Pregnancy Podcast

Vanessa Merten

The Pregnancy Podcast provides information that goes way beyond the typical “pregnancy instruction manual” by sharing research-backed, evidence-based information. Vanessa Merten designs every episode to give you all the evidence, research, pros, cons, risks, and benefits. You will have all of the knowledge you need to decide the best options for you and feel confident about your decisions during your pregnancy and beyond. This podcast covers everything from trying to conceive, pregnancy, prenatal care, labor, birth, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, newborns, and being a new parent.

Introduction to the Pregnancy Podcast
Trailer 5 min 57 sec

All Episodes

A rebozo is a long rectangular shawl that originated in Mexico. Like many non-western traditions, the art of rebozo is more than a tool. The use of a rebozo has grown in the midwife and doula communities because of the teachings from traditional Mexican midwives. This is a practice that has been passed through generations of midwives and birth workers over centuries. In addition to the cultural and traditional significance, a rebozo can be utilized during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. This episode covers the history of the rebozo, how it can be used for relaxation, support, and pain relief, and how to find a practitioner who is experienced in the art of rebozo.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.    For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Nov 28

19 min 32 sec

The placenta is an organ with a highly specialized purpose, and that is to support the normal growth and development of your baby. Before the widespread use of ultrasounds, few expecting mothers knew what position their placenta was in or if it was considered “normal.” When you have your anatomy scan ultrasound, usually between weeks 18-22, the ultrasound technician will examine your placenta. There are many variations in size and placement. Some of these abnormalities are simply variations that have no impact on your baby, and others can signal potential complications your care provider will want to monitor. This episode includes information on low-lying placenta, placenta previa, placenta accreta spectrum, bilobed placenta, succenturiate placenta, circumvallate placenta, circummarginate placenta, placenta membranacea, ring-shaped placenta, placenta fenestrata, and abnormal cord insertion.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Nov 21

26 min 25 sec

In the United States, the average cost of vaginal birth is over $9,000, and the average price for a cesarean section is almost $13,000. There are tools and strategies you can use to save money on your medical bills. Insurance can help cover the cost of prenatal care and birth. Tax-advantaged accounts like a flexible spending account or a health savings account can save you money on the expenses you have to pay. This episode will get you off on the right foot to minimize your costs and make sure you are covered. If you already have health insurance, this episode will help explain how health insurance works during your pregnancy and birth. If you do not have health insurance or are in the process of changing your insurance, this episode will help you figure out how to choose the right plan. Plus, get an overview of tax-advantaged accounts you can use to pay qualified medical expenses. If you are not in a financial position to obtain insurance or utilize tax-advantaged accounts, this episode also has tips for understanding the costs and how you can get assistance with coverage.   This episode is not intended to be used as tax advice. Please consult your CPA, accountant, or tax professional for questions and more information.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Nov 14

36 min 11 sec

A fever is part of your body’s immune response as a natural defense to infection. The risks and benefits of fever during pregnancy are different than those of someone who is not pregnant. Running a fever during your pregnancy can be scary. Studies have linked maternal fevers to complications like autism, neural tube defects, oral clefts, and congenital heart defects. The best way to alleviate any fears or unknowns is to educate yourself about what temperature constitutes a fever, when to call your doctor or midwife, and what to do if you get a fever during your pregnancy. It is common to take over-the-counter medicine to reduce a fever. Over the years, attitudes towards the use of medications like acetaminophen have evolved. While doctors have long considered this safe, more recent research raises questions about taking this over-the-counter medication during pregnancy.    You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Nov 7

27 min 11 sec

The severity and spread of COVID-19 drove demand to create vaccines and get them to the public in record time. In the United States, the FDA has approved three vaccines; two of them are still under an emergency use authorization. We know from real-world data that pregnancy can increase your risks for severe illness from COVID-19. Despite pregnancy increasing COVID-19 risks, clinical trials did not include pregnant participants. Studies are beginning to focus on these vaccines in pregnancy, and researchers are releasing more data on vaccinated pregnant women. While we lack long-term data, ACOG and the CDC recommend that pregnant women get vaccinated for COVID-19. This episode dives into the available evidence on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy so you can make an informed decision on whether to get the vaccine.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Oct 24

