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The Most Interesting Stories of the Year About Moms & Babies

Posted by Alexandra Porto on

As one year rolls into the next, it’s easy to move on and leave the past behind. Our baby bellies and kids make each day’s growth so apparent that we constantly think about the future. But sometimes, it’s important to pause and reflect on past happenings.

This last year had plenty of challenges, but with them came new advances, fascinating discoveries, and parenting tips we never thought of ourselves. We’ve read through tons of articles and blogs to compile this list with ten of our favorite 2021 stories relating to moms and babies.

Whether you are pregnant for the first time or already a parent, there’s something new to learn from each of these listed. Care to know more? Click the headlines to read the full article. It’s far from a complete compilation but covers several important family topics that are sure to be on moms’ minds this year.

New Year Reflection

Photo Credit: @locdndis

1.      Experimental Treatment Could Restore Fertility in Women with Early Menopause

For a long-time, it’s been accepted that women cannot get pregnant once they reach menopause. For women who experience premature or early menopause before age 45, this can be particularly devastating news. 2021 brought hope to many when the journal Menopause published findings of new advancements allowing those with early menopause to conceive using their own eggs.

When platelet-rich plasma was injected into the ovaries of the study participants, all but one of them regained ovarian function, started menstruating again, and had their fertility restored. The treatment is still years away, but clinical trials look very promising. In addition to offering new fertility possibilities, this procedure might even reduce early menopause risks such as osteoporosis, heart disease, or cognitive impairment.

2.      Could Pollution Help Decide Your Baby's Sex?

This next article might sound like something out of science fiction, but we promise it is real. According to a new study from the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology in Chicago, pollution levels can be a factor in determining your baby’s gender.

The research team analyzed data from 6 million births in the United States and Sweden going back as far as 1983 to expose this shocking link between the environment and baby gender. They found that differing exposure levels to airborne toxins like iron, lead, mercury, or traces of chromium and arsenic in water led to a higher likelihood of having either boys or girls.

While it’s a significant finding, scientists haven’t yet proved why this is. The study is an important reminder that what we breathe, drink, and eat impacts our bodies, especially when pregnant. But be mindful that plenty of healthy babies are born in areas with high levels of pollution every day, and environmental factors are just one component in the complexity of birth.

New Study Says Pollution Impacts Baby's Gender

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3.      Best & Worst States to Have a Baby

Expecting a new baby is an exciting time for families, but it can also come with many new financial decisions: medical, childcare, and baby equipment costs. To aid in these choices, WalletHub has put together a guide comparing these expenses in all U.S. states to determine which ones are the most family-friendly.

Thirty-one key metrics were considered for ranking each state, including babysitting costs, accessibility to fertility clinics, parental leave policies, infant mortality rates, and mothers’ group participation. Overall, Massachusetts received the highest rating, followed by Minnesota, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, and Vermont.

If you’re looking to move or improve the quality of life for your growing family, you’ll want to read more and see where each state places on the list.

Family-Friendly States

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4.      How Life’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Starts in the Womb — with a Food Fight

New moms and dads often wonder how much of their traits will be inherited by their baby. A recent study has found that this genetic tug-of-war takes place on a whole other level in the womb. According to the journal Developmental Cell, your baby is caught in the middle of a “food fight” between mom and dad before they are even born.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge recently uncovered why some babies have trouble getting a proper level of nutrients in the womb. They found that dad’s genes are responsible for demanding more nutrients and expanding blood vessels in the placenta. Meanwhile, mom’s genes are trying to regulate how much of her nutrients are being provided to the fetus and, in response, restricts the degree of expansion.

While this in-utero battle might sound at first like some unwanted fighting, it is a balancing act that is very much welcomed. If the male gene is dominant, the fetus risks growing too rapidly, whereas too much of the mom’s gene could cause too little growth, so this tug-of-war must remain. These new findings about the role of genetics and nutritional levels in the womb can lead to new treatments aiding in fetal development in the future.

Cervical Checks

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5.      What the Numbers Mean When You Get a Cervical Check

This popular post helps moms better understand the numbers your doctor mentions during those uncomfortable cervical checks. Effacement, dilation, and station are three words you’ll likely hear a lot on your delivery day, so you might want some background on those too.

At the beginning of your pregnancy, your cervix is firm and about 2-3 centimeters. Your cervix becomes thinner, softer, and shorter as your belly grows in a process called effacement. Your doctor provides a percentage representing how far your pregnancy has progressed during these checks.

