Saturday, 21 June 2008

Becoming a Father : Things the man should help with / manage

Ensuring Food Hygiene
Having General Guidelines for Food.
It is worth setting down some guidelines for how you are going to deal with food. Discuss them and agree them with your partner and they will save you both thinking time when doing everyday things like filling the fridge and cooking. A lot of these guidelines will be much the same as the standard hygiene guidelines you would expect to see in a restaurant. They are generally good things to do with your food whether you have a pregnant partner or not. The difference is that while she is pregnant even a slight bug, which might not be noticed in normal life, can have an out of proportion effect upon the foetus.

Why you need to be carefulThe foetus does not develop defences against a lot of things until quite late on in its development. If you take that together with the fact that the placenta does not start filtering a lot of things out until after 12 weeks then it is easy to see that in the first twelve weeks the foetus is pretty much defenceless. After twelve weeks it is better than before twelve weeks, but it still is not going to be as robust as your partner; it is best to avoid anything even vaguely suspect.

Toxoplasmosis is a good example of the sort of problem you are trying to avoid. It has no symptoms in most people who catch it. It is caused by a parasite found mainly in cats and other small animals (see below, your partner should avoid animal excrement). It can be caught by eating improperly cooked meat and unwashed fruit or vegetables and unpasteurised goats cheese. The most common effects of toxoplasmosis on the foetus include brain damage and deformities of the head and eye.

Toxoplasmosis is also illustrative of the fact that care is needed throughout the pregnancy. The earlier the foetus is infected the worse the effects it will suffer. Conversely the later the mother is infected the more often the parasites are transmitted to the foetus. In effect, late or early, there is no good time to get this. Normally it is mild enough that you might not notice, but given the risk of a brain-damaged child for the entirety of its life it is not worth the risk.

Wash everything. Wash fruit and vegetables. Wash farm fresh eggs. Wash the counter top and all surfaces that touch meat and fish. Wash implements between uses, even while cooking the same meal. Wash anything and everything. Everyone knows you should wash fruit and veg before eating them, but normally people in a hurry are not going to bother with that sort of thing, now is the time to bother. You cannot say that because you are not carrying the foetus this does not apply to you. When in doubt Wash it. When not sure what else to do wash your hands.

You have to be setting an example, as your partner is going to be under enough pressure as it is, so help her out here. Wash food for her. If you are preparing food wash your hands after any time you touch uncooked fish or meat, as well as after any time you handle unwashed fruit, vegetables or eggs. When you cut a piece of meat, wash the knife before you accidentally cut something with it that may not be cooked. You are trying to avoid the possibility of cross contamination here. If you lay a piece of meat out on a plate before grilling, do not then put it back on the plate after grilling. The plate has been in contact with the uncooked meat and could be carrying parasites.

You do not want to find any way to pass this on to your partner, so be a bit too picky rather than not picky enough. It is easier to wash something quickly than to spend time deciding whether you need to wash it. Make a little too much washing the norm. If in doubt wash it out.

Take care with uncooked foods.
Ensure raw fish or meat cannot drip onto anything else in the fridge. Wrap fish or meat well so that moving it will not cause contamination. Many fridges have little icons on the side showing what could go where. This is the reason they bother, so that meat and fish are safely at the bottom and not dripping on anything. If you can afford it, it is worth having a chopping board just for meat and another for everything else. Chopping boards are not expensive, but pregnancy is, so if you have to save the money try marking one side of the board for meat and fish, and the other for everything else. Do not forget to wash the board before you turn it over. This is harder than having two boards because you have to be more careful where you place the board when not cutting raw meat, as well as washing it between items which is a nuisance.

Cook meat until there are no pink bits left and the juices run clear when something sharp is poked to the middle. Avoid eating rare or raw meats. Steak tartar and sushi are effectively off the menu until after the baby is born. Take extra care with grilled or barbecued meat as it may be burned on the outside, but still raw on the inside. Using a lower heat will help it cook through, but runs the risk of it not becoming hot enough to kill anything dangerous. When grilling it is often worth cutting the meat in half horizontally once it appears cooked and then cooking the newly exposed layers. This does mean the food is likely to be more cooked than you prefer, but at the same time it is very little extra work and is that bit safer. Also this will give you a better idea of how cooked the food you normally eat is, and so may make future cooking easier.

Activities You May Want To Take Over From Your Partner
Cooking
There is a very good chance that your partner will suffer from morning sickness for at least some of the pregnancy. You can help to alleviate this unpleasantness no matter how severe or how mild it turns out to be. Find out what triggers her to feel bad, and help her to avoid the triggers this will at least help a bit, and may make a major difference.

Often one of the triggers will be seeing or having close contact with some or all foods: if this is the case you have a golden opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; you can help her to feel pampered and cared for at the same time as preventing the food from making her feel ill. Even when food is not a trigger it may be a good idea to take over cooking for a while to prevent accidents due to sudden bouts of unconnected nausea.

An additional benefit of taking over some or all of the cooking is that you can see that the food preparation guidelines discussed elsewhere are followed without making her paranoid and unduly stressed. You should be able to follow the guidelines in a straightforward manner. The same may not be true for her even if you and your partner are both calm sensible people. If you were taking mind altering hormones you might have problems too.

It is worth mentioning at this point that the manner in which you take these sorts of responsibilities matter about as much as actually taking them. Your partner may well be perfectly capable of doing it all without you, so this should be a small piece of loving pampering. On the other hand she may not be capable, in which case the last thing she wants is to be made aware that there is even the possibility of an issue. Tact is needed to make her feel good about the attention she is getting, not to feel pushed around or helpless.

Cleaning Up Dog and Cat Excrement
Animals carry toxoplasmosis which can cause, amongst other things, miscarriages. This can be contracted from pet feces no matter how hygienically the pets are housed and fed. Cleaning up after animals is an unpleasant task, made even more unpleasant for your partner if she is suffering from morning sickness. Unlike the cooking women rarely object to their partners insisting on shielding them from dangers by cleaning up the litter tray.

Problems from toxoplasmosis are most common when it is present during the first three months or so of pregnancy, with problems from later infection being less common. Problems caused can range from miscarriages through eye problems up to still birth. It may not be a pleasant job, but it would not be pleasant for her either, so you really ought to try and do it cheerfully as you think what a lucky child you are going to have.

To prevent you passing on any infections you should remember to wash and dry your hands well after handling pets (or other animals e.g.farm animals).
Gardening

Gardening is one of those things that you may or may not need to take over.
There are good reasons to take over such as:
• Cat faeces in the garden or toxoplasmosis cysts in the dust and soil
• .Listeria in the soil or on the plants.
• Pesticides.

But at the same time it is a relaxing activity that may alleviate her stress. If this is the case then taking it over could actually be a mistake.

There are a few simple rules she should try to follow while gardening, though it is probably better to fail to follow a rule than to become stressed and not enjoy gardening while following the rules to the letter.
• always wear gloves while gardening and avoid touching face, mouth or eyes
• avoid stirring up or breathing in dust from the soil (If it is arid and dusty sprinkle some water to keep the dust down before you start. Plant misters are perfect for this as the fine spray does not make things miuddy.
• wash hands well after gardening (even after wearing gloves).
• Do not move heavy items such as large plant pots, heavy watering cans or soil bags.

In our garden at home, my partner can potter and prune, but she never has to carry heavy watering cans. For less than £100 it was possible to set up a watering system that delivers measured doses of water only when the plants require it. Setting up a probe to see if the soil needs it, the garden computer to control the tap and all the tubes to carry water took less than 3 hours following simple instructions. Best of all, in our area it may be used during a hosepipe ban as it is water efficient .

Strenuous Activities She Is Unused To Doing
A good rule of thumb for other activities is to look at whether it is something she would normally do. If it is there is a reasonable chance it will be okay. She is pregnant, not ill.

Another rule of thumb is if she feels she is having to push herself then it might be better to avoid the activity. She needs to stop when it begins to feel like it might be a strain, and before it becomes too much.

If she normally jogs 5 miles to the shops and 5 miles back with full shopping bags then it is unlikely to cause her major harm to continue providing she does not feel that she is having to push herself. There will be times, particularly between weeks 6 and 12 when she tires easily and has to be very careful. Just to be awkward exercise, in moderation, is actually good for both her and the baby (see the section below on exercise). Also it is worth noting that as the baby goes it takes up space and so her lung capacity goes down. As this happens things which are not a train become impossible simply because she becomes out of breath. Towards the end she will be stopping half way up a short flight of stirs. She will not be tired, but she will be out of breath.

Offer to carry things for her, but do not insist. Offer to do things that may tire her, but do not encourage her to do nothing. Remember she is pregnant not sick. She does not need to be smothered, but at the same time she does need extra care and consideration. It is another of those fine balancing acts that are a large part of what a man needs to do throughout the pregnancy. Listening to her responses and learning from them is the only way to do this, and it is well worth doing.

Her Exercise
As we will see below, exercise is a good thing during pregnancy in many ways. There are a few good ways you can help her with this and several reasons why you would want to help.
Things for you to do:
• Reassure her that exercise will not damage her or the baby, and help her to understand the effects it will have.
• Encourage her when she is exercising and also when she is just thinking about it.
• Help her to schedule time to exercise.
• Check that she does not overdo things or injure herself.
• Ensure she drinks enough water. Hydration is very important to the foetus and to her body

Why she should exercise
Exercise is always important, but it becomes even more important during pregnancy .Exercise provides benefits during the pregnancy, at the birth and even after the child is born. Exercise helps prepare the body for childbirth by strengthening muscles and building endurance, preparing her muscles for the hard work of labour and delivery. Exercise helps lower excess weight and balance insulin and testosterone levels, and so could lower the chance of a miscarriage.