1 hr 6 min

Flu is an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. The flu typically isn't severe in healthy adults, and symptoms usually subside in about a week. When you are pregnant, your body's inflammatory response to the flu during pregnancy puts you at a higher risk for some complications. The medical community recommends that pregnant women get the flu vaccine to protect them and give their babies passive immunity. The COVID-19 pandemic is also bringing some additional changes and challenges to the current flu season. There are many flu vaccines available, and it can be challenging to weigh the risks and benefits to decide whether getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy is right for you. This episode dives into all of the evidence and considerations to make an informed decision on whether you should get the flu vaccine during your pregnancy.     You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Oct 17

39 min 33 sec

A vaccine contains a weakened or killed form of a disease-causing micro-organism that causes your body to produce antibodies. This provides immunity without actually inducing the disease. Vaccines are a very controversial topic. This episode introduces what vaccines are and gets into specifics on the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy. In addition to different types of vaccines, they contain many ingredients. These ingredients serve a particular function like increasing your immune response or as a byproduct of the processing. Tdap provides immunity for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) and is recommended during pregnancy. Get the evidence-based risks and benefits of getting the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy so you can make an informed decision on whether it is right for you.    You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Oct 10

32 min 47 sec

Ophthalmia neonatorum is a newborn eye infection and in the United States occurs in 1-2% of newborns. This infection can be caused by sexually transmitted infections, viruses, and bacteria. Administering erythromycin eye ointment to newborns is standard procedure in the United States to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum. As with any intervention, there are pros and cons to consider. This article examines the evidence on the efficacy and safety of erythromycin eye ointment so you can make an informed choice for your baby.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   Join Pregnancy Podcast Premium to access the entire back catalog, listen to all episodes ad-free, and more.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Oct 3

19 min 37 sec

At birth, babies naturally have low levels of vitamin K. The danger in having low levels of vitamin K is the risk of vitamin K deficiency bleeding. This is a rare but serious complication. You can decrease the risk for vitamin k deficiency bleeding with the vitamin K shot. Administering the vitamin K shot to newborns is standard procedure in the United States and many other countries. As with any intervention, there are pros and cons to consider. This episode examines the evidence on the efficacy and safety of the vitamin K shot so you can make an informed choice for your baby.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Sep 26

25 min 44 sec

Prenatal care is healthcare from a medical professional for you and your baby during pregnancy. It is well established that women who receive prenatal care are more likely to have healthy infants. Your doctor or midwife is your trusted partner and has education about all of the intricacies of pregnancy and birth. An important point to keep in mind is that you are in complete control over what happens and what procedures your doctor or midwife performs throughout your prenatal care. You can expect to have somewhere around 14 appointments throughout your entire pregnancy. The time you spend with your doctor or midwife will shape the tests you take, the procedures your care provider performs, and the preparation for your birth. Learn what to expect at each appointment and how to navigate prenatal care confidently.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Sep 19

39 min 36 sec

Some of the best breastfeeding resources lack great information on weaning. What you find instead is information on why you should keep breastfeeding and anxiety-inducing articles on all of the things that can go wrong when you stop nursing. Breastfeeding is important and thankfully there are many resources for this, but it can be stressful when you are ready to wean and have limited evidence of how to do it. This episode aims to take the anxiety out of weaning. Get actionable tips on how to stop breastfeeding and transition from being a breastfeeding mother to your next parenting adventure.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Sep 12

31 min 10 sec

Even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively, there is value in learning about bottles and formula if you decide or need to incorporate them to feed your baby at some point. If you pump breast milk, you will be using a bottle to feed your baby. If you stop breastfeeding before your baby’s first birthday, you will need to supplement with formula. You have many options for bottles and formula, and choosing the best fit for you and your baby can be challenging. This episode is your comprehensive guide to bottle feeding your baby, from introducing a bottle to choosing the right infant formula.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Sep 5

