Family Planning and Pregnancy

Supporting your newborn’s health: Intestinal colonization after elective cesarean section

Allan Walker, MD

Contributor

The development of the microbiome begins before birth, but there is a profound difference in the colonizing bacteria if a baby is born by elective cesarean section rather than vaginal birth that can affect a child’s health and risk of disease.

Microbiome: The first 1,000 days

Allan Walker, MD

Contributor

From the time of conception until the second year of life, appropriate bacteria colonization of the digestive tract affects long-term health and plays a role in whether a person will be healthy or will develop a chronic disease.

Something else to avoid in pregnancy: Phthalates

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Chemicals called phthalates are in all kinds of products we use every day, making them nearly inescapable. But research has found that children whose mothers were exposed to phthalates during pregnancy were more likely to have problems with motor skills or language development, so pregnant women should try to avoid them.

Inducing labor at full term: What makes sense?

Toni Golen, MD

Contributor

A large study of first-time mothers compared inducing labor with waiting for labor to begin. Under certain circumstances, it found inducing labor may be safer for some women. A pregnant woman considering induction should discuss the option with her doctors and providers.

The real link between breastfeeding and preventing obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research into the connection between breastfeeding and obesity in children found that babies who got milk directly from the mother’s breast for the first three months of life had the lowest risk of becoming obese, because they are less likely to overfeed.

Fertility and diet: Is there a connection?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research continues to explore the connection between fertility and diet. There is some evidence that what you eat can help increase your chances of getting pregnant, but right now the specific advice is simple. If you’re trying to conceive, eat a basic healthy diet, take prenatal vitamins, and talk with your doctor for preconception advice.

Why we shouldn’t demonize formula feeding

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Doctors commonly encourage new mothers to choose breastfeeding over formula, but a new study shows the value of formula feeding as an add on to breastfeeding, and serves as a reminder that breastfeeding exclusively is not an option for some mothers.

Inducing labor: A way to avoid a cesarean?

Toni Golen, MD

Contributor

A study comparing the health of babies delivered by induced labor with those delivered when labor occurred spontaneously also found that the chance of cesarean delivery was lower among the women whose labor was induced.

Access to safe, affordable birth control is a maternal health issue

When a pregnancy puts the life of the mother at risk, access to birth control is essential. As more women are experiencing medical complications from or with pregnancy or after giving birth, the issue is becoming even more important.

Using social media to help parents get vaccine questions answered

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Doctors want their patients to have access to accurate and helpful health information, and today that means online. Researchers found that expectant mothers who used a website that provided information about vaccines were more likely to get their babies vaccinated.