Pregnancy Podcast

The Pregnancy Podcast is a podcast all about navigating the crazy awesomeness that is pregnancy, birth, and being a new parent! Vanessa Merten provides info that goes way beyond the typical “pregnancy instruction manual” by sharing perspectives from first-time moms, experienced moms, midwives, doulas, the latest research, and even a physician here and there – all so you decide what the best option is for YOU and feel confident about​ your decisions during your pregnancy and beyond. The Pregnancy Podcast covers everything from pregnancy, prenatal care, labor, natural birth, breast feeding, newborns, and being a new parent. The Pregnancy Podcast is ​a resource to help you make informed decisions about your pregnancy and your baby. Rest assured, you’ll find the real solutions that are in line with your family and your lifestyle.
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Pregnancy Podcast



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Sep 14, 2016

A lot of expecting moms wonder if it is safe to dye their hair during pregnancy and looking for an answer often leaves you with mixed results. So which is it, can you dye your hair or not? The short answer is yes you can, but like everything pregnancy related, it isn’t exactly as simple as a yes or no question. Ideally during your pregnancy you want to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals. While there is not any solid research linking coloring your hair to negative effects to your baby there are some considerations you should take into account before coloring your hair. This episode answers the question of whether it is safe to dye your hair when you are pregnant and some things you can do to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals.

Sep 11, 2016

Your baby starts out with a lot of room to move around in the beginning of your pregnancy, and as they get bigger they have less room to move around. Ideally before birth your little one is positioned head-down, facing your back, with their chin tucked to their chest and the back of their head ready to enter your pelvis. Most babies settle into this position within weeks 32-36. In some cases a baby is not head down and is bottom first rather than head first, and this is referred to as breech. There is a procedure called an external cephalic version that may be able to assist your baby turn in the right position, so they are head down, before you go into labor. This episode is going to go into some causes of breech babies, what the complications of a breech vaginal birth can be, and all of the pros, cons, and research on the ECV procedure.

Sep 7, 2016

Being pregnant often comes along with stress and pressure from in-laws, parents, other family members, or friends to do thing the way they think is best.  The very first thing you should know is that you are running the show, even if it doesn’t feel that way at times. When people who are close to you try to assert their opinions on you they are coming from a good place.  You and your partner are in charge and you need to speak up and make your plans known.  Of course family is important and you do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so how you decide to tactfully bring up these conversations is going to be your call.  Bottom line, do not feel bad, and do not let anyone else make decisions for you or dictate how your pregnancy, birth, or newborn experience goes. This episode answers a question about how to deal with a difficult and stressful situation with family.

Sep 4, 2016

Caffeine is one of the very first things to be cautious with once you see that positive pregnancy test.  Caffeine is considered a psychoactive drug, meaning that it changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness. It is the most widely consumed drug in the world and is most commonly found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Trying to figure out whether you can have caffeine when you are pregnant can be confusing. Understanding how caffeine effects your body, and how it is processed will be help you to determine whether you are comfortable enjoying some caffeine when you are expecting.  Some common questions are: Can you consume caffeine during your pregnancy? Does caffeine affect your baby?  How much caffeine is okay when you are pregnant? This episode answers these questions, dives into all of the details on caffeine and pregnancy, and talks about what the research says about caffeine consumption when you are pregnant.

Aug 31, 2016

During pregnancy, or even before if you are trying to conceive, it is suggested you take a prenatal vitamin or supplement with folate or folic acid. Folate is water soluble, so it does not remain in your system for long, and this is why you need to constantly replenish your supply through your diet. Although folate deficiencies are rare, folate is really important when you are pregnant because it helps prevent neural tube defects. Folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably but they are not identical. This episode answers a question about the differences between folate and folic acid and which one is better.


Show notes:


Thank you to Zahler for their support of this episode. Zahler makes a high quality prenatal vitamin that has the active form of folate, that I refer after all of the research I have read on folic acid, plus it has omega 3s and DHA. This is the prenatal vitamin I take and the one I recommend. Zahler was very generous and gave me a promo code I can share with you so you can save 25% off when you buy a month supply on Amazon. To order them today go to and enter the promo code PREPOD25 when you checkout.