Being active during the pregnancy can reduce the physical discomforts of backache, constipation, fatigue, and swelling. As well it’s physical effects exercise can have good affects on her mind, helping to counteract some of the ‘hormone swing’ side effects. It can improve her mood and self-image, helping her to feel that with all that is happening to her body she is still an attractive sexy woman. Finally it also makes getting back in shape once the baby's born much easier.

So what I am saying here is that exercise without strain can help her pregnancy, prepare her for a good labour, aid postnatal recovery, help her feel good about herself, counteract some of the negative side effects of pregnancy and even help her to get a good night’s sleep. Unless she is one of those people who really cannot cope with moving from in front of the telly she is unlikely to want to turn down the benefits of a more comfortable pregnancy.

Lastly remember that it is very easy for a man to allow himself to put on weight to match his partner. It is not nearly so easy for him to lose it without giving birth or breast feeding. If you exercise together you have a much better chance of avoiding Couvade’s Syndrome.

What needs to be avoided
Staying active during pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean going for the burn. A pregnant woman’s body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy which loosens the joints and allows the ligaments to stretch. This is done both in preparation for delivery and to allow movement of the ribs and back to accommodate the growing child. The relaxin does make over stretching all too easy as well as risking injury from too heavy weights or too much strain. This means you need to watch her technique very carefully as something that is only sloppy normally has potential to cause injury while pregnant. If you are not sure of what to watch for try and arrange a session with someone who does know, maybe a friend or even a personal trainer. Tell them what you are planning and get them to show you what to watch for and which may be the problem areas. If you have a gym membership then go along to that and tell them your concerns; they will generally be quite grateful that you want to lower their insurance risk and will be eager to show you what to do.
She should avoid exercising while flat on her back once she is past the first 10 to 12 weeks. This means no bench pressing or crunches or any exercise that keeps her in that position. Equally she needs to be careful about any exercise that puts strain down her back such as above the head raises of any kind. Her back and her insides are going to be in funny position and doing anything along these lines is asking for an injury to her back, to her internal organs or even to the unborn child.

Care should be taken with activities that could put her at risk of slips and falls, such as cycling, roller-skating, horse riding, and skiing. People who take part in these sports competitively often continue well into their pregnancy, but they continue with care and make sure they understand the changes to their balance so as to minimise the risk. Taking skiing as an example, it is quite difficult to fall in such a way as to damage the baby, but it is very easy to fall so as to damage one’s self. As her balance will be off in several different ways it is advisable to persuade her to stick to runs she would normally consider fairly easy and to ski more slowly and carefully than she normally would. The same is true of any exercise with a risk of falling, slipping or twisting, do it gently, do not try anything difficult and maintain a level where she can relax and enjoy.

One of the major things you can do is to stop her doing too much. Keep her talking while she exercises, and if she starts getting short of breath persuade her to slow down or take a break. Also do not let her go on past the point where she starts tiring. Often you can avoid this happening too fast by changing muscle groups exercised and types of exercise performed. When she starts to tire rather than just to have tired limbs it is time to stop. She will probably not notice, so it is up to you to spot it for her. Agree this with her before hand and look out for it while she works out. She should not "go for the burn" or exercise to exhaustion. Exercise during pregnancy is not about competing, even with herself; it is about gently readying her for what is to come and preparing her body to recover faster.


Arranging your paternity leave and helping with/understanding her maternity leave.

Information about this is mainly under “Reference” below, but you need to talk them through with your/her employer before the birth or practicalities can overtake the law. Things to discuss with your employer include:
• Duration
How long you will be allowed off. Whether or not you will be able to change the time period once you see how everything is going.
• Notice
The baby will comes when it feels like coming, you will not be able to give notice in advance. N.B. This is true even if you have scheduled an elective caesarean.
• Pay

How much will you be paid? Some companies will go for full pay for a period followed by tapering pay followed by unpaid leave, some simply pay the statutory minimum. If you are to budget you need to understand this for both your own and your partner’s job.


Managing her Stress
As with the pre-conception period Stress is a major factor. Unfortunately stress can cause miscarriages and it is to some extent up to you to put yourself out to reduce your partner’s stress levels. The obvious corollary to this is that your stress levels will affect her, so you have to avoid it all becoming too much for you as well.

You will need to allot some time to yourself to relax and do nothing. Make sure you budget for a bit more time than you think you are going to need so that you can drop it and help out if she needs you.

Keep track of how many uninterrupted times you have managed

• Taking away jobs she does not like
• Providing surprise treats
• Checking her real response to what you are doing, understand how she thinks you can lower her stress levels
• Provide her with interesting things to do
• Managing how much you both see the baby as a person. NB this is tricky. You do not want to see it as a real person when it is unlikely to ever become one, but you need to see it as real before birth.
• Shield her from stressful people
• Make sure she feels informed about problems without feeling that she needs to do something. You want her to know that you are handling things well and that all will go well. Do not expect her to trust you on this, you need her to know it is all taken care of.
• Tell her how much you love her. Often.
{ Summary of things to look at/try here}.

Probability Profiles (Or How to Stop Worrying).

Reassurance (Or How to Stop Her Worrying) {Make the following match the bullet points}
• Know your stuff
• Do not give her extra worries
• Seek expert advice without involving your partner
• Find out whether there is a problem immediately
• Distract her from worries
• If she is worrying because she needs more attention then give her the attention in other ways to discourage worrying.

I am afraid there are few shortcuts on this one. Reassuring her is at least in part about actually knowing what you are talking about. You need to understand what could happen and how to spot it, so that when she has a worry you can address it. If you do not know whether something is a problem tell her that you doubt that it is but you will check. Then check as soon as you can. Look things up on the Internet in the early days of pregnancy. Once you have been to see a doctor or a mid-wife they will give you a number to call. Do not be shy about calling it. If anything is wrong they can give you expert advice. If you are concerned do not pass your worries on to your partner, quietly find out if there is anything to worry about before worrying her.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

What happens during pregnancy

Timetable: Significant events you are expected to know about
{Mention for a detailed timetable see reference section}
Missed periods/blood spotting
Scans & blood tests

12 week “dating” scan
Nuchal scan When is it charged and what can you do about it?
20 week scan
Other scans: Some places insist that a scan to determine the sex should be a separate private scan. Sizing scan. Additional scans in case of problems.
The Birth

Visits
Injections
Scans
What are scans and what can we learn from them?
An example scan
For comparison purposes I have included the same scan on the next page without the labelling. See if you can also spot the cheek bones, the shoulders and the beginnings of the ears.
An interesting feature of this particular scan is that the hand is almost straight in front of the umbilical cord which is only not visible because we are looking on the near side of it and it is angled away. When the scan was taking place movement could be seen and this was much more obvious.


Figure 5 Foetus at eleven weeks (unlabeled).
Tests
The standard pregnancy test consists of soaking a stick in urine for about a minute to se if certain hormones can be detected. Generally a blue line is produced if this is the case, though as one line may already be present it could appear as a blue cross. To check your reading of the test is valid there is often a control window which should produce a blue line whether or not hormones are present.

Figure 6 Test showing a positive result.


Blood group id
Rh-factor
Anaemia/complete blood count
Rubella Immunity
Chicken pox
Hep b
Syphilis
HIV
Double test (for Spina bifida, downs syndrome and related problems).
Triple Test
Blood pressure
Screening tests (opt in/opt out)

Copyright 2005-2006 Rufus Evison

Throughout the pregnancy

IF ANYTHING IN THIS CHAPTER LOOKS INTERESTING LEAVE A COMMENT AND I WILL TAKE MY NOTES AND COMPLETE THE REQUESTED SECTION

Trust your partner. Throughout pregnancy she is going to be closer to feeling what is happening than you can ever be. Remember that and remember how much you love and trust her.

Pregnancy what a man experiencesWorries you may have and how to deal with them.

Supporting your partner and protecting your child.

{This Section will give you a view of what to expect from a pregnancy. It will help to prepare you for the role you will need to play and how to play it. The objective is to discuss your responsibilities, what you will need to change in your way of life, what to look out for, and what to do if difficulties arise.}

Stress
Hers how to avoid it
Stress is a recurring theme throughout this book as it is:
a) Actively harmful to the pregnancy
b) Avoidable.

There is more on stress under lifestyle below as some of the changes you will make to your lifestyle can either increase or decrease your (and her) stress levels depending on how you make them. What we are going to look at here are the changes during pregnancy that can cause stress for your partner, and so cause her to stress you. We are also going to think about ways you can try to alleviate the things she is going through and so create a less stressful environment for both of you.

Causes: Restrictions on what she can do
Causes: unpleasant effects on her body
Cf What to expect while she is pregnant
Causes Worries she may have
Tactics: Things to help her with
Tactics: Pampering
Massage

Yours how to cope


What to expect while she is pregnant

Fat, smelly and beautiful, or what you should expect of a pregnant woman.
There are many significant changes to a woman’s body throughout the pregnancy. Many of them are more properly the subject of books to tell her what to expect. While these may be mentioned in the relevant sections of this book they are not the subject of this chapter. What I am mentioning are things you may notice. These are worth spending some time thinking about for two reasons:

1. So you can consider how you will react and if it is not positive what you should do so as not to hurt your partner.
2. So you know what you are getting yourself (and your partner) into before you begin.



