This week TMM talks to Rachel Reynolds about her beautiful audio-autobiographical essay on pregnancy called Ultrasound, and about her interest in oral history as a feminist practice. Rachel is Educations Programs Manager for the (In)Visible Memoirs Project, a literary outreach program that nurtures aspiring writers in underserved communities. Listen now.

Dear Fetus by Jessica Dur

Thanks to you, I'm afraid of hemorrhoids, unpasteurized goat cheese, coffee, sleeping on my back, doing Zumba, and eating any kind of sliced lunch meat (actually the latter is probably a blessing). Fear has become my constant companion, whispering savage things (not suitable for your undeveloped ears yet) about all that could go wrong. Get used to it, your Grandma says. Welcome to parenthood.

Bee's picture

birth, midwifery, medicine

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 03:18 -- Bee

This week Radio features an interview with Ina May Gaskin, founding member of The Farm and mother of modern midwifery. The interview is fantastic and reminds us that the fundamental controversy of parenting happens before you meet the baby: where, and how, will you give birth?

Pregnancy and childbirth are natural, normal, and integral events in the lives of the majority of women, whether we choose to be mothers or not. Most of our bodies are inherently capable of creating life - often to our surprise.

Clear Blue (but not so) Easy by Gretchen Clark

1. Cross Hairs
The proof is there in the two blue lines. A baby blue plus sign confirms I don't have the flu like I'd hoped. I don't feel joy. I feel sick and not just from what I now know to be morning sickness. To me those faint blue lines look like cross hairs. I turn off the light in my bedroom, lay face down on my bed and wish it to go away. My husband walks in and asks me what I'm doing. No words come out as I hand over the white EPT stick.
"You are?"

To Drink or Not To Drink: Caffeine and Pregnancy by Claudia Copeland, Ph.D.

Searching through the biomedical literature, I looked at four major categories of caffeine effects on the developing fetus. The first category, major birth defects, was easy to evaluate. Very high levels of caffeine have been shown to cause birth defects in animals (Nehlig & Debry 1994), but the levels at which these effects are seen are so high that they would not practically apply to even staunchly caffeine-addicted humans. To assess whether caffeine has these kinds of effects in humans, epidemiological studies (studies of populations of humans) must be used. In a systematic review of the epidemiological literature on cardiovascular malformations and oral clefts (Browne 2006), no evidence was found that caffeine alone was teratogenic for humans. [Caffeine has, however, been found to increase the risk of birth defects by other substances, such as tobacco and alcohol (Nehlig & Debry 1994)]. In a review of several animal studies and epidemiological studies exploring birth defects in general, Christian & Brent (2001) concluded that moderate caffeine use alone should not put fetuses at risk for birth defects. The outcome of epidemiological studies and the extremely high levels of caffeine needed to cause birth defects in animals is reassuring- moderate caffeine use should not lead to birth defects in humans.

Waiting for Bebé: An Interview with Lourdes Alcañiz by Jennifer Williams

Nopalitos for dinner? It's okay for mamis to indulge in the prickly green treats, according to Lourdes Alcañiz. During her first pregnancy, Alcañiz kept an ear out for that friendly and trusting voice that was impossible to hear thousands of miles away from friends and family. An award-winning journalist, Alcañiz soon decided to write a book for other expecting mamas to fill that void. That book became Waiting for Bebe: a Pregnancy Guide for Latinas. It includes a helpful appendix chock full of information, and is a handy resource to keep by any new or expecting mother's bedside. Alcañiz took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with me on the phone from Spain.

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