Pelvic Health With the Vagina Whisperer

Emily Oster

21 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Pelvic Health With the Vagina Whisperer

What's normal, what's not, and when to look for help

Emily Oster

21 min Read

I am a fan of Instagram, and I will admit to sometimes scrolling through it while with my children. And, yes, sometimes they look. And sometimes when they look, there is a woman dressed up in a vulva costume, explaining how the vagina works. It is perhaps fortunate that they do not look too closely, as I’m not always ready for that conversation.

But: I’m thrilled to speak to that woman, Dr. Sara Reardon, in an interview today. She’s The Vagina Whisperer on Instagram and online. She’s got an awesome and very real blog, talking about all the pelvic floor issues that we just do not discuss enough. And I’ve got her here to talk about what’s normal and what’s not, and how important it is for everyone to be aware of their pelvic health (and get help when they need it).

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Emily: I am so thrilled to be here with Dr. Sara Reardon. She’s a doctor of physical therapy and women’s health and a pelvic floor therapist. She has two children. Sara, I know you best from Instagram, where you are The Vagina Whisperer, which is just the absolute greatest Instagram handle. And I’m really thrilled to get to talk, but before we get started, can you introduce yourself a little bit beyond what I just said?

Sara Reardon: Absolutely! I feel like you just wrapped it up really well, though. I am Sara Reardon. I am a pelvic floor physical therapist. I went to Washington University in St. Louis for undergrad and then physical therapy school and specialized in pelvic floor therapy immediately after. You know that PTs work with muscles in the body. I work with the muscles in the pelvic region, which are responsible for peeing, pooping, sexual health, menstruation, and have a very important role during pregnancy and childbirth. I have a private practice in New Orleans (which is my hometown) called NOLA Pelvic Health and then an online platform for education and exercise called The Vagina Whisperer.

Emily: Amazing. We’re going to touch on all of this. But I actually want to start a little bit more with the basics, which is: What is the pelvic floor, and where can I find it?

Sara: Well, everyone has one — all bodies. The pelvic floor is really a basket of muscles at the base of your pelvis.

We think of the bony pelvis, with your hip bones on the side and your sit bones on the bottom, pubic bone in the front and then your sacrum tailbone in the back. That helps support your spine and plays a very important role in movement. The pelvic floor muscles are at the base of that bony structure, and they sit like a hammock. So imagine a hammock kind of at the very base of your pelvis and that hammock supports your pelvic organs, including your reproductive organs — your bladder, your rectum, your uterus, your ovaries. It has a supportive role.

It also has what we call a sphincteric role. There’s openings in those muscles. In a female body, there are three openings: one for the urethra where urine exits, one for the anus where poop exits, and then the vaginal opening. In male bodies, there are two openings: one for urine and semen and then one for the anal opening where poop exits.

This [sphincteric] role also has a sexual function. Again, in a female body there is a role with menstruation and pregnancy and birth. If you have a vaginal birth, the baby exits through the vaginal canal.

Emily: I feel like my introduction to the pelvic floor was in this pregnancy and postpartum period. I think prior to that, I had not heard of this, although I was benefiting from it. I wonder if you could give us a sense of why that is often the time we are hearing about it. What are some of the issues that arise, and what is the role that the pelvic floor plays in the pregnancy and postpartum period?

Sara: That’s a great question, and you know, we see women and men all across their life span, from as early as difficulty inserting tampons. Their first attempt at sexual intercourse and it may be painful. Bladder or bowel issues. And then even later in life — menopause, post-menopause — we often hear about urinary leakage as we age.

I think one of the reasons we hear about it more often during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum is because our bodies go through such a huge transformation. These muscles that, again, sit like a hammock support your growing fetus during pregnancy. When we get those emails that are like “Your baby’s the size of a blueberry, then it’s the size of an avocado, and then it’s the size of a pumpkin.”

Think of a hammock supporting a blueberry or an avocado. It’s not going to change that much. But if you think about putting a watermelon or a pumpkin in a hammock, we can think of that hammock sinking lower, getting more stretched out, and that’s literally what happens to our pelvic floor and our ligaments during pregnancy.

Pregnancy itself changes the way that our muscles are supporting our organs and the way we’re able to keep those sphincters closed. We have a more difficult time holding in urine, a more difficult time holding in gas or stool, because everything’s just lengthened. And then we take it to the next level, which is a major event — childbirth. Often, unfortunately, in the United States the majority of folks who give birth vaginally are lying on their back, which is not the most optimal position to necessarily open the pelvis and have baby come down the birth canal. They’re also pushing and holding their breath for a really long time.

If you are pushing and straining, that’s putting a lot of pressure on these muscles, which are already vulnerable and lengthened. And then the majority of folks giving birth vaginally also have a perineal tear, which is compromising the muscle function and the structure. They go on to heal, but it maybe doesn’t heal as well as it was prior to that injury.

Thirty percent of folks are giving birth via cesarean section, which we may think kind of spares the pelvic floor, but that’s a major abdominal surgery and your abdominals are closely connected to your pelvic floor. In addition, you also went through pregnancy, and so that itself changes your body.

Then the last thing is postpartum, and we know that we just have very little follow-up care and rehabilitation for moms after giving birth. There’s maybe one visit in our postpartum care with medical providers, and 40% of folks don’t even attend that visit. And then that’s it! So after this huge transformation, potentially major surgery, potentially a tear at the vaginal opening or scar tissue, there’s no rehabilitation. We don’t do that with any other major medical event. If you have surgery, if you have a knee replacement, if you have a shoulder surgery, if you have an ankle sprain, you get physical therapy, and yet there is no follow-up after this huge physical change.