Sleeping
Farting
Acne
Hairiness
Weight gain (well duh!)
Cravings: real or imaginary
Anti-cravings
Giraffes (or not all cravings are for foods)
Memory problems/forgetting what she promised to get you.
Changes in sense of smell (more or less sensitive both possible)
Indigestion and toilet problems including waking you every hour as she goes to pee, or making the toilet awful when she finally gets past a week of constipation. NB meshes with a nausea that means you may be cleaning up, and can coincide with incontinence.
Bleeding gums leaving the shared toothbrush a funny colour.
Tendency to thrush and similar conditions.
Bigger breasts (covered with veins)
Stretch marks
Emotional outpourings
Excessive tiredness which looks like (but is not) laziness

Copyright 2005-2006 Rufus Evison

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

It should be noted that this book is a work in progress. The reason I am publishing it in this way is that it has not been progressing so i am trying to add some momentum. As such I would greatly appreciate any comments people can supply. In the munuscript below the {} mean that this needs to be filled in. I have notes on everything in the document but have not been collating them and adding them. In some cases I will need to go back to the original research and re-read it as it has been a while. All of the following is useful information so if you know anyone who is trying, or thinking of trying do recommend that they visit thsi blog and have a look. If there is something they (or you) wish to know add a comment and I will either publish the bit with it in or find out for you as appropriate.

Rufus Evison

Lifestyle

Stress
{Why stress matters, effects on sperm count, hormone levels etc.}
{A short few paragraphs about a positive attitude to enjoying creating a child}
{A little on how to de-stress without stressing your partner. }
{Book recommendations on stress.}


Her stress matters too!

Telling People
As I have explained, one of the major factors affecting the ability to conceive is stress. To know that everyone knows you are trying and that they are all waiting to see what happens, how you do and how long it takes can be stressful. Personally I recommend you avoid that stress by not telling people you are trying.

For the first three months I would even say do not even admit to yourselves that you are trying. Do not do any of the things recommended in the section about sex, do not get too uptight about any of the other suggestions. Generally relax. After three months you can start looking at gently introducing a little method into your behaviour, but avoid at all costs spoiling sex by making the purpose of it procreation to the exclusion of all else. If sex is recreation you are much more likely to produce a conception than if everything is cold, clinical and planned.

Once you have been without contraception for three months your partners hormones should have settled down, and you can think about trying, but that does not mean it is time to tell people. Far from it. The standard advice from the medical profession is not to tell people you are pregnant until you are three months pregnant. Until you can tell them that there is no real reason to tell them anything that can set their expectations and so apply stress to you as a couple.

Trying for a baby is exciting, and you will naturally want to shout it to the world. Also you may well be looking for advice and reassurance. It is possible to do this without adding stress to your lives and without being deceitful. Tell people that you are thinking about trying.

If you are at the stage of not yet doing all the different things in this book, and are not having IVF then you could say that you are not yet really trying; you are just providing an opportunity for nature to take its course. This is a positive and non-pressuring way of looking at things as well as being an attitude that allows you to ask advice from people with children. It is a natural thing to do if you are thinking about trying. It is even something that I would suggest you should do while you are still on contraceptives.

Often things work best when they feel right and natural. This is true of sports, for example golf swings, it is true of love matches and it is true of creating children. Relax into your role as someone who will try if they need to but at the moment is just letting their life flow towards having children. Explore the new ideas in discussion with your partner, your friends and your family. Let it happen and do not start trying until you have no choice.

When you reach three months and feel safe telling people about the baby they will not be surprised as you will have talked to them about it in the abstract. At the same time if you go a year or two without moving on to actually having children they will not be surprised as you have not set any sort of time line in their heads. This is open and honest, yet at the same time non-stressful without expectations you feel you have to fulfil.

It is even reasonable for both you and her to change your diet, cut down on alcohol and all those sort of things while you are on contraception to give the child a good chance. Folic acid for instance both of you should take 3 months (in your case 100 days) before there is a possibility of conception. People will probably understand that if they happen to notice. Certainly if you have been discussing things with them you will have had an opportunity to bring it up.

If you are reading this through before you have decided to try then I would suggest looking at your diet or taking supplements now, as it will do you good whether or not you decide to have children yet. Feel free to point out this recommendation to people who may otherwise assume that you are already trying despite your protestations.

Every-day causes of every day stress that you can avoid for her.
Everyday ways to lower her stress levels.


Paying attention
There is a fine line to walk here between on the one hand bugging her, and on the other hand seeming uninterested. On that line is paying attention, and be warned the line wiggles. I will be making things harder by giving you more things to watch without bugging her to find out.

Romance
She is going to need continual reassurance that you love her and romance is a good way to do this, providing it is not totally out of character for you.

{little gifts e.g. soft toy, T-shirt with scan print on, jewellery, random flowers, a single chocolate hand wrapped, a note waiting where she would not expect it}

Environmental factors
The three things which lower the sperm count are:
1. heat
2. tightness
3. electrostatics

Clothing
There is a study which illustrates how extreme some of the effects clothing can get.
{Details of study. Things to check in terms of your current wardrobe. Places that sell good garments. Include underwear and artificial fibres on trousers and similar. }
Scuba Diving
Hot Baths
Hot working environment

Fitness, anorexia and obesityAnorexic, bulimic or just plain thin?
{Underweight effects}
{Ways to gain weight}
Periods, thinness and long term effects

Are you obese?
What is your BMI?
{overweight effects}

Are you unfit?
Exercise is good for both of you. Exercise together to help encourage her, prevent injuries, etc. Make sure she does not strain herself, over-exert or anything like that. Very easy to do have your altered posture cause injury as bones are rearranging themselves.

{Relaxin.}

Encourage her to stay active as better for the birth as well as better for her.
BMI, fat measuring weighing machines and callipers
Too much exercise, hormones and conception
Steroids

A word of warning, the BMI can be quite misleading. It does not take into account differing levels of fitness or how fat you are versus how muscular you are. Body builders who typically have very low levels of body fat appear to be obese if the measure used is the BMI.



Underweight men who had a BMI under 20 also suffered from similar reductions in sperm counts.

"Body mass within the ideal "normal" range was associated with higher sperm concentration, higher total sperm count, and a lower percentage of abnormal sperm," write researcher Tina Kold Jensen, MD, PhD, of the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues.

Researchers say these findings may have important implications for the future procreation potential of men worldwide in light of rising obesity rates.
The study also showed that as men's weight increased blood testosterone levels decreased.

We are still waiting to see if the current obesity ‘epidemic’ leads to a parallel infertility epidemic due to poor quality sperm.

For example, men with a high or low BMI were more likely than normal-weight men to have a sperm count below 20 million per millilitre of semen, which is abnormally low.
Overweight men -- those with a BMI over 25 -- had a 24 percent lower sperm count compared with average-weight men.

Smoking, drinking and drugs

Illegal Drugs to Avoid
Obviously I have to advise against all illegal drugs as they are generally illegal because they are damaging in some way. The further from peak condition your body and mind are, the harder it is to have a baby, or to be in the right state to look after it. If you have been thinking about giving up then having a child can be the incentive you need to make it happen.

In either case, what follows is some information about the particular illegal drugs that prevalent research seems to show to have negative effects relevant to creating a baby. I have described the problems that there is some research to support. Most of the research only covers women taking drugs during pregnancy, where this is the case I have not included warnings on the man taking drugs prior to conception. This does not mean there are no effects from you taking things prior to conception, nor does it mean it is safe for you to take the drugs during the pregnancy. All it means is I have not seen research to prove quite how bad it is likely to be.

The research I have seen has tried to control for confounding factors, but this may not always have been possible. One problem is that known drug users often introduce other problems that affect the child. It is not always possible to separate the effects of the prenatal dose from the post natal factors of living with parents who use drugs. That said the research does vary across a widely ranging set of populations and does appear to be meaningful.

Another problem of drug use is that the partners of drug users often use themselves, and find it much harder to stop on their own. Unless you stop, your partner will probably not stop either, and may hide their use from you. I have included under each drug some information about the effects of women’s drug use during pregnancy. A foetus is vulnerable enough that having a rare steak for dinner could have a drastic effect, so it is no surprise that effects of women’s use during pregnancy can make fairly distressing reading.

Any drug that can be consumed by smoking carries the dangers of passive smoking. Passive smoking is not just from the smoke being inhaled. It has been shown that infants suffer from the smoke absorbed into clothes, furniture etcetera and need a smoke free environment. The same is presumably true for partners carrying babies. So in summary:

• Drugs you take can lower your chances of causing a conception.
• Drugs you take before conception can affect child health after birth including
o Lower birth rate
o Deformities
o Child cancer
o Learning difficulties
• If you use drugs then your partner may use them during pregnancy leading to an even higher chance of:
o Miscarriage
o Birth defects
o Child cancer
o Child learning difficulties at a later age.
• Drugs you take after conception can passively affect your partner and cause all of the above.



Marijuana
Some statistics on how large a proportion of the populations uses Marijuana.
Marijuana can affect the brain chemistry responsible for releasing reproductive hormones. Marijuana decreases testosterone, sperm count, and potency. A father's drug use can also cause birth defects, particularly higher rates of heart abnormalities.

More, if you smoke then how can you tell your partner to stop? Women who smoke marijuana have increased risk of abnormal ovulation and are less fertile. Scarily this can be affected by past use, though it is worst when taken within a year before you start trying. The risk does not really change much with how often you use, nor with how long you use for. Even occasional use of small amounts of marijuana can decrease women's fertility.

Leaving aside risks to conception, women who smoke marijuana have higher rates of miscarriage, pregnancy problems, and difficulties with labour and delivery. Birth defects are associated with marijuana use.

A mothers' use of cannabis is associated with increased rates of various childhood cancers. The newborn babies can experience some withdrawal symptoms and other effects on their nervous system. Some of the other effects are not so obvious in newborns. These include neurological delays in the brain. These affect the so called ‘higher functions’ which cannot really be measured until the child starts to grow up. They tend to exhibit as poor memory, low attention span, poor reasoning and analysis, poor reading and language learning and various other learning disabilities at ages anywhere from 4 years to fully grown. All in all it is not a nice thing to arrange for your unborn child, and even if your partner gives up the second hand consumption from your clothes and body could have an effect.

