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    From the minute they find out they're pregnant, women are inundated with a laundry list of warnings about potential hazards and dangers that could befall them or their baby. Among them now more than ever: A trillion red flags related to what we're doing or might accidentally do to cause kids' autism, from taking antidepressants to having kids at "advanced maternal and paternal age." Needless to say, having to juggle and weigh out all the potential culprits can be terribly stressful! Thankfully, a new statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) should put our minds at ease about at least one thing!

    In the new issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the ACOG notes that there is no connection between inducing labor in childbirth and autism.

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    One of the biggest decisions any mom-to-be has to make is her birth plan and where she wants to deliver her baby. For some, home birth is a given, while others have always seen themselves giving birth in a hospital. But more and more, women are looking to have a natural, medical intervention-free delivery at a hospital, or "natural hospital birth."

    "Women may be comfortable having a home birth, but maybe their partner is or their mother isn't," explains midwife Kristin Mallon, C.N.M. "And a lot of women risk out of having a home birth for various reasons, like they get gestational diabetes or have high blood-pressure. Home birth is really only for the lowest risk women, so other women, who are low-risk but not the lowest risk, can still have that home-like birth they want in a hospital setting."

    Here, 7 steps women can take to plan and have their own natural hospital birth experience ...

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    Moms may be rethinking their birth plans after hearing about a new study out of Argentina, published in The Lancet. It found newborns held immediately after birth have benefits we haven't even been considering. While expectant moms have most likely heard how skin-to-skin contact with their infant immediately following the birth bolsters bonding and a plethora of physical boons for baby, the latest research shows it could also boost the use of delayed cord clamping and potentially reduce the number of infants with iron deficiency.

    Current guidelines suggest that the baby be held at the level of the mother's placenta (which can be awkward and uncomfortable for the person holding the newborn) before the umbilical cord is clamped. But the new study found that the baby can be held at the mother's stomach or chest and still get similar amounts of blood transferred from the placenta.

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    Just as many of us unflinchingly identify with one side of the political aisle or the other, the decision to give birth at home or at a hospital is not even a question to many moms-to-be who wouldn't even think of opting for one or the other. Still, there are some who are on the fence, and a new analysis that appears online in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology may be used to influence these undecided pregnant women.

    An analysis of data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2006 to 2009 on almost 14 million births, including 130K non-hospital deliveries, concluded that giving birth in a hospital is "considerably safer" than having a baby at home or in a birthing center.

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    There's no shame in admitting you would rather slice off your arm than deliver a baby without the help of heavy drugs. When I gave birth to my first child, there was no doubt in my mind that I would get an epidural -- if it's good enough for more than 50 percent of women who give birth in hospitals, I thought, it's good enough for me. And it did deliver what it promised: my contractions were so painless, I had to be told when to push.

    But the epi also made my body a bit of a wreck after birth -- a shaky, feverish, low blood-pressured wreck. How do I know it was the epidural, you ask? Oh, because when I delivered my son a few days ago -- and I had every intention of getting drugs -- I was denied an epi because I had dilated too quickly. My recovery was amazingly quick and I felt great right away -- but this happy discovery didn't make labor any less frightening. Here are 21 thoughts you just might have if, like me, you discover -- surprise! -- they'll be no drugs for you, missy.

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    Claire Diaz-Ortiz must really love her job leading social innovation at Twitter. So much so that she decided to live-tweet her labor on Saturday, April 5. As soon as she started to wonder if her water broke and all the way up until the birth of her baby girl, Lucia, Claire posted updates with the hashtag "#inlabor."

    If your initial reaction to this is, "What in the world was she thinking?!" you're not alone. Investing energy in just about anything outside of the momentous, stressful, exhilarating, emotional, and physically grueling process of labor seems, well, completely crazy. But as Claire discovered, there's a surprising upshot to engaging in social media while giving birth.

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    There's nothing quite like being eight or nine months pregnant and feeling as if your body has been taken over by extraterrestrial forces. Muscles in your hips that you never knew you had ache, you can barely walk a block without wanting to die of exhaustion, and society is still forcing you to get dressed in the morning -- when you'd really love nothing more than to rock a snuggly robe everywhere you go.

    Most sane people know better than to mess with you when you're in the third trimester. They're usually supremely nice and accommodating and you may even find they can help restore your faith in humanity. That's the good news.

    The bad news is that you will almost certainly hear at least one insane, ridiculous comment or question uttered from the mouth of someone so clueless you can't help but wonder how he or she made it this far in life. Resist the urge to bump him/her with your belly and smile on. Here are 10 of the craziest comments/questions we've heard from real women.

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    Recently Orange Is the New Black actor Jason Biggs has gotten a lot of flack for his social media overshare during his wife's labor and delivery. He chronicled the experience from the moment the contractions ramped up in the car on the way to the hospital to her getting an epidural and in the OR during the surprise C-section. There is no question that it was a special day for his family, but it begs the question: How much is too much information?

    He's certainly not the only parent guilty of this. People boldly post everything from details of their painful episiotomies to photographs of their placenta. It's a disturbing epidemic if you ask me. We are so desperate for attention that we think nothing of sharing the most intimate (and sometimes most cringeworthy) moments of our birth stories. Check out 7 of the yuckiest labor and delivery overshares we've come across.

    WARNING, some of these tweets are graphic.

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    Two of my friends recently gave birth and both returned home from the hospital sharing similar, unbelievable stories: their babies had been kicked out of the hospital nursery for bad behavior. One of my friends had given birth naturally with no complications, and the other had had a difficult labor, followed by an emergency C-section. Recovery and need for sleep, be damned -- their babies were acting fussy and nurses returned them to mom in the middle of the night. 

    What's the big deal, you may be asking yourself. You're the one who actually had the baby. He or she is your baby -- so why shouldn't your baby be your responsibility? And you're right, of course. But while moms used to be able to count on enjoying a sliver of rest time right after giving birth, it seems fewer hospitals are treating use of the nursery as the norm. And, as a mom who relied on it after my first birth, I'm NOT looking forward to the peer pressure of rooming in my second time around.

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    A cruicial moment leading up to the birth of your baby is when you decide to go to the hospital. Going too soon or even too late could be the difference between having the birth you want and having unwanted medical interventions. So you have to know when it's really time to go.

    I had a chat with Samantha Huggins, DONA certified birth doula and one of the directors at Carriage House Birth in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to get her trusted advice on this critical time so mamas-to-be are well informed. To know is to be empowered. To be empowered gives you a better chance of having a beautiful birth experience. Here's what Samantha and I put together to guide you through your contractions during early labor and help you decide when to go to the hospital.

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