Emily: I find that when I think about these issues, one of the pieces that is most frustrating about it is the way we talk about postpartum. I don’t know how much of it is just that people want to hide this; that it feels shameful. If you said, “My ankle hurts,” you know, that’s not private. That’s just something that could happen to anyone.

I also feel like part of the issue is that a lot of the symptoms that arise as a result of some of these issues are things that we have come to think are just, “Well, that’s what happens, right?” People are like, “Well, you know after you have a baby, you’re just going to pee on yourself a lot of the time, and I guess that’s just something you have to live with.”

I think that they also have a hard time with where the line is, and where is the point at which this is not just the way it is? To be concrete: for most people, the first time you have sex afer you have a baby, it’s a little different and can be uncomfortable. But then the question is: If that is still happening six months later, is that a different thing? How do people know when they should ask for help? Maybe the answer is you should always ask for help. But I’m curious if you have a sense of how people could understand what’s “normal” and what’s something they should ask about?

Sara: I actually think about this in two parts. One is absolutely: as a society, as a female, as a mom, I am not the best at asking for help. I am like, “I can do this! I’m amazing! I can!”

Emily: I’m going to push through! I’m going to push through!

Sara: I’m going to push through, put my head down, and just keep going, and I think that that’s a narrative that we have kind of accepted because it’s the way that society’s kind of set up for us, right? We don’t have a ton of support physically, emotionally, psychologically, anything after giving birth.

Emily: I hear this.

Sara: We really don’t always feel like we have another choice. The other thing is, we’re talking about probably the most intimate part of our bodies. It’s not often that we talk about peeing problems, pooping issues, painful intercourse. That’s not dinner-table conversation for most people. It’s dinner-table conversation for me.

Emily: Which is one of the things I admire so much about all of this stuff that you do. Just how much you’re out there saying, “This is how you should sit to pee — lean forward.” It’s amazing. Okay, sorry! Go on.

Sara: At work I have this amazing opportunity to work with people all day where this is what we talk about, and so you see actually how common it is. We have wait lists of folks coming in to see us, and so we realized, like, this is really common and people should have access to this information.

I always thought it wasn’t fair that I just happened to pick this right profession where I got all of this education, and I’m like, why doesn’t everybody get this education? This should be the standard of care. But again, going back to the question: I think that these are really intimate things to talk about. And once we do feel like, okay, maybe I should say something, we don’t even know where to go!

Do you go back to your OB or midwife? Do you go to your primary care doctor? Do you just talk to a girlfriend? And then once you go to these people, it often feels dismissed. I think that that comes back to the medical side of things. Why aren’t our medical providers offering more care? I can’t even tell you how many times that I’ve been to an office visit and I’ve never been asked about my bladder health, my sexual health.

You run through this battery of tests, and they’re like, “Okay, we’ll send you your lab results and let you know if anything pops up.” There’s no question about any of these issues. I’m going to be reaching menopause soon; my body’s changing. Why aren’t these questions being brought up so we can proactively screen for them and then give people the resources that they need? This is where I think a lot of the education needs to come in. From the medical provider side, the data is clear: if we don’t ask patients specifically about these issues, they are not going to tell us.

Emily: And I think part of that is also that because there is no education, people have no idea that there are resources, approaches that could help them. When I talk about this with people, the impression I get is that they think if they bring this up, they’ll just be told to do more kegels. “Yeah, yeah, I hear about that. I know I’m supposed to do kegels when I watch TV.”

But I presume that there are things one can do beyond just additional kegels.

Sara: Right. That’s exactly right.

The thing I tell people is that if you are having any sort of pain — pain is not normal. Pain is a signal that something is not functioning optimally in your body, and that should be addressed. Again, that comes down to, “Well, how often do I just kind of grit my teeth and bear it?”

Sex should be pleasurable. Comfortable. It shouldn’t even just be “tolerable.” If not, you should be seeking help. Yes, the majority of people — 9 out of 10 people — do experience painful intercourse their first time after giving birth. But again, we should tell them, “Hey, it may be a little bit uncomfortable when you go back to it.”

Emily: Use lubricant liberally.

Sara: Use lubricant. Take it slow. If it is uncomfortable persistently after that, you need to go check in with a pelvic floor therapist. Let’s give them the resources to say: Hey, when you go back to exercise, when you go back to sex, if there’s an issue, this is who you see.

Painful intercourse, pelvic pain of any sort. Urinary leakage — no amount of leakage is normal. You may experience it with a cough or a sneeze. But again, that’s incontinence. That is saying your sphincters are not responding well with pressure, and that’s a musculoskeletal issue that needs to be addressed. Same thing with pooping issues: hemorrhoids, fissure, straining with bowel movements, constipation. Not normal. You need to see a PT.

Then again, people say, “Well, maybe it doesn’t bother me that much.” I’m saying: once it starts bothering you to the point where it’s affecting your life, that’s a problem. If you don’t want to go out with your girlfriends because you’re worried you’re going to pee your pants. You don’t want to go running with your kids at the park because you’re afraid you’re going to leak. You quit working out — which is so important for your mental health — because you soak through your gym shorts or leggings.

Intimacy issues! I mean, as if we need enough barriers to returning to sex after kids. Pain does not need to be one of them. I’m like, “If I can just stay awake long enough…”

Emily: Exactly. If I find the time, I don’t want it to be painful!

Sara: So, you know, we have enough things that we have going on, and I think it is important to prioritize our self-care and say, “Hey, this is bothering me. I need to go see a therapist.” It is