As your cervix softens, it starts to open up or dilate. No two women are alike, and neither are your cervixes; some will open much quicker than others. Not to worry, once your contractions start, the cervix will do its thing until you reach 100% effacement and you’re fully dilated at 10 cm.

The station is not discussed as much but can help you better understand when to push on delivery day. This measures where your baby’s head is in proximity to the pelvis on a scale of -5 to +5; when the baby is lower in the pelvis, around 0, active labor takes place. By the time their head crowns at +5, your beautiful baby is getting ready to enter the world. Ladies, aren’t our bodies amazing?! Hopefully, you won’t have to endure too many cervical checks, but now you’ll know what the doctor is looking for when it happens.

Epidural Myths

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6.      9 Myths about Epidurals – Debunked

This doctor’s article does an excellent job separating fact from fiction when it comes to epidurals. There is a ton of misinformation out there, and you deserve to know all of your options when it comes to pregnancy pain management. Choosing an epidural or not during labor is a personal choice, and you shouldn’t be swayed by myths or other people’s perceptions about what it means to have a natural birth.

Speaking of myth-busting: No, lower back tattoos don’t exclude you from getting an epidural; an epidural does not increase your chances of a C-section, and it will not cause chronic back pain. If you’re worried about permanent nerve damage, that too has been revealed as an extremely rare reaction.

Talk with your doctor or midwife about your specific care. Most patients are eligible to receive an epidural, and it’s safer than an intravenous which could pass medicine through the placenta more easily. Get the facts and make an informed decision that works best for you and your baby.

Pumping Hacks

Photo Credit: Lucy Wolski, Unsplash

7.      This Viral Pumping Hack is Helping Moms Stress Less + Pump More

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging parts of being a new mom, and pumping is only marginally better, especially when you have trouble lactating. Ever find yourself staring down at your pumping bottle, wondering when or if it will ever fill up?

Now, there’s a viral hack to help you pump more efficiently. Rather than feeling self-conscious and giving that half-filled bottle some serious side-eye, try covering it with a sock. One that’s fresh out of the laundry, though, please!

Keep that pump going while you watch a show or catch up on the next chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to pick back up. Uncover the bottle, and you might be surprised to find it topped off. This is due to a release of oxytocin. When you’re stressed out staring at that bottle, its flow is stifled, but use this trick to relax, and your body will produce more milk.

8.      The Reality of Child Care in America Without Paid Family Leave

Paid family leave was one of the most talked-about parenting issues in 2021, and it continues to be a pressing issue. Dealing with pregnancy and a pandemic is a lot, but throw an uncaring employer into the mix, and it’s no wonder so many parents are stressed out.

Nations like Estonia, Britain, Sweden, and Japan offer generous policies with 39-82 paid weeks of family leave. Meanwhile, the United States has no federal paid family leave policy, creating a tremendous burden for parents.

If you’ve had to deal with this struggle, you know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s an impossible choice to decide between necessary post-partum care and earning an income at a time when you need it most. Not to mention having less time than you’d like to spend bonding with your little cutie!

It is sad to see so many moms leaving the workforce or having their careers shifted by these difficult decisions. Hopefully, the United States can catch up and recognize the needs of parents across the nation.

New Fever Guidelines

Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

9. New Fever Guidelines for Infants: What Parents Should Know

When your baby has a fever, it’s common to feel helpless. These tiny humans can’t tell you what is wrong, but their immune system sends a clear message that something is off. In the past, it was unclear when you should call the doctor, and the treatment varied from one pediatrician to the next.

After decades of observing infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new fever guidelines. Under this new protocol, any newborn less than 60 days old with a fever should be taken to the doctor immediately. For babies over 60 days, parents are advised to wait a day and see if the fever breaks.

For moms, this is welcome news. Now that there is a standardized care plan in place, your doctors will more readily know if your newborn needs testing or to be hospitalized, and your baby will get better, more consistent care.

10. Top 5 Best Viral Parenting Hacks of 2021

Moms got super creative in 2021, sharing their best parenting hacks on TikTok and across social media. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pump right into storage bags or make sure your child’s car seat is secured tighter than you thought was possible, this post is for you.

Learn how to hand your phone over to your toddler without worrying they’ll facetime your boss (hint: guided access is your new favorite setting). Discover the “chicken cutlet” cure to breastfeeding, how to get some literal support from your partner, and more in this entertaining yet helpful article.

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