Only one study showed Marijuana to have a positive effect. That one was taken in Jamaica where there was a possibility of cross contamination (some of the non-users turned out to be drinking marijuana teas regularly and were removed from the non-user category, others may have been using intermittently in a social context). The positive effects were all found at an early age (one month or less) where higher functions cannot be measured and docility is considered a good thing.


Cocaine
{}
Heroine

Speed
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(c) Rufus Evison 2005-2008

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Becoming a father Chapter 5 - Sex: timing, effectiveness and gender

This chapter is going to cover the mechanics of sex and fertility as well as how they affect both the chances of conception and the potential gender of the baby. Clearly if the act of sex affects both of these things then there is going to be overlap if I try to separate them completely. This means that while there are bits specific to how effective at producing conception sex is and specific bits on gender selection there are also bits such as the female orgasm that affect both. Because it is not clear until you have read them what the subtle effects are I would suggest reading through the whole chapter before going back and looking properly at the bits that interest you.

Effective Sex
The first thing to be said on this is that if you turned here first you are already in trouble. Stress is very counter-productive, and if you are too hung up about the effectiveness of your sex you will be stressed, which is not good.

Having said that, there are things related to sex that can stop it resulting in conception. You should know about these things as this can stop you consistently falling into unexpected traps.

The most important thing to ensure your sex is effective is timing. Unlike a man, a woman is only fertile for part of her monthly cycle; this limits when sex can cause conception. Sperm can survive for up to 7 days in perfect conditions. In practice most sperm die within 24-48 hours. The timing section below will explain how long either side of ovulation is practical for conception. There are ovulation tests available to check that ovulation is occurring when you think it is. Conveniently enough a woman experiences a large surge of hormones just before ovulation. These hormones show up in the urine so, just like the pregnancy test, peeing on a stick is the way these tests work. This is hormonal rush provides a heads up that it is time to start having sex. There are many kits and books that will tell you the exact time of ovulation, but in my opinion the stress of trying to work to a strict timetable is sufficiently counter-productive to make a rough knowledge of the day preferable.
Remember, the rhythm method is a form of contraception based on timing your sex to avoid fertile periods. It is not 100 % effective, but it has worked for millions of people for hundreds of years, so the time of the month when you have sex is probably the most significant factor over which you have control.

Just as conception is unlikely to occur unless you ejaculate it is less likely if the woman does not orgasm than if she does. This is because the muscular contractions that take place during orgasm help move the sperm towards the egg.

As female orgasms are a factor in effective sex it is important that the sex is enjoyable. One problem often encountered by couples trying for a child is that they become too obsessed with timing, fertile periods, nutrition and all the other things which can effect conception and become stressed. This stress in itself will affect a woman’s ability to conceive, but worse than that it can effect the enjoyment of sex. Couples report it becoming “automatic”, “clinical” or “just not sexy”, and unsurprisingly the female partner is less likely to orgasm under these circumstances.
Different positions can also affect the chances of conception. The further into the vagina the sperm are deposited the less distance they have to swim. Not only that, the vagina is the least friendly environment that the sperm will have to swim through, so minimizing that part of the swimming distance can have a disproportionate effect on the chances of success. Similar effects can be produced by the position assumed after sex, as this can allow gravity to work in favour of the swimming sperm. This is why some films have women posed on their backs with their legs in the air after sex when trying to conceive.

The sperm count of a man can be affected by the frequency with which you have sex. Abstention for a set time before the fertile period can alter the chances of conception, as can changing the frequency with which you have sex during the fertile part of your partner’s cycle. It used to be that they reccomended abstinence for ten days before ovulation. This is not longer considered to have a significantly different effect to two days of abstinence.


Timing
Sperm levels are highest in the morning. This may be related to an some men’s desire being heightened in the mornings. The sperm levels, to some extent, drop off throughout the day. If you want to take advantage of this then have sex as soon after waking as you feel comfortable with, so mornings or early afternoons might be good.

As was made apparent in the previous section there is only an egg available for a few days each month. Ovulation is generally about two weeks before the first day of her next period. This means that if she has regular cycles you can assume ovulation will be about 14 days before that. If her cycle is not regular (and one in five are not) then start by guessing and if things are taking a while (a few months) check your guess by persuading her to use a test (clearblue?). If her cycles are particularly irregular it is worth using some sort of check on a regular basis to ensure you do not miss the window.

It is worth noting at this point that ovulation test kits do not test for ovulation. They test for the rush of hormones preceding ovulation. This rush can occur even if ovulation does not. In the event of a significant amount of time with no success at conception it is worth having a check that she is ovulating. This is usually done through your medical practitioner. The good news is that if this is the problem then in many cases there is a simple injection that can fix things by jumpstarting ovulation. This is particularly frequently the case for second or later pregnancies.
It is also possible to check for ovulation using the temperature profile of the woman. {more on how this is done, the timing of ovulation and different techniques for estimating and checking}

Once you know when ovulation is occurring you need to work out when her fertile period is. This is generally from 4-5 days before ovulation through to 1-2 days after. Male sperm survive longer than female sperm once they are out of the acid environment of the vagina so having sex at the start of this period creates a slight bias towards male children; the day either side of ovulation creates a slight bias towards female children. You can buy programs to tell you that her most fertile period is the days mentioned above, but as you have now read this it is probably not worth the bother.


The rhythm method of contraception:{To be completed}

Further background Information
The menstrual cycle of a woman determines when she is fertile. Cycles vary in length from around 20 days to over 35 days. Changes in the cycle of up to around a week are fairly common. Unless a woman is on the pill her cycle is not likely to be completely regular.
Signs that she is entering her fertile period can include:
• The cervix becomes higher and softer and open (you can feel this with your fingers)
• Cervical mucus produced in the cervix changes to an environment that is better for the sperm. This can be observed in the texture and taste.
• Increased fluid ; up to 10x increase in mucus volume can be seen.
• Highly-fertile mucus is nearly all water – This gives a transparent, glistening, slippery, stretchy - spinnbarkeit effect.
• The structure of fertile mucus includes a particularly loose network to help the sperm get though. Again can be discerned through the texture.
• Increased salts, sugar and amino-acids to nourish sperm, again noticeable as it affects the taste.

The female orgasm
One thing that is often important is lack of stress. Many couples become pregnant shortly after they give up and stop trying. When applying for IVF the time while you wait for treatment is one of the most likely times for conception.
You are more likely to cause conception if your partner has an orgasm after you have ejaculated. This is because the vaginal contractions that take place during the female orgasm act as a pump to move sperm from the acid vagina to the relative safety of the uterus. More female orgasms mean more pumping of sperm, mean more chance of conception.

There is a theory to suggest that that multiple groups of multiple orgasms throughout the days following the fertilisation of the egg by a sperm can cause sufficient movement within the uterus as to lower the chances of successful embedding by the fertilised egg. I have been able to find no research to either confirm or deny this.

Some women come more violently on their second or third orgasms than on their first, others find each orgasm weaker than the preceding one. For those in the latter category the effect on the chances of conception will be lowered if her first orgasm is before yours. If she is likely to feel like stopping after she has had an orgasm, then make sure you save her orgasm until after yours.

As well as affecting the probability of conception the female orgasm, or lack of female orgasm will affect the gender distribution. For more details see ‘gender selection’ below.

Technique
Given the advantage if your partner orgasms after you have, it is worth talking briefly about some ways to achieve this. There are suggestions that men have a tendency to roll over and go to sleep after they have ejaculated. In terms of conception this is not optimal. While we all know that in actual fact there are really only about 10 men who ever did that, and they are reformed characters now, it is still interesting to find out how other people have sex, so below are a few suggestions. Another thought you might want to consider is that what you do and how you do it will be more restricted during pregnancy, so taking advantage of your relative freedom at this point may be a good idea.

It is also worth noting that your ejaculate (the combination of sperm and seminal fluid you produce) will change consistency a short while after you ejaculate. This is useful in adding to the motility of the sperm. It is best if you have a rough idea how quickly this will take place. This varies from man to man, and also depends to some extent on your diet and how hydrated you are. In practice we are going to have to assume your diet and level of hydration are pretty much constant, so that we can gauge how long it is in your case. You will then want to see if you can induce an orgasm just after the sperm has de-jelled.

To test this you want to ejaculate onto a non porous surface of about body temperature. A hot water bottle or a plastic sheet you have been lying on would be perfect. If your sperm takes longer than 15-30 minutes to liquefy then do not worry about trying to time things to match, as it will just detract from the sex and add to stress. If your sperm takes more than 120 minutes then you have an agglutination problem and may need to look to your diet or consult a qualified doctor. Anything up to 60 minutes is considered normal. Most common times are on the order of five minute, but the spread is really quite large which is why this is actually worth checking. On the subject of which you might as well do this when it is not going to affect fertility, so a week or more from ovulation. This could be viewed as a good excuse to persuade her to make you come.

Tongues
One of the more sort after sexual acts amongst women is, apparently, for the man to go down on her. How much women actually want this is culturally biased as well as varying significantly on an individual basis. Like everything else in this section it is worth discussing with your partner to see what she would enjoy most. If she does enjoy it then it is worth bearing in mind as an eminently practical way of allowing her to orgasm after you have.

Fingers
It may seem obvious, but you both have fingers and they are one of the most sensitive and agile parts of your bodies. Her using her fingers to ensure she has an orgasm just after yours is a very satisfying way to achieve good timing. You doing the same for her after you have come can provide her with some excitement and variety and is another worthwhile alternative to relying on friction and motion from the penis.

