of labor pain.

A kiss for labor pain relief.

A great list of common obstetric procedures NOT supported by science

Some great book suggestions for expectant parents.

Breast milk composition differs based on baby’s gender!  (Could breast milk BE any more amazing?!)

Over-the-counter oral contraceptives?

smart bra to detect breast cancer!

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genome sequencing

This past year I made the switch from working as a hospital-based labor and delivery nurse to working for a busy nurse-midwife practice offering nursing support in their clinic.  During this transition, I’ve learned a lot and have been particularly interested in the array of prenatal genetic testing available to expecting mothers today.  Even as a nurse, the options are a bit overwhelming.

For example, the Materniti21 test is a genetic test offered to mothers as early as 10 weeks gestation and can predict with nearly 100% accuracy the risk for carrying a baby with Down Syndrome as well as trisomy 18 and 13.  In fact, this test also detects Y chromosomal material which means that it can reveal the gender of the fetus–again, at just 10 weeks gestation!  This early test offers parents the time to prepare for a child with a genetic condition and is also well within the time frame for parents to choose to terminate a pregnancy based on the results.

I believe that we are just at the tip of what is possible for genetic testing during pregnancy and as technology advances, the moral lines are going to get really blurry.  NPR ran an interesting story this week on the issue.  By state law, newborns receive a limited genetic screening test for a few relatively common but dangerous disorders.  Recent advancements have made it both possible and relatively inexpensive to run whole genome sequencing on infants suspected to have a genetic condition.  Although this allows for earlier, more specific treatment in infants with genetic conditions, it also opens the door to knowledge of predisposition to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  A true blueprint to a persons health for the lifespan, now available from the day of birth (an soon earlier).  This is an amazing feat of science which has me wondering: Is there a point at which we know too much or too soon?

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Royal parenting

I’m a little too young to remember much from the Princess Diana era.  But last spring I found myself drawn to the Royal wedding which happily coincided with our babymoon trip to southern California.  My husband relented (don’t argue with a pregnant woman!) and we sat in our plush hotel room to catch a few moments of the event on television.  It was lovely–something little girls dream of.  I’ll admit that on our way home from the trip I stopped at an airport kiosk to buy the People Magazine Special Edition Royal Wedding.  After all, I was expecting a daughter and knew that someday she would likely be mesmerized by princes, princesses, long flowing dresses and weddings.  Someday I’ll give her that magazine and tell her about how I watched the royal wedding as I was growing her in my belly.

I’m sure many of you caught the news that William and Kate are expecting their first baby.  I’m no expert in the royal family and I definitely don’t know the details on royal childbirth traditions but I think there’s huge potential for Princess Kate’s pregnancy, childbirth and mothering decisions to impact women all over the world.  Imagine if she chose the care of a midwife!   Pursued natural childbirth!  Breastfed her baby and promoted the same!

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On having it all…

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This quarter of graduate school, my 4th, has been a true challenge.  Hence my absence!  My son turned three, started preschool one morning a week and cut his napping down to a few times a week.  My baby girl, now a walking one-year-old, made the transition from two naps to one and just this week (finally!) started sleeping through the night.  A curious preschooler and a busy toddler have brought Advanced Pharmacology and Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology to a new level of difficult.

The balance of motherhood and school/career is a tenuous one and I’ve been known to confess to other mothers that this balance has been the most challenging aspect of motherhood for me–more so because it is a weighty one I didn’t fully anticipate.  This week I came across an enlightening and encouraging article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a dean at Princeton and recent director of policy planning in the State Department.  In it she shares her thoughts on Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.   Although her story may be unpopular among modern (feminist?) women, there is so much truth to what she has to say.  And, if anything, what ambitious moms need to hear today  is truth.  Surprisingly, I don’t find her words discouraging.  In fact, I’m comforted by seeing other moms pursue interests and use their talents outside of the home while striving to meet their family’s needs by being present, available, loving.  Also, I’m happy I married the right person.  A present, available and loving husband makes all the difference.

I don’t believe that I can have it all.  At least not at the same time.  I do believe in balance and this past quarter of school is helping me to refine that belief.

What about you?  What did you think of the article?

I’ve learned a lot these past 3 months, academically and otherwise.  I’m happy to have a short break from school because I’ve been storing up some fun and interested things to share with you!

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