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Preserve Precious Breastmilk

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

When my boys were babies, I was determined to breastfeed them. I knew that it would help boost their immunity and protect their teeth from cavities. To be honest, breastfeeding also saved me time and money.

I didn’t have lengthy maternity leaves, and when I went back to work, I wanted to continue to nurse my babies. This meant I had to pump and store my breastmilk.

Any woman who’s pumped will tell you, breastmilk is more precious than gold. It’s a time-consuming process. I was always careful to collect every single drop of that “liquid gold,” pour it into bags, and freeze it for safe keeping.

Then when I was ready to feed my babies, I warmed the breastmilk in bottles in a pan of water on the stove—the conventional method at the time. Little did I know I was overheating and damaging the milk.

Breastmilk is such a complex, amazing substance that it’s sometimes called “miracle milk.” It’s the perfect blend of proteins, essential fats, enzymes, and hormones. It offers nourishment, of course, and it also has antioxidant, antibacterial, prebiotic, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties.

When we feed our babies breast milk via the intended “delivery device”—Mom!—it’s perfectly fresh and at the ideal temperature. But like many other foods, breast milk isn’t shelf stable. If you let it sit out at room temperature, bacteria quickly multiply

Once breast milk is expressed, you should use it, refrigerate it, or freeze it within four hours. This slows the growth of bacteria, protecting and preserving the milk. It’s safe to store breastmilk in the fridge for a few days or in the back of a deep freezer for up to a year. Label each bag with the date so you know which one to use first.

Of course, now that you’ve refrigerated or frozen the milk, you need to warm it back up when you’re ready to feed it to your baby. Babies’ milk preferences are a lot like Goldilock’s choices: They don’t like it too cold or too hot. They like it just right: at body temperature, 98.6° degrees Fahrenheit. If the milk is too cold, it can disrupt your baby’s digestion and contribute to colic. If the milk is too hot, it can burn your baby’s mouth and degrade the nutrients in the milk.

When you warm breastmilk, it’s important to warm the milk evenly. A new breast milk bottle by nanobebe (link) has a concave shape bio-medically engineered to spread the milk into a thin layer, which warms at faster rates to protect nutrient damage while providing quick access to nutrition when baby is hungry.

Once the milk is warm, test the temperature by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist. Then sit back, hold your baby in your arms, and enjoy one of the most beautiful, rewarding experiences that life has to offer—feeding your baby.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a mom of three sons, a family physician, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, in Lexington, KY.

Breast or Formula? Do I really have to choose?

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Life is like a giant flow chart. Every minute of every day, you’re making decisions, whether you realize it or not – surprisingly it adds up to about 35,000 decisions a day!

Bath or shower?

Turn left or right?

Chicken or fish?

There are some things in life we feel so strongly about, we make a choice once and that’s it. For example, many decades ago you probably decided if you were a Republican or a Democrat, and you probably haven’t looked back.

Fortunately, other choices in life aren’t so definite. For example, no one minds if you bag your groceries in paper one day and use plastic the next.

In parenting, some moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding or formula feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn’t have to be a defining moment. It doesn’t have to be a limiting choice. It’s perfectly fine—better even—to choose both.

I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula. I found this to be beneficial for two main reasons.

One, my husband could also feed our babies. This was incredibly valuable for me, and it was also a very positive experience for him and for our sons. And I’m not alone, in fact, 35 percent of moms chose to feed their baby with infant formula so they could share the feeding responsibilities for baby with their partner, per a survey conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula.

Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Before my sons were born, I had bought a breast pump, and I worried a lot about how I was going to pump at work. Turns out I didn’t anticipate everything I could have. The first day I returned to work, I pumped—in the teeny supply closet they offered me. I put my pumped milk in a sealed container in the office refrigerator.

Imagine my surprise when the office administrator told me I had to move it to the biohazard refrigerator instead because milk was a body fluid. She wanted me to put my baby’s milk in with the throat cultures and stool samples!

I found that supplementing with formula meant that I no longer had to pump at work. That convenience factor helped simplify one aspect of my otherwise chaotic life. For many working moms, “convenience” is the number one factor for choosing to feed baby with infant formula. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and then they drank formula during the day.

This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies as well. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

If you decide to combo feed and you receive formula samples at the hospital, rest easy knowing that you can switch from the nationally advertised brand to a less expensive, nutritionally comparable store brand formula when you return home with baby.  In fact, a clinical study by University of Virginia researchers found that switching from one brand of formula to another is safe and well tolerated in infants.