Aug 28, 2016

Alcohol is one of the very first things to go once you see that positive pregnancy test.  A lot of expecting moms have questions about alcohol. Trying to figure out guidelines for alcohol and pregnancy can be so confusing.  Can you drink any alcohol during your pregnancy?  Does it affect your baby?  How much is okay?  These are questions you may have asked your doctor or midwife and you usually get one of two answers.  You hear, absolutely no alcohol, in any quantity, or, it’s okay to enjoy a glass of wine from time to time with a meal.  When you drink alcohol it is absorbed through your stomach and small intestines and enters your blood stream. Once it is in your blood stream it goes to your heart, brain, muscles, and other tissues.  If you are pregnant, it is also going to your placenta and then gets passed to your baby through the umbilical cord. You already know that drinking high amounts of alcohol is a bad idea. What about an occasional drink? This episode is going to get into all of the details on alcohol and pregnancy, how it affects your baby, and what the research says about drinking when you are pregnant.

Aug 24, 2016

A pudendal nerve block is an injection of an anesthetic that works to block the pudednal nerve. This nerve goes into two branches, one on each side of your body, and carries sensation from your labia, clitoris, and perenium. Transvaginal refers to how this shot is administered, and it is given through your vagina. This procedure is done in the second stage of labor, just before your baby is born. This episode answers several questions relating to a pudendal nerve block including whether it is recommended, what the short and long term risks are, and whether it will affect the progression of labor or your baby.

Aug 21, 2016

A birth plan is your plan of how you envision your birth and what happens directly following the birth of your baby. A birth plan allows you to make choices. You get to choose where you want to have your baby, who you want to be there, what procedures are done to you, and what procedures are done to your baby. If you don’t make these choices someone else will make them for you. You know your body, your lifestyle, your preferences, and your priorities better than anyone. A birth plan is really more than a piece of paper you hand to your care provider. It is the process you go through to prepare for the birth experience you want. The importance of a birth plan has a lot more to do with the process of writing it than it does with the finished product. How your birth unfolds, and how you and your baby experience it, are a direct result of your planning ahead.

Aug 17, 2016

Shopping for baby gear can be overwhelming. Choosing the right crib can be especially intimidating because safety is a top priority. You have a lot of options when it comes to cribs, with many different styles and price ranges.  As if shopping for a crib isn’t confusing enough, you also have other options like a bassinet for the first few months. Deciding what sleeping arrangement is right for you can be a challenge. This episode answers a couple questions about choosing the right crib and whether you need a bassinet and has a great resource to check out before making a purchase.

Aug 14, 2016

The third stage of labor starts after your baby is born and ends with birthing the placenta. Even after your beautiful baby is born your uterus will continue to contract. These contractions are much more mild than the contractions you experience during birth. As your uterus begins to contract and shrink, your placenta will detach from your uterine wall. The blood vessels are then closed off, and the placenta is pushed out. You have some options as to what interventions are employed during this stage. This episode explains all of your choices during the third stage of labor and examines the research to give you all of the information you need to make the right decision for you.

Aug 10, 2016

Evening primrose oil comes from seeds of a wildflower that grows in the United States.  It is usually found in capsules or as an oil.  Some pregnant moms use evening primrose oil to help with cervical ripening, to attempt to induce labor. The research available on evening primrose oil sheds some light on whether this is a good method to induce labor naturally and what some of the side effects are.  This episode answers a question about what evening primrose oil does and whether you should take it.

Aug 7, 2016

Vitamin K and erythromycin are involved in two standard procedures that are done to your newborn shortly after birth. All babies are naturally born with low levels of vitamin K. This vitamin is essential to helping your baby's blood clot. The shot of vitamin K is designed to provide your baby with adequate levels of vitamin K to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Erythromycin eye ointment is an antibacterial medication to prevent eye infections that can cause permanent damage or even blindness in your baby. Find out what the risks are of these complications are and learn more about why vitamin K and erythromycin are administered. Like everything pregnancy and birth related you have choices. This episode gets into what the vitamin K and erythromycin procedures entail, why they are done, all of the risks and benefits, and your options.

