Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Top 50 Mom Quotations

Top 50 Mom Quotations


"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."
-- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

"I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life."
-- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
-- Agatha Christie

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother."
-- Albert Einstein

"By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class."
-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own."
-- Aristotle

"Mother is far too clever to understand anything she does not like."
-- Arnold Bennett

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but
whose place no one else can take."
-- Cardinal Mermillod

"A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary."
-- Dorothy Canfield Fisher

"I really learned it all from mothers."
-- Dr. Benjamin Spock

"If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylum would be filled with mothers."
-- Edgar Watson Howe

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."
-- George Washington (1732-1799)

"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."
-- Henry Ward Beecher

"What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin."
-- Henry Ward Beecher

"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness."
-- Honore' de Balzac

"Education commences at the mother's knee, and every word spoken within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character."
-- Hosea Ballou

"Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother's love is not."
-- James Joyce

"The best academy, a mother's knee."
-- James Russell Lowell

"The phrase "working mother" is redundant."
-- Jane Sellman

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers."
-- Jewish proverb

"Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process."
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"A boy's best friend is his mother."
-- Joseph Stefano

"Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world."
-- Kate Douglas Wiggin

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother."
-- Lin Yutang

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."
-- Mark Twain

"Motherhood is like Albania-- you can't trust the descriptions in the books, you have to go there."
-- Marni Jackson

"We are not born all at once, but by bits. The body first, and the spirit later; and the birth and growth of the spirit, in those who are attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful. Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth."
-- Mary Antin

"To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power."
-- Maya Angelou

"Over the years I have learned that motherhood is much like an austere religious order, the joining of which obligates one to relinquish all claims to personal possessions."
-- Nancy Stahl

"Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother's secret hope outlives them all."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes (1775-1817)

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."
-- Oscar Wilde

"When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."
-- Pablo Picasso

"A mother's hardest to forgive. Life is the fruit she longs to hand you, Ripe on a plate. And while you live, Relentlessly she understands you."
-- Phyllis McGinley

"Men are what their mothers made them."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A mother is a mother still, The holiest thing alive."
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day, little by little, expand that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally 'being lived.' They are acting out scripts written by parents, associates, and society."
-- Stephen R. Covey

"Never say anything on the phone that you wouldn't want your mother to hear at your trial."
-- Sydney Biddle Barrows

"The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother—which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician."
-- Sydney J. Harris

"An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest."
-- Spanish proverb

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
-- Theodore Hesburgh

"A woman has two smiles that an angel might envy, the smile that accepts a lover before words are uttered, and the smile that lights on the first born babe, and assures it of a mother's love."
-- Thomas C. Haliburton

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don't mean a thing."
-- Toni Morrison

"Children are the sum of what mothers contribute to their lives."
-- Unknown

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."
-- Victor Hugo

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us when adversity takes the place of prosperity when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."
--Washington Irving

"The only thing a lawyer won't question is the legitimacy of his mother."
-- W. C. Fields

"A man never sees all that his mother has been to him until it's too late to let her know that he sees it."
-- W. D. Howells

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children."
--William Makepeace Thackeray

"The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."
-- William Ross Wallace

Pregnancy and Excercising - 6 Reasons to Excercise During Pregnancy

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health. Exercising during pregnancy can have additional benefits. Generally, exercise should be light, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy while your body adjusts to the changes. Heavy exercise can divert blood flow from crucial areas and most women that exercise regularly should tone down their workouts during pregnancy.

Walking, swimming, and yoga are two popular exercise activities suitable for pregnant women. Other forms of exercise like weight lifting are okay too as long as it is not too strenuous. Most experts recommend exercising 3-4 times a week, unless a medical condition prevents it. If in doubt, always consult a physician first. Listed below are some of the top reasons for exercising during pregnancy.


Exercise can reduce the length of labor and reduce recovery times. The right exercise routines will increase stamina needed for delivery.


Improve emotional health - exercise lowers stress and improves emotional health and can make it easier for the new mother to get through the experience of pregnancy.


Exercise can help with weight management after the child is born. A common concern with most mothers is losing weight after pregnancy. Exercising during pregnancy can make postpartum weight loss easier.


Exercise is good for your unborn baby. By keeping your body healthy, you are also helping out your baby.


Reduced pregnancy side effects - Symptoms like headaches, fatigue, swelling, and constipation are common in pregnant women. Exercising has been shown to reduce the occurence of these symptoms.


Decrease risk of premature birth - exercise has been shown in studies to decrease the risk of premature birth by about 50%.

Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before exercising, have a nutritious diet, and avoid over exertion. Also, listen to your body - if you start feeling sick or nauseous, then you should stop and rest.

About the Author - Criss White

Criss White is a professional web writer on baby and new mother topics for baby and pregnancy websites. For baby shower supplies, information, and more baby related articles by this author, visit My Baby Shower Favors and Babies and Showers.

Note: If you find this article useful, you may reprint it on your website, e-zine, or in your newsletter as long as the credits above remain in tact and the hyperlinks stay active.

Teen Pregnancy Ruins

One of the biggest problems the teenagers of today face is unplanned pregnancy. The united States has one of the highest pregnancy rates in the world. Close to 1 million teenagers become pregnant each year. Approximately 90% of the pregnancies is unplanned, a number of them which eventually leads to abortion.

Consequences of teenage pregnancy

Unplanned pregnancy poses one of the most devastating problems in life. There is just too much stress to deal with for a teenage mom. The stress that they're dealing with are time, financial and duties. Imagine the difficulty in juggling the time spent in school, with the baby and earning money just to provide necessities for the baby. Even if a teenage mom decides to forgone of her duties, for example quit school, it does not necessarily makes the situation or the future any better. With insufficient education means that the teenage mom will have to settle for low-paying jobs or worse, being unemployed.

Prevention of teenage pregnancy

I believe one of the most effective prevention measures is by promoting abstinence. Parents should try instilling moral or religious values in their kids. It will prove to be the best prevention, rather than encouraging safe sex with the use of condoms etc.