Vibrators
Contrary to popular myth a vibrator is not just a dildo that makes a funny noise. In pornography you will generally find that the purpose of a vibrator is to be inserted into the vagina and there to be used as a penis replacement; that is to say they are used as a dildo. In practice this is not how vibrators are used except by the very inexperienced. Certainly some people will use a vibrator as a dildo when they do not have a dildo and something else is doing the job of the vibrator. Also this use does look sexy (that being why it appears so frequently in pornography) so using it this way for you watch is quite reasonable.

In general use however the vibrator is there to apply vibrations to the clitoris where all the nerve endings are and not to the vagina where they are not. A vibrator can be used, by either of you, while you are making love. If the purpose is to ensure the female orgasm then it would be applied to her and the position that you used would need to take account of this. Best access is generally provided either during sex where you are behind her or where you are kneeling up between her legs as she lies down. Either of these positions provides fairly deep penetration, though the rear entry has the edge. That said you have more control over depth of entry when you can see what is going on so either of these is preferable to the missionary position in terms of gender selection. If you are trying for girl you might want to delay her orgasm for a while after you come, so a vibrator is good for her to make herself come while you watch after a pause.

Fantasy
Fantasy is strong element in all sex, whether through investing significance in what is going on or through imagining something else entirely is happening. As a couple it is worth talking through what your sexual fantasies are and what you would enjoy most. This will give you a whole range of things to play with, metaphorically speaking. If you can fulfil a few fantasies then you will probably create that much stronger orgasms. Some couples even find fantasising about the fact that they are creating a baby and bringing into existence new life a trun on.

Caressing, stroking, kissing and other ‘foreplay’.
{to be completed}

Other toys:
Benoit balls (not a good idea?), Penis rings, tens devices, S/D, textured gloves, etc.
{insert notes on foreplay, after-play and producing orgasms after the so called main events.}
Foreplay: Kissing, stroking, cuddling, setting the mood, oral sex, role playing and fantasy fulfilment, talking dirty.
Pornography, a personal taste.
After-play: Vibrators, oral sex, manual stimulation by him, manual stimulation by her, breasts, maintaining the mood, cuddling, kissing.
Vibrators: The different types, how to use, when to use, why to use, a toy for both of you. Worth noting that mains powered ones can bring about male orgasm as well as female orgasm. Mention of the rabbit vibrator and it’s plus and minus points fro conception. Also mention hygene.

Frequency
Effects of frequency on sperm count and on probabilities of different genders.

Sexual positions
Affects on probability of conception and on gender distribution.

As described above, sperm swim at only 3mm an hour and cannot survive long in the acid conditions of the vagina. Girl sperm can survive for significantly longer in this environment than boy sperm.

Gender Selection
Warning Words
Selecting for gender often lowers the chance of conception
There are differences between boy sperm and girl sperm, and these allow us to change the chances each have of surviving. Outside of a medical procedure pretty much all the things we can do to alter the chances of a particular gender involve making the other gender less likely to survive. This means that many of the ways of trying to produce a particular gender reduce your overall chances of conception. Ther are exceptions, and in fact many of the things you can do to increase your chances of conception will, in themselves bias the gender distribution at least a bit.

Beware of anecdotal evidence
The fact that we start with around a 50/50 chance of either sex has led to a wonderful confidence trick:

• Offer a 100% money back guarantee.
• Provide none some or all of the suggestions below as being proprietary.
• Do no work and keep about 50% of the money you are given.

The original version of this used a “potion” made simply of water. The later more sophisticated version used injections of saline solution. Clearly neither had any effect on the gender of the child, but it did not matter.

Clinics using the salt water injection had a whole set of satisfied customers willing to testify to how well it had worked for them. The ones who did not get what they want were given their money back and so kept quiet as they did not feel they had a cause for complaint.

Some of the confidence tricksters out there now get a better than 50% chance of keeping the money they are paid as they get you to do the things below to lower your chances of conceiving the unwanted gender. Some of them even believe in their proprietary products. So far I have not found any that can offer an independent study that shows a better success rate than someone using the tricks below. If you do, please feel free to get in touch with me and let me know. If on the other hand you use one and it works do not bother to let me know, as at least half of their customers will be in the same boat as you.

Gender Selection Overview
Back to the factors that really have an effect on the gender of the child. There are a lot of old wives tales about selecting the sex of your child by how and when you have sex. Interestingly many of these tales turn out to have some basis in fact.
It is easy to dismiss all of them by bringing up counter examples, where people followed all the advice to select a child’s sex and it did not work. This is because we are dealing with millions of sperm which means that no matter what you do there is a chance that an unexpected sperm can sneak around and surprise you. In effect we are dealing with probabilities, and while we can stack the odds by being careful with our sex we cannot fix the race.

If you absolutely have to select the sex of your child, for reasons related to genetic diseases for instance, the only way to do it is through artificial insemination where they can select individual sperm and individual eggs. Doing this because of simple preference is not a good idea as cultures tend to have a gender bias.

An example of this took place in Asia, where most couples wanted boys. Through a variety of means from abandonment and infanticide through to genetic selections, people managed to select for male children. Suddenly there was a shift in the population bias so that hundreds of thousands of male children had no realistic potential partners as there were not enough girl children to go around. That said in some parts of Asia the government is making progress at rectifying the situation.
In China's Huaiyuan County, a pilot program gives parents of girls tax breaks and $240 in cash. As their local official says, after two years of this campaign, they have achieved remarkable results. The sex ratio in Huaiyuan has changed from 160 boys for every 100 girls to 120 boys for every 100 girls born there.

The 1990 Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act allows sex selection only for couples carrying a genetic disease which would be passed on to their children, and not for social reasons. None the less I am going to detail the things that can affect the gender of the child. This is not illegal as the act is referring to the medical arena, not to things you do as part of your sex lives at home. You can use the following tips to try to stack the odds a bit if you want, or equally you can look back at what happened and try to guess the sex of the child before the scan makes it possible to tell, or the birth shows you the reality.

In all of the following when I refer to “boy sperm” I mean sperm, which if they successfully fertilise an egg will probably produce a male child, and when I refer to “girl sperm” I mean ones which will produce a female child.

Keep an eye on the weather and wait for a cold snap. Research found that more boys are conceived after heatwaves and more girls after cold snaps. Sex ratio seemed to correlate with temperature about one month before conception. Hot summers or unseasonably warm patches were followed by the birth of more boys, while unusually cold weather favoured girls. This may be because of the effect of temperature on maturing sperm in the testes, with sperm carrying a female X chromosome more sensitive to heat. Equally there could be some non-causal link.

Missionary for a girl, doggy style for a boy due to the acid swimming distance.
Finally, in trying for a boy, ‘How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby_, by Dr. Landrum B. Shettles, MD, and David M. Rorvik. Published by Doubleday & Co.; copyright 1984.’ recommends a nice cup of caffeinated coffee for the man, right before sex -- he isn't clear on how or why this works, but apparently it gives the Y-sperms a jolt!
Scuba diving biases towards girls

http://www.obgyn.net/english/pubs/features/presentations/hennawy02/choosingsex.ppt has a whole lot of myths, most with no validity at all, but I found it funny.

Old wives tale: In a couple if the woman comes first a girl child is more likely, if the man comes first a male child is more likely.

It looks ridiculous at first glance, but there is a basis in fact here. If the woman does not come with or after the man then no pumping of sperm will take place. As well as lowering the overall chances of conception this will bias things against the boy sperm because they are less likely to survive a swim though an acid vagina.

Extreme measures for gender selection
Some American books and articles I have come across recommend using douches to select gender. Acid douches make girls more likely; alkali douches make boys more probable. So a lemon juice and water mix would kill a load of the boy sperm giving the girl sperm a competitive advantage.

Bicarbonate douches (alkali) can help to improve the chance of conceiving for a few people with unexplained infertility. But there's no evidence that it affects the sex of the baby, and douching may also be harmful.

A pure lemon juice douche would cause pain and kill off any chance of actually having sex that night, so be aware extreme measures are not necessarily a good idea. I have to say that the idea of douching with water and bicarbonate of soda for a boy also seems a bit too far to me anyway, and I am not really in favour. That said it is as well to know what could be done, even if you are too sensible to actually do it.

Inertial separation of sperm into dizzy girl sperm and dizzy boy sperm through size (girl sperm are bigger). This is a recognised successful mehod but is usually only available through expensive clinics.

Anal sex
As I mentioned under Nutrition above, around 8% of couples of who use anal sex as a method of birth control have pregnancies each year. It used to be said that sperm can sometimes penetrate the membrane between the anus and the vagina after being deposited during anal sex. The current theory is that these are “splash conceptions” where the sperm actually find their way around to the vaginal opening from the anus.
A pregnancy conceived by anal sex carries a significant risk of the bacteria associated with feces being sealed in with the developing embryo. During the first months a foetus does not have an immune system and bacteria can cause severe disabilities. Even apart from the odds against conception, the risks mean this is not a good way to conceive. If you are trying to conceive I would suggest avoiding anal sex for the duration.

If you do practice anal sex whilst trying for a baby at the very least wash the penis after engaging in anal sex and before inserting into the vagina, otherwise, the risk of bacterial transmission from anus to vagina is extremely high.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Becoming a father : Reference Section

Summary of Nutrient Sources
The government recommendation is to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Looking at the lists below this makes sense, though it is important to make sure it includes leafy green vegetables like spinach.
It is also important to east a fair amount of meat and fatty fish. This is clearly not an option for vegetarians, so they need to pay particular attention to making sure they get all the nutrients they need. It is possible to get all the nutrients on a vegetarian diet, though some are rather harder to absorb from vegetable sources. Also it is worth noting that unless they specifically say they are vegetarian many of the supplements are made with animal products.
Essentially what is required is not just a healthy diet, but also a varied diet. That said stress is not a good idea, so it may be worth considering supplements (see the next section). You will still want to try and eat a healthy selection of all the sources below, but supplements will help to prevent the need to worry about food. Food should be enjoyed, and with a healthy diet that can be very easy.