Aug 3, 2016

Rupturing the membranes refers to breaking your water, which is also known as an amniotomy, and this is one type of induction. This procedure is thought to release prostaglandins and create a rise in oxytocin to speed up labor. An amniotomy is typically done only if the cervix is partially dilated and thinned and the baby's head is deep in the pelvis. A doctor or midwife ruptures your membranes by making a small opening in the amniotic sac with a thin plastic hook, which is very similar to a knitting needle. There are both benefits and risks with an induction. It can be really stressful if your care provider is recommending an induction when you are trying to avoid it. This episode answers a question about how to handle this tough situation, and discusses the pros and cons of your care provider rupturing your membranes.

Jul 31, 2016

If you want to have a natural birth that does not mean that you have to home birth. The majority of natural births take place in a hospital.  There is a lot you can do to set yourself up for success in navigating through the policies and procedures of a hospital to have an intervention free birth.  This episode gets into some challenges you may face in the hospital, how to overcome those obstacles, and how to set yourself up for a successful natural hospital birth.  Whether you are planning a birth with some interventions or planning to avoid them entirely, this episode has some great tips on how to distinguish between early and active labor, how to communicate with your care provider, and what you can do to prepare for the birth experience you want.

Samantha Lee Wright is a childbirth educator and doula, and she is a pro on navigating a natural birth in a hospital. She is the host for the #1 essential oil podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, The Essential Oil Revolution, where she teaches on the various ways to use essential oils and other healthy living tips to help families take control of their own health.

Jul 27, 2016

There really is overwhelming evidence of the benefits to both delayed cord clamping and getting skin to skin immediately after birth. Delayed cord clamping increases your baby’s blood volume by about 20% from a transfer that takes place after they are born. This additional supply of blood supplies extra iron, which can help guard against anemia in the first year of life, and it is enriched with immunoglobulins and stem cells. Skin to skin contact stabilizes your baby’s heart rate, breathing and temperature and reduces stress in both you and your baby. Your baby instinctively wants to breastfeed and being skin-to-skin with you will foster that. It also increases your interactions with your baby and increases the likelihood and length of breastfeeding. This weeks episodes answers a question about whether the umbilical cord is long enough to get skin to skin with your baby before the cord is cut.

Jul 24, 2016

A water birth is a birth in which a baby is born to a mother laboring in a tub of water. There are legends of women in different cultures laboring in water dating back quite a ways but there isn’t documentation of anyone actually giving birth in water until 1803 in France. Then it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the popularity of water births began growing in Western cultures, and today it is becoming increasingly popular. Proponents of water birth claim that it is beneficial in management of discomfort from contractions, that it promotes relaxation, and that it 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 digs deep into both the possible benefits and risks.

Jul 20, 2016

It easy to start thinking about how you are going to lose the baby weight before you even have your baby and there is so much pressure to get back to your pre-baby body. I hope you do not stress out about that, there are going to be a lot of changes after your little one arrives, and your focus needs to be on taking care of yourself during recovery and taking care of your new baby. Trying to figure out when to start working out after you have your baby can be tricky. You may also be wondering whether working out will affect breastfeeding and your milk production. This episode answers two questions about when to start working out and whether working out affects your milk production. This episode features Lori Isenstadt, of the All About Breastfeeding podcast.

Jul 17, 2016

A birth center is a middle ground between a home birth and a hospital. You get the benefit of a natural birth in a home-like setting, with some of the safety net that you would have in a hospital. Birth centers are generally based on midwife led care, focused on prenatal and postpartum care for low-risk women. The majority of birth centers are free standing entities, and more are popping up in hospitals with the same focus of natural birth but are fully integrated within 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, how everything works during your labor and birth, and the research on the safety of birth centers.

Jul 13, 2016

The placenta grows wherever the embryo implants itself in the uterus. In the majority of pregnancies, the placenta attaches at the top or side of the uterus.  In some cases, the embryo implants itself in the lower portion of the uterus.  Low-lying placenta is defined as a placenta ending within 2 cm of the internal cervical opening but not covering it.  If the placenta grows over the cervix, it is called placenta previa.  As the uterus expands it can pull the placenta higher, and away from the cervix, which resolves the situation.  The later in pregnancy that placenta previa exists, the more likely it will be present at the time of delivery.   This episode answers some questions about placenta previa resolving itself, and the risks involved with a low-lying placenta in the early and late stages of pregnancy.

