65 Year Old Grandmother Gives Birth to Quads? Yes. It’s True.

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Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a story emerges that gives you reason to pause. Please meet Annegret Raunigk, a 65 year old German mother of 13 with 7 grandchildren. On May 19, 2015, she made history by delivering quadruplets (four babies) at 26 weeks via emergency C-Section. It’s not clear why she had an emergency C-Section but thank God all four of the babies are okay for the moment. Raunigk is a single mother who works as a teacher. She conceived her four children by In Vitro Fertiliation (aka IVF) after finding a specialist who was willing to help her conceive. The cut-off for receiving IVF therapy is usually age 50 for most countries but it appears Germany has a different set of rules. Raunigk decided to conceive because her youngest child, age 10, desired younger siblings. Raunigk’s specialist reportedly made several attempts to impregnant Raunigk through fertility treatments before he succeeded. Although she was offered to “selectvely reduce the number of embryos, she declined. She now has 3 new sons and one daughter to add to her previous family of 9.

There is now an uproar in Germany (and perhaps the world) regarding Raunigk’s decision.  I know what it’s like to be an older mother. Seven years ago my husband and I adopted our 6 and 7 year-old sons when I was 54. I was healthy at that time but had a health challenge last year that jolted my equilibrium into a tail-spin. Thank God my health has improved but it was a life-altering experience.

When I think about older women and multiple births, I immediately think about Lisa MacLaughlin, an exuberant 56 year old physician who died shortly after giving birth to twins. Or Maria  del Carmen Bousada de Lara, the 66 year old mother of twins who died of cancer 2 1/2 years after giving birth.  de Lara traveled from Spain to the U.S, paid $49,000 for IVF services and her sons are now rumored to be orphans. Then or course, there’s Erica Morales, who died shortly after giving birth to her quads at a much younger age of 36.

Supporters of Raunigk cite Robert de Niro and Rod Stewart, who both became fathers in their 60’s as a counter-point to justify Raunigk’s decision. Unfortunately there’s just one problem with that argument — men don’t die in childbirth. Women do.

 

Does Having a Boy or Girl Place You at Risk for Diabetes?

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A recent article in a well respected journal says, yes, being pregnant with either a boy or girl could increase your risks for developing diabetes during pregnancy or years later.

According to an article published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a group of researchers reviewed information from over 60,000 Canadian pregnant women and discovered that women who had sons developed diabetes during pregnancy (aka gestational diabetes) but women who had daughters developed Type 2 diabetes later in life. The study was quick to note that having a son or daughter does not cause a woman to have diabetes but there is clearly an association. The women who developed diabetes later in life also had more significant health problems than those who did not.

So, what is the take home message regarding this study? If you’re having a male and are obese or have a family history of diabetes, please keep your appointment for your glucose (sugar) at 28 weeks so that gestational diabetes can be identified early. If you have a daughter and have family risk factors, pay close attention to your health later in life. Most family practice providers will order a hemoglobin A1C that tells you whether your sugar has been controlled during the past 3 months. If your sugar has not been controlled, he or she will develop an individualized program that might include lifestyle changes as well as changing your diet.

Diabetes affects 29.1 million or 9% of the U.S. population and 8% of pregnant women each year. Unfortunately 8 million people have diabetes but don’t know it although it is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Knowing what your risk factors for diabetes will not only save the life of your baby, but potentially yours as well.
 Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.

The Founder of Lamaze Says Farewell

Courtesy of the New York Times

Courtesy of the New York Times

Elisabeth Bing is gone — but oh what a legacy she left!

100-year-old Bing died on Friday, May 15th in her Manhattan home according to the New York Times. While her name might not be familiar to some, any woman who used the Lamaze technique during childbirth should thank her profusely.

Bing was born in Germany but fled with her family to London during World War II. She eventually came to the U.S. and worked as a physical therapist. Part of her job was to provide physical therapy to mothers in the maternity ward who spent ten days confined to a hospital bed after delivering a baby. Bing witnessed women in cold hospital rooms, strapped on their backs heavily sedated with anesthesia attempting to deliver babies.

The Lamaze technique was actually created by a French obstetrician named Dr. Fernand Lamaze during the 1940’s, but it was Bing who brought the technique to light. Dr. Lamaze had observed Russians use the method out of necessity because poverty prevented the use of anesthesia.  Their technique emphasized childbirth education and breathing relaxation. Lamaze began using it during his clinical practice.

Bing wanted to teach Dr. Lamaze’s method to pregnant women and eventually collaborated with Dr. Allan Guttmacher, a New York obstetrician at Mt Sinai Hospital. She eventually, along with co-founder Marjorie Karmel, started Lamaze International, a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach the Lamaze technique as well as childbirth classes to clear up the mystique regarding the birth process. Bing continued to teach the Lamaze technique at Mt Sinai Hospital well into her 80’s.

Bing leaves to mourn a son who was a college professor and a granddaughter who played the cello like her grandmother.  She was an example of a life well-lived and leaves a legacy that will last forever.