A groundbreaking book by Harvard researchers has identified ways that diet can affect fertility. Their book, The Fertility Diet, includes several recipes designed to follow the principles outlined in the book, including recipes for Creamy Parsnip-Carrot Soup and Fresh Corn and Cheddar Souffle.
DEAR DOCTOR K: My sister recently gave birth prematurely, at 33 weeks. Thankfully, the doctors think my new niece will do well and should not have developmental problems. I know that doctors are able to save more premature babies these days than they used to. What determines whether a "preemie" survives?
DEAR READER: I'm glad to hear that your new niece is doing well. Being born at 33 weeks means she was born seven weeks early. Most babies are delivered about 40 weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. Labor starts with a perfectly timed cascade of hormonal signals between the developing fetus and the mother. Contractions develop, the cervix dilates, and before long, out comes a well-developed, healthy newborn. But sometimes labor comes early.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm having my first baby in six months. I'm resisting the urge to find out the sex of my baby during an ultrasound, but I hear there are other ways to tell. Is this true?
DEAR READER: For centuries, pregnant women and their husbands have made guesses about whether their baby would be a boy or a girl. Some prospective parents think they can tell by things such as the shape of a woman's pregnant belly or by her food cravings. Sometimes they're right — in fact, they're right about half of the time.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I had my first baby about a month ago, and ever since I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed. I keep waiting for these feelings to go away, chalking them up to my adjustment to new parenthood, but they haven't yet. At what point should I seek treatment?
DEAR READER: Most mothers experience the "baby blues" during the first few days after giving birth. Symptoms include anxiety, irritability and weepiness. They typically worsen by the fourth or fifth day after delivery. Then they go away over the next two weeks. The cause is unknown. It may be simply exhaustion from labor and delivery.
DEAR DOCTOR K: I am a 31-year-old woman who was recently diagnosed with uterine fibroids. I would like to have children in the future, so I'm afraid that treating my fibroids may affect my fertility.
DEAR READER: Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors in the uterus. Only about a quarter of women with fibroids have symptoms. However, the symptoms can be severe and can affect day-to-day life. Heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, having to pass urine frequently or difficulty passing urine are the most common symptoms.