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Pregnancy Podcast
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Pregnancy Podcast

Author: Vanessa Merten

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A resource to support expecting moms (and partners, too!) with evidence-based information to navigate the awesome adventure of pregnancy, birth, and being a new parent. Vanessa Merten provides evidence based info that goes way beyond the typical “pregnancy instruction manual”. Every episode is designed to give you all of the evidence, research, pros, cons, risks, and benefits – all so you decide what the best option is for YOU and feel confident about your decisions during your pregnancy and beyond. The show covers everything from pregnancy to caring for a newborn. Topics include prenatal care, labor, natural birth, hospital birth, cesarean birth, preparing for your baby, breastfeeding, postpartum, and caring for a new baby. This is your​ evidence-based resource to help you make informed decisions about your pregnancy and your baby.
346 Episodes
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There are a lot of physical demands during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Motherhood is also incredibly mentally and emotionally demanding. You can do so much to prepare for being a parent, like stocking up on supplies for your baby, planning for maternity leave, or learning about breastfeeding. A big part of mentally preparing for motherhood is setting your expectations. This episode covers tips to help you mentally prepare for motherhood.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy increase your risk for a urinary tract infection. UTIs are the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that if you are pregnant and think you may have a UTI, call your OBGYN right away because severe infections can cause problems for both you and your baby. The good news is that when caught early, antibiotics can eliminate a urinary tract infection. Learn the symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy, testing, prevention, treatment, and the evidence on home remedies.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
You experience many physical changes during your pregnancy. Higher levels of hormones, like estrogen, can even change the texture, color, or amount of hair you have. Many expecting mothers enjoy fuller, thicker hair during pregnancy then experience some hair loss postpartum. Learn about how your hair can change during pregnancy and after having a baby and what you can do to keep your hair healthy. If you dye your hair, this episode also explores the evidence on the safety of chemical treatments, like coloring your hair during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Group B Strep

Group B Strep

2021-04-1823:12

Group B streptococcus is a type of bacterial infection. This bacterium naturally lives in the gastrointestinal tract. GBS is common and is in 10%-30% of pregnant women. Once you have this bacterium, it does not mean you will always have it, and it can come and go. Most women with group B strep do not experience any symptoms, and usually, this is not a big deal. However, it can create some complications for you when you are pregnant and cause some severe complications if you pass it to your baby. In the United States, it is standard practice to test all expecting mothers in week 36 or 37 for group B strep. This episode covers what is involved in the testing, how to treat group B strep, and how you can reduce the risks to your baby. This episode also explores the evidence on whether you can decrease your risk for group b strep during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Pregnancy brain is a term used to describe forgetfulness during pregnancy, not being able to focus, or brain fog. This can also extend to after birth, and you may have heard people blame mommy brain or momnesia. Anecdotally, pregnancy brain and mom brain are very common. The standard answer to why this happens is that you are short on sleep, you have a lot going on, and you are dealing with additional stress. This is all true, but it may not fully explain why we get pregnancy brain from a scientific standpoint. What if we viewed pregnancy brain as a trade-off with a long-term benefit instead of viewing it as a loss? This episode examines the science behind pregnancy brain and explores some evidence that it may actually make you a better parent.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Unmedicated Birth

Unmedicated Birth

2021-04-0431:373

Unmedicated birth comes with many benefits but also has its challenges. If you plan to avoid interventions, including pain medications, you need to prepare more than someone comfortable utilizing interventions to assist with their labor. This article explains why some parents choose unmedicated birth, what a physiologic birth without interventions looks like, and how to prepare for an unmedicated birth. Even if you plan for an epidural or other intervention, this article has tips to prepare and get as close as possible to the birth experience you want.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Historically vaccines have taken a decade or longer to develop and get to market. Due to the severity and spread of COVID-19, there was a massive demand to create vaccines as quickly as possible. We have three vaccines currently approved by the FDA under an emergency authorization use in just a year. Pregnancy can increase your risks for severe illness from COVID-19. Despite pregnancy increasing COVID-19 risks, clinical trials did not include pregnant participants. Although studies are beginning to focus on these vaccines and pregnancy, it will be months or even years before we have results. This episode dives into the available evidence on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy so you can make an informed decision on whether to get the vaccine.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
The simplest explanation of how we feel pain is that our bodies sense pain when nerves send messages to our spinal cord and our brain. Our brain then interprets those signals into the feeling of pain. Since each of our brains is different, pain is subjective, and people interpret pain differently. When you think about birth, pain is either the first thing that comes to mind or the last thing you want to think about. There is the occasional anecdote about a pain-free birth, but most expecting mothers experience some level of pain and discomfort. It seems counterintuitive that something necessary for our survival would be difficult and come at a high cost. In this episode, we reframe how you may think about labor pain so you are not terrified going into the experience, have a better idea of what to expect, and understand why birth can involve pain.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
You have several pain management options for labor and birth. The availability of specific methods may vary depending on where you give birth and your care provider. Plus, different methods are used during different stages of labor with varying levels of effectiveness. There are separate episodes on epidurals and nitrous oxide, the two most popular methods used during labor and birth. This episode covers transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), intravenous pain medications, pudendal nerve blocks, local anesthetic injections, and touches on general anesthesia. If you are interested in utilizing any of these methods or have questions about them, please have a more in-depth conversation about the benefits and risks with your doctor or midwife.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, was first used as a labor analgesic in 1881. Over 50% of births in Finland, Norway, England, Australia, and New Zealand, 60% of births in the United Kingdom, and 70% of births in Sweden involve nitrous oxide. It is less common in the United States, and this is changing as it is becoming more widely available in both hospitals and birth centers. Many mothers incorporate nitrous oxide in their plan for a natural or a low-intervention birth. Using nitrous oxide induces feelings of euphoria and creates a disassociation with the discomfort and pain of contractions. This episode explains everything you need to know about nitrous oxide and the risks and benefits of using it during labor and birth.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Epidural

