Boy-Moms at Higher Risk for Post Partum Depression

2019-01-22T21:32:49+00:00December 14th, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , |

Hey Boy-Moms, a new study out of the UK finds you are way more likely to suffer with post-partum depression (PPD) than Girl-Moms. Researchers looked at 300 women over several decades and found the odds of developing (PPD) for moms of males is 71 – 79% higher than moms of female babies.

The moms at an even higher risk for (PPD)…those with birth complications. The study also found that mothers who had to manage birth complications were 174% more likely to suffer (PPD) than moms that had no birth complications. Examples of birth complication include: preterm labor, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, breech presentation and hemorrhage.

There is a wide range of PPD symptoms including extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying, irritability, sleeping too much or not enough, and eating too much or not enough. Some moms have extreme anxiety about hurting themselves or their baby. Onset of PPD is typically between one week and one month following childbirth, although symptoms can show up anytime in the first year.

Researchers speculate the reason for the increased rate of PPD in boy-moms and following birth complications is related to inflammation. Inflammation is the immune system reacting to a threat and raising the alarm to fight it. Any time the immune system is activated for long periods, it places stress on the body. Pregnancy activates the immune response no matter your baby’s gender, but researchers think a male fetus produces a stronger response and more maternal stress.

What can you do to protect yourself, friends or clients from PPD? Know the risk factors and symptoms to intervene early. Two screening tools are Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen (EPDS) or Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). Ask your doctor about PPD and follow up frequently if you have the risk factors. Have your doctor’s number on hand and talk with your partner or other family members about the symptoms of PPD, they may be the first to notice your symptoms.

If you are a health care provider, be sure PPD is part of a routine new mother appointment since 10-15% of new moms suffer from some form of mood disorder. It is always helpful to develop a good relationship with patients prior to delivery, easing anxiety about potentially difficult conversations like PPD symptoms.

For more information about PPD visit

Breastfeeding for 2 Months Halves SIDS Risk

2018-03-22T22:40:20+00:00March 22nd, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics is the first to determine the length of time a mother needs to breastfeed to protect her baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The researchers found breastfeeding for at least 2 months cut the incidence of SIDS by almost 50% even after adjusting for variables that could otherwise account for these changes, such as prenatal care and secondhand smoke. Partial and exclusive breastfeeding offer similar rates of protection from SIDS, the important factor seems to be the duration of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for less than two months did not provide the same risk reduction. The longer mothers breastfed, the lower the risk of SIDS.

To determine the effects of breastfeeding on SIDS occurrence, researchers examined the data from eight studies from around the world. Researchers tracked 2,259 cases of SIDS and 6,894 control infants where death did not occur. This large sample size helps to prove the reliability of the conclusion and importance of breastfeeding, despite different cultural behaviors across countries.

Based on their results, the researchers are calling for ongoing concerted efforts to increase rates of breastfeeding around the world. Here in the US breastfeeding is on the rise, but we still have work to do to increase initiation and duration in young, minority and low SES mothers. The percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding increased from 73% among babies born in 2004 to 83% among babies born in 2014-meeting the objective of 81.9% set by Healthy People 2020. Babies are also breastfeeding for longer durations – 55% of U.S. babies born in 2014 were being breastfed at 6 months, up from 42% in 2004. However, this metric does not meet the goal of 60.6% set by Healthy People 2020.

Researchers have yet to determine the reason breastfeeding has such an impact on SIDS risk. New studies are focused on breastfeeding benefits to immunity and the relationship between shorter sleep periods and breast milk digestion time. Read the study here

Breastfeeding Reduces Diabetes Risk

2019-01-23T21:06:13+00:00February 11th, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , |

The list of breastfeeding benefits for you just got a little longer with the latest study out of Kaiser Permanente. In 1985 and 1986 researchers enrolled 1238 women and followed them for 30 years to find risk factors for disease and identify trends in health habits. Over the next 30 years, each woman had at least one live birth and reported the amount of time they breastfed their infants. Other behaviors were also recorded, like diet and physical activity.

The big news here is that even after researchers controlled for diabetic risk like obesity, family history and lifestyle, breastfeeding still reduced the risk of diabetes by 47% for mothers that breastfed for 6 months or longer. Mothers who breastfed for 6 months or less had a 25% reduction in diabetes risk.

Researchers are beginning to understand the complex link between insulin, milk production and diabetes. Insulin seems to be involved in signaling our breasts to transition to milk making factories that manufacture massive amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates for nourishing the newborn baby from a relatively quiet collection of breast tissue.

Diabetes can be a devastating disease. It can lead to blindness, amputations, heart disease and many other problems. Diabetes happens when the cells in our bodies can’t use the insulin our pancreas produces. So the sugars from the food we eat accumulate in our blood, unusable by the cells that need it. Insulin is the key that unlocks the cell so glucose can get in and fuel our body cells. When cells ignore insulin (become resistant) sugar builds up in the blood and diabetes occurs.

Researchers theorize breastfeeding reprograms our cells to pay attention to insulin as a signal to regulate milk supply. Our cells continue to be sensitive, not resistant, to insulin throughout our lives if breastfeeding has given the signal during lactation.