45 min 19 sec

Breast milk is liquid gold. It is so valuable and amazing that scientists cannot reproduce it in a lab, and only you can make it. Your body perfectly formulates your milk for your baby, and pumping allows you to provide milk for your baby even when you are not there. This episode covers the fundamentals of pumping breastmilk to meet your goals, whether an occasional pumping session or building a serious freezer stash. If you plan to return to work after maternity leave, this episode walks through navigating pumping at work. Plus, everything from cleaning and sterilizing your pump and accessories to safely storing your milk.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Aug 22

48 min 28 sec

Your newborn is hard-wired to breastfeed and is born with instincts to help them latch right after birth. Despite these instincts, breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally or go perfectly right from the start. In reality, breastfeeding can take practice and patience as you and your baby navigate your nursing relationship. Many issues can come up during breastfeeding in the first few days and even months down the road. The more you know about the small speed bumps you could run into, the more likely you are to be able to get over those and correct minor issues before they become significant problems. Issues can include symptoms in your breasts like leaking, sore nipples, nipple shields, pain during breastfeeding or pumping, vasospasms, blebs, plugged ducts, mastitis, and engorgement. Or issues that affect your baby like jaundice, tongue-tie, yeast infection, thrush, food allergies or sensitivities, nursing strikes, sleepy babies, cluster feeding, growth spurts, and spitting up. This episode will help you identify common breastfeeding issues and have a basic understanding of how to correct them so you and your baby can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Aug 15

39 min 42 sec

The evidence in support of breastfeeding is overwhelming. There are decades of documentation on the positive effects of breastfeeding on immunity, health, and the connection between mother and baby. Despite all of the evidence supporting breastfeeding, most parents supplement or switch to infant formula within the first year. Many factors contribute to a lack of encouragement for exclusive breastfeeding. Educating yourself and finding support are the two key things you can do to get breastfeeding off to a great start. This episode covers the basics you should know about breastfeeding and the foundational principles educate yourself and find support to make breastfeeding easier.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Aug 8

41 min 42 sec

All of the changes your body is going through during pregnancy may give you a beautiful glow. For many expecting moms, pregnancy can cause some challenging skin issues. The good news is the majority of these skin issues are temporary and will disappear after your baby is born. This episode examines common skin issues during pregnancy like skin sensitivity, stretch marks, acne, melasma, linea nigra, spider and varicose veins, skin tags, and conditions like PUPPP and ICP. We examine the symptoms, causes, if or how you can prevent them, and how you can safely treat each of these skin issues.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Aug 1

30 min 51 sec

Think about everything you put on your skin and hair, from when you step in the shower to when you step out your front door. We use a ton of products every single day; shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, lotions, face wash, toner, moisturizer, deodorant, sunscreen, makeup, hair products. All of those products you use add up to a very long list of chemicals you introduce to your body. Pregnancy is a period during which you want to be cautious about the chemicals you expose yourself to because some of those chemicals have the potential to cross the placenta and reach your baby. The idea that you could potentially expose your baby to something toxic is scary, and there is a lot of fear around using safe skincare and personal products when you are pregnant. You should avoid a few ingredients and be aware of other controversial ingredients with less clear evidence on the risks. This episode breaks down the evidence on what ingredients have risks that you should be mindful of, how to find safe skin and body care products, and how to understand marketing claims like “non-toxic”.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jul 25