In the study, babies who switched from a big-name milk-based formula to a store brand milk-based formula didn’t experience an increase in spit up, burping, gas, crying or irritability compared to babies who stayed with the advertised brand. No matter what you decide – breastfeeding, formula feeding, or supplementing with formula – please know that all three or a combination of these options will support your baby’s healthy growth and development.


About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Woman wit her eyes closed under the wind.

How’s your magnesium level? If you have no idea, you have plenty of company! Magnesium is a mineral that many of us don’t think about—even though it’s an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly.

Truth be told, even if you did know your magnesium level, there’s a good chance it would be too low. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium.

But here’s the good news: If you’re able to get enough magnesium, it can benefit your body in many ways. Magnesium can…

  • Offset the negative effects of stress: Most people suffer from the stress of trying to do too much, too perfectly, and too fast.
  • Soothe the gastrointestinal tract: Magnesium also offers laxative properties.
  • Boost brainpower: This is especially the case in people with memory problems.
  • Increase energy: If your magnesium level is low, your body has to work harder to do even basic tasks, which can make you feel tired. Studies have shown that women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks then they did after their magnesium levels were restored to normal.
  • Ease anxiety and/or insomnia: Magnesium helps to promote a sense of calm and can facilitate more restful sleep.
  • Cure a migraine pronto!

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. One way to get more magnesium is to eat a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.

Another easy and tasty way is with a supplement called Natural Calm, which has been a best selling supplement for 9 years. It’s a flavorful powder that dissolves easily in water, tea, or other beverages. Natural Calm supports heart health, bone health, better sleep, and natural energy production. It comes in a variety of delicious, organic flavors that are naturally sweetened with organic stevia. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and non GMO. You can buy Natural Calm online and in health food stores for around $15. Visit NaturalVitality.com/natural-calm for more information.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guide books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

Feeding Baby the First Year: What Pediatricians Actually Do At Home

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Mother Feeding BabyIt’s one of the great ironies of parenting: feeding your baby.  Something that should be so simple, so often isn’t. In fact, deciding how to feed your baby in the first year may appear, at first glance, to be one of the great divides of parenting. Many parents think that you  must choose between breastfeeding OR formula feeding, but that’s simply not true.

Think of it as a continuum with exclusively breastfeeding on one end and exclusively bottle-feeding with formula on the other with a wide range of combinations in between.  It may be surprising to learn that most babies fall within the latter, with parents choosing to do a combination of both.

Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula, recently conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 moms with children between the ages of one and three to gain insight into mom’s thoughts on baby’s first year. Interestingly, the survey found that although three out of four moms said they used infant formula during baby’s first year, one out of 10 new moms weren’t completely honest about breastfeeding baby to avoid criticism from family and friends. As parents, we face many pressures each day.  We talked to some of our Mommy MD Guides—doctors who are also mothers— to share some of their own personal feeding experiences. What we learned? It’s a personal decision and there’s no right or wrong choice. Here’s what they had to say…

“I had really set out to breastfeed my son. But from the very beginning, breastfeeding was very challenging,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician and mom of two, in Seattle. “It was extremely emotional for me; on some level it was even devastating. When my son was a few weeks old, I got such severe mastitis that I was hospitalized. After I went home, I continued to pump for several months. It was pure misery for me. The moment both my son and I started to thrive was when I finally stopped and switched to formula”

“Although I nursed both of my daughters for their first six or seven months, I found it helpful not to be rigid with only breast milk,” said Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist and mom of two in northern Virginia. “Formula was heavier, and my daughters seemed to sleep better when they were ‘topped off’ with a bottle before bedtime.”

“I breastfed and gave my babies formula as a supplement early on and switched to formula all the way by 4 months,“ says Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, MD, a pediatric allergist and mom of three,  in Philadelphia, PA.

“I had planned to breastfeed for the first six months, but unfortunately I was only able to breastfeed for approximately four months,” said Kathleen Moline, DO, a family physician and mom of one in Winfield, IL. “Pumping at work was challenging, and eventually my daughter preferred bottles to breastfeeding. Part of the learning process was that what I had planned or expected wasn’t always the way it worked out, and that was okay.”

