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For Mother's Day, a bouquet of useful health advice for new moms and moms-to-be

Loveis Wise for NPR

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12. If you're thinking about getting pregnant or if you've just given birth, Life Kit is here to help.

Our archive of episodes on maternal and reproductive health can help you understand your menstrual cycle, navigate pregnancy complications such as postpartum depression and pregnancy loss, and help you prepare for another pregnancy.

Find a link to all these episodes and more in Life Kit's guide for moms and moms to be.

Trying to get pregnant? Brush up on your knowledge of your menstrual cycle. The ovulation step is when you have the greatest chance of getting pregnant – or when you're most fertile. This period of high fertility is about six days. You're most likely to get pregnant a few days before and after your body releases its egg. Read the story here.

A primer on freezing your eggs. A typical check-up will start with an ultrasound of the ovaries so they can see how many follicles you have. Follicles are the small sacs that surround the eggs. After that, you'll have blood drawn to measure your level of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). If the doctor decides you are a good candidate for egg banking, they might want to start the process right away. Read the story here.

How your brain changes when you're pregnant. Pregnancy marks the beginning of a very distinct developmental stage of life that shapes our physical and mental health for the long term, says Chelsea Conaboy, author of the book Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting The Story Of Parenthood. "Those dramatic changes that happen to our hormones during pregnancy are priming the brain to be more plastic, more malleable, more changeable, and ready, essentially, to receive our babies." Read the comic here.

Pregnant? It's time to write your 'birth plan.' The document outlines a person's "wishes in not just their labor and birth, but their postpartum as well," says Tanya Smith-Johnson, a certified professional midwife. Share it with your birth team and anyone who's a part of your support system. Read the story here.

Grieving a pregnancy loss. Despite how common it is, many parents and families suffer in silence and don't get the support they need. The first step, says Dr. Jamila Perritt, an OBGYN in Washington, D.C., is to acknowledge the loss — and remember that the burden of shame is not theirs to carry. "There is nothing you did to cause this, and there's nothing you could have done to prevent it." Read the story here.

The emotional rollercoaster of being a new mom. Becoming a mother is a huge, complicated life transition that can rock every fiber of a person's being. The process even has its own name: matrescence. Psychologists explain how to manage expectations, get the support you need and prioritize time for yourself. Read the story here.

Recognize the signs of postpartum depression. An estimated 80% of new moms experience the "baby blues," says Jennifer Payne, a psychiatrist and the director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University. It's "a natural phenomenon that occurs in the immediate postpartum period." Find out what the key symptoms are and what to do about them. Read the story here.

Navigating another pregnancy after a complication. After economist Emily Oster wrote her blockbuster book Expecting Better, she heard from "thousands of women about their pregnancy complications." Many people determine whether or not to try to become pregnant again based on a previous pregnancy experience, she says. In a new book, The Unexpected, she lays out research on how to minimize risk during the next pregnancy.Read the story here.

The digital story was written by Malaka Gharib and edited by Meghan Keane and Margaret Cirino. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at

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Copyright 2024 NPR

Life Kit
[Copyright 2024 NPR]