Proper guidance of teens does not start tomorrow, but today. It's easy for them to ruin their futures by making a simple mistake and it's our responsibility as parents, teachers, the society etc to guide them to the right path.

Useful hotline

Planned Parenthood
1-800-230-PLAN

National Abortion Federation
1-800-772-9100

National Adoption Center
1-800-862-3678

What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is something that most women do not assume will happen to them, but when it does it is a very emotionally draining experience. Because an ectopic pregnancy starts like any other healthy pregnancy the letdown is generally considerable. Ectopic pregnancies are also known as tubal pregnancies, and a lot of the time women don’t know that anything is wrong so they begin to plan for the birth of their child. The excitement and joy typically builds until the first ultrasound or abdominal pain wipes away all of the joy and planning.

Technically speaking, an ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs when a fertilized ovum implants on any tissue other than the endometrial lining of the uterus. The ovum then continues to develop, as it would have in the endometrial lining. Eventually, the ovum grows to be so big that it causes pain for the mother. Luckily, it doesn’t take much time or much growth until the mother or her doctor decides that something is not quite right. Experts actually believe that a large number of women experience ectopic pregnancies that result in miscarriage because the body is able to sense that the pregnancy is not a viable ones and then rejects the pregnancy altogether. Unfortunately not every woman’s body will miscarry the doomed pregnancy and a doctor must get involved to relieve the pain and discomfort along with the pregnancy.

For most women, when an ectopic pregnancy occurs the ovum attaches in the fallopian tubes, the abdomen, or even the cervix. The problem is that none of these areas are able to nurture a baby so that it can develop normally and there is no way for a doctor to simply transplant the developing ovum to the uterus where it can develop normally. Treating an ectopic pregnancy has become quite a bit easier in recent years, as it requires much less invasive techniques, making the whole process a lot less painful both physically and emotionally. Advances such as laparoscopy or laparotomy can be done to remove the misplaced ovum. In rare instances the pregnant woman will be required to undergo surgery, but these cases are becoming more and more uncommon all the time.

Unfortunately for those that will become pregnant now and in the near future, there is no way to prevent ectopic pregnancies. Experts do know that having experiences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, a previous tubal ligation, or a history of ectopic pregnancies put a woman at an increased risk of experiencing such a pregnancy, but there is nothing definitive about who experiences an ectopic pregnancy and who does not. Abnormal uterine growth or abdominal pain are typically the only symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, but some women do not experience them at all.

All women should know that even if they do experience one ectopic pregnancy, you will most likely be able to go on and have successful pregnancies in the future. Most experts agree that women should wait several cycles before attempting to become pregnant, but most become pregnant with a healthy pregnancy as soon as they attempt again. Knowing that you can go on to have happy, healthy children won’t undo the ectopic pregnancy, but it will help with the emotional pain to know that you can go on to have children. When you visit the www.pregnancysafe.com website you can learn even more about ectopic pregnancies as well as how to have a healthy and happy pregnancy.

By Craig Rowe

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pregnancy and Nutrition

Pregnancy and a Healthy Diet

Why is a healthy diet important before and during pregnancy?
How should my diet change now that I am pregnant?
Should I limit how much fish I eat when I’m pregnant?
What other nutrients do I need for a healthy pregnancy?
Should I take a multivitamin during my pregnancy?
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
Is it hard to lose weight after pregnancy?
Should I avoid drinking alcohol while I am pregnant?
Should I avoid caffeine while I am pregnant?
Why do pregnant women crave certain foods?
Do I really need to "eat for two?"
What about diabetes and nutrition during pregnancy?
Why do I get morning sickness and nausea, and what can I do about it?

Why is a healthy diet important before and during pregnancy?

What you eat every day, even before you are pregnant, is important for your health as well as for the health of your baby. Your diet before pregnancy and while you are pregnant should contain the vitamins and nutrients that your body will need to help your baby develop and grow the way he or she should. Practice healthy eating and take a multivitamin each and every day. Start this good habit before you become pregnant and continue eating healthy and taking a prenatal multivitamin throughout your pregnancy. If you need help choosing healthy foods or have questions about how to improve your diet for your future baby, ask a health professional at your doctor’s office or at a local clinic.

How should my diet change now that I am pregnant?

If you are eating a healthy diet before you become pregnant, you may only need to make a few changes to meet the nutritional needs of pregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association, pregnant women should increase their usual servings of a variety of foods from the four basic food groups (up to a total of 2,500 to 2,700 calories daily) to include the following:

Fruits and Vegetables –

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables

Seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (three servings of fruit and four of vegetables) daily for vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues, and help your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and other minerals to your diet and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy.

One Serving Size Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice

One Serving Size Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice

 

Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals –

Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals

Aim for nine or more servings. Whole grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and fiber that your body needs. Some breakfast cereals have been enriched with 100% of the folic acid your body needs each day. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects. Choosing a breakfast cereal or other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy.

One Serving Size = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

 

Dairy Products –

Dairy Products

Aim for four or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, or other dairy products like cheese for calcium. You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products also have vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, resistance to infection, and vision. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. If you are 18 or younger, you need 1,300 mg of calcium each day. Try to have low-fat or non-fat milk and milk products to lower your fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu. If you are lactose intolerant or can’t digest dairy products, you can still get this extra calcium. There are several low-lactose or reduced-lactose products available. In some cases, your doctor might advise you to take a calcium supplement.

One Serving Size = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese

 

Proteins –

Proteins

Pregnant women need about 60 grams of protein per day. This is about the same as two or more 2-3 oz. servings of cooked lean meat, poultry without the skin or fish, or two or more 1 oz. servings of cooked meat. Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. These can make you sick. Pregnant women should avoid deli luncheon meats, also. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good forms of protein. Most women in this country have no problem getting at least this amount of protein each day. Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for you and your baby. These foods also have B vitamins and iron, which is important for your red blood cells. Your need for protein in the first trimester is small, but grows in your second and third trimesters when your baby is growing the fastest, and your body is working to meet the needs of your growing baby.


