Drinking while pregnant: now it’s ok?

I only got grief once for drinking when I was pregnant – it was a glass of wine on my birthday – but I’ve heard and seen of many instances of strangers telling women they shouldn’t drink because they are pregnant.  Well now they are saying that 1.5 units of alcohol a day is ok!  Again.  (One of my friends was told to have a glass a wine a day when she was pregnant – her kids are now in their 30s and doing fine.)

We’ll see what they say next year … in the meantime, relax, and let the pregnant woman have a glass of wine.  Believe me, she is way more worried about her baby’s health than you will ever be!

Drugs or no drugs when giving birth? And why all medical sensors should be wireless!

Here’s my post on how people do not agree on what "natural childbirth" is or should be and how all my problems could have been solved with two little wireless sensors.

I was firmly against drugs during labor unless I changed my mind during labor.  (How’s that for a decision! But having never been in labor, I didn’t figure I could really decide till I was there.)  You would not believe the number of people that acted like I was crazy and tried to talk me into drugs!  I’m not a big fan of pain and I wasn’t going drugless to be natural or tough or to prove a point.  If you could give me drugs during labor that would take away the pain and still let me walk around, I probably would have opted for them in the beginning.  I believe that vaginal births work better if women can get up, walk around, use the birthing ball, or just find the sitting or standing position that works best for them.   When I’m in pain, I don’t lie flat on my bed – when my stomach hurts I usually hold it and curl around it.  Look at any kid with an injury – they don’t lie flat on their backs – they curl around the pain.

I knew the minute I accepted drugs I would be entering into a spiral that would end with me trapped in bed.  And I was right.  Once you get any drugs, you have an IV going into you and they want to keep you attached to the machine that monitors you and the baby.  So at that point you have two machines/stands that have to go everywhere with you plus at least 3 cables and tubes coming out of you.

Here’s how it happened for me:

  • My water broke,
  • Caleb was in distress,
  • They made me lie in bed while they figured out what was distressing him,
  • I wasn’t allowed to move – not even sit up, until they figured it out,
  • They attached a sensor to the top of Caleb’s head with a wire that came out and attached to a machine next to me,
  • They put a balloon like thing in the uterus next to Caleb to time the contractions more accurately, with a wire that came out and attached to a machine next to me,
  • Caleb had the cord wrapped around his neck and sometimes he wasn’t getting enough oxygen,
  • They inserted a catheter into me with a tube that came out,
  • At which point I gave up on any notions of "natural" and I asked for an epidural,
  • The epidural doctor gave me a hard time about changing my mind from no drugs to an epidural,
  • The epidural meant I had yet more tubes attached to more machines,
  • I threw up because pain killers make me sick, so I got some anti-nausea medicine which I think meant another tube but I’m not sure,
  • I fell asleep because the anti-nausea medicine makes you drowsy. 

So I had a vaginal birth.  Was it natural?  Not really.  Would I have had it any other way, i.e. less drugs or cables?  Not with the cord wrapped around Caleb’s neck!

BUT, I think it would have all been different if the sensor they attached to Caleb’s head and the sensor that timed contractions had been wireless.  Then I wouldn’t have been attached to any machines, and assuming Caleb reacted well, I could have still moved.  Why don’t they make wireless sensors when we have wireless phones, wireless computers, wireless copiers, wireless garage door openers?  I don’t know.  My theory is that the people designing the sensors never bothered to interview the women in labor, the users, about them.  The nurse tried to tell me they didn’t have wireless sensors because the heart is an electro-magnetic organ and that would some how interfere with the measurements.  I pointed out that even my heart rate monitor is wireless!

So I wasn’t trying to be "natural,"  I was trying to have the easiest, quickest and healthiest birth.  I think taking drugs and lying on your back makes it harder and longer.  I think a C-section makes the recovery a lot harder.  I think staying at home makes it more dangerous.  (We wouldn’t have known Caleb was having difficulties.) 

And I think medical device manufactures could help everybody by developing devices that take advantage of technology and deliver the best experience for their users.

Are you always hot? Or always cold?