I Don’t Know Where to Look:Men’s Attitude About Public Breastfeeding

2017-01-27T02:01:00+00:00January 27th, 2017|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Research shows that dads and other parenting partners heavily influence in feeding choices. Parents that attend breastfeeding classes together have higher confidence in feeding choices and are most likely to still be breastfeeding at 12 months. Mothers with partner support are more likely to start and reach their breastfeeding goals. A parenting partner’s attitude about breastfeeding is almost as predictive of breastfeeding success as the attitude of the new mother.

Understanding the way men of child bearing age think about breastfeeding can provide guidance for new, more effective interventions aimed at fathers. A 2016 study looked at men’s attitudes about public versus private breastfeeding and how that relates to their knowledge about infant feeding.

A sample size of 500 men was shown four images of a mother breastfeeding:
1. Outdoors on a public bench
2. Shopping with other women in an international market
3. On a subway surrounded by male and female passengers
4. Privately at home.

Each image showed the baby at the breast with no cover and her breast is partially visible in Images 2 and 4 but not visible in Images 1 and 3.

Before you find out the results of the survey, think about your last encounter with a mother breastfeeding in public – how did you react? I usually try and give her privacy but before turning away, a small smile that I hope shows solidarity, not embarrassment. I am rarely without at least one of my children, and usually with all three. We move through public places like a twin tornados (loud and bumping into each other), my motherhood status is impossible to miss. If I was a man, even with children, would I react differently? And if so, why?

A second part of the 2016 study was the men’s level of knowledge about infant feeding using the Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale (IIFAS). If you aren’t familiar with the IIFSA, it is group of 17 questions used to determine feelings about infant feeding methods. For example, costs (e.g., “Formula feeding is more expensive than breast-feeding”), nutrition (e.g., “Breast milk is the ideal food for babies”), convenience (e.g., “Breast-feeding interferes with a couple’s sexual relationship”), and infant bonding (e.g., “Breast-feeding increases mother-infant bonding”). A higher score reflects a pro-breastfeeding attitude. So the study had 2 parts – the men’s reaction to the images and their attitude about breastfeeding.

Results…Images 1 and 2 were perceived similarly; breastfeeding alone in a public area or surrounded by other women were not perceived markedly different. The men had the most positive reaction to image #4 (breastfeeding privately at home) and the most negative reaction to image #3 (breastfeeding on the subway with men and women passengers).

The words the men most frequently chose as negative descriptors were embarrassing and weird. The most commonly chosen positive descriptors were realistic, practical, healthy and natural. Not surprisingly, the men scoring higher on IIFSA also scored the images more positively.

Conclusion…Educating men about the benefits of breastfeeding reaches beyond their familial circle and into the broader society. The data show each 1 point increase on the IIFSA scale correlated with a 6.98- to 12.61-point increase in their positive perception of all breastfeeding images! A very significant increase!!! Men that react positively to breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace can create a supportive work environment for co-workers. Law enforcement, military and government could all benefit from men (and women!) that are more breastfeeding friendly.

Keep encouraging and educating the men and boys in your environment. Their knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding reverberates like ripples on a pond, giving their partner the support she needs and growing acceptance for breastfeeding in society.

This article written with the help of these sources:

de la Mora, A., Russell, D. W., Dungy, C. I., Losch, M., & Dusdieker, L. (1999). The Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale: Analysis of reliability and validity. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 29(11), 2362-2380 from source

Magnusson, B., Thackeray, C., Van Wagenen, S., Davis, S., Richards, R., Merrill, R. (2017). Perceptions of Public Breastfeeding Images and Their Association With Breastfeeding Knowledge and Attitudes Among an Internet Panel of Men Ages 21–44 in the United States. Journal of Human Lactation. From online source

Breastfeeding and Marijuana

2015-08-06T05:05:16+00:00August 6th, 2015|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Marijuana is becoming a legal drug in more states each year (23 states the District of Columbia have legalized it in some form). My state, Oregon, became the most recent addition to that list on July 1st.

Talking with a labor and delivery nurse in my local hospital yesterday, I learned the policies in her unit are changing too. More mothers are admitting to using marijuana during pregnancy and the nurses no longer collect a newborn’s urine for the drug. The common reasons for smoking marijuana during pregnancy are relief from nausea and anxiety. These are very real and debilitating problems that often continue after delivery and into the breastfeeding period.
But the safety of smoking marijuana during breastfeeding has not been proven. In fact, the available data raises serious concerns about the effects of marijuana use by lactating women.

THC is excreted in breast milk in moderate amounts and babies can excrete it in their urine for 2-3 weeks after ingestion. A fat-soluble drug, THC is transferred to the baby through the fat in breast milk. A study published in 1998 reported infants exposed to marijuana via breast milk show signs of sedation, reduced muscular tone, and poor sucking coordination. Another study showed no differences between babies that have been exposed to marijuana through breast milk and those that had not. Often, this conflicting data can be the result of outside factors which are difficult to control for during a study.

However, the available data was examined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), they recommend strongly against using marijuana if a mother is breastfeeding. During the first months of life an infant’s brain is undergoing rapid growth and the APA cites concerns about negative effects on brain development.

While there are no studies of the long-term effects of THC ingestion during infancy, the preponderance of evidence supports passing on pot while breastfeeding.


Garry, A., Rigourd, V., et al. (2009). Cannabis and Breastfeeding. J Toxicol. 2009; 2009: 596149.
Published online 2009 Apr 29. doi: 10.1155/2009/596149

Behr, T., (2015). Marijuana and Breastfeeding.