“I breastfed my son, but to give myself more flexibility time-wise, I pumped often,” said Leigh Andrea DeLair, MD, a family physician and mom of one in Danville, KY. “I also supplemented my son’s diet with formula. He thrived.”

At the end of the day, choosing how to feed your baby is a great microcosm for the parenting experience in general: You do the best that you can, you learn as you go, and flexibility is the key. You—and your baby—will be happier and healthier if every now and then you have a tincture of patience and a cup of calm, two of the best medicines.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, from where these tips were excerpted.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.


National Cord Blood Awareness Month: Celebrating the excitement and developments in cord blood banking

July 25, 2016 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Father Holding InfantWho would have guessed back in the 1960s when we were watching The Jetsons that we’d have the ability to “facetime” on our phones and talking robots. Medical advancements are no exception.

As a physician practicing for 21 years, I can say few fields in medicine have made as many advancements as the field of regenerative medicine. Stem cell therapy is one line of research within this exciting field. Newborn stem cells – those found in cord blood and tissue – have some unique characteristics and are one of the areas of focus for regenerative medicine research. To date, cord blood stem cells have been used to treat 80 conditions, including blood and immune system disorders and cancers. However, researchers think that these stem cells may also be able to heal the body and promote recovery in different ways. Cord blood applications are currently being researched for autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke, and hearing loss.

The early stage research that’s being conducted with all different types of stem cells is exciting. Potential new uses for different types of stem cells currently under research include, healing and recovery of the bones, eyes, heart, and gastrointestinal system. Studies are also underway on conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and lung, liver, and heart disease.

While the important things are being addressed, I guess we’ll have to wait on those flying cars from The Jetsons in the meantime.

Are You a Split Mom?

May 20, 2012 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Parenting Twice Over
by Mommy MD Guide Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

“What’s a split mom,” you ask? We’re women who’ve had children 10 years or more apart. Here are my thoughts on the best—and worst—parts about being a “split mom.”

Five Great Things:

Different Needs Mean Different Challenges

  • Because my sons are so different in ages, they have vastly different needs.   One way to meet every child’s needs is to find a way to meet each child’s needs independently since they aren’t competing for the same attention in the way that three boys close in age would demand.   For example, my older son, Chad, most needs “been-there-done-that” advice and support in terms of his role as a new parent and spouse, balancing work and family, and planning for the future. But Oakley and Gatlin need me more for hands-on parenting and teaching them the skills they’ll need to be healthy, happy adults. This ranges from checking their homework, making sure they go to bed at a reasonable hour, and holding them accountable for their household chores.

Where was this the first time around?

  • Medical advances are constantly in motion but it becomes even more apparent to a mom with children of varying ages.  When my oldest son was born, there was no such thing as cord blood banking! But by the time I was pregnant with her two younger sons, the technology was really beginning to develop. I was glad to have a second chance to consider banking my babies’ cord blood, it really showed me things can change between pregnancies. Today, the medical advancements are even further along with cord blood being used to treat a number of blood and immune diseases.  For more information, visit www.cordblood.com

Parenting Act – Take 2

  • Having children at different stages of your life provides the opportunity to experience the benefits of two very different parenting experiences! As a younger mom you have the benefits of having lots of extra energy to with keep up with a child’s antics and adventures.  While you may give up some of that endurance if you enter parenthood once again as an older mom, more maturity, wisdom and patience can help you to draw on the greater perspective that time brings. On this subject,  maturity and experience can often result in a more positive and relaxed parenting style.  As you have been able to learn from mistakes and see older children blossom into great people, you don’t have to micromanage your younger kids in ways you may have done with an older child.  Having raised one son to maturity and seeing what a wonderful, responsible person he’s become, I realize being a good role model is one of the greatest gifts I can give to my children.

A Little Extra Help

  • From a purely practical perspective, older kids can help out with younger ones!

Five Challenging Aspects of Being a “Split Mom”:

One on One Time

  • It’s easy to feel pulled in so many different directions when children’s needs can vary so dramatically based on their age.  Setting aside time with each child individually at least once a week can be a way to cope with this dilemma while also keeping track of what’s going in their lives. It can be as simple as a phone conversation with a grown child while fitting in going out for a meal after a younger child’s sporting event.

Bringing Them Closer

  • For many “split moms” it is difficult not to wonder if maybe your children aren’t as close as siblings who are closer in age to one another.  I keep a consistent look out to find ways to foster relationships of older and younger siblings by not only encouraging them to spend time together as brothers but also  by providing them with the means to make it happen.  When Chad brings his new family to visit us, I send him out with Oakley and Gatlin to go bowling, while I take my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter shopping.