Cognitive Friday got some interesting data about who is always hot and who is always cold.  As most of us would have guessed, women are much more likely to be cold than men.  (As I type this my hands are freezing!)  Thin people and young people are also more likely to be cold. 

One related theory I heard is that women have a much smaller range of "comfortable" temperatures because their bodies need to be able to regulate a fetus’ temperature.  I no longer believe this one because the one thing I really loved about being pregnant was always having warm hands!  So obviously I was much warmer when I was pregnant than when I’m not pregnant.

Cognitive Friday also discovered that exercise didn’t change people’s answers at all which surprised me.  I wonder if you could measure muscle mass if that would coorelate to feeling warmer like being overweight does?

Do you fit the data?  If not, how are you different?

Choosing your child

The oldest woman to ever give birth got to pick her child’s genes, or at least the donors, and then she gave birth to them:

a Spaniard, sold her home in Spain to raise 30,000 pounds ($60,000) to
pay for the treatment in the United States. She chose donor eggs from a
"pretty, brown-haired 18-year-old" and sperm from a blond, blue-eyed
Italian American.
"I picked them from photos in a catalog. It was a bit like studying an
estate agent’s brochure and choosing a house," the paper quoted her as

Amazing technology … three people came together to create these children.  Plus all the doctors that helped.

I keep thinking that the English language needs a lot more new words.  It needs a word for "my biological mom who donated an egg", "my biological mom who gave birth to me", etc.

Using someone else’s sperm without permission

A few days ago I blogged about the adoption agency that is buying human embryos – I wrote that I think they are on morally shaky ground.  Well, today’s news gives me the same confused and uncomfortable feeling.  This guy’s family took sperm from his dead body, found a volunteer mom and they are having his kid!  They did have to prove in court that he wanted to have kids even though he hadn’t left a will or anything in writing that said that.

I’ve had lots of discussions about sperm, pregnancy and fatherhood over the years because I have several friends that are single moms on purpose.  We used to get into debates about how best to get pregnant without ending up with a dad in the process – just for fun, I used to think.  One of my friends ended up getting a volunteer egg donor and a volunteer sperm donor and going the in vitro route.  The donors are a relative and a friend and although they are not active in the parenting role, she still maintains contact with them.  The other friend only says that she used a "donor." 

So if the donor agreed to help her, I don’t see a problem.  So for argument’s sake, let’s say she found a way to get pregnant without him knowing.  Is that moral?  If he was dead like the guy mentioned above would that make the situation different?  Obviously she wouldn’t be able to tell him but it would still be doing something without his explicit permission. Did you know if a woman gets pregnant, doesn’t tell the guy, has the baby and then years later goes on welfare, the guy will be liable for current and back child support if the state can figure out who he is?  Kind of scary if you’re a guy right?  Does that change your answer to the "is that moral?" question?   I mean, if he has legal and financial responsibility for the child, it seems like he should be informed that the child exists.  In the case of the dead man, will the family be responsible since they are the ones who made the decision to have a baby?

I think once again technology has enabled us to do some amazing things (impregnanting a woman after you are dead!) and has brought along with it some very complicated moral and ethical issues.

Women that have epidurals are less likely to breastfeed

Women that have epidurals are much more likely to stop breastfeeding before six months. Epidurals ‘hamper breastfeeding’:

Three-quarters of those who had no analgesia were breastfeeding at 24 weeks, compared with 53% who received pethidine or epidurals.

The epidural is also tied to trouble breastfeeding in the first week.  They don’t know why, but one theory is that the epidurals make the babies more sleepy and it’s harder to breastfeed them.

I had an epidural against my wishes. (Well, the epidural wasn’t against my wishes – being tied to the bed was.  Once I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, sit up or turnover, I gave in to an epidural.)  And I quit breastfeeding after a month – a very hard decision.

Deciding to Stop Breastfeeding

Photo by limaoscarjuliet
Photo by limaoscarjuliet

I’m going to post about deciding to stop breast feeding because I couldn’t find hardly anything at all about deciding to stop breastfeeding on the web. As much information as there is on the web, some topics are very hard to find!

