Pregnancy

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.

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.

The crucial brain foods all children need

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Proper nutrition is crucial for mothers-to-be and their babies, as brain development depends on many nutrients and vitamins, but it’s not always easy or affordable for people to get the healthy foods they need.

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.

Why parents should save their baby’s cord blood — and give it away

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Because blood cells from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord can be used to treat or cure a variety of diseases, the American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging expectant parents to consider donating this blood to a public bank.

Contrary to popular belief, epidurals don’t prolong labor. Phew.

Hope Ricciotti, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Challenging a long-held belief, a new study found that women who received epidural anesthesia during labor did not have prolonged labor or higher rates of cesarean births.

Flu shots during pregnancy

A recent small study linked the flu shot during pregnancy with an increased risk for miscarriage. However it did not establish that the flu shot causes miscarriage. Despite these results, pregnant women should be reassured that the benefits of getting a flu shot outweigh any potential risk.

How we can all help protect babies with immunizations

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

In a study of pregnant women, more than half received no information about immunizations for their babies. When they did, it was more likely to be negative if it came from a friend or family member.

Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret

Postpartum depression carries an unfortunate stigma, as symptoms of depression affect nearly 20% of new mothers. Early detection is key to ensure the best health for not just women, but for their new infants and family members as well. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options that can support new mothers during a time that can be both joyous and challenging.

Your mom was right: “Morning sickness” means a lower chance of miscarriage

Hope Ricciotti, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A majority of women experience some sort of nausea (morning sickness) during pregnancy. Many have speculated that nausea is a good sign that indicates a healthy pregnancy. Until recently, there was little solid evidence to support this belief, but a recent study suggests there is some truth to this old wives’ tale.