33 min 24 sec

There are many things you can do to prepare your dog for life with a new baby. From introducing new gadgets like breast pumps to making sure your dog is taken care of while giving birth at a hospital or birth center, many families experience issues acclimating their dog to a new baby. To troubleshoot these topics and more, I talk to John and Jaime Caponetta. They are experts in dog behavior and have many years of experience training dogs from all backgrounds for many different families. Their focus on positive training techniques will help you modify your dog’s behavior, not just suppress it. Read this article to learn how to prepare your dog for your baby and troubleshoot issues that can come up with your growing family and your dog.   Thank you to John and Jaime Caponetta of Pawsome University for sharing their expertise for this episode.   Jaime has her certification as a K9 trainer from the Animal Behavior College in California and earned the title of Associate Certified K9 Behavior Consultant by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. John Caponetta has seven years of experience working in animal welfare and is a former humane law enforcement officer involved in animal cruelty investigations. He is planning to become a certified instructor in pet first aid & CPR. Both John and Jamie are on boards or support multiple non-profit organizations that provide dog training to families facing financial hardship or support fostering dogs and keeping them out of shelters or euthanized due to a lack of services. Together these two run Pawsome University, which offers one on one in-home professional dog training using only positive and fear-free training methods. Plus, they have a podcast called Pawsome University. John and Jamie are experts in dog behavior and they have worked with a lot of new parents. They are the perfect resource to troubleshoot some issues that can happen as you are preparing your dog for a new baby and once you bring your baby home to make sure everything goes smoothly.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more information on John and Jamie, visit the Pawsome University website.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jul 18

1 hr 1 min

Hydrotherapy is a broad term that encompasses many different treatments around the physical properties of water like temperature and pressure. In this episode, we explore the use of water during labor. Proponents of water birth claim that it is beneficial in managing discomfort from contractions, that it promotes relaxation and eases stress for your baby during birth. Critics of the practice raise concerns about the safety of water births and risks associated with respiratory issues for the baby, and the risk of infection for both you and your baby. This episode examines the evidence and safety of waterbirth, as well as alternative ways to utilize water during labor at home or in a birth center or hospital.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jul 11

34 min 6 sec

If you enjoy the water, you don’t have to give it up when you are pregnant. Pregnancy impacts your body by weight gain, increased blood flow, and many more changes that can exert pressure on your cardiovascular system, joints, and spine. Enjoying being in water can be a great workout, relaxing and therapeutic. This episode examines the evidence on the risks and benefits of swimming pools, hot tubs, baths, and float spas during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jul 4

21 min 29 sec

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother and her birth partner during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They do not have any formal medical training and do not perform any medical procedures. There are doulas that specialize in every type of birth, from home birth to a planned cesarean at a hospital. There is substantial growing evidence on how doulas positively impact births. But do you need a doula? With the benefits are downsides, like the additional cost. This episode examines the evidence on having a doula, how they advocate for you and work with your OB/GYN or midwife, and how they support your partner in being your primary support during labor. Plus, get tips on how to find a doula that is the right fit for your family.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jun 27

27 min 48 sec

There is so much attention on mom and baby during pregnancy. Even if you are not the pregnant person in your relationship, there is so much you can do to prepare for becoming a parent. Dads and partners play a huge role in pregnancy, birth, and parenting. This episode will bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about what changes mom is going through during pregnancy, the lowdown on sex, how to prepare for birth, how to be supportive in the postpartum period, and your role with a new baby at home.    You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jun 20

35 min 52 sec

You put a lot of time and energy into learning about pregnancy and preparing for birth. Once you cross that finish line and are holding your baby, a whole new adventure begins. Although being a parent is a lifelong journey, you can get started on the right track now. Learn about evidence-based parenting on some of the most important things for the first year. This episode covers topics like attachment, sleep, and play. Plus, some research-based tactics to make sure you are nurturing yourself as a parent and meeting your own needs as you build a relationship with your baby. Thank you to Jen Lumanlan for sharing her expertise for this episode. Jen Lumanlan is the host of the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. She interviews all the best experts in parenting and child development. Jen is so much more than a podcast host. She focuses on a rigorous research-based approach and has multiple master's degrees, including psychology and education. Jen is a pro at digging through research and applying principles of respectful parenting to help parents and kids thrive. You can learn more about Jen by visiting the Your Parenting Mojo website. Jen Lumanlan is my #1 resource for all things parenting. She teamed up with Hannah and Kelty from Upbringing to create the Right from the Start course. This course walks you through everything you need to navigate the first year of your baby's life. It covers challenges with sleep, attachment, feeding, siblings, your own sense of self as a person - and so much more! You can click here to grab the free roadmap that walks you through the entire framework of this course. If you decide you need more support, take advantage of 15% off the Right from the Start course with the code PREGNANCYPODCAST. (The first open enrollment is from 6/19 to 6/30/21. It is only offered four times per year.)   You can see the full transcript and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jun 13