Folic Acid
Folate is commonly found in leafy greens, orange juice, legumes and fortified grain products. Spinach is a particularly good source.

EFAs
The best sources of EFAs within a healthy diet are:
• Fatty fish (herring, sardines, halibut, mackerel and blue fin tuna),
• Wild game (buffalo and venison)
• Vegetarian sources include canola oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and leafy green vegetables such as spinach
• Alternative sources include omega-3 enriched eggs and milk as well as enhanced breads

Vitamin B12
Liver, kidney, yogurt, dairy products, fish, clams, oysters, non-fat dried milk, salmon, sardines.

Vitamin C
Citrus fruits (especially kiwi fruit), berries, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, peppers.

Vitamin D
Milk, Salmon,

Vitamin E
Wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil and to a lesser extent spinach and broccoli.

Calcium
Low-fat milk, yoghurt,

Selenium
Some good sources of selenium include red meat, tuna, chicken, and enriched pasta and whole grain breads.

Zinc• Meats (especially liver)
• Seafood (particularly Herring)
• Vegetarian sources include eggs, nuts, peas and beans


Pregnancy timetable
Baby Development from Period to Birth
A pregnancy lasts 266 days, though it is usually counted as 280 days as it is usual to count from the first day of the last period. It is important to understand that the following timetable is pretty approximate. Some things babies do during their development have fairly fixed occurrence dates, but that does not mean that the symptoms these produce will let themselves be bound by any schedule.

This is a guide to give you an understanding of what is going on, but if your partner gets sore breasts from week 3 this means she has sore breasts from week three. Do not try to read too much into it, just try and be supportive, making her feel loved and cherished.

Your partner will know what she is feeling where a guide can only tell you what she might be feeling. This is the person you have chosen to have a baby with, so listen to what she tells you and try to help where you can.

Weeks 1-4 Fertilisation and embedding in uterus. If you are watching carefully you may even be able to spot a fertilised egg at this stage (by the change in consistency of her vaginal secretions), but until it is a bit more firmly rooted in reality it is just as well to take this as a sign that whatever you are doing to conceive is the right thing, and not as a sign that you have caused conception. Your partner may experience some implantation bleeding 6-12 days after conception. Having said that she might get some bleeding from the embryo failing to implant too, so do not read too much into anything at this stage.

It is also worth noting that the first few weeks of a pregnancy do not actually involve your partner being pregnant. While taking vitamin supplements, not smoking and not drinking are still important there is no egg or sperm involved to start with, simply because it makes for easier timekeeping.


Week 5 Missed period. This is the time for a pregnancy test or two. If the first one is negative leave it a few days or even a week before trying the second if a period still does not turn up.


Week 6 The embryo is now officially a foetus. At this point it will be about the size of a baked bean. Spine and nervous system start to form. Time to see a GP or midwife. While you are there it is worth getting form FW8 which entitles your partner to free prescriptions. They will also give you a folder that needs to be taken to all appointments with your partner and a bunch of free stuff to advertise various baby related products.


Week 7 Lungs, jaw, nose, heart and palate have begun to form. The heart may even be detectable.

Morning sickness may start. Saying this in any one week is a bit silly. About 50%-80% of women get morning sickness and it can start anywhere from week 3 onwards. It can range in severity from a mild nausea (at any time of day) to full-on throwing up all day every day.

If it gets really bad contact the doctor. This is one of the times when you need to be in the forefront as many doctors will not realise how bad it is from listening to the woman concerned. If she is really not keeping enough food down it can be an issue and you will need to persuade the doctor that this is the case. Having said that, it may feel pretty awful from her point of view even if it does not look too bad. Try to be objective and if you feel she needs help go along and make sure she gets it. Arguing your case when feeling sick is not easy.

If she is not bad enough to need medical help (and few people are) then try taking over in the kitchen. If food makes her feel ill try to confine the times she has to deal with it to the minimum required for eating. She may find certain things make her feel better or worse. Find out what they are and try to help.

NB (note to self) following needs completing and ordering

8 First scan if history of miscarriages or if bleeding/spotting has been occurring.

9 about 50 mm long. Most major organs exist. Eyes and ears starting to form.

10-13 Dating scan.

11 Foetus looks real now. Umbilical cord now fully formed and supplying nourishment and removing wastes.

12 Risk of miscarriage now low and traditional time to tell people. Most likely week for dating scan.

13 Uterus starts coming up from behind pelvic bone, pregnancy more noticeable.

14 Sometimes referred to as 1/3rd of the way through though it makes little sense.

15 Blood tests for downs takes place somewhere between week 14 and week 16.

16 Toe and finger nails formed also eyelashes and eye brows. Around now the protective body hair coating that protects the baby in utero is formed.

17 Uterus still rising, and pregnancy more noticeable to people who did not know already. Baby able to hear external noises.

18 Foetus now big enough (110 mm or so) that movement can be felt. Actually this is a bit of a myth, mothers can usually start to feel their first baby anywhere from 16 weeks through to 20 weeks, and even then we are only talking ‘usually’. There is no hard and fast timetable for this one, you will just have to take your partner’s word. Some people claim that additional fat can make you less sensitive, but some mothers claim the reverse. It seems likely that skinnier women have a better chance of feeling it early, though one extremely skinny woman managed to go all the way to term without realising she was pregnant, so it can work either way.

19 Baby growing fast. It will finish the week at nearly 1/3rd of a kilo and around 200 mm. Tooth buds have formed inside gums.

20 Time for the next scan. This one may show the sex of the foetus if he opens his legs. It can also show the sex if she opens her legs, but if she is female it is a little harder to be certain.

21 Foetus growth now starting to impact on the mother’s lungs. Shortness of breath is quite common. Possible additional scan to check all the internal organs.

22 Foetus starts to be able to feel taste and touch sensations.

23 Skull bones start to harden (though they will not finish hardening until after the baby is born or there will be no way to fit the head through to get it out).

24 About the youngest a baby can be born and have a chance of survival though still less than 50%.

25 All organs now finished, just growing from here on. Better than 50% survive if born at this point. Pre-Eclampsia now a possibility.

26 Skin begins to become less transparent

27 Foetus is now up to around 340 mm and about 800g.

28 Routine test for Pre-eclampsia. Also time for an injection to protect future pregnancies if your partner has Rh negative blood and you have positive Rh (Blue baby syndrome).

29 We are in the third trimester now, so things like RLS may be showing up.

30 In all probability you will be able to feel the baby move by now (you may have been able to for literally months, but you may not until now).

Irregular painless squeezing sensations near the top of the uterus (Braxton Hicks contractions) may begin now. While they are irregular and painless do not worry as they are just preparation for labour. If they become painful or start to become more frequent (more than 3 times an hour) then assume they are the real thing and call a doctor or midwife.


31 The foetus can now tell if it is light outside, as enough light filters through the mother and the foetus’ eyelids to be recognised by the eyes which are now sensitive and able to feel it. Your partner’s breasts may start to produce the high calorie milk precursor (colostrum).

32 Time for another antenatal appointment.

33 Time for the baby to turn head down ready to match up with the pelvis, see week 36.

34 Uterus pressing on stomach may make eating proper meals harder for your partner. Small snacks will show affection and win brownie points. For some mothers, little and often, seems to be the only way they can eat from here on.

35 Time to discuss birth options.

36 Time for a first baby to move its head into a docking position with the pelvis. This is known as being “engaged”.

37 Lungs mature and able to breath unaided if born prematurely.

38 Babies born from now on are no longer premature. All that is left to do is put on more weight.

39 Another ante-natal appointment.

40 Birth might take place if baby is running dead on due date. Actually anywhere within a couple of weeks either way is pretty normal.
the conventional 40-week pregnancy length is completely arbitrary. It was established by a German obstetrician in the early 1800s. He decided that a pregnancy should last 10 moon months (40 weeks) each. However, when researchers in a 1990 study followed a group of healthy, white women, they discovered that the pregnancy in first-time mothers averaged 8 days longer than this, and the average was 3 days longer in women with prior births (Mittendorf et al. 1990). This means that first-time mothers are not only not "late" at 41 weeks, they haven’t even reached the average pregnancy length.

The following happen but I have not put them into the order yet (see not to self above)
Internal organs

Placenta attaches lowering miscarriage risk

Placenta starts fully filtering lowering toxoplasmosis and other disease related risks. Less care eating and drinking required.

Shedding protective body hair

Hearing

Eyes register light

Eyelids separate

Movement of foetus can be felt externally


Things that can go wrong
Problems conceiving
Problems during the gestation period
Miscarriages

Causes.
How to spot a potential miscarriage and what to do if you do notice in time.


Premature birth
Before I say anything else on this subject I should say that premature birth is not common. A baby born anywhere from 37 weeks onwards is not premature. A little early perhaps, but no worse off for that. I have included this section so that if a really premature birth does happen in your case you have some figures for reference to give you a grasp on what is going on and to try and understand it. It is not likely to happen. I do not recommend spending time on this section unless it is actually happening to you or someone you know. It is a horrendous thing to happen and will depress you unnecessarily. If it is happening to someone you know please give them quiet support as they will need it.

Why Are Some Babies Born Early?
This is not an area where the reasons are fully known. A number of known possible reasons are as follows.

• Infections in the mother

• Multiple babies. The uterus starts to contract when it is as stretched as it can cope with so most multiple births are born before 38 weeks, and quite a number are born a lot sooner.

• Weakness in the cervix.