Epidural

2021-02-2826:09

In this episode, we are talking about epidurals. There are three separate procedures that can be done that are often lumped under the umbrella term, “epidural”. The three procedures are epidurals, spinals, and the combined spinal-epidural. These medications and methods of delivery are the best solutions we have to minimize pain during labor with the least risk. Like any intervention, there are risks and benefits. This article examines the evidence on epidurals so you have the information you need to decide whether this is something you want to include in your birth. Learn about your epidural options, benefits, risks, what is involved in the procedure, and how it may impact your labor and birth.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Birth Center

Birth Center

2021-02-2130:05

A birth center is a middle ground between home birth and a hospital. You get the benefit of natural or non-medicated birth in a home-like setting, with some of the safety nets that you would have in a hospital. Birth centers generally feature midwife-led care, focused on prenatal and postpartum care for low-risk women. The majority of birth centers are freestanding entities. More are popping up in hospitals with the same focus of natural birth with integration into the hospital system in the event resources or care from the hospital are needed. This episode covers what a birth center is, what you can expect during your prenatal care, labor, birth, and the evidence on birth centers' safety.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Hospital Birth

Hospital Birth

2021-02-1430:45

About 98% of all births in the United States are in hospitals. Even if you plan for a birth center or home birth, knowing about your backup option is smart. Birth is not an all or nothing decision where you are either having a baby in a hospital with tons of interventions or having a baby at home with no interventions and incense burning in the background. There is an infinite number of options available to you to prepare for and craft the birth you want. The key to getting the birth experience you want is education. Whether you plan a cesarean section or have a natural labor, you could do either in a hospital setting. This episode will help you get more familiar with what you expect in a hospital birth from the moment you arrive, through your labor and birth, until you are discharged and headed home with your new baby.    You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
When you have made it through most of your pregnancy and are in the final stretch, you enter the waiting game of waiting to go into labor. This can be nerve-racking for two reasons. First, you do not know when you will go into labor, and second, you do not know how to tell that you genuinely have started labor and it isn’t just a false alarm. This episode explains the signs that labor will begin soon and the signs that you are in labor. You will not experience all of these signs, and some of these signs may happen to you but go unnoticed. After listening to this episode, you will have a better idea of what to look out to know when labor is starting, when to call your doctor or midwife, and when to go to the hospital or birth center.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Third Trimester Overview

Third Trimester Overview

2021-01-2428:581

The third trimester goes from weeks 28 until your baby’s birth, around 40 weeks. If you are in your third trimester, congratulations, you are in the home stretch until you get to meet your baby. This trimester can be challenging as your belly keeps growing, and you have some new symptoms as a result of carrying around more weight. You may also find yourself anxious to have your baby and ready to be done being pregnant. Your baby is also going through many changes this trimester in preparation for life outside of your womb. You are almost at the finish line. This episode covers everything you need to know about the third trimester to navigate the last few months of pregnancy and go into your birth with confidence.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
The second trimester tends to be the favorite period for many expecting moms. During weeks 13 to 27 of your pregnancy, symptoms like morning sickness should be subsiding. By this point, you have adjusted to many of the lifestyle changes to have a healthy pregnancy. Your moods and emotions should be evening out, and overall you should feel like you have more energy. After all of the last trimester's internal changes, the second trimester brings many physical changes. Your belly will start showing, and you will be able to feel your baby kicking. Get an overview of everything you can expect during the second trimester of your pregnancy. Learn about the physical changes you can expect, how your baby is growing, what you can expect at prenatal appointments, and some of the to-do items to tackle this trimester.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
First Trimester Overview