Career Challenges

  • From a career standpoint, split parenting raises ongoing difficulties in “getting ahead” in your work ambitions.  At a time when many women your age are empty-nesters and making tremendous accomplishments in their careers, you are likely taxiing teenagers around town to football games and pizza parties.

Different Life Lessons

  • How children of “split moms” experience financial lessons can vary dramatically – for both the good and bad.  When Chad was growing up, I was a broke, starving medical student. Chad learned the value of hard work, and he learned how to live happily on a squeaky tight budget. Now that I’ve graduated from medical school and been working for decades, I’m much more comfortable financially, and I don’t work nearly as hard as I did in my younger years.  I worry that my teenagers aren’t learning those same lessons about hard work and budgeting as well as Chad did.

Staying Fit = Keeping Up

  • As a more mature mom it can be difficult to find the energy to keep up your younger kids.  It gives me a huge incentive to take better care of myself and should be for all the other ‘split moms and dads’ too!

How Do You Choose a Family Cord Blood Bank?

May 1, 2012 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Cord blood banking is a topic being discussed more often by physicians and expectant parents.  The dizzying array of information on the Web can be difficult to sift through.  Here are my top tips to help soon-to-be parents sift through some important issues when selecting a family cord blood bank.

Do Your Research and Do It Early:

  • Talk to family and friends and your physician or midwife to get recommendations.
  • Check online for testimonials and reviews. What is the bank’s reputation?
  • Don’t assume it’s best to enroll with one close to home. A bank’s headquarters and its storage facility may not even be in the same state.

Know the Regulations and Requirements:

  • Has the bank registered with the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and met all state regulatory requirements?
  • Is the bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)?  Accreditation, which requires audits every two years, is evidence that your sample is screened, processed, and stored following the strictest quality assurance guidelines.

Be Picky with the Process:

  • What delivery method is used to transport the blood? Samples can be destroyed because of improper transit.  A reputable bank should use a medical courier company.
  • Ask about collection and storage methods, as well as published rates on cell viability to ensure the bank is using the best available technology to save your cells so they will be ready in the event that you might need them.
  • Find out if they’ve facilitated any successful transplants. A red flag should go up if a bank has a high volume of cord blood units in storage but has never used a unit for transplant.  This could mean transplant surgeons have rejected their cord blood which could mean its procedures are not careful or thorough enough.

Business and Stability:

  • How long has the bank been in business?
  • Is the bank involved in any research or clinical studies with prestigious medical research institutions?  A bank on the cutting edge of research would likely play a stronger and supportive role if the cord blood was needed in treatment for your child.
  • How profitable is the company? It’s important to realize cord blood banking is a business.  If the bank goes out of business it could mean the cord blood units will be no longer be retrievable.

There’s also an online education site that might help parents understand all of their cord blood banking options.

Four Key Behaviors Contribute to a Long, Healthy Life

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Practicing good health habits isn’t always easy for busy moms, but the reward is a longer, healthier life. When it comes to maintaining good health and living longer, scientists have identified four key behaviors that have the greatest impact.

  • Eat a nutritious, balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.

Adopting these behaviors dramatically reduces your risk of dying from heart disease or cancer, and it can also cut your risk of premature death to that of a person 12 years younger. With so much work to be done, every mom can benefit from better health and an extra 12 years of life!

Mom Was Right—Fiber Is Good for You

Your mom has always known that a high-fiber diet is good for you, and now she has hard evidence to back her up. Scientists studying the effects of high-fiber diets have discovered that the stuff your mom called roughage does more than ward off constipation. Fiber plays an important preventive role in diseases like diverticulosis, cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

All fiber is good for you, but there are two different types, each with important health benefits. Water-soluble fiber is found in products like oat bran, whole-wheat products, and the skins of fruits and vegetables. If you want to lower your cholesterol level, water-soluble fiber is the type for you.

Insoluble fiber is found primarily in the bran layers of cereal grains, and is removed during the refinement process. Insoluble fiber won’t lower your cholesterol levels; it functions mainly as a bulking agent, increasing the weight of your stool and helping whisk it through your colon to its ultimate destination.

The current recommendation for fiber intake is 20 to 35 grams a day, with roughly equal amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber. That’s a lot—most of us eat less than half that amount.