• If you have a condition that affects your health or your baby's (such as severe pre-eclampsia) the medical staff might advise you to have an induction.
If your labour starts early by itself, you will either experience rupture of the membranes, or you will start to feel contractions. If you think you might be in labour, or if you are bleeding, call the hospital or the midwife immediately.
It may be possible to slow down or even stop a premature labour. Drugs that stop the contractions may give the baby more time in the uterus thus improving the chances of survival (see below). There are also treatments to prevent the baby being born with RDS which seriously affects breathing.

Again, when a baby is premature the realities are pretty harsh, but my feeling is that in that case it is better to know. If you do not feel the same, or if you are not sure, now is the time to skip past this to the glossary, or to go and look at some baby shopping catalogues elsewhere.

Will A Premature Baby Live?
Premature labour is usually defined as labour beginning before the 37th week of pregnancy. Over the last few years a premature baby’s chances of surviving without any long term problems have increased significantly. There are two hurdles for a premature birth:

1. Surviving the birth itself

2. Surviving from birth onwards.

Premature babies born before 24 weeks rarely survive more than a few days. The survival rate of live-born babies at 24 weeks is around 40% thereafter every week adds about another 10% to the survival rate up to 28 weeks where the rate is around 80%. After that the survival rate goes up more slowly (otherwise it would go beyond 100% after 30 weeks), but does continue to go up. The birth weight makes a significant difference. Being over 500g at birth seems to add almost another 10% to the chances of a premature baby.

By the time the pregnancy has reached week 35, the baby may need to spend some time in special care, but will probably be fine. Some premature babies that survive have long-term disabilities or conditions that affecting their health. This is something to talk to the doctors about when you are becoming more confident that your baby will live.

In general the prospects of a premature baby are determined by:

• The number of weeks gestation (the later, the better, see above)

• The baby's weight (heavier babies usually have a better chance of survival)

• Whether the baby has any birth defect (e.g. cleft palate, Down syndrome)

• The availability of specialist care (in the UK, Europe and the states this tends to be pretty good).

Problems with the birth itself

Problems with the child afterwards.


Warning signs to watch for.

These are a list of things that could indicate a problem with the health of the foetus, the health of your partner, or the progress of the pregnancy. If you see any of them it is worth calling the doctor. As I said in the disclaimer no book is ever going to be as good as having proper medical attention and this book is no exception. Most of these signs can happen and then go away with no explanation. Do not wait to see if they will go away, call and get help. Pregnancies can do all sorts of strange things, but when there is a warning it pays to take notice.

Weight warnings
Keep track of your partner’s weight. If you find she is doing any of the following it is worth calling a doctor or midwife as they can be indicative of a large variety of problems. Clearly you should discuss this with your partner before making the call.

• Gaining more than 3 pounds in any week between week 13 and week 27 (inclusive).

• Gaining more than 2 pounds in any week after week 27.

• Not gaining weight for more than two consecutive weeks from the 4th month through to the 8th month (inclusive).

• Gaining more weight then you expected while eating healthily.

NB The last point is a judgement call, so spend even more time discussing it with your partner before phoning the doctor.

Spotting or vaginal bleeding
If your partner talks about seeming to have a period, spotting or bleeding it is time to pay close attention. This is particularly so in the first three months when miscarriages are most likely. This is a good time to get the midwife in urgently to do a pelvic exam to see if the Uterus is open.

About 25% of women have some spotting during the first months, of these only about 50% stop bleeding and finish the pregnancy normally. The causes can be varied ranging from a hormone imbalance threatening a miscarriage through an ectopic pregnancy to a full miscarriage. Once again, if there is vaginal bleeding seek medical attention. If she also gets cramping, call urgently, do not wait for anything. Your partner may be the one in eight who gets the bleeding without problems, but if that is the case calling the doctor will have done no harm at all. If she is not you may have saved the pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia or toxaemia
Symptoms include bad or continual headaches, visual disturbances (blurring or spots before the eyes usually), excessive weight gain , fluid retention, sudden swellings (typically hands, feet or ankles) and high blood pressure.

Pre-eclampsia/toxaemia, is a pretty serious condition causing danger to your partner as well as to the foetus, and can require your partner to be hospitalised. Toxemia can cause low weight babies (a danger to the child long term) premature birth and other forms of foetal trauma.

Excessive morning sickness
If your partner cannot keep enough fluids down because she is continually throwing up for a one or two days this can cause dehydration. Call the doctor; as well as being bad for the foetus this can be very bad for her, and may require her to go into hospital.

Fever, chills or hot and cold flushes
A fever, chills or hot and cold flushes are warning signs, particularly if she has no symptoms of a cold. A high temperature can be dangerous in itself, as well as possibly indicating problems, as it can cause her to go into labour prematurely. As with all the warning symptoms found here get medical advice.

A sudden gush of fluid from the vagina may be an indication of the premature rupture of the membranes in the last trimester of pregnancy. When this occurs, an infection known as amnionitis develops the symptoms of, which are fever, a discharge that gives off a bad smell and abdominal pain. This is potentially dangerous for the fetus.

Urinary tract infection
Sometimes pregnant women need to urinate frequently. They may also feel some discomfort during urination either as a burning sensation or a dull pain in the lower abdomen towards the end of urination. These are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Abdominal pain
Sudden intense or continual abdominal pains early in the pregnancy could signify a miscarriage. These symptoms late in pregnancy could be a precursor for premature labour.

Rash
Possibly indicative of Rubella (German measles)

Lack of foetal movement
If a pregnant woman feels a marked decrease in foetal movement, you/she should consult the doctor immediately as this could indicate foetal distress.


Frequently asked questions
Why don’t I feel excited?
Why do I feel pushed out of everything?
What can I do to become more involved?
How will I support the baby?
Will we still have time for a relationship?
Will we ever sleep again?
Everyone keeps telling me this will be the end of sleeping, is this true?
How can I prepare?
Will it affect sex?
Why is she so irrational?
Is it mine?


Things she should avoid
See also the wallet card summaries included in the book. These can be put in your wallet and kept with you for easy reference.

Chemicals
o Pesticides.
It has been suggested that both garden and agricultural pesticides cause a greater risk of neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart or limb defects.
o Cleaning products and bleaches in enclosed poorly ventilated spaces. Cleaning products seem generally reasonably safe though it has been suggested that oven cleaning may be too poorly ventilated to be a good risk.
Foods she cannot eat
Meats
o Liver
o Pate
o Uncooked meats such as
Parma Ham, real Spanish sausage, etcetera
Dairy
o Blue cheeses
o Cheeses with mould based rinds like brie and goats cheese
o Uncooked Goats Cheese
o Unpasteurised cheeses
o Anything containing raw egg
Home made Mayonnaise, Mousses, poached or soft boiled eggs, etcetera
Seafood
o Marlin, Swordfish, Shark, much Tuna (canned is better than fresh).
o Pickled fish (it is generally raw)
o Semi or uncooked shellfish
Medications
o Anti Thrush pills
o Painkillers
o Almost any other medication.

Most medications seem to carry a risk for pregnant mothers. Always read the label, and if buying from a pharmacy consult the pharmacist. If being prescribed by a doctor consult the doctor.

Habits she should break
o Smoking
o Drinking
o Drugs
o Gardening
o Dog walking on the public highway
o Changing the litter tray


The law and your rights

Paternity leave
From 2003 men can take up to 2 weeks paternity leave at £100 pw
Men can take up to 13 weeks unpaid maternity leave

Eligibility
Employees must satisfy the following conditions in order to qualify for paternity leave. They must:
• have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing
• be the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner
• have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the
baby is due



If there are any problems with your partner’s employers are handling her maternity leave you may wish to provide backup and to talk to them from a point of knowledge. Here are a few details about maternity leave:

Eligible employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave (not odd days).
They can choose to start their leave:
• from the date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected), or
• from a chosen number of days or weeks after the date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier
or later than expected), or
• from a chosen date later than the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born.
Leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child’s birth but must be completed:
• within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or
• if the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the first
day of the expected week of birth.
Only one period of leave is available to employees irrespective of whether more than one child is born as the result of the same pregnancy.

Women have a statutory right to:
• Take time off work for antenatal care
• Right to work in a safe environment
• Claim unfair dismissal if dismissed because of pregnancy
• Take 18 weeks maternity leave
• Right to return to work after baby is born
In addition women may have right to maternity pay


Ensuring the child is registered as yours
Car seats and taking the baby home.
What they say about letting you leave
Taxi’s, buses, trains and other transport methods.



Pregnancy related books and web sitesBooks
For you
About becoming a parent: None (well that is why I wrote this)
Sex books Nancy Friday, Cosmo book or similar
Stress Books:

For her
Best friend book
Week by week book

For both of you
Penguin names book
What not to name your baby (’cos it is funny, not because they are not good names)


Web Sites
www.babycentre.co.uk
(note to self) add others and classify them by type.

Other media
Coupling series four DVD
(note to self include reference to a Good DVD of a birth to know what it is actually like, how much blood, gore, etc.)
Shops and web sites for baby related shopping


Glossary

Acidity/alkalinity
The property of being acid/alkali. Acidity in a mild form is sourness; acids eat away at a variety of substances including glass and metals. The acidity of the vagina is one of the factors that prevents sperm from living more than a short time. Alkalinity is the opposite of acidity and acids and alkali neutralise each other. Alkalinity can also be corrosive a good example of which is the almost painful heat from chilli peppers which is caused by the natural acidity of the plant.
Agglutination
Clumping together. This makes it more difficult for the sperm to swim, and so harder for them to reach the egg to actually fertilise it.

Androgenic hormones
Any steroid hormones that control the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics such as facial hair, deep voices, muscle development, sexual response and so forth.
Examples of androgenic hormones are testosterone and androsterone.

Androsterone
See androgenic hormones.