1 hr

Factors like genetics and some health conditions can impact your body weight. Your weight is primarily a function of diet and lifestyle. By definition, diet is the kinds of food you habitually eat. We also know diet to mean a specific course of food you restrict yourself for medical reasons or lose weight. Diets restrict calories, limit certain foods or increase particular foods. There are many varying opinions on diet, and there is no definitive research to support one ideal diet for everyone. This episode provides an overview of popular diets and considerations for continuing or starting these diets during pregnancy. Learn about weight gain during pregnancy and the safety of diets like caloric restriction, low glycemic, keto, paleo, low fat, the Louwen diet for pregnancy, and intermittent fasting. Plus, what your diet goal should be and what to eat when you are pregnant.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jun 6

44 min 28 sec

There are many reasons people choose to eat a plant-based diet, including environmental, ethical, or health reasons. Regardless of your reasons for eating a plant-based diet, there is no denying that many animal products are rich in vitamins and nutrients. If you avoid meats, seafood, eggs, or dairy, you need to get nutrients from other sources. While it is possible to eat a healthy diet that does not include animal products, you need to be mindful to make sure you are getting the nutrients you and your baby need. The foods you eat should be your primary source for all of the vitamins and nutrients you and your baby need. You should also be taking a prenatal vitamin to fill in any gaps of nutrients that can happen with any diet. This article is an overview of some specific nutrients to pay attention to if you are eating a primarily plant-based diet.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

May 23

37 min 32 sec

The sun emits UV radiation that comes with both risks and benefits. An estimated 90% of our vitamin D comes from the sun. Vitamin D is critical when you are pregnant for both you and your baby. During pregnancy, you may experience some changes to your skin that can make you more sensitive to the sun. Too much sun can damage your skin, increase your risks for skin cancers, and accelerate the effects of aging. Get tips for sun safety so you can maximize the benefits of sunshine while minimizing the damaging effects of the sun. Plus, this article covers how to choose the right sunscreen, sun exposure for your baby, tanning beds, and sunless tanners.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here. For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

May 16

27 min 33 sec

There are a lot of physical demands during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Motherhood is also incredibly mentally and emotionally demanding. You can do so much to prepare for being a parent, like stocking up on supplies for your baby, planning for maternity leave, or learning about breastfeeding. A big part of mentally preparing for motherhood is setting your expectations. This episode covers tips to help you mentally prepare for motherhood.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

May 9

19 min 21 sec

Physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy increase your risk for a urinary tract infection. UTIs are the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that if you are pregnant and think you may have a UTI, call your OBGYN right away because severe infections can cause problems for both you and your baby. The good news is that when caught early, antibiotics can eliminate a urinary tract infection. Learn the symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy, testing, prevention, treatment, and the evidence on home remedies.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

May 2

25 min 12 sec

You experience many physical changes during your pregnancy. Higher levels of hormones, like estrogen, can even change the texture, color, or amount of hair you have. Many expecting mothers enjoy fuller, thicker hair during pregnancy then experience some hair loss postpartum. Learn about how your hair can change during pregnancy and after having a baby and what you can do to keep your hair healthy. If you dye your hair, this episode also explores the evidence on the safety of chemical treatments, like coloring your hair during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Apr 25

