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.

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.

Low-fat milk, yoghurt,

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


Eyes register light

Eyelids separate

Movement of foetus can be felt externally

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

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.

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.

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
o Liver
o Pate
o Uncooked meats such as
Parma Ham, real Spanish sausage, etcetera
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
o Marlin, Swordfish, Shark, much Tuna (canned is better than fresh).
o Pickled fish (it is generally raw)
o Semi or uncooked shellfish
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

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
(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


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.
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.

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.

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.

The United States Center for Disease Control.

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.

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.

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.

See Female Reproductive Hormones.

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

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

Post-natal depression

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.

See Female Reproductive Hormones.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

See androgenic hormones.

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.

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.
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.

See Uterus


Agglutination. See Sperm Agglutination
Breastfeeding, 146
Colostrum, 202, 203
CDC, 202
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
Agglutination, 44
Chromosome breakage, 56, 205
Count, 21, 23, 49, 51, 59, 74
Deformed, 43
Motility, 44, 59
Spina Bifida, 210
Vas Deferens, 213


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

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