First Trimester Overview

2021-01-1021:282

The first 12 weeks of your pregnancy will probably be the most significant adjustment period. You get used to the idea of being pregnant, make some lifestyle changes, and deal with all of the physical and emotional changes. The first trimester is thought of as the most sensitive time during your pregnancy. This is when your baby is building organs and structures. You may not see a whole lot going on outside during the first trimester. You will be able to tell many changes are going on internally. Get an overview of everything you can expect during the first trimester of your pregnancy. This episode covers common symptoms like morning sickness, changes in hormones, your baby's development, and how you can get some relief from some of the not so fun side effects of being pregnant.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure you have all of the vitamins and nutrients you need. You have an increased need for specific nutrients during pregnancy, and it is challenging to meet these requirements with your diet alone. There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting the right prenatal vitamin. How do you know which ones are high-quality? What should you look for on the ingredient label? What ingredients should you avoid? All of these questions, and more, are answered in this episode.   This episode features Kenn Israel, who is a formulator and an expert resource on prenatal vitamins. He brings decades of expertise and talks about what to look for in a prenatal vitamin and why it is crucial to make sure you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
Pregnancy Loss

Pregnancy Loss

2020-12-2748:181

In this episode, I have a special guest, Erica McAfee, a grief specialist and doula, who really puts grief and loss and recovery into perspective. This is the perfect episode to end the 2020 year. You will hear Erica talk about how we have all lost something in 2020. We all lost the expectation of what 2020 would have been. She has some excellent tips that you can use in any stage of your life to cope with challenges and find your path forward.   I have not given enough attention to miscarriage and pregnancy loss on the podcast. Miscarriage and stillbirth can be a scary topic, especially if you are currently pregnant. The truth is that miscarriage and stillbirth are more common than you would think. The chances are that if you've never experienced this, that somebody close to you has, even if they haven't shared that with you. If you are listening to this episode and you experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth, or any type of loss this year my heart goes out to you.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
In this episode, we discuss how your breasts change during pregnancy and after you have your baby. Female breasts have a particular function, and that is to produce milk for your baby. Your breasts and nipples are also an erogenous zone. They can play a part in arousal, and nipple stimulation can even induce labor. Breasts are much more complicated than we give them credit for and play a critical role for newborns. I know you are dealing with a lot of physical and emotional changes during your pregnancy. It can be overwhelming. Hopefully, understanding why these changes are taking place can help you have some compassion for your body's hard work in preparing for your baby.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.
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Comments (14)

Christina Ailshie

I wish you would clarify that an IV is not a needle in you like you said multiple times in this episode! The needle is removed immediately after insertion and a flimsy plastic tube stays behind that the fluids and meds are delivered through.

Apr 3rd
Reply

Bianca Marques

Awesome podcast, thank you!! About the zahler prenatal vitamins, I'm not pregnant yet, when did I need start? Do I need any other supplement besides Zahler? Thank you very much I really appreciate.

Feb 15th
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Emma Webster

Helpful Podcast. Would be better if it was inclusive of lesbian couples and single women though. We are a pair of married Mums going through fertility assistance with a donor. No Dads anywhere in sight!

Jun 30th
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Annemarie Mayo

Loved the ending... I was nearly turned away from a candlelit yin class because I had just found out I was 5 weeks pregnant 😂

Jun 28th
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ebony e

What if you sleep on your back but sitting up? My left hip goes numb and uncomfortable.

Mar 11th
Reply

Chelsea Dollar

I don’t see episodes 3,4 or 5 it’s goes straight from 2-6

Nov 30th
Reply (2)

cycle2wod_becky

so many inaccurate things in this episode. If you can give me 10 reasons to breastfeed instead of pump I'd love to hear it because none are noted in the episode.

Jun 28th
Reply

Megan Simpkins

hi I was wondering if you could do an episode on vaginal grazing. I experianced this while delivering my first child and I'm pregnant again. and I'm terrified that it can happen again.

Jun 24th
Reply

Klaas Braga

very nice! thanks for this podcast, it has been very helpful!

Apr 22nd
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vee Julmice

Hi, I love your podcast. Any information on vaginal birth after exploratory laparotomy fibroid removal. Do you have to have a c-section. Depending on how deep they cut into the uterus, must you have a c section.

Feb 6th
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Maya Salem

An extremely useful and helpful Podcast! The episodes are very informative; the content delivered by Vanessa is backed by evidence-based medicine! Highly recommended.

Jan 17th
Reply

Kimberly Chesanek

Vaccine

May 9th
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