Hey, You! Having a Baby?
Stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon, and your body rockets into sensory overload. Your eyes widen, your jaw drops, and your neurons spit out more adjectives than a novice novelist. Majestic, awe inspiring, glorious, astonishing, so myÂ€‘oh-my beautiful that you want to fall to your knees and bow to the deity that created this masterpiece.
Then you freak out.
That, in essence, is pregnancy: On one hand, it's the most breathtaking thing you've ever experienced. On the other, it's a looooong way to the bottom of the canyon, just as it is a looooong way from conception to birth -- so you can't help but have some anxiety about taking a wrong step along the way. There's no doubt that pregnancy evokes a similar diversity of emotional and physiological responses as do such natural wonders: laughing, crying, screaming, dry mouth, dry skin, dry heaves (and that's just the first day). What we're here to do is help you manage both extremes of the emotional spectrum, so you can appreciate such a miraculous process and conquer the anxiety and tension through a very powerful weapon: knowledge.
Whether this is your first pregnancy or your fourth, or you're trying so hard that you're spending more time on your bed than a throw pillow, you probably think you know a thing or two about being pregnant. Either you've gone through it before or you've had friends, sisters, and sixteen trillion baby bloggers to give you the inside-the-womb scoop.
However, we'd ask that you hold on one diaper-changing minute. We're here to bust myths, challenge your brain, and prepare your body for the greatest journey that any human can ever take -- from the moment two cells become one to the second that your little squirt makes its first appearance outside the comforting shell of your belly.
To whet your appetite, we'd bet a case of Gerber bananas that you didn't know things like:
The whole notion of nature versus nurture is as wrong as a three-legged crib. That's because a cutting-edge field called epigenetics has shown us that you have control over how the genes of your baby will express themselves.
What happens during these 280 days on the inside actually teaches your child about how his body should act on the outside. He's actually forecasting his future -- and that teaches him how healthy or unhealthy he will be years down the road.
While most people assume that a mom's biological cocoon supports the child unconditionally, the truth is that your body is actually engaged in a very delicate dance to balance the often competing needs of mom and child.
There's a biological reason why your areolas are dark, why your feet swell, and why one minute you gag at the thought of eating a cracker and the next minute you can't wait to get your hands on a salsa-smothered cantaloupe.
The good news is that we're here to help by teaching you crazy-cool things about your body and giving you the tools to maximize your experience and get the result you want: a healthy and happy baby.
Now, if you're like most women, we're guessing that you've already spent a lot of time thinking about what's in store. You've probably spent all-nighters scouring pregnancy websites and parked yourself in cushy bookstore chairs with thigh-high stacks of mom-to-be manuals. Maybe you haven't been this nervous since your sixth-grade oral report on rain forests, or maybe you haven't been this obsessed with something since McDreamy made his prime-time debut a few years back. You're probably poring over baby names, wondering why you crave pretzels dipped in marinara sauce, and debating about whether the nursery walls should have the hue of sunshine, cotton candy, or pomegranate juice.
Nope, there's nothing quite like this internal conflict that is pregnancy. One moment, you're thrilled, elated, and impatient for your baby's first smile, babble, and soothe-your-soul hug. The next, you feel anxious about a million unknowns -- about what's going on inside your belly, about whether your little one is growing properly, about how you're going to function on zippo sleep. Since this happens to just about everyone, it must, in fact, be strangely ideal. The truth is that vigilance has great benefits. You're supposed to pay close attention. Our goal is to ensure that you focus on the right clues.
As you struggle to maintain your equilibrium, we want you to relax and take time to enjoy the beauty of the process. The most important thing to keep in mind is that most pregnancies turn out absolutely fine. Absolutely fine. Women's bodies are designed to carry children safely and efficiently. That doesn't mean everything will be smooth sailing on this journey, but it does mean that the odds are greatly in your favor. If you can learn how to maximize your chances that nature runs the course it's supposed to, you will increase those odds even further. This book will help show you how.