Jul 10, 2016

Group B streptococcus is a type of bacterial infection. This bacterium naturally lives in the gastrointestinal tract and is present in the vagina and/or rectum of about 25% of all healthy, adult women. Once you have this bacterium it does not mean you will always have it, and it can come and go. Most women who are colonized with group B strep do not experience any symptoms, and normally this is not a big deal. It can create some complications for you when you are pregnant and can cause some serious complications if it is passed to your baby. It has become standard practice to test all expecting mothers between weeks 35 to 37 for group B strep. This episode covers what is involved in the testing, how group B strep is treated, and how you can reduce the risks to your baby. This episode also explores some research on what you can do to decrease your risk for group b strep during pregnancy and prevent the possibility of ever becoming colonized.

Jul 6, 2016

In the past it was assumed once you had one cesarean section, every subsequent birth would also need to be via a cesarean section. A vaginal birth after cesarean is not recommended if you had a uterine rupture during a previous pregnancy or if you had a classical incision in a C-section. A uterine rupture can occur when your uterus tears long a previous scar from a C-section, and this requires an emergency C-section. Today VBAC is becoming more popular for women who had a previous C-section, and about 90% of women who have had a cesarean are a candidate for a VBAC and of women who plan for a VBAC, about 3 in 5 are successful. This episode answers a few questions about planning a VBAC and going past your due date, what the risks are, and how to increase your chances of success.

Jul 3, 2016

It was not too long ago in our history that all births took place at home.  Over the last century the number of women giving birth at home has sharply declined.  The decline in home births is due to many factors beyond the advancements we have made in medicine.  The laws of your country or state, the coverage of home birth by your insurance or health care, and social attitudes have all played a part in directing where you have your baby.  In recent years the rates of home birth have been increasing as more expecting parents are exploring this as an option.  The biggest benefit to a home birth is that you have the most control over your labor and your environment in a home setting.  Learn what you can expect during a home birth from the time you start your labor until your baby is born.  The safety of home birth is a controversial topic and this episode includes a lot of research on whether home birth is safe and what some of the risks are.

Jun 29, 2016

The umbilical cord has one vein, which is carrying oxygenated blood from the placenta to your baby, and two arteries that take deoxygenated blood from your baby back to the placenta. A single umbilical artery means that instead of two arteries carrying deoxygenated blood from your baby there is only one. This is the most common umbilical abnormality and occurs in about 1 percent of pregnancies with a single baby. It is much more common with twins or multiples and occurs in about 5 percent of those. This episode answers some questions about the risks involved with this diagnosis.

Jun 26, 2016

There is so much you can do to set up your labor room environment to be supportive of the birth experience you want. Your labor will progress best in an environment where you feel safe and relaxed. No matter where you are having your baby you could make some adjustments to your surroundings to create the environment that works best for you. This episode has some great tips to improve your birth environment, whether you are giving birth at your home, in a birth center, or a hospital. You want to set up the room to be your space.  If there is anything that would make a difference to you pack it in your hospital or birth center bag.  If anything about the environment is not working for you, ask if you can adjust it, remove it, or turn it off. The more comfortable you are in your surroundings the more relaxed and at ease you will be to focus on meeting your baby.

Jun 22, 2016

The glucose challenge screening is a preliminary screening test you take in the early part of your third trimester. This has become a standard test performed between 26-28 weeks. During the test, you are asked to drink a sweet liquid of glucose and then will have blood drawn one hour from having the drink, as blood glucose levels normally peak within one hour. This screening test evaluates how your body processes sugar and a high level in your blood may indicate your body is not processing sugar effectively. If the results of this screen are positive, meaning your body is not processing glucose effectively, you may have the Glucose Tolerance Test performed, which is used to diagnose gestational diabetes. This episode answers a few questions relating to the glucose screening test.

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