One Serving Size = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 oz. meat also = 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 T. peanut butter

 

Should I limit how much fish I eat when I’m pregnant?

Some fish have mercury, which, in high doses, can hurt your baby’s growing brain and nervous system. There are some fish you should NOT eat if you are pregnant. Here are some guidelines:

  • Do not eat any shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called golden or white snapper) because these fish have high levels of mercury.
  • Do not eat more than six ounces of “white” or “albacore” tuna or tuna steak each week.

Limit your fish to no more than 2 servings (12 ounces total) per week. When you eat fish, choose shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, or “light” tuna as they are usually low in mercury. For more information on the mercury levels of different kinds of fish, go to: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html

What other nutrients do I need for a healthy pregnancy?

Folic acid: Folic acid is an important vitamin for any woman who could possibly become pregnant. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of a baby’s brain or spine (called neural tube defects) and other birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease. Folic acid is needed very early in pregnancy, usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. That is why it’s so important that every woman who could possibly become pregnant gets enough folic acid every single day, starting at least one month before pregnancy. One easy way to ensure getting enough folic acid every day is to take a daily multivitamin. Most multivitamins sold in the U.S. contain enough folic acid for the day. Check the label! Your vitamin should contain 400 micrograms (400 mcg) or 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for folic acid. Another way to get enough folic acid is to eat a serving of breakfast cereal that contains 100% (DV) for folic acid, every day. Just check the nutrition label to be sure—look for “100%” next to folic acid. So, eat a healthy diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, and don’t forget to get your folic acid. Every day!

Iron: You need iron to keep your blood healthy for you and your baby. Bones and teeth also need iron to develop properly. Too little iron can cause a condition called anemia. If you have anemia, you might look pale and feel very tired. Your doctor can check for signs of anemia through the routine blood tests that are taken in different stages of your pregnancy. All pregnant women should take a low-dose iron supplement, beginning at the first prenatal visit, or even before, when you are planning to get pregnant. Prenatal vitamins that your doctor prescribes or that you find over the counter usually have the amount of iron you need. Check the label to make sure they contain iron. If your doctor finds that you have anemia, he or she will give you a higher dose of iron supplements to take once or twice a day. You can help prevent anemia by eating more iron-rich foods like lean red meat, fish, poultry, dried fruits, whole-grain breads, and iron-fortified cereals.

Water: Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy. It carries the nutrients from the foods you eat to your baby and helps prevent you from getting constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Drinking enough water, especially in your last trimester, prevents you from becoming dehydrated. Not getting enough water can then lead you to have contractions and premature or early labor. Pregnant women should drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water per day and another glass for each hour of activity. You can drink juices for fluid, but they also have a lot of calories and can cause you to gain extra weight. Coffee, soft drinks, and teas that have caffeine actually reduce the amount of fluid in your body, so they cannot count towards the total amount of fluid you need.

Should I take a multivitamin during my pregnancy?

Even women who plan carefully to eat healthy every day can be missing out on some important nutrients like folic acid, which helps prevent serious birth defects of your baby’s brain and spine. Those birth defects happen before most women know they are pregnant. To be certain that you are getting enough folic acid and other vitamins, it is helpful to take a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin, starting before you get pregnant. But, don’t overdo it—taking more than one multivitamin daily can be harmful.

How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester. Good rates of weight gain are about two to four pounds during the first three months of pregnancy and three to four pounds per month for the rest of the pregnancy. The average total weight gain should be about 25 to 30 pounds. But, the amount you gain might be slightly less or more, depending on your weight before you became pregnant and your height.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

  • If you were underweight before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 28 and 40 pounds.
  • If you were overweight before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 15 and 25 pounds.

Check with your doctor to find out how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you.

Recent research shows that women who gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy and who fail to lose this weight within six months after giving birth are at much higher risk of being obese nearly 10 years later.

Total weight gained during pregnancy includes six to eight pounds for the weight of the baby. The remaining weight consists of a higher fluid volume, larger breasts, larger uterus, amniotic fluid, and the placenta. Make sure to visit your doctor throughout your pregnancy so he or she can check on your weight gain.

Is it hard to lose weight after pregnancy?

It can be hard to lose weight after you have your baby if you gained too much weight during pregnancy. During pregnancy, fat deposits can increase by more than one-third of the total amount you had before becoming pregnant. If weight gain during pregnancy is normal, most women lose this extra weight in the birth process and in the weeks and months after birth. Breastfeeding also can help to deplete the fat gained during pregnancy by helping the body to expend at least 500 more calories each day. For more information on diet and nutrition while breastfeeding go to: http://www.womenshealth.gov/Breastfeeding/print-bf.cfm?page=235

Should I avoid drinking alcohol while I am pregnant?

There is no safe time during pregnancy for you to drink alcohol. There is also no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. When you are pregnant and you drink beer, wine, hard liquor, or other alcoholic beverages, alcohol gets into your blood. The alcohol in your blood goes to your baby through the umbilical cord. When the alcohol enters the baby's body, it can slow down the baby’s growth, affect the baby’s brain, and cause birth defects. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Some people with FASD may have abnormal facial features and growth and central nervous system problems. People with FASD may have problems with learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision, and/or hearing. These problems often lead to problems in school and problems getting along with others. The effects of FASD last a lifetime. If you are pregnant and have been drinking alcohol, stop drinking now to protect your baby. If you need help to stop drinking, talk with your doctor or nurse. For more information go to: http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/fas.htm.

Should I avoid caffeine while I am pregnant?

Caffeine is a stimulant found in colas, coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, and some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Consumed in large quantities, caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness and insomnia as well as low birth-weight babies. Caffeine is also a diuretic and can dehydrate your body of valuable water. Some studies show that caffeine intake during pregnancy can harm the fetus. Until more is known, you should avoid caffeine. Caffeine is an ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Talk with your doctor before taking any drugs or medicines while pregnant.

