THE LIZ LIBRARY: LIZNOTES

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THE EFFECTS OF PREGNANCY


What women are "at risk" for complications?
ALL of them.


Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world,
most often in a developing nation,
a woman dies from complications related to
pregnancy or childbirth.

And that's just talking about the immediate physical repercussions.

Below is a partial list of the physical effects and risks of pregnancy.  This list does not include the many non-physical effects and risks a woman faces in reproducing, such as the economic investment of work interruptions from pregnancy and breastfeeding, or time lost from career and other opportunity costs involved in pregnancy and later child rearing (mothers comprise 90+% of primary parents), or the emotional trauma of problem pregnancies, or the numerous economic and lifestyle repercussions that pregnancy and motherhood will have on the remainder of a mother's life.

This page was written in response to the popular, but mother-denigrating and nonsensical notion that, absent a substantial investment of some other sort, i.e. absent committed emotional and financial support of the mother of his child through pregnancy and beyond, and a familial relationship with both of them in fact, a "father" is, without anything more, a father, let alone an "equal parent."  

We have been culturally conditioned to accept some incredible and false ideas. But it is offensive to assert that pregnancy impacts men in any way equivalent to its impact on women; that fathers and mothers have comparable experiences or feelings in connection with pregnancy or their babies; that nonresident unwed fathers, based on DNA, ipso facto "should" have "rights;" that, from the standpoint of family laws or women's choices regarding abortion, pregnancy should be viewed as nothing more than an "inconvenience"; or that the riskiest "jobs" in this world all are performed by men. (Compare the percentages of women carrying the scars of pregnancy with the percentages of men who carry the scars of battle.)

Normal, frequent or expectable temporary side effects of pregnancy:

  • exhaustion (weariness common from first weeks)
  • altered appetite and senses of taste and smell
  • nausea and vomiting (50% of women, first trimester)
  • heartburn and indigestion
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • dizziness and light-headedness
  • bloating, swelling, fluid retention
  • hemmorhoids
  • abdominal cramps
  • yeast infections
  • congested, bloody nose
  • acne and mild skin disorders
  • skin discoloration (chloasma, face and abdomen)
  • mild to severe backache and strain
  • increased headaches
  • difficulty sleeping, and discomfort while sleeping
  • increased urination and incontinence
  • bleeding gums
  • pica
  • breast pain and discharge
  • swelling of joints, leg cramps, joint pain
  • difficulty sitting, standing in later pregnancy
  • inability to take regular medications
  • shortness of breath
  • higher blood pressure
  • hair loss
  • tendency to anemia
  • curtailment of ability to participate in some sports and activities
  • infection including from serious and potentially fatal disease
    (pregnant women are immune suppressed compared with non-pregnant women, and are more susceptible to fungal and certain other diseases)
  • extreme pain on delivery
  • hormonal mood changes, including normal post-partum depression
  • continued post-partum exhaustion and recovery period (exacerbated if a c-section -- major surgery -- is required, sometimes taking up to a full year to fully recover)

Normal, expectable, or frequent PERMANENT side effects of pregnancy:

  • stretch marks (worse in younger women)
  • loose skin
  • permanent weight gain or redistribution
  • abdominal and vaginal muscle weakness
  • pelvic floor disorder (occurring in as many as 35% of middle-aged former child-bearers and 50% of elderly former child-bearers, associated with urinary and rectal incontinence, discomfort and reduced quality of life -- aka prolapsed utuerus, the malady sometimes badly fixed by the transvaginal mesh)
  • changes to breasts
  • varicose veins
  • scarring from episiotomy or c-section
  • other permanent aesthetic changes to the body (all of these are downplayed by women, because the culture values youth and beauty)
  • increased proclivity for hemmorhoids
  • loss of dental and bone calcium (cavities and osteoporosis)
  • higher lifetime risk of developing Altzheimer's
  • newer research indicates microchimeric cells, other bi-directional exchanges of DNA, chromosomes, and other bodily material between fetus and mother (including with "unrelated" gestational surrogates)

Occasional complications and side effects:

  • complications of episiotomy
  • spousal/partner abuse
  • hyperemesis gravidarum
  • temporary and permanent injury to back
  • severe scarring requiring later surgery
    (especially after additional pregnancies)
  • dropped (prolapsed) uterus (especially after additional pregnancies, and other pelvic floor weaknesses -- 11% of women, including cystocele, rectocele, and enterocele)
  • pre-eclampsia (edema and hypertension, the most common complication of pregnancy, associated with eclampsia, and affecting 7 - 10% of pregnancies)
  • eclampsia (convulsions, coma during pregnancy or labor, high risk of death)
  • gestational diabetes
  • placenta previa
  • anemia (which can be life-threatening)
  • thrombocytopenic purpura
  • severe cramping
  • embolism (blood clots)
  • medical disability requiring full bed rest (frequently ordered during part of many pregnancies varying from days to months for health of either mother or baby)
  • diastasis recti, also torn abdominal muscles
  • mitral valve stenosis (most common cardiac complication)
  • serious infection and disease (e.g. increased risk of tuberculosis)
  • hormonal imbalance
  • ectopic pregnancy (risk of death)
  • broken bones (ribcage, "tail bone")
  • hemorrhage and
  • numerous other complications of delivery
  • refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • aggravation of pre-pregnancy diseases and conditions (e.g. epilepsy is present in .5% of pregnant women, and the pregnancy alters drug metabolism and treatment prospects all the while it increases the number and frequency of seizures)
  • severe post-partum depression and psychosis
  • research now indicates a possible link between ovarian cancer and female fertility treatments, including "egg harvesting" from infertile women and donors
  • research also now indicates correlations between lower breast cancer survival rates and proximity in time to onset of cancer of last pregnancy
  • research also indicates a correlation between having six or more pregnancies and a risk of coronary and cardiovascular disease

Less common (but serious) complications:

  • peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • cardiopulmonary arrest
  • magnesium toxicity
  • severe hypoxemia/acidosis
  • massive embolism
  • increased intracranial pressure, brainstem infarction
  • molar pregnancy, gestational trophoblastic disease
    (like a pregnancy-induced cancer)
  • malignant arrhythmia
  • circulatory collapse
  • placental abruption
  • obstetric fistula
More permanent side effects:

  • future infertility
  • permanent disability
  • death.