Blue baby syndrome
If you have Rh positive blood and your partner has Rh negative blood then your partner’s body body may produce antibodies that will cross the placenta and cause problems in the growing baby (erythroblastosis fatalis or "blue baby syndrome").
The remedy for this is simple and effective. An injection of Rh immune globulin at 28 weeks and another after the birth. This prevents the production of antibodies to the Rh factor and protects future pregnancies.

Bulbourethreal fluid
See Cowper’s fluid.

Campylobacteriosis
Campylobacter is a bacterium commonly found in animals and the environment. Infection can result form the same causes as for Toxoplasmosis as well as drinking non-chlorinated water.
The symptoms of Campylobacter infection are usually flu-like, followed by diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Miscarriage and premature labour can occur.

CDC
The United States Center for Disease Control.

Colostrum
Colostrum is the pre-milk produced in your partner’s breasts at the start of breastfeeding. This special milk is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep a baby healthy. It is prefect for the first food the baby consumes as it is extremely easy to digest. It is small in quantity but highly concentrated nutrition for the newly born baby. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby. This laxative aids the excretion of the breakdown products from the blood that has sustained the baby until birth; it also helps prevent jaundice.

Cowper’s fluid
Also called ‘Bulbourethreal fluid’ or ‘pre-cum’ this is clear fluid is released during sexual arousal as well as in the semen. It is there to cancel out the effects of any urine that may still be in the urethra.

Ejaculate (verb)
To eject or discharge (semen) in orgasm. Colloquially ‘to come’.

Ejaculate (noun)
The fluid, semen, discharged during ejaculation.

Ejaculatory duct
Either of the paired ducts formed by the junction of the seminal ducts with the vas deferens, through which semen is ejaculated.

Episiotomy
A surgical incision to try to help the baby fit through the vagina. Colloquially “A Cut”.

Fallopian tubes
A tube, or duct, for the passage of ova from the ovary to uterus where further development takes place.

Female reproductive hormones
Any of various natural steroids secreted chiefly by the ovaries, placenta, adipose tissue, and testes, and that stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promote the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system.
NB these, or rather the various synthetic or semi-synthetic steroids (such as ethinyl estradiol or norgestimate) that mimic the physiological effect of these natural hormones are what are used in ‘the pill’ to fool the female body into thinking it is pregnant and so stopping conception.

Folic acid (folacin, folate, vitamin bc)
A yellowish-orange compound of the vitamin B complex group. Found in green plants, fresh fruit, liver, many fortified grain products and yeast.
Deficiency of folic acid has been linked to such ailments as anemia and poor growth. See also Nutrients above.

Free radicals
An unstable and highly reactive atom or group of atoms. In animal tissues, free radicals can damage cells, cause chromosome breakage and are believed to accelerate the progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.

Listeriosis
Listeria is a common bacterium found in many places including animal faeces, on plants, in soil and in water. Listeria can occur on raw food and even contaminate prepared food. Listeria can grow on food in the fridge.
Listeria infection usually shows as mild flu-like symptoms including fever and muscle aches.

Oestrogen
See Female Reproductive Hormones.

Ovum/ova
The egg/eggs, produced by your partner which your sperm should fertilise during conception.

Ovulation
The moving of a mature egg (ovum) from the ovaries to the fallopian tubes ready to be fertilised.

Post-natal depression

Pre-eclampsia
A toxic condition developing in late pregnancy that is characterized by a sudden rise in blood pressure, excessive gain weight gain, generalized swelling from accumulation of watery fluid in the tissues (Also known as dropsy), protein accumulations in the urine (which imply kidney problems), severe headache, and visual disturbances
NB This is dangerous both to the baby and to your partner. If it is even suspected take your partner to see a doctor immediately, or if you have a 24 hour number call the midwife. Just less than one in ten women (8%) get this in some form or other, though most at risk are first time pregnancies and older (over 40) pregnancies.

Progesterone
See Female Reproductive Hormones.

Prostaglandin
A significant amount of the semen is made up of Prostoglandins. They are any of a group of hormone-like substances produced in various tissues that are derived from amino acids. They mediate a range of physiological functions, such as metabolism, nerve transmission and smooth muscle action.
Drugs that lower prostaglandin levels inhibit the development of male sexual behaviour. Prostaglandin is also used for the induction of birth and early termination of pregnancy.

Prostate
Produces prostatic fluid used for lubrication of the urethra, and protection, nourishment, and mobility of the sperm in the normally acid environment of the female vagina. Prostatic fluid is full of a lot of the good things discussed under nutrition like calcium, zinc, and citric acid.

RDA (recommended daily amount)
The RDA is the amount (for each) of vitamins and minerals recommend for the average person. The U.S. federal government sets these levels through the FDA.
The RDA indicates the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to prevent common deficiency diseases (such as rickets or scurvy) for the average person.

RDS (respiratory distress syndrome)
A respiratory disease of newborn babies, especially premature babies, characterized by distressful breathing, cyanosis, and the formation of a glassy membrane over the alveoli of the lungs. Also called hyaline membrane disease

RLS (restless leg syndrome)
RLS is described as an unpleasant sensation (crawling, tingling, cramps or burning) in the legs when sitting or lying still. The pain experienced is usually felt in the calves or thighs and can be relieved temporarily walking around or stretching the muscles. The persistent need to stretch often leaves the sufferer unable to sleep.
This is sometimes experienced in the third trimester, which is a shame as you want to be sleeping well ready for what is to come.

Semen
A thick whitish fluid containing sperm and the secretions from a bunch of glands. The main glands that are involved are the seminal vesicles, the testes, prostate, and bulbourethral glands. Semen is also called ‘seminal fluid’.

Seminal vesicles
A pair of glands on each side of the (male) urinary bladder that secrete the fluid for semen and nourish the sperm. These glands also move the sperm through the urethra when you ejaculate.

Show
Show If you notice blood-tinged mucous ("bloody show") from the vagina, your partner may be losing the mucous plug that has sealed off the cervix up to this point. This is another sign that her body is preparing for labour

Spina bifida
A neural tube disorder of improper development of the spinal cord and back bones, occurring when the lower end of the neural tube fails to close. Spina bifida can cause a range of symptoms depending if any nerve damage takes place, and if so where. As the brain is in some sense the most important organ in the body the most severe effects are when it is damaged. The spine is next, and damage can cause paralysis or loss of feeling, or even, if damage is slight, no symptoms whatsoever. Many people have only discovered that they have some forms of spina bifida (literally divided spine) when they have been X-rayed for other conditions and the division has been noticed.
Related conditions include hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), anacephaly (brain missing altogether) and encephalocele (a sac which exerts pressure on, and may damage the brain). All of these have a severe impact on the child and its parents. As consuming folic acid in the early stages can prevent this, it is clearly worth ensuring that you and your partner take it, or at least eat enough leafy vegetables.

Spinnbarkeit
From the German meaning the ability to be spun, this refers to the elastic stringiness of cervical mucus during ovulation. It could be used to refer to the same quality in something else, but I have never seen it. If anyone comes up with an appropriate use do let me know as it seems like a really fun word.
Testicles (testes)
The source of sperm and the steroid hormones, such as testosterone and androsterone that control masculine characteristics such as facial hair voice changes and sex drive.
Normally occurring paired in an external scrotum, these are the male reproductive glands that correspond to the female ovary.

Testosterone
See androgenic hormones.

Toxoplasmosis
A disease caused by infection with Toxoplasma gondii. The congenital form, apparently resulting from parasites in the infected mother being transmitted to the foetus, is characterized by lesions of the central nervous system that can cause blindness, deafness and brain damage.
Toxoplasma is commonly found in most sorts of animals, especially cats. Infection can result from contact with animal faeces or soil, eating undercooked meats or salami-type meats (which are usually uncooked), raw milk (not pasturised), and unwashed raw vegetables.

Uterus
The muscular hollow also known as the womb. The uterus is located in the pelvic cavity and is where the fertilized egg implants and develops.
Urethra
The channel through which urine flows when we urinate.

Vas deferens
The sperm-carrying duct, the vas deferens is a small but thick-walled tube about two feet (60cm) long. It is very convoluted as it runs from the epididymis, through the inguinal canal, and down into the pelvis where it joins the seminal vesicle to form the ejaculatory duct.

Womb
See Uterus


Index

Agglutination. See Sperm Agglutination
Breastfeeding, 146
Colostrum, 202, 203
CDC, 202
Complications
Blue Baby Syndrome, 176, 202
Pre-Eclampsia, 176, 206
Premature Birth, 182, 183
Toxoplasmosis, 119, 212
Egg/Ova, 44, 206
Ejaculatory Duct, 204
Fallopian tubes, 204
Female orgasm, 43, 69, 80
Folic Acid, 48, 96, 205
Free radicals, 56, 205
Hormones, 204, 205, 206, 207
Nutrition, 23, 42, 48, 49
Post Natal Depression, 53, 206
Prostaglandin, 207
Recommended Daily Amount, 46, 47, 48, 49, 57, 58, 208
Respiratory Distress Syndrome, 182, 209
Restless Leg Syndrome, 176, 209
Sex, 79
Anal Sex and conception, 82
Sperm
Agglutination, 44
Chromosome breakage, 56, 205
Count, 21, 23, 49, 51, 59, 74
Deformed, 43
Motility, 44, 59
Spina Bifida, 210
Vas Deferens, 213

Disclaimer

I am not responsible for any loss or damage that you may view as being caused by anything that you have seen or read in this book. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this handbook is accurate when written, and at time of going to press, I am not providing individual advice to the reader; no book can be a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Anything that concerns the health of yourself, your partner or your baby is something that should be referred to a qualified professional. This disclaimer should be replaced by a boilerplate legal disclaimer for medical books, and should probably include the publisher and distributor as well.

Copyright Rufus Evison 2005-2008