Why do pregnant women crave certain foods?

The "pickles and ice cream" choices and other appetite cravings of pregnant women might be reflections of the changes in nutritional needs. The fetus needs nourishment, and the mother’s body begins to absorb and metabolize nutrients differently. These changes help ensure normal development of the baby and fill the demands of lactation, or breastfeeding, after the baby is born.

Do I really need to "eat for two?"

While you are pregnant, you will need additional nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy. But, that does not mean you need to eat twice as much. You should increase your caloric intake with only 300 calories per day. A baked potato has 120 calories, so getting those extra 300 calories should not be that hard.

Make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy. If you do, you might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary to properly nourish your unborn baby. Low-calorie intake can cause a pregnant mother’s stored fat to break down, leading to the production of substances called ketones. Ketones, which can be found in the mother's blood and urine, are a sign of starvation or a starvation-like state. Constant production of ketones can result in a mentally retarded child.

What about diabetes and nutrition during pregnancy?

If you already have diabetes and would like to get pregnant, your chances of having a healthy baby are good. But, it’s important to plan your pregnancy and follow these steps:

  • Bring your diabetes under control before you get pregnant. Try to get your blood sugar under control three to six months before you get pregnant.
  • Keep your blood sugar under control during your pregnancy. Keep food, exercise, and insulin in balance. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you follow a special meal plan. Remember, as your baby grows, your body changes, and these changes will affect your sugar levels. If your blood sugar rises too high, the increased sugar crossing into the placenta can result in a large, over-developed fetus with birth defects or an infant with blood sugar level problems.
  • Be sure to get enough of the B vitamin folic acid, every day. Women with diabetes might be at increased risk for having a baby with a serious birth defect. Getting enough folic acid each day can help reduce this risk.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy and usually goes away after the birth of the baby. If you have gestational diabetes, this means that you have a high amount of sugar in your blood during pregnancy. This form of diabetes can be controlled through diet, medication, and exercise, but if left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health problems for both you and your baby. If you develop gestational diabetes, your doctor will refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you with special meal plans to control your blood sugar.

Why do I get morning sickness and nausea, and what can I do about it?

Morning sickness and nausea are common problems for pregnant women. Most nausea occurs during the early part of pregnancy and, in most cases, will subside once you enter the second trimester. For some women, morning sickness and nausea might last longer than the early stages of pregnancy or even throughout the entire nine months.

The changes in your body might cause you to be nauseated or to vomit when you smell or eat certain things, when you are tired or stressed, or for no apparent reason at all. Nausea in early pregnancy is a condition that often can be managed by changing when and what you eat. Try these tips:

  • Eat smaller meals each day, such as six to eight small meals instead of three larger ones.
  • Avoid being without food for long periods of time.
  • Drink fluids between, but not with, meals.
  • Avoid foods that are greasy, fried, or highly spiced.
  • Avoid foul and unpleasant odors.
  • Rest when you are tired.

Severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is rare, but if it occurs, it can cause you to become dehydrated. If you feel that your nausea or vomiting is keeping you from eating right or gaining enough weight, talk with your doctor.

For More Information…

You can find out more information about pregnancy and nutrition by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center or the following organizations:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#ACOG) Resource Center
Phone Number: http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#202) 863-2518
Web Site: http://www.acog.org

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Service
Phone Number: http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#703) 305-2286
Web Site: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/

National Maternal and Child Health Clearinghouse
Phone Number: http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#703) 356-1964
Web Site: http://www.ask.hrsa.gov/MCH.cfm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Phone number: http://womens-health-info.blogspot.com/2006/01/health-glossary.html#800) 311-3435
Web Site: http://www.cdc.gov/


See also:

Pregnancy and Medications

Pregnancy and Medications

Is it safe to take medicine while you are pregnant?
What over-the-counter and prescription drugs are not safe to take during pregnancy?
Will there be studies in the future that will look at whether certain medicines or products are safe in pregnant women?
Should I avoid taking any medicine while I am pregnant?
What about taking natural medications, or herbal remedies, when you are pregnant?
I have heard that some women who were pregnant between 1938 and 1971 were given a drug called DES to prevent miscarriages that is now known to cause cancers. Would I be affected if my mother took this drug?

Is it safe to take medicine while you are pregnant?

It can be hard to plan exactly when you will get pregnant, in order to avoid taking any medicine. Most of the time, medicine a pregnant woman is taking does not enter the fetus. But sometimes it can, causing damage or birth defects. The risk of damage being done to a fetus is the greatest in the first few weeks of pregnancy, when major organs are developing. But researchers also do not know if taking medicines during pregnancy also will have negative effects on the baby later.

Many drugs that you can buy over-the-counter (OTC) in drug and discount stores, and drugs your health care provider prescribes are thought to be safe to take during pregnancy, although there are no medicines that are proven to be absolutely safe when you are pregnant. Many of these products tell you on the label if they are thought to be safe during pregnancy. If you are not sure you can take an OTC product, ask your health care provider.

Some drugs are not safe to take during pregnancy. Even drugs prescribed to you by your health care provider before you became pregnant might be harmful to both you and the growing fetus during pregnancy. Make sure all of your health care providers know you are pregnant, and never take any drugs during pregnancy unless they tell you to.

Also, keep in mind that other things like caffeine, vitamins, and herbal teas and remedies can affect the growing fetus. Talk with your health care provider about cutting down on caffeine and the type of vitamins you need to take. Never use any herbal product without talking to your health care provider first.

What over-the-counter and prescription drugs are not safe to take during pregnancy?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a system to rate drugs in terms of their safety during pregnancy. This system rates both over-the-counter (OTC) drugs you can buy in a drug or discount store, and drugs your health care provider prescribes. But most medicines have not been studied in pregnant women to see if they cause damage to the growing fetus. Always talk with your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.

The FDA system ranks drugs as:

  • Category A - drugs that have been tested for safety during pregnancy and have been found to be safe. This includes drugs such as folic acid, vitamin B6, and thyroid medicine in moderation, or in prescribed doses.

