When I was pregnant, I read four books on pregnancy and two on childbirth. I read no books on what my body would be like during the first year postpartum, because I had never heard of any. During that first year, many people are underinformed about their own bodies, even as they learn vast amounts about their babies. For this piece, I discussed health in the first postpartum year with two ob-gyns, a nurse, two physical therapists who specialize in treating postpartum bodies and two mothers. The experts stressed that you don’t have to live with pain, discomfort or leaking urine, and that your health is as important as your baby’s.
The vast majority of working parents can’t keep their babies with them while they’re working. This means that if they want to keep breastfeeding while they work, they have to pump breastmilk. I talked to three breastfeeding experts and two lactation consultants; as well as five parents who navigated the decision to pump breastmilk when they returned to work as restaurant managers, police, scientists, soldiers and consultants. In researching this article, I heard about women pumping in printer closets, in the back of Humvees, in bathrooms and while driving. The experts I consulted all said that the best approach is to know your rights, make a plan and communicate transparently with your employer. Both experts and parents agreed: above all, be kind to yourself.
On 10 April, astrophysicists announced that they had captured the first ever image of a black hole. This was exhilarating news, but none of the giddy headlines mentioned that the image would have been impossible without open-source software. The image was created using Matplotlib, a Python library for graphing data, as well as other components of the open-source Python ecosystem. Just five days later, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) rejected a grant proposal to support that ecosystem, saying that the software lacked sufficient impact. It’s a familiar problem: open-source software is widely acknowledged as crucially important in science, yet it is funded non-sustainably.
Gene therapy might offer a cure for sickle-cell disease, and clinical trials are already under way. The approach is promising because just a single gene needs correcting: the one for the β-globin subunit of haemoglobin, the body’s oxygen ferry. But Elliott Vichinsky is concerned that the same problems that make current sickle-cell care ineffective will also plague this gene-therapy treatment. He estimates that at least 30% of his adult patients with sickle-cell disease die from preventable causes. As his patients attest, sickle-cell care is often inadequate for reasons that have little to do with scientific advancement and lots to do with economics and racism.
So you’ve just found out you’re pregnant with multiples. It’s O.K. to freak out. It’s a lot to process. Katie Ring panicked when she found out she was pregnant with twins, even though she was not at all surprised. “It felt like too much,” she said. “I felt like I was going to lose my whole identity.” For this guide, I sifted through the science, consulted three obstetricians who specialize in multiples, interviewed a mom of twins, and compiled the information you need to know about being pregnant with multiples, without the scaremongering.
If you’re pregnant and you’ve previously had a cesarean section, you may have a decision to make: Do you try for a vaginal birth after cesarean (otherwise known as a V.B.A.C.) or schedule another cesarean? Deciding whether or not to try for a V.B.A.C. means reckoning with the details of your medical situation in the context of your values, according to the experts. “I think it’s important to know that V.B.A.C. is an option for most women, and their chances of success are actually quite high,” said Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, M.D. M.P.H., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.
Early pregnancy can feel unreal. How do you know the fetus is there when you can’t see it or feel it moving yet? So the first ultrasound picture can feel momentous: Finally, your whirring brain can be placated with direct proof. But other than the visual evidence that you’re not dreaming all this, you may not know what to expect from prenatal ultrasounds. We’re here to walk you through it. For this guide, I interviewed two obstetricians who specialize in ultrasounds — and a radiologist whose observation led to a diagnostic breakthrough — to find out what you need to know about prenatal ultrasounds.
When you take a sip of tea, you’re drinking a beverage that is grounded in a particular time and place. In Yunnan province, southwestern China, which is the source of a highly prized tea known as pu-erh, summer brings monsoon rains, whereas spring is comparatively dry. Tea leaves that are harvested in spring therefore have different qualities to those collected in summer: each tea contains around 50 chemicals that are unique to its season of harvest, says Albert Robbat. The sensitivity of tea plants to the environment makes the crop vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Variations in temperature and precipitation are known to affect tea yield, as well as alter the complex balance of chemicals that gives tea its flavour and potential health benefits.
Computerized genetic-design tools automate the process by which researchers design complex genetic circuits that can program cells — especially bacteria and yeast — to carry out specific actions, such as activating a particular enzyme or churning out a certain protein. Synthetic biologists have used single-celled organisms in this way to produce drugs, biological sensors that include cells or antibodies, enzymes for use in industry, and more.