You don’t have to eat a bale of hay to get your fiber, but it’s difficult to get all you need from just fruits and veggies. It takes about five servings of fruits and vegetables and six servings of whole-grain, unrefined breads, cereals, and legumes (like dried beans) every day to get the recommended amount. If you can’t manage to work all of these good foods into your diet every day, a high-quality fiber supplement might be a great option for you.

The Rewards of Maintaining a Healthy Weight


Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just about looking good in your favorite pair of skinny jeans. It can also help you feel more energetic and self-confident, while it improves your health and saves you money to boot. Keeping the extra weight off dramatically reduces your risk for dozens of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Because you’re likely to stay healthier longer, insurance companies routinely offer lower monthly premiums to folks who maintain a healthy weight. As a bonus, you’ll look great in your favorite skinny jeans, and with the money you save on health insurance, you can buy a new pair!

Antioxidants Promote Better Health and a Longer Life


There’s no doubt that we need oxygen to live, but surprisingly, oxygen has some negative effects in the human body. One of the leading theories on aging is the oxidation theory, proposed by scientists who compare the aging of the human body to the rusting of old car. When any metal that contains iron is exposed to oxygen, a compound called iron oxide—better known as rust—is formed through the process of oxidation. Oxidation of the human body results in a similar type of deterioration—it’s a natural but unfortunate consequence of living in an atmosphere full of oxygen.

Oxygen works its destruction in the body through the formation of toxic compounds called free radicals. These unstable molecules are bursting with excess energy, and they stabilize themselves by transferring their energy to innocent bystanders in the body. If the energy is transferred to a key cell or tissue, serious damage or dysfunction can result.

If these renegade free radicals manage to penetrate the control centers of our cells, they can scramble our precious genetic material. Some researchers estimate that our DNA receives about 10,000 free radical “hits” every day. If these hits aren’t intercepted by our natural defenses—or by the antioxidants we get in our diet—DNA damage occurs, triggering abnormal cell growth or cell death. Free radicals are thought to play a key role in virtually every disease and ailment associated with aging, including a weaker immune system, cataracts, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

How can get more antioxidants in your diet? Whole, natural foods are the best sources of the disease-fighting, immune-boosting compounds. Virtually any plant food, including pomegranates, cacao beans, blueberries, and broccoli, is a great source.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Miscarriage Risk

December 3, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Taking Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Early Pregnancy Doubles the Risk of Miscarriage
By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Pregnancy has its fair share of aches and pains, but taking anti-inflammatory drugs while you’re expecting isn’t the best way to deal with your discomfort. According to a new study* published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, anti-inflammatory drugs taken in early pregnancy more than doubles the risk of miscarriage. The researchers found that the risk of miscarriage was 2.4 times greater for women who took any type and dosage of non-aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in early pregnancy.

Non-aspirin NSAIDs comprise a class of drugs that includes naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and celecoxib, and these are some of the most common medications used during pregnancy. In recent years, physicians have expressed concerns about the use of these drugs by pregnant women, although the results of previous studies examining the risks have been inconsistent.

Canadian and French researchers designed a new study to determine the risk of miscarriage associated with the types and dosages of non-aspirin NSAIDs, examining a total of 4,705 cases of miscarriage up to the 20th week of gestation. Of these miscarriages, 352 (7.5 percent) occurred in women who took non-aspirin NSAIDs. Of the 47,050 women in the control group who did not suffer a miscarriage, 1,213 (2.6 percent) were exposed to non-aspirin NSAIDs. Exposure to non-aspirin NSAIDs was defined as having filled at least one prescription for any type of the drug during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy or in the two weeks prior to the beginning of the pregnancy.

The researchers concluded that the use of non-aspirin NSAIDs during early pregnancy is associated with significant risk (2.4-fold increase) of having a spontaneous abortion. Dosage of non-aspirin NSAIDs did not appear to affect the risk. Earlier studies indicate that the use of non-aspirin NSAIDs during early pregnancy also increases the risk of major congenital malformations in infants. With this in mind, non-aspirin NSAIDs should be used with caution during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant and you’re suffering from minor aches and pains, talk to your doctor about other ways to deal with your discomfort.