Obstetric Fistula



Silent Struggle:  A new theory of pregnancy




NATURAL CHILD PROJECT




Episiotomy    
complications:  




ABORTION CLINICS ONLINE




Birth Mother -- hideous truth about the adoption industry

THE RISKS OF EGG DONATION

thelizlibrary index:
GESTATIONAL SURROGACY: Who is a "mother"?


Maternal mortality is so high in the developing world (1 in 48)
that it is customary for Tanzanian women about to give birth to
bid farewell to their older children.

-- Michele Landsberg, TORONTO STAR, Sat., Sept. 30, 2000,
p. L1 "U.N. Executive Council Fights Inequality With Shocking Facts and Figures"

Pregnancy/childbirth was a leading cause of death
of American women of childbearing age at the turn of the century.
It remains a leading cause of death of women in many countries in the world.

What women aren't told about childbirth:
http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/65608/?page=entire

Mothers Against the Odds: shocking documentary about the physical harm inflicted on Irish women who underwent brutal nonconsensual "symphysiotomies" during childbirth.


All pregnant women, by virtue of their pregnant status,
face some level of maternal risk. Data suggest that around
40% of all pregnant women have some complication.
About 15% ... [have complications] that are potentially life-threatening.

If a person put this sort of effort and risk into some other venture, would we think it "equality" if someone else got equal credit for the accomplishment, or equal rights in the outcome, just because he had participated -- at his own request or behest -- for a few pleasurable and "fully compensated" minutes?  
Before you tell me about "father's rights," I want to know: what did he put in on his end toward an equivalent, albeit different kind of investment? -- liz

Girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die from childbirth
as women in their twenties; those under age 15 are five times as likely to die.

"Can a function so perilous that in spite of the best care, it kills thousands of women every year, that leaves at least a quarter of the women more or less invalided, and a majority with permanent anatomic changes of structure, that is always attended by severe pain and tearing of tissues, and that kills 3%-5% of children -- can such a function be called normal?"             

-- Joseph, B. BeLee, obstetrician, quoted in Wendy Mitchinson, Giving Birth in Canada 1900-1950 (2002) Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-8471-0, a history of childbirth in Canada

Why would any woman have a late-term abortion?
The long-term effects of an abortion.


thelizlibrary index:
What's wrong with gestational surrogacy?

Egg Donation and Exploitation of Young Women Results in Death and Infertility


Is the fetus a parasite?

The short answer is: YES. The medical definition of "parasite" traditionally refers to a different species, but this is an arbitrary criterion, and relaxing somewhat. The "different species" requirement was included in the definition specifically to eliminate pregnancy. However, the delineation of what constitutes a "different species" (organisms unable to reproduce, or at least unable to reproduce fertile offspring) is not always so clear. Consider the many common examples of cross-species pregnancies, for example, a cross between a tiger and lion (a "tigon" or "liger"), or horse-donkey pregnancies that result in a mule or hinnie, including occasional examples of fertile offspring. Would those pregnancies then involve a parasite-host relationship, but not "same-species" pregnancies? What about gestational surrogacy, in which the mother is not genetically related to the fetus? Scientists are now unsure of whether the Neanderthals really were a different species of human. Human beings themselves may have been involved in cross-species pregnancies 30,000 years ago. In fact, in all functional ways, the fetus meets the definition of an "obligate parasite" (a parasite completely unable to live outside of the host). The smaller or incomplete twin in a set of assymetrical conjoined twins may be also considered medically to be a human parasite. While calling a fetus a "parasite" is upsetting and shocking to some, because it carries a repulsive connotation that does not fit with the reality of a loved and wanted child, there really should not be emotional baggage attached to cold facts. We all are hosts to billions of parasites, and biologically, actually have a far more symbiotic relationship with our gut flora than a mother has to a fetus. -- liz

Research study on the effects of abortion
[Information regarding "PASS" -- "Post-abortion Stress Syndrome"]
Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder
Trine Munk-Olsen, Ph.D., et. al
N Engl J Med 2011; 364:332-339
January 27, 2011


"I believe, as a wage-earning woman, that if I make the great sacrifice of strength and health and even risk my life, to have a child, I should certainly not do so if, on some future occasion, the man can say that the child belongs to him by law and he will take it from me and I shall see it only three times a year!
        -- lsadora Duncan in her biography, My Life (1927)

M. Fathallah, M.D. (researcher)
World's Top Five Causes Of Disease Burden In Young People And Adults Ages 15-44
Female:  1. Maternity  2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases  3. Tuberculosis  4. HIV Infection  5. Depression
Male: 1. HIV Infection 2. Tuberculosis 3. Motor Vehicle Injury 4. Homicide And Violence 5. War
BACK TO TEXT

Myth: Most women enjoy being pregnant.
Fact: Some women do; some women don't, and for most, it's just not that simple.   We tend not to hear as often from the women who don't. Lots of women who are happy about being pregnant and who want their babies dislike or even hate the physical pregnancy itself. And every abortion stands as testament to the fact that women are not merely containers carrying an incidental fetus that with just a little more effort and a small bit of inconvenience just could be carried to term and then given up for adoption.

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