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Analysis and Comment (44)

Icy times for mom-to-be meant bad news for baby-on-board. Shaun Best/Reuters

Mom’s prenatal hardship turns baby’s genes on and off

In January 1998 five days of freezing rain collapsed the electrical grid of the Canadian province of Québec. The storm left more than 3 million people without electricity for anywhere from a few hours…
Many women find it difficult to strike the right balance between nutrition and safety. Sean McGrath/Flickr

Health Check: what to eat and avoid during pregnancy

As soon as women announce “I’m having a baby!”, the congratulations are quickly followed by long lists of dos and don'ts about food. Try ginger for morning sickness. Avoid soft cheese because of listeria…
Sympathetic or jealous? Belly by Shutterstock

Couvade syndrome: why some men develop signs of pregnancy

Harry Ashby, the 29-year-old security guard who was signed off work with morning sickness, cravings, a growing stomach and breasts during his girlfriend’s pregnancy, was told he had Couvade syndrome. Couvade…
Timing matters. Stacey Newman/Shutterstock

Health Check: how to get pregnant

For couples trying to conceive, the chance of this happening within a year depends on their age. The monthly chance of pregnancy for couples where the woman is 35 years or younger is about 20% and 80-90…
Australia’s southern grass skink gives birth to live young and a valuable species for understanding placenta evolution. Jacquie Herbert

Lizards help us find out which came first: the baby or the egg?

Have you ever wondered why we give birth to live young rather than lay eggs? Scientists have pondered this for a long time and answers have come from an unlikely source: some of Australia’s lizards and…
Energy requirements don’t rise much but nutrient requirements do, so women need to be mindful of the quality of their diet. Shutterstock

Health Check: eating for two during pregnancy

Women are often encouraged to “eat for two” during pregnancy. While this is right in terms of eating to meet both mum’s and baby’s needs, it doesn’t mean doubling her total food and energy intake. The…
Only a handful of Australian hospitals offer continuity of care and midwives on call. Image from shutterstock.com

Call the Midwife: playing catch up with Australia’s maternity care

In the much-loved British TV drama Call the Midwife, women are offered care from dedicated midwives through pregnancy, labour and birth. The midwives are therefore able to get to know the women and practice…
Mothers are best placed to make decisions about what to do with the life within them. Flickr/Peej's photos

Why losing my daughter means I don’t support Zoe’s law

A bill currently before the NSW Parliament attempts to criminalise harm to late-term foetuses that die due to injuries inflicted on their mother. But is foetal legal personhood the best way to recognise…
Safeguards to protect women and children should not be eroded. Image from shutterstock.com

Not for profit: the case against commercial surrogacy

For singles and couples who can’t naturally conceive and carry a baby to term, surrogacy is sometimes considered an option to have a child. Current laws across Australia permit “altruistic” surrogacy which…
Way before the birds and the bees. Jpogi

New fertility treatment brings hope, but not for all

It’s Nobel season and who could forget IVF pioneer Sir Robert Edwards who won the accolade for medicine in 2010? More than ever before, reproductive medicine is throwing up new treatments and answers to…
Stressful times for mum increase the risk of later problems for her baby. Flickr/Roberto Carlos Pecino

Effects of prenatal stress can affect children into adulthood

If we want to understand child development, we need to start before birth. We have known for decades that health depends on an interaction between our genes and our environment. But we’ve also come to…
BBC’s The White Queen set to feature 15th Century birth scene, when female midwives were the norm. BBC

Drunken midwives and snooty surgeons: a short history of giving birth

The history of childbirth and midwifery has seen some dramatic changes, not only in new medical discoveries that vastly improved the safety of both mother and baby but also in social trends and the way…
Women with an uncomplicated pregnancy should get 30 to 45 minutes of exercise three to five times a week. Image from shutterstock.com

A guide to exercise during pregnancy

In the past, pregnant women were discouraged from exercise. Pregnancy was seen as a time to put your feet up and take it easy. But this historical view of pregnancy was very much based on cultural and…
Do this, don’t do that: will there be anything left to enjoy? PA/Ben Birchall

Storm over pregnancy advice highlights a media minefield

Something called “Scientific impact paper (number 37)”, might not be expected to attract much attention. But, news sites and parenting forums alike have been rife with comments attacking the release. The…
Many hospitals are carrying out caesareans before 39 weeks despite official guidelines. Wikimedia Commons/Mediajet

We’ve become blind to the risks of having babies by caesearean

Hospitals provide much-needed medical care and treatment for women who run into difficulty in childbirth. But many women and babies have medical intervention and treatment without good reason. We’ve become…
Research has shown benefits to mothers and babies when fathers are involved. Pixabay