*Hamid Reza Nakhai-Pour, Perrine Broy, Odile Sheehy, and Anick Bérard. Use of nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion. CMAJ, September 6, 2011 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.110454

It Takes a Village to Harass a Pregnant Lady

November 22, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Pregnancy is an enchanting time of joyous expectancy for the mother-to-be. You’ll find yourself contemplating with awe the miracle of the new life that you carry inside of you. You’ll spend countless hours eagerly anticipating the arrival of your little bundle of joy. Thank heavens you have something so wonderful to look forward to! You’ll need to hold that thought as you endure some of the less-than-wonderful realities of nine long months of pregnancy.

Unless you’re extremely lucky or genetically gifted, your first trimester might feature a bit of morning sickness and fatigue. Under the influence of your rampant hormones, you might become a bit of an emotional fruitcake. But not to worry. This too will pass!

You’ll experience equal parts delight and dismay as your body evolves to assume its new, pumpkin-like dimensions. With the promise of your precious baby, you’ll gladly accept the battle-scars of pregnancy: Stretch marks, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and slightly-wider hips. No problem!

If you’re like most expectant women, you were fully prepared for the physical changes of gestation, but you might not have been warned about the total loss of privacy that accompanies every pregnancy. I’m not talking about the loss of modesty that occurs at the latex-covered hands of your obstetrician or midwife. By now, you’ve come to realize that as long as you’re pregnant, a number of folks will be peering closely at your private parts. That’s not the worst of it. The greatest loss of privacy you’ll experience stems from the tremendous fascination that friends, family members, and even total strangers have with your pregnancy.

These people have heard and heeded the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, and they like to get involved in their child-raising duties the minute your pregnancy makes itself evident.

Your belly and the little bundle of joy that resides inside become public domain of the village. Well-meaning villagers will find it absolutely imperative to interrogate you about the status of your pregnancy, the events surrounding the conception, and your post-partum plans. Nothing is sacred.

Unsolicited and erroneous advice will flow freely from the villagers. Regardless of their age or experience, everyone you know, meet, or pass in the supermarket aisle will have a strong opinion about how you should deliver, name, feed, and discipline your child for the next 18 years.

Older, seasoned mothers generally feel obligated to recount their pregnancy-related miseries and delivery-room war-stories to you. They’re eager to welcome you to the sisterhood of women who have walked through the fire of the reproductive process and lived to complain about it.

All of this attention is tolerable in small doses, but the slight-nosy-to-downright-rude inquisitions are often more than a mere mortal mom can bear.

Having two babies in two years, I had 18 months of pregnancy to ponder the most frequently asked questions and to formulate the snappy retorts that I wish I had been brave enough to use.

Undoubtedly, the number one FAQ is, “Do you know what it is?” Your reply, (with all of the innocence you can muster): “Why yes! We’re quite certain it’s a baby! We’ll know for sure after the ultrasound!”

The second question most often posed to moms-to-be is, “When’s your baby due?” Inquiring villagers desperately want this information. Give it to them. To save your breath, you might want to have some cards printed up. Be sure to include the exact date and time of delivery and a map to the hospital. Invite them to bring a friend, a camera, and a bag lunch.

People who know your spouse will find it necessary to ask, “Is your husband happy about the pregnancy?” My favorite, unused response: “I’ll let you know after we get the results of the paternity test!” Make sure you give your inquisitor a big wink and a poke in the ribs for added effect.

Tactless villagers with excessive concern for your financial security and emotional wellbeing often inquire, “Did you plan this pregnancy?” You are perfectly within your rights to counter with a question of your own, like, “Did you plan to be rude?”

Although these FAQs will annoy you, they can’t touch the very real problem of the belly-rubbers. Belly-rubbing villagers will not hesitate to rub, pat, caress, or croon to your belly and its contents, often positioning themselves for up-close and personal, face-to-belly interaction.

You may have to fight the impulse to flop down on the ground, roll over, and shake your leg in the air when a belly-rubber gets her hands on you. You probably won’t be able to stop her It’s difficult to defend your belly when you can’t reach it all, and in your condition, you certainly won’t be able to make a run for it. You might feel a little better if you return the favor and rub the belly-rubber’s belly while she’s rubbing yours.

There’s a reason that expectant mothers used to sneak off to the woods as their due dates approached. It was to escape the loving, annoying attentions of their fellow villagers.

If the villagers are driving you crazy, remember, they’re only doing their jobs. The moment you give birth, they’ll focus all their wonderful efforts and energies on welcoming your baby to the world, and your entire village will help you raise your precious child.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.