I decided to stop breastfeeding after a month and while I was considering it, I searched the web extensively. While there is a ton of extremely helpful information on breastfeeding on the web, it is all centered around solving any problems you might have, not in making a decision one way or the other.  (And if it is about making a decision, they spend pages and pages telling you how good breastfeeding is for your child.)  There’s also no information about, when you decide to quit, exactly what you are supposed to do.  Stop cold turkey?  Gradually phase it out? I did find three pages of information on stopping breast feeding:

  • Ending breastfeeding.  This poor woman had obviously already decided to stop breastfeeding (a hard decision!) and the expert answering her email first questioned why she’d made the decision.  The expert did answer her question about how to stop breastfeeding and said to gradually wean the baby by cutting out a feeding every day or two.
  • Life After Weaning: Ending the breastfeeding relationship.  This was actually the most helpful webpage.  It’s an excerpt from a book and actually talks about both the physical and the emotional effects on the mother and the emotional effects on the child.  (Note that the emotional effects on the child tend to be largely those that breastfeed for several years.  It doesn’t talk about the effects on an infant.)
  • ending breastfeeding….what happens? This was a very short discussion between moms about what happens.  Like the previous article it suggests weaning slowly and points out that you should never completely drain your breasts if you want your milk to dry up.

Deciding not to breastfeed is a very hard decision because while nobody says it’s wrong not to breastfeed, the minute you become pregnant you are inundated with literature and people telling you how good breastfeeding is for your child and offering all sorts of support. (In particular the hospital staff and nurses were awesome. They were extremely supportive, very helpful and offer all sorts of free services to help and encourage nursing moms.) And when I asked friends and family what they thought everyone was very careful not to say anything one way or the other. Although all offered support either way! And many pointed out that there are plenty of healthy children and adults who were not breastfed.

So why did I decide to quit? It wasn’t health reasons, it wasn’t because I couldn’t nurse Caleb and it wasn’t because Caleb wouldn’t nurse. (Those seem to be the “acceptable” reasons to give for stopping breastfeeding.) I quit for many reasons, although it basically boiled down to the fact that I didn’t like it.  Here are the reasons I didn’t like it, pretty much in order of importance to me:

  • Time. It was extremely time consuming. During the day Caleb wanted to eat every 1.5 to 2 hours.  And he ate for 30 minutes. So that means that 25-30% of my waking day was spent feeding him.  That’s a lot of time! And planning around that is very difficult. (And it’s really hard to pump milk so that you can leave him with someone else for an hour or two when you are already nursing all the time. We ended up using formula in those cases and Caleb didn’t seem to mind going back and forth at all.)
  • Worry. I was always worried he wasn’t getting enough to eat (why did he want to eat so often!) or that what I was eating or drinking might affect him. (How many diet coke’s should you drink?  Probably none, right? So what about the two you just drank?) And it turns out he probably wasn’t getting as much in the afternoon as he wanted because he’s much less fussy now. But the doctor said he was getting plenty because he was sleeping 4-5 hours at night and gaining plenty of weight.
  • Sore nipples. A month is a really long time to have sore nipples. And yes, he was latching on and eating correctly. I think just feeding him 30% of all waking hours made them sore. I’m sure eventually they would have toughened up.

Of course I have doubts and regrets. Most of them centered around the health benefits. Breastfeeding is supposed to help kids’ immunity and decrease their long term odds of obesity. Those are the two I worried about the most. But I’m confident that there are lots of other factors that also influence Caleb’s health and the two of us being happy is one of them! (I realized I never talked to him when I was nursing him except to wake him up continuously and to ask him if he was done yet.  When I feed him a bottle I talk to him the whole time and it’s fun!)

I feel a little bit like I’m airing my personal diary in this post, but I wanted to make the information I found available to others and I wanted to add my own experience and decision to the pool of knowledge so that others might feel more comfortable making a decision one way or the other.

No Belly Button

In my 40th week of pregnancy, I have no belly button.  It’s not an innie nor an outtie, it’s completely flat.