Women’s Health

A soaring maternal mortality rate: What does it mean for you?

Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate in the United States, while still relatively low, has risen by 50%. Meanwhile, many other women experience pregnancy-related conditions that cause serious injury, and thousands more struggle with illnesses and a lack of support.

Preterm birth and heart disease risk for mom

A study found that women who delivered a baby before the 37th week of their pregnancy were more likely to have their blood pressure rise later, but preterm birth or other pregnancy complication does not mean that future cardiovascular disease is a given.

FDA warning on vaginal laser procedures should emphasize informed choices, not fear

Hope Ricciotti, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

The FDA warning about vaginal laser therapy failed to clearly distinguish between procedures that are done primarily for cosmetic reasons, and potentially beneficial treatments for women with genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

5 habits for moms that help prevent childhood obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It might be surprising to learn that parents can help fight childhood obesity by taking good care of themselves. A new study found that when mothers follow five healthy lifestyle habits, their kids are much less likely to become obese.

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.

Screening mammograms: One recommendation may not fit all

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

Research shows that the risk of breast cancer, and its severity, is greater for women of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds. These factors have not yet been included in formal guidelines for screening mammograms, but women need to be aware of them.

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.

Revisiting options for improving results of breast reconstruction

Ted A. James, MD

Contributor

Women who choose breast reconstruction after mastectomy but are unhappy with the results have another option: fat grafting, in which liquefied tissue from another part of the body is injected into the reconstructed breast.

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.

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.