Introducing Your New Dance Partner
So let's start by rethinking our perception about conception (and beyond). Back in sex-ed class, most of us were taught a pretty simple recipe for how pregnancy works:
1 egg, mature
100 million sperm, very, very excited
Preheat oven. Mix ingredients romantically. Cook bun for forty weeks.
Sprinkle with love and serve to the world.
The bun-in-the-oven image has served us well over the years, underscoring the belief that mom is protector and baby is protected, that mom is cook and baby is concoction, that mom is in control and baby is not. But there's a fundamental problem with this analogy when it comes to the true biology of pregnancy (besides the fact that nobody bakes buns anymore): Baby has a heck of a lot more say about the whole process than a cinnamon raisin roll does.
In fact, pregnancy is more like dancing than cooking. You and your baby have a dynamic, choreographed relationship -- one in which you lead and the baby follows. Your subtle movements and directions help show your baby how to grow and develop. After all, it takes two to tango, or in pregnancy terms, it's uter-us, not uter-I.
But your baby isn't always the most cooperative partner. Sometimes he'll want to take the lead, sometimes he'll send you signals about which way he wants you to move, sometimes he'll improvise, sometimes he'll do flips, and sometimes he'll step on your feet and get everything all tangled up. Part of the reason he'll act this way is that your body has a certain amount of biological ambivalence about this little cellular critter; after all, only half his genes are yours. Your relationship with him isn't exactly hostile, but it's not always warm and fuzzy either. Even at this young age, he's going to try to assert himself, and your body may try to resist. There are evolutionary reasons for this, which we'll discuss in the pages to come, but you can also think of these initial rebellious acts as practice for the years ahead.
Pregnancy can be as elegant as a waltz, as high-energy as a salsa, and as scattered as a twist (with a whole lot of shouting). Our main goal in YOU: Having a Baby is to teach you about this ingenious biological dance -- a dance in which you have the ability and the artistry to guide your baby not only to a healthy delivery, but to a lifetime of good health as well.
What's in It for YOU
While many pregnancy books tell you what to do, we aim to add a deeper level of meaning in true YOU style and explain why. After all, when you truly understand the why, the what is much easier to adopt. Instead of giving you a week-by-week or hiccup-by-hiccup guide to pregnancy, we're going to take a more holistic approach, focusing on how your mental and physical health affect your baby, and how -- at the same time -- pregnancy affects your mind and body. Of course, we'll provide plenty of our signature YOU Tips and YOU Tools to help you make the best choices for a safe and healthy pregnancy, but we're going to take you there a little bit differently than other pregnancy guides may. Here's what you can expect from us:
We want you to understand at the base level how epigenetics works and why it's important. Starting with the moment you go from making love to making a baby, we're going to explain how you can influence your child's development through this field -- perhaps the most important developed in the last decade. Many of us believe that the genetics of our children are predetermined the moment that the sperm radar locks on its desired egg. But the truth is that research from various sources is suggesting that during pregnancy, you may actually be able to turn your future baby's genes on and off. Epigenetics is not just how the musical notes of our genes are played but also how loud the volume is turned up. Since the acoustics in the womb and the real world might be different, we want these as aligned as possible. And that's where all the magic takes place, no matter where you are in pregnancy or in parenthood. You have the ability to control genes anytime.
You're also going to learn quite a bit about the key player that mediates between you and your baby, transmitting all the signals that create those epigenetic changes. That player, which gets about as much attention as a dollar bill on a blackjack table, is the placenta. This beautifully functioning organ is the place where mom and child interact, where nutrients are exchanged, and where growth and development patterns are determined.
After explaining the workings of the placenta, we'll focus more closely on nutrition (both yours and baby's), explaining how too much, too little, or the wrong nutrients all play roles in the health of both you and your child. Here you'll discove...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.