Midwives and movement for a better birth experience

Key messages: 1. Midwife-led continuity models of care have benefits for mothers and babies and most women should be offered it. 2. Walking and upright positions in the first stages of labour shorten labour and have other benefits for women at low risk of complications.

I seem to have blogged a lot about pregnancy and childbirth recently but there are huge numbers of you out there for whom new evidence on those topics will be important and I really want to share it with you. Two reviews from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group have just been updated and the addition of new studies has changed their conclusions. They focus on the implications for you and your baby of two very fundamental things – firstly, who is the main provider of care for the pregnant or labouring woman and secondly, positions and mobility during the first stage of labour.  Continue reading

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Can the Mediterranean diet help us ward off heart disease? The latest evidence

Key message: Limited evidence suggests that a Mediterranean dietary pattern reduces some cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Existing evidence is promising but more trial evidence is needed to establish the role of the Mediterranean dietary pattern in preventing CVD in the general population and high-risk individuals.

Back in 1970s Britain, I grew up with a Mediterranean diet, thanks to my French step-father, though I didn’t always appreciate it. Strawberry Mivvis for my friends, something (everything?!) in olive oil for me. I particularly hated a concoction called tian, which combined courgettes, eggs and rice to produce something truly unpleasant, particularly when served cold. In 21st century Britain, Marseilles has come to Morrisons and many of us eat Med-style. We hear much conflicting advice about what we should and shouldn’t eat, the benefits of this over that, so I was interested in the latest Cochrane evidence on the so-called Mediterranean diet. Continue reading

Babies, bright lights, blood-thinners and more: Cochrane evidence round-up

It’s probably best to draw a veil over many of the things done in English boarding schools by past generations and some in the name of health. The boys of Dickens’ fictional Dotheboys Hall were given brimstone and treacle from “a common wooden spoon, which might have been originally manufactured for some gigantic top, and which widened every young gentleman’s mouth considerably: they being obliged, under heavy corporal penalties, to take in the whole of the bowl at a gasp.” Continue reading

No good evidence that antioxidants will help you get pregnant

It’s Monday morning and I have just the thing to wake you up. It’s a three word combo: antioxidants + subfertility + evidence. Yes I was interested too. We so often hear claims for health benefits of antioxidant supplements (cranberry capsules, green tea, bee spit and so on and so on) and there’s a huge market for them amongst women who are trying to get pregnant, particularly for the increasing number who are having difficulty conceiving, now thought to be around a quarter of couples. Many of the antioxidant supplements taken in the hope of improving fertility are unregulated and readily available to buy. But is there any evidence that antioxidants benefit woman trying to conceive and do we know if there are risks attached? Continue reading