  • Category B - drugs that have been used a lot during pregnancy and do not appear to cause major birth defects or other problems. This includes drugs such as some antibiotics, acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspartame (artificial sweetener), famotidine (Pepcid), prednisone (cortisone), insulin (for diabetes), and ibuprofin (Advil, Motrin) before the third trimester. Pregnant women should not take ibuprofen during the last three months of pregnancy.

  • Category C - drugs that are more likely to cause problems for the mother or fetus. Also includes drugs for which safety studies have not been finished. The majority of these drugs do not have safety studies in progress. These drugs often come with a warning that they should be used only if the benefits of taking them outweigh the risks. This is something a woman would need to carefully discuss with her doctor. These drugs include prochlorperzaine (Compazine), Sudafed, fluconazole (Diflucan), and ciprofloxacin (Cipro). Some antidepressants are also included in this group.

  • Category D - drugs that have clear health risks for the fetus and include alcohol, lithium (used to treat manic depression), phenytoin (Dilantin), and most chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer. In some cases, chemotherapy drugs are given during pregnancy.

  • Category X - drugs that have been shown to cause birth defects and should never be taken during pregnancy. This includes drugs to treat skin conditions like cystic acne (Accutane) and psoriasis (Tegison or Soriatane); a sedative (thalidomide); and a drug to prevent miscarriage used up until 1971 in the U.S. and 1983 in Europe (diethylstilbestrol or DES).

Aspirin and other drugs containing salicylate are not recommended during pregnancy, especially during the last three months. In rare cases, a woman's health care provider may want her to use these type of drugs under close watch. Acetylsalicylate, a common ingredient in many OTC painkillers, may make a pregnancy last longer and may cause severe bleeding before and after delivery.

Will there be studies in the future that will look at whether certain medicines or products are safe in pregnant women?

To help women make informed and educated decisions about using medicines during pregnancy, it is necessary to find out the effect of these medicines on the unborn baby. Pregnancy Registries are one way to do this. A Pregnancy Registry is a study that enrolls pregnant women after they have been taking medicine and before the birth of the baby. Babies born to women taking a particular medicine are compared with babies of women not taking the medicine. Looking at a large number of women and babies is needed to find out the effect of the medicine on the babies.

If you are pregnant and currently taking medicine -- or have been exposed to a medicine during your pregnancy -- you may be able to join and help with this needed information. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) web site (http://www.fda.gov/womens/registries/) has a list of pregnancy registries that are enrolling pregnant women.

Should I avoid taking any medicine while I am pregnant?

Whether or not you should continue taking medicine during pregnancy is a serious question. But, if you stop taking medicine that you need, this could harm both you and your baby. An example of this is if you have an infection called toxoplasmosis, which you can get from handling cat feces or eating infected meat. It can cause problems with the brain, eyes, heart, and other organs of a growing fetus. This infection requires treatment with antibiotics.

For pregnant women living with HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the drug zidovudine (AZT). Studies have found that HIV positive women who take AZT during pregnancy decrease by two-thirds the risk of passing HIV to their babies. If a diabetic woman does not take her medicine during pregnancy, she increases her risk for miscarriage and stillbirth. If asthma and/or high blood pressure are not controlled during pregnancy, problems with the fetus may result. Talk with your health care provider about whether the benefits of taking a medication outweigh the risk for you and your baby.

What about taking natural medications, or herbal remedies, when you are pregnant?

While some herbal remedies say they will help with pregnancy, there have been no studies to figure out if these claims are true. Likewise, there have been very few studies to look at how safe and effective herbal remedies are. Echinacea, Gingko biloba, and St. John's Wort have been popular herbs, to name a few. Do not take any herbal products without talking to your health care provider first. These products may contain agents that could harm you and the growing fetus, and cause problems with your pregnancy.

I have heard that some women who were pregnant between 1938 and 1971 were given a drug called DES to prevent miscarriages that is now known to cause cancers. Would I be affected if my mother took this drug?

The synthetic (or man-made) estrogen, diethylstilbestrol or DES, was made in London in 1938. DES was used in the U.S. between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage (losing a pregnancy). Many women who had problems with earlier pregnancies were given DES because it was thought to be both safe and effective. Over time, it was found that not only did DES not prevent miscarriage, it also caused cancers of the vagina (birth canal) and cervix (opening to the uterus or womb).

While many women were given DES over this time, many mothers do not remember what they were given by their health care providers when they were pregnant. Some prescription prenatal vitamins also contained DES. If your mother is not sure whether she took DES, you can talk with the health care provider she went to when she was pregnant with you or contact the hospital for a copy of her medical records.

DES can affect both the pregnant woman and the child (both daughters and sons). Daughters born to women who took DES are more at risk for cancer of the vagina and cervix. Sons born to women who took DES are more at risk for non-cancerous growths on the testicles and underdeveloped testicles. Women who took DES may have a higher risk for breast cancer.

If you think or know that your mother took DES when she was pregnant with you, talk with your health care provider right away. Ask her or him about what types of tests you may need, how often they need to be done, and anything else you may need to do to make sure you don't develop any problems.

For more information...

You can find out more about pregnancy and medications by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) at (800) 994-WOMAN (9662) or the following organizations:

Food and Drug Administration
Phone Number(s): (888) 463-6332 (Consumer Information)
Internet Address: http://www.fda.gov

Food and Drug Administration
Office on Women's Health
Guide to Pregnancy Registries
Internet Address: http://www.fda.gov/womens/registries

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Phone Number(s): (800) 370-2943
Internet Address: http://www.nichd.nih.gov

Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR)
National Institutes of Health
Internet Address: http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Resource Center
Phone Number(s): (800) 762-2264 x 192 (for publications requests only)
Internet Address: http://www.acog.org

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
Phone Number(s): (888) 663-4637
Internet Address: http://www.modimes.org

See Also

Birth Control Methods

Birth Control Methods

What is the best method of birth control (or contraception)?
What are the different birth control methods that I can use?
Are there any foams or gels that I can use to keep from getting pregnant?
How effective is withdrawal as a birth control method?
Everyone I know is on the pill. Is it safe?
Will birth control pills protect me from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other STDs?
I’ve heard my girlfriends talking about dental dams and I thought they were something only dentists used during oral surgery – what are they?