21 min 46 sec

Group B streptococcus is a type of bacterial infection. This bacterium naturally lives in the gastrointestinal tract. GBS is common and is in 10%-30% of pregnant women. Once you have this bacterium, it does not mean you will always have it, and it can come and go. Most women with group B strep do not experience any symptoms, and usually, this is not a big deal. However, it can create some complications for you when you are pregnant and cause some severe complications if you pass it to your baby. In the United States, it is standard practice to test all expecting mothers in week 36 or 37 for group B strep. This episode covers what is involved in the testing, how to treat group B strep, and how you can reduce the risks to your baby. This episode also explores the evidence on whether you can decrease your risk for group b strep during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Apr 18

23 min 11 sec

Pregnancy brain is a term used to describe forgetfulness during pregnancy, not being able to focus, or brain fog. This can also extend to after birth, and you may have heard people blame mommy brain or momnesia. Anecdotally, pregnancy brain and mom brain are very common. The standard answer to why this happens is that you are short on sleep, you have a lot going on, and you are dealing with additional stress. This is all true, but it may not fully explain why we get pregnancy brain from a scientific standpoint. What if we viewed pregnancy brain as a trade-off with a long-term benefit instead of viewing it as a loss? This episode examines the science behind pregnancy brain and explores some evidence that it may actually make you a better parent.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Apr 11

19 min 8 sec

Unmedicated birth comes with many benefits but also has its challenges. If you plan to avoid interventions, including pain medications, you need to prepare more than someone comfortable utilizing interventions to assist with their labor. This article explains why some parents choose unmedicated birth, what a physiologic birth without interventions looks like, and how to prepare for an unmedicated birth. Even if you plan for an epidural or other intervention, this article has tips to prepare and get as close as possible to the birth experience you want.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Apr 4

31 min 36 sec

Historically vaccines have taken a decade or longer to develop and get to market. Due to the severity and spread of COVID-19, there was a massive demand to create vaccines as quickly as possible. We have three vaccines currently approved by the FDA under an emergency authorization use in just a year. Pregnancy can increase your risks for severe illness from COVID-19. Despite pregnancy increasing COVID-19 risks, clinical trials did not include pregnant participants. Although studies are beginning to focus on these vaccines and pregnancy, it will be months or even years before we have results. This episode dives into the available evidence on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy so you can make an informed decision on whether to get the vaccine.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Mar 28

44 min 6 sec

The simplest explanation of how we feel pain is that our bodies sense pain when nerves send messages to our spinal cord and our brain. Our brain then interprets those signals into the feeling of pain. Since each of our brains is different, pain is subjective, and people interpret pain differently. When you think about birth, pain is either the first thing that comes to mind or the last thing you want to think about. There is the occasional anecdote about a pain-free birth, but most expecting mothers experience some level of pain and discomfort. It seems counterintuitive that something necessary for our survival would be difficult and come at a high cost. In this episode, we reframe how you may think about labor pain so you are not terrified going into the experience, have a better idea of what to expect, and understand why birth can involve pain.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Mar 21

26 min 13 sec

You have several pain management options for labor and birth. The availability of specific methods may vary depending on where you give birth and your care provider. Plus, different methods are used during different stages of labor with varying levels of effectiveness. There are separate episodes on epidurals and nitrous oxide, the two most popular methods used during labor and birth. This episode covers transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), intravenous pain medications, pudendal nerve blocks, local anesthetic injections, and touches on general anesthesia. If you are interested in utilizing any of these methods or have questions about them, please have a more in-depth conversation about the benefits and risks with your doctor or midwife.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Mar 14

27 min 22 sec

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, was first used as a labor analgesic in 1881. Over 50% of births in Finland, Norway, England, Australia, and New Zealand, 60% of births in the United Kingdom, and 70% of births in Sweden involve nitrous oxide. It is less common in the United States, and this is changing as it is becoming more widely available in both hospitals and birth centers. Many mothers incorporate nitrous oxide in their plan for a natural or a low-intervention birth. Using nitrous oxide induces feelings of euphoria and creates a disassociation with the discomfort and pain of contractions. This episode explains everything you need to know about nitrous oxide and the risks and benefits of using it during labor and birth.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Mar 7