Some pregnant women missing benefits from involved dads

We all have different expectations about how involved dads should be during pregnancy and childbirth. In the UK, it’s generally seen as a good thing and research is now beginning to show that it matters…
Timing sex around ovulation doesn’t change the odds of having a boy or girl. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: you can control the sex of your baby

Despite most parents ultimately just wishing for a healthy baby, there are many cultural and social factors that can drive the desire for a baby of a particular sex. The medical technology for sex selection…
Ultrasound footage of wallabies in the uterus could help threatened marsupials reproduce. Arthur Chapman

Womb with a view: ultrasound escapades of fetal wallabies

The private lives of marsupials are difficult to study. Many of them are nocturnal, very rare or overly sensitive to being put under intensive surveillance in captivity. Until now we’ve had to be satisfied…
There has been very little scientific evidence so far to support sex as a method of inducing labour. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: sex induces labour

Sex. It’s what got you into pregnancy, but is it also the pathway to getting you out? Around a quarter of all Australian pregnancies are medically induced, with a third of those inductions occurring due…
Chrissie Swan and her management have attracted massive media attention in the aftermath of photos of her smoking being published. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Tears, shame, smoking and PR

The past week has seen a torrent of news coverage about Chrissie Swan, who “confessed” to smoking while pregnant with her third child. The confession was followed by myriad commentators and op-eds criticising…
Why do we feel the need to judge Swan for having a few sneaky cigs while pregnant? AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Lay off Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant

Broadcaster and commentator Chrissie Swan certainly opened her own can of worms yesterday with her admission she has been smoking while pregnant with her third child. Swan’s “confession” came to light…
Most pregnant women only need to eat the equivalent of an extra two pieces of fruit and half a glass of milk a day. Flickr/flequi

Monday’s medical myth: eat for two during pregnancy

We’ve all heard people sprout the phrase, “go on, you’re eating for two now” at barbecues, dinner parties and wherever food is being served, forcing pregnant women to decline offers of more and more food…
Kate Middleton’s path to motherhood, like any woman’s, could take unexpected turns. AAP

The perils of announcing a pregnancy in public

After weeks of speculation about the contents of her uterus, it was revealed overnight that Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is indeed pregnant. However, Catherine is in the early weeks of her…
There is no evidence to support the claim that eating peanuts or peanut butter during pregnancy will make your child allergic to peanuts. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: peanuts in pregnancy cause allergies

Anyone else have the feeling something radical has happened with peanut allergy in the past 30 years? I don’t recall knowing anyone allergic to peanuts or peanut butter as a child in the 1980s, yet today…
The public backslapping around the hiring of a pregnant Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s CEO acknowledges this type of discrimination is alive and well. AAP

Marissa Mayer and the business case for hiring pregnant women

The public praise heaped upon the struggling Yahoo for hiring a pregnant Marissa Mayer as its new chief executive shows a covert acknowledgement that this form of bias against women remains alive and well…
Warning labels proposed by the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation. AERF

Health expert challenges wine body on pregnancy labels

A claim by Australia’s peak wine body that warning labels on bottles could prompt pregnant women to seek terminations is an “outrageous attempt to put commercial interests ahead of public health”, a drugs…
Overly optimistic expectations about the birthing process may taint the experience for many women. Muus Creation/Flickr

Great expectations: mothers too optimistic about birth intervention

Many women believe they’re likely to go through labour and give birth without medical intervention. But data from Victoria shows that, more often than not, labour does require intervention. The disconnect…
You can use all kinds of iPhone apps to track and improve your health. chunghow33

Reviewing the top medical iPhone apps … what’s the diagnosis?

Want to quit smoking, lose weight, manage your diabetes or get a good night’s sleep? No worries. There’s an app for all of that. But it’s not always clear which medical apps are based on solid evidence…
Many extremely premature babies will have lifelong physical and intellectual deficiencies. kqedquest

Balancing hope and fear for babies born at 24 weeks gestation

Imagine how frightening it must be for a woman to go into labour when she is just over halfway through her pregnancy and her baby has only had 23 or 24 weeks to grow. She and her family are overcome with…
Social realities have a bigger impact on when women have babies than “medical facts”. ECohen

Are older women selfish for having babies?

It seems we have a new “barbecue stopper” about women and families, after comments last week by Perth obstetrician Barry Walters that it is selfish for older women to have babies. Defending himself from…
Aside from folate, most pregnant women get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. Flickr/Future Street

Explainer: what to eat and avoid during pregnancy

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll know what it’s like to be bombarded with mixed messages from well-meaning friends and family about what you should eat and avoid to protect your growing baby. It can…

Research and News (15)

Research Briefs (49)

Mobile technology does not cause cancer

New research has found there are no links between mobile phone technology and health problems such as cancer. The 11-year…