What is the best method of birth control (or contraception)?

All women and men should have control over if and when they become parents. Making decisions about Birth Control, or contraception, is not easy – there are many things to think about. Learning about birth control methods you or your partner can use to prevent pregnancy and talking with your doctor are two good ways to get started.

There is no “best” method of birth control. Each method has its own pros and cons. Some methods work better than others do at preventing pregnancy. Researchers are always working to develop or improve birth control methods.

The birth control method you choose should take into account:

  • your overall health
  • how often you have sex
  • the number of sexual partners you have
  • if you want to have children
  • how well each method works (or is effective) in preventing pregnancy
  • any potential side effects
  • your comfort level with using the method

Bear in mind that NO method of birth control prevents pregnancy all of the time. Birth control methods can fail, but you can greatly increase a method’s success rate by using it correctly all of the time. The only way to be sure you never get pregnant is to not have sex (abstinence).

What are the different birth control methods that I can use?

There are many methods of birth control that a woman can use. Talk with your doctor or nurse to help you figure out what method is best for you. You can always try one method and if you do not like it, you can try another one.

Keep in mind that most Birth Control does NOT protect you from HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea, herpes, and chlamydia. Other than not having sex, the best protection against STDs and HIV is the male latex condom. The female condom may give some STD protection.

Don’t forget that all of the methods we talk about below work best if used correctly. Be sure you know the correct way to use them. Talk with your doctor or nurse and don’t feel embarrassed about talking with her or him again if you forget or don’t understand.

Know that learning how to use some birth control methods can take time and practice. Sometimes doctors do not explain how to use a method because they may think you already know how. For example, some people do not know that you can put on a male condom “inside out.” Also, not everyone knows that you need to leave a “reservoir” or space at the tip of the condom for the sperm and fluid when a man ejaculates, or has an orgasm.

The more you know about the correct way to use birth control, the more control you will have over deciding if and when you want to become pregnant.

Here is a list of birth control methods with estimates of effectiveness, or how well they work in preventing pregnancy when used correctly, for each method:

  • Continuous Abstinence – This means not having sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse) at any time. It is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and protect against HIV and other STDs. This method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs.
  • Periodic Abstinence or Fertility Awareness Methods – A woman who has a regular menstrual cycle has about seven or more fertile days or days when she is able to get pregnant, each month. Periodic abstinence means you do not have sex on the days that you may be fertile. These fertile days are approximately 5 days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and one or more days after ovulation. Fertility awareness means that you can be abstinent or have sex but you use a “barrier” method of birth control to keep sperm from getting to the egg. Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps, used together with spermicides, which kill sperm. These methods are 75 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Keep in mind that to practice these methods, you need to learn about your menstrual cycle (or how often you get your period). To learn about your cycle, keep a written record of when you get your period, what it is like (heavy or light blood flow), and how you feel (sore breasts, cramps). You also check your cervical mucus and take your basal body temperature daily, and record these in a chart. This is how you learn to predict, or tell, which days you are fertile or “unsafe.” You can ask your doctor or nurse for more information on how to record and understand this information.

  • The Male Condom – Condoms are called barrier methods of birth control because they put up a block, or barrier, which keeps the sperm from reaching the egg. Only latex or polyurethane (because some people are allergic to latex) condoms are proven to help protect against STDs, including HIV. "Natural” or “lambskin” condoms made from animal products also are available, but lambskin condoms are not recommended for STD prevention because they have tiny pores that may allow for the passage of viruses like HIV, hepatitis B and herpes. Male condoms are 84 to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms can only be used once. You can buy them at a drug store. Condoms come lubricated (which can make sexual intercourse more comfortable and pleasurable) and non-lubricated (which can also be used for oral sex). It is best to use lubrication with non-lubricated condoms if you use them for vaginal or anal sex. You can use KY jelly or water-based lubricants, which you can buy at a drug store. Oil-based lubricants like massage oils, baby oil, lotions, or petroleum jelly will weaken the condom, causing it to tear or break. Always keep condoms in a cool, dry place. If you keep them in a hot place (like a billfold, wallet, or glove compartment), the latex breaks down, causing the condom to tear or break. Latex or polyurethane condoms are the only method other than abstinence that can help protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (lambskin condoms do not).
  • Oral Contraceptives – Also called “the pill,” contains the hormones estrogen and progestin and is available in different hormone dosages. A pill is taken daily to block the release of eggs from the ovaries. Oral contraceptives lighten the flow of your period and can reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cancer, benign ovarian cysts, endometrial cancer, and iron deficiency anemia. It does not protect against STDs or HIV. The pill may add to your risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, blood clots, and blockage of the arteries, especially if you smoke. If you are over age 35 and smoke, or have a history of blood clots or breast, liver, or endometrial cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill. The pill is 95 to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. Some antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the pill in some women. Talk to your doctor or nurse about a back-up method of birth control if she or he prescribes antibiotics.

Most oral contraceptives are swallowed in a pill form. One brand, called Ovcon 35, can either be swallowed or chewed. If it is chewed, you must drink a full glass of liquid immediately after to make sure you get the full dose of medication. There are also extended cycle pills, brand name Seasonale, which have 12 weeks of pills that contain hormones (active) and 1 week of pills that don’t contain hormones (inactive). While taking Seasonale, women only have their period 4 times a year when they are taking the inactive pills. There are many different types of oral contraceptives available, and it is important to talk to your doctor or nurse about which one is best for you. You will need a prescription for oral contraceptives.