22 min 4 sec

In this episode, we are talking about epidurals. There are three separate procedures that can be done that are often lumped under the umbrella term, “epidural”. The three procedures are epidurals, spinals, and the combined spinal-epidural. These medications and methods of delivery are the best solutions we have to minimize pain during labor with the least risk. Like any intervention, there are risks and benefits. This article examines the evidence on epidurals so you have the information you need to decide whether this is something you want to include in your birth. Learn about your epidural options, benefits, risks, what is involved in the procedure, and how it may impact your labor and birth.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Feb 28

26 min 8 sec

A birth center is a middle ground between home birth and a hospital. You get the benefit of natural or non-medicated birth in a home-like setting, with some of the safety nets that you would have in a hospital. Birth centers generally feature midwife-led care, focused on prenatal and postpartum care for low-risk women. The majority of birth centers are freestanding entities. More are popping up in hospitals with the same focus of natural birth with integration into the hospital system in the event resources or care from the hospital are needed. This episode covers what a birth center is, what you can expect during your prenatal care, labor, birth, and the evidence on birth centers' safety.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Feb 21

30 min 4 sec

About 98% of all births in the United States are in hospitals. Even if you plan for a birth center or home birth, knowing about your backup option is smart. Birth is not an all or nothing decision where you are either having a baby in a hospital with tons of interventions or having a baby at home with no interventions and incense burning in the background. There is an infinite number of options available to you to prepare for and craft the birth you want. The key to getting the birth experience you want is education. Whether you plan a cesarean section or have a natural labor, you could do either in a hospital setting. This episode will help you get more familiar with what you expect in a hospital birth from the moment you arrive, through your labor and birth, until you are discharged and headed home with your new baby.    You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Feb 14

30 min 44 sec

When you have made it through most of your pregnancy and are in the final stretch, you enter the waiting game of waiting to go into labor. This can be nerve-racking for two reasons. First, you do not know when you will go into labor, and second, you do not know how to tell that you genuinely have started labor and it isn’t just a false alarm. This episode explains the signs that labor will begin soon and the signs that you are in labor. You will not experience all of these signs, and some of these signs may happen to you but go unnoticed. After listening to this episode, you will have a better idea of what to look out to know when labor is starting, when to call your doctor or midwife, and when to go to the hospital or birth center.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Feb 7

22 min 4 sec

The third trimester goes from weeks 28 until your baby’s birth, around 40 weeks. If you are in your third trimester, congratulations, you are in the home stretch until you get to meet your baby. This trimester can be challenging as your belly keeps growing, and you have some new symptoms as a result of carrying around more weight. You may also find yourself anxious to have your baby and ready to be done being pregnant. Your baby is also going through many changes this trimester in preparation for life outside of your womb. You are almost at the finish line. This episode covers everything you need to know about the third trimester to navigate the last few months of pregnancy and go into your birth with confidence.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jan 24

28 min 57 sec

The second trimester tends to be the favorite period for many expecting moms. During weeks 13 to 27 of your pregnancy, symptoms like morning sickness should be subsiding. By this point, you have adjusted to many of the lifestyle changes to have a healthy pregnancy. Your moods and emotions should be evening out, and overall you should feel like you have more energy. After all of the last trimester's internal changes, the second trimester brings many physical changes. Your belly will start showing, and you will be able to feel your baby kicking. Get an overview of everything you can expect during the second trimester of your pregnancy. Learn about the physical changes you can expect, how your baby is growing, what you can expect at prenatal appointments, and some of the to-do items to tackle this trimester.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jan 17

24 min 28 sec

The first 12 weeks of your pregnancy will probably be the most significant adjustment period. You get used to the idea of being pregnant, make some lifestyle changes, and deal with all of the physical and emotional changes. The first trimester is thought of as the most sensitive time during your pregnancy. This is when your baby is building organs and structures. You may not see a whole lot going on outside during the first trimester. You will be able to tell many changes are going on internally. Get an overview of everything you can expect during the first trimester of your pregnancy. This episode covers common symptoms like morning sickness, changes in hormones, your baby's development, and how you can get some relief from some of the not so fun side effects of being pregnant.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jan 10

