I think you could say I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to pregnancy stuff, and 2013 was an exciting year. Not only did I have a baby of my own in 2013, but there was all kinds of exciting research, controversy, and even a brand new invention. Here are five stories any other lovers of pregnancy and babies should know about.
1. CrossFit Controversy, Starring Lea Ann Ellison
If you do CrossFit – or even if you don’t – you’ve probably heard about this one. I thought the debate about pregnancy and strength training was pretty much a done deal until 35-year-old Lea Ann Ellison, mom of three, caused a huge ruckus when she posted a photo of herself CrossFitting at eight months pregnant. Honestly, I’m not sure why this caused such a huge uproar, since there are photos like the ones Ellison posted all over the internet. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to revisit the topic of strength training while pregnant, with plenty of passionate opinions on both sides of the fence. The story ended happily, however: Ellison delivered a healthy baby at home in late November after a short natural labor and water birth. According to Ellison, baby Skyler is “a very chill dude.”
2. New Studies on Home Birth and Hospital Delivery
Speaking of having babies at home, a new study released this year sparked some debate and discussion between home birth and hospital birth advocates. Researchers at the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center reviewed a sampling of thirteen million births in the United States between 2004 and 2007. Their findings showed that babies born at home were ten times more likely to be stillborn than babies born in the hospital. But wait, there’s more – a study conducted in the Netherlands found that women who had babies at home found severe complications occurred in 1 in 1,000 home births, as opposed to 2.3 in 1,000 hospital births. Although the results of these two studies are conflicting and even inconclusive, the research did much to further the home birth and hospital birth discussion this year.
3. Refined Definitions in the Due Date Debate
As a doula I hear moms worrying about their due dates frequently. Fortunately, this year the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists released new guidelines that refined the due date window. The new guidelines are as follows:
- Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
- Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
- Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
- Postterm: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond
The guidelines were put in place to emphasize that just because a baby is 37 weeks, which was previously considered “full term,” does not mean a mother should schedule a c-section or induction. As a doula and mom I am happy about these guidelines, since they allow more time for labor to begin when the baby is ready. In an article at Time online, Dr. Mari-Paule Thiet, the director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco summed it up well: “…it just brings clarity to physicians that these five weeks are critical and that you should not deliver a patient electively before they go into labor spontaneously on their own unless there is medical, maternal or fetal indications of a delivery.”
4. A Helpful (?) New Invention
While we’re on the topic of babies coming on their own, this year a new invention came onto the birthing scene – the Materna Medical Device. Here is how Materna describes their new invention:
The Materna device will be used during the first stage of labor, in a hospital or birthing center, under the supervision of trained clinical professionals. The device design is a mechanical dilator which penetrates the first 4 cm, or 1/3rd of the vaginal canal, and gradually expands the vagina from a resting diameter of 2.6 cm to the fully expanded size of the delivering fetus, roughly 8-10 cm. Expansion will be precisely controlled by a very easy to use semi-automatic force- controlled actuation system, and the device can be removed quickly at any time the mother wishes.
Personally, having just had a baby three months ago, I can say that the last thing I would have been interested in during early labor was having a semi-automatic device in my vaginal canal. But that might just be me, and I guess we’ll see how the research goes.
5. More Research on Pregnancy and Exercise
Extra, extra, read all about it! For the pregnancy geeks who like to go straight to the sources, here are just a few of the exciting new studies on pregnancy and exercise released in 2013:
- Effects of exercise on gestational diabetes
- Prenatal exercise and preterm birth
- Neurological benefits of prenatal exercise – here and here
- The beneficial relationship between exercise and preeclampsia
- How prenatal exercise affects fetal growth
Of course, no geeking out is complete without a good book list. Here are five new releases that came out in 2013 for expecting moms out there to check out:
- Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis
- Super Nutrition for Babies by Katherine Erlich
- Primal Moms Look Good Naked by Peggy Emch
- Alignment Matters by Katy Bowman
- Expecting Better by Emily Oster
We’ll see what 2014 has in store for pregnancy news and excitement. If it’s anything like 2013, it will be a good year.
Photo 1 is a screenshot of the Huffington Post.
Photo 2 courtesy of Materna Medical.