  • The Mini-Pill – Unlike the pill, the mini-pill only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin. Taken daily, the mini-pill thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It also prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus (womb). The mini-pill also can decrease the flow of your period and protect against PID and ovarian and endometrial cancer. Mothers who breastfeed can use it because it will not affect their milk supply. The mini-pill is a good option for women who can’t take estrogen, are over 35, or have a risk of blood clots. The mini-pill does not protect against STDs or HIV. Mini-pills are 92 to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. The mini-pill needs to be taken at the same time each day. A back-up method of birth control is needed if you take the pill more than three hours late. Some antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the pill in some women. Talk to your doctor or nurse about a back-up method of birth control if she or he prescribes antibiotics. You will need to visit you doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems.
  • Copper T IUD (Intrauterine Device) – An IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a “T.” Your health care provider places it inside the uterus. The arms of the Copper T IUD contain some copper, which stops fertilization by preventing sperm from making their way up through the uterus into the fallopian tubes. If fertilization does occur, the IUD would prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. The Copper T IUD can stay in your uterus for up to 12 years. It does not protect against STDs or HIV. This IUD is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert IUDs so check first before making your appointment.
  • Progestasert IUD (Intrauterine Device) –This IUD is a small plastic T- shaped device that is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It contains the hormone progesterone, the same hormone produced by a woman’s ovaries during the monthly menstrual cycle. The progesterone causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm cannot reach the egg, and it changes the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot successfully implant. The Progestasert IUD can stay in your uterus for one year. This IUD is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert IUDs so check first before making your appointment.
  • Intrauterine System or IUS (Mirena) – The IUS is a small T-shaped device like the IUD and is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. Each day, it releases a small amount of a hormone similar to progesterone called levonorgestrel that causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm cannot reach the egg. The IUS stays in your uterus for up to five years. It does not protect against STDs or HIV. The IUS is 99% effective. The Food and Drug Administration approved this method in December 2000. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert the IUS so check first before making your appointment
  • The Female Condom – Worn by the woman, this barrier method keeps sperm from getting into her body. It is made of polyurethane, is packaged with a lubricant, and may protect against STDs, including HIV. It can be inserted up to 24 hours prior to sexual intercourse. Female condoms are 79 to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. There is only one kind of female condom, called Reality, and it can be purchased at a drug store.
  • Depo-Provera – With this method women get injections, or shots, of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every 3 months. It does not protect against STDs or HIV. Women should not use Depo-Provera for more than 2 years in a row because it can cause a temporary loss of bone density that increases the longer this method is used. The bone does start to grow after this method is stopped, but it may increase the risk of fracture and osteoporosis if used for a long time. It is 97% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor for the shots and to make sure you are not having any problems.
  • Diaphragm, Cervical Cap or Shield – These are barrier methods of birth control, where the sperm are blocked from entering the cervix and reaching the egg. The diaphragm is shaped like a shallow latex cup. The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex cup. The cervical shield is a silicone cup that has a one-way valve that creates suction and helps it fit against the cervix. The diaphragm and cervical cap come in different sizes and you need a doctor to “fit” you for one. The cervical shield comes in one size and you will not need a fitting. Before sexual intercourse, you use them with spermicide (to block or kill sperm) and place them up inside your vagina to cover your cervix (the opening to your womb). You can buy spermicide gel or foam at a drug store. Some women can be sensitive to an ingredient called nonoxynol-9 and need to use spermicides that do not contain it. The diaphragm is 84 to 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. The cervical cap is 84 to 91% effective at preventing pregnancy for women who have not had a child and 68 to 74% for women who have had a child. The cervical shield is 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. Barrier methods must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy and removed by 24 hours for the diaphragm and 48 for cap and shield. You will need to visit your doctor for a proper fitting for the diaphragm or cervical cap and a prescription for the cervical shield.
  • Contraceptive Sponge - This is a barrier method of birth control that was re-approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005. It is a soft, disk shaped device, with a loop for removal. It is made out of polyurethane foam and contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Before intercourse, you wet the sponge and place it, loop side down, up inside your vagina to cover the cervix. The sponge is 84 to 91% effective at preventing pregnancy in women who have not had a child and 68 to 80% for women who have had a child. The sponge is effective for more than one act of intercourse for up 24 hours. It needs to be left in for at least six hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy and must be removed within 30 hours after it is inserted. There is a risk of getting Toxic Shock syndrome or TSS if the sponge is left in for more than 30 hours. The sponge does not protect against STDs or HIV. There is only one kind of contraceptive sponge for sale in the United States, called the Today Sponge, and it can be purchased at a drug store. Women who are sensitive to the spermicide nonoxynol-9 should not use this birth control method.
  • The Patch (Ortho Evra) –This is a skin patch worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks, and then do not wear a patch during the fourth week in order to have a menstrual period. The patch is 98 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but appears to be less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds. It does not protect against STDs or HIV. You will need to visit your doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems.
  • The Hormonal Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (NuvaRing) – The NuvaRing is a ring that releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You squeeze the ring between your thumb and index finger and insert it into your vagina. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week that you have your period, and then put in a new ring. The ring is 98 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems. This birth control method is not recommended while breastfeeding because the hormone estrogen may decrease breast milk production.
  • Surgical Sterilization (Tubal Ligation or Vasectomy) – These surgical methods are meant for people who want a permanent method of birth control. In other words, they never want to have a child or they do not want more children. Tubal ligation or “tying tubes” is done on the woman to stop eggs from going down to her uterus where they can be fertilized. The man has a vasectomy to keep sperm from going to his penis, so his ejaculate never has any sperm in it. They are 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • Nonsurgical Sterilization (Essure Permanent Birth Control System) – This is the first non-surgical method of sterilizing women. A thin tube is used to thread a tiny spring-like device through the vagina and uterus into each fallopian tube. Flexible coils temporarily anchor it inside the fallopian tube. A Dacron-like mesh material embedded in the coils irritates the fallopian tubes’ lining to cause scar tissue to grow and eventually permanently plug the tubes. It can take about three months for the scar tissue to grow, so it is important to use another form of birth control during this time. Then you will have to return to your doctor for a test to see if scar tissue has fully blocked your tubes. - After 3 years of follow-up studies, Essure has been shown to be 99.8 % effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Emergency Contraception – This is NOT a regular method of birth control and should never be used as one. Emergency contraception, or emergency birth control, is used to keep a woman from getting pregnant when she has had unprotected vaginal intercourse. “Unprotected” can mean that no method of birth control was used. It can also mean that a birth control method was used but did not work – like a condom breaking. Or, a woman may have forgotten to take her birth control pills, or may have been abused or forced to have sex when she did not want to. Emergency contraception consists of taking two doses of hormonal pills taken 12 hours apart and started within three days after having unprotected sex. These are sometimes wrongly called the “morning after pill.” The pills are 75 to 89% effective at preventing pregnancy. Another type of emergency contraception is having the Copper T IUD put into your uterus within seven days of unprotected sex. This method is 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. Neither method of emergency contraception protects against STDs or HIV. You will need to visit your doctor for either a prescription for the pills or for the insertion of the IUD, and to make sure you are not having problems.