21 min 27 sec

Taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure you have all of the vitamins and nutrients you need. You have an increased need for specific nutrients during pregnancy, and it is challenging to meet these requirements with your diet alone. There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting the right prenatal vitamin. How do you know which ones are high-quality? What should you look for on the ingredient label? What ingredients should you avoid? All of these questions, and more, are answered in this episode.   This episode features Kenn Israel, who is a formulator and an expert resource on prenatal vitamins. He brings decades of expertise and talks about what to look for in a prenatal vitamin and why it is crucial to make sure you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Jan 3

32 min 42 sec

In this episode, I have a special guest, Erica McAfee, a grief specialist and doula, who really puts grief and loss and recovery into perspective. This is the perfect episode to end the 2020 year. You will hear Erica talk about how we have all lost something in 2020. We all lost the expectation of what 2020 would have been. She has some excellent tips that you can use in any stage of your life to cope with challenges and find your path forward.   I have not given enough attention to miscarriage and pregnancy loss on the podcast. Miscarriage and stillbirth can be a scary topic, especially if you are currently pregnant. The truth is that miscarriage and stillbirth are more common than you would think. The chances are that if you've never experienced this, that somebody close to you has, even if they haven't shared that with you. If you are listening to this episode and you experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth, or any type of loss this year my heart goes out to you.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Dec 2020

48 min 17 sec

In this episode, we discuss how your breasts change during pregnancy and after you have your baby. Female breasts have a particular function, and that is to produce milk for your baby. Your breasts and nipples are also an erogenous zone. They can play a part in arousal, and nipple stimulation can even induce labor. Breasts are much more complicated than we give them credit for and play a critical role for newborns. I know you are dealing with a lot of physical and emotional changes during your pregnancy. It can be overwhelming. Hopefully, understanding why these changes are taking place can help you have some compassion for your body's hard work in preparing for your baby.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Dec 2020

21 min 44 sec

You know that you will experience a lot of physical changes when you get pregnant. Some of those changes will affect how your clothes fit or don't fit. It can be so frustrating to feel like you don't fit into anything in your closet. Thankfully, there are maternity clothes made just for pregnancy. On top of your emotions and feelings about your changing body, you may love shopping and have an unlimited budget, or you may not like going to the mall and not have much, if anything, to spend on maternity clothes.  The good news is that we cover all the basic things you need to know about maternity clothes to feel comfortable and stylish no matter how you think about fashion and regardless of your budget. In this episode, we will get into how you can raid your closet for pieces you can wear throughout your pregnancy, what are some must-haves, where to shop for great deals, and how you can feel both comfortable and stylish.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Dec 2020

26 min 47 sec

Culturally in the United States, we don't talk about the fact that you recover from birth and pregnancy. There are a lot of things that are normal and expected after you have a baby that no one tells you about. The good news is that this episode will not only give you a heads up about what is in your future but also help prepare you for life postpartum. Learn what to really expect and what is normal. Find out what products are must-haves, and what you can skip. Plus, some of the best advice to get you through those first days, weeks, and months of being a new parent.   Thank you to Tovah Haim of Bodily for sharing her passion for helping parents navigate life postpartum in this episode.   You can read the full article and resources that accompany this episode by clicking here.   For more evidence-based information, visit the Pregnancy Podcast website.

Dec 2020

52 min 54 sec

In this short episode you get a quick rundown of everything you can expect from Vanessa Merten and the Pregnancy Podcast. The Pregnancy Podcast is a resource to support expecting moms (and partners, too!) with evidence-based information to navigate the awesome adventure of pregnancy, birth, and being a new parent.   Important Links Pregnancy Podcast Website Become a Premium Member Your Birth Plan Book 40 Weeks Podcast

Sep 2015

5 min 57 sec