Are there any foams or gels that I can use to keep from getting pregnant?

You can purchase what are called spermicides in drug stores. They work by killing sperm and come in several forms – foam, gel, cream, film, suppository, or tablet. They are inserted or placed in the vagina no more than one hour before intercourse. If you use a film, suppository, or tablet wait at least 15 minutes before having intercourse so the spermicide can dissolve. Do not douche or rinse out your vagina for at least six to eight hours after intercourse. You will need to use more spermicide before each act of intercourse. You may protect yourself more against getting pregnant if you use a spermicide with a male condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap. There are spermicidal products made specifically for use with the diaphragm and cervical cap. Check the package to make sure you are buying what you want.

All spermicides have sperm-killing chemicals in them. Some spermicides also have an ingredient called nonoxynol-9 that may increase the risk of HIV infection when used frequently because it irritates the tissue in the vagina and anus which can cause the virus to enter the body more freely. Some women are sensitive to nonoxynol-9 and need to use spermicides without it. Spermicides alone are about 74% effective at preventing pregnancy. Medications for vaginal yeast infections may decrease effectiveness of spermicides.

How effective is withdrawal as a birth control method?

Withdrawal is not the most effective birth control method. It works much better when a male condom is used.

Withdrawal is when a man takes his penis out of a woman’s vagina (or “pulls out”) before he ejaculates, or has an orgasm. This stops the sperm from going to the egg. “Pulling out” can be hard for a man to do and it takes a lot of self-control. When you use withdrawal, you can also be at risk getting pregnant BEFORE the man pulls out. When a man’s penis first becomes erect, there can be fluid called pre-ejaculate fluid on the tip of the penis that has sperm in it. This sperm can get a woman pregnant. Withdrawal also does not protect you from STDs or HIV.

Everyone I know is on the pill. Is it safe?

Today’s pills have lower doses of hormones than earlier birth control pills. This has greatly lowered the risk of side effects; however, there are both benefits and risks with taking birth control pills. Benefits include having more regular and lighter periods, fewer menstrual cramps; and a lower risk for ovarian and endometrial cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Serious side effects include an increased chance, for some women, of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and blood clots. Minor side effects include nausea, headaches, sore breasts, weight gain, irregular bleeding and depression. Many of these side effects go away after taking the pill for a few months. Women who smoke, are over age 35, or have a history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer are more at risk for dangerous side effects and may not be able to take the pill. Talk with your doctor or nurse about whether the pill is right for you.

Will birth control pills protect me from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other STDs?

Some people wrongly believe that if they take birth control pills, they are protecting themselves not only from getting pregnant but also from infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Birth control pills or other types of birth control, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), Depo-Provera, or tubal ligation will NOT protect you from HIV and other STDs.

The male latex condom is the only birth control method that is proven to help protect you from HIV and other STDs. If you are allergic to latex, there are condoms made of polyurethane that you can use. Condoms come lubricated (which can make sexual intercourse more comfortable and pleasurable) and non-lubricated (which can be used for oral sex).

It is important to only use latex or polyurethane condoms to protect against HIV and other STDs. "Natural” or “lambskin” condoms have tiny pores that may allow for the passage of viruses like HIV, hepatitis B and herpes. If you use non-lubricated condoms for vaginal or anal sex, you can add lubrication with water-based lubricants (like KY jelly) that you can buy at a drug store. Never use oil-based products, such as massage oils, baby oil, lotions, or petroleum jelly, to lubricate a condom. These will weaken the condom, causing it to tear or break.
It is very important to use a condom correctly and consistently – which means every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If you do not know how to use a condom, talk with your doctor or nurse. Don’t be embarrassed. Also, do not assume that your partner knows how to use a condom correctly. Many men have never had anyone show them how. The biggest reason condoms fail is due to incorrect use. Male condoms can only be used once. Research is being done to find out how effective the female condom is in preventing HIV and other STDs.

I’ve heard my girlfriends talking about dental dams and I thought they were something only dentists used during oral surgery – what are they?

The dental dam is a square piece of rubber that is used by dentists during oral surgery and other procedures. It is not a method of birth control. But it can be used to help protect people from STDs, including HIV, during oral and anal sex. It is placed over the opening to the vagina before having oral sex. Dental dams can be purchased at surgical supply stores.

For More Information

You can find out more about birth control methods by contacting the National Women’s Health Information Center at (800) 994-WOMAN (9662) or the following organizations:

Food and Drug Administration
Phone Number: (888) 463-6332
Internet Address: http://www.fda.gov/

Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Phone Number: (800) 230-7526
Internet Address: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Resource Center
Phone Number: (800) 762-2264 x 192 (for publications requests only)
Internet Address: http://www.acog.org/

Population Council
Phone Number: (212) 339-0500
Internet Address: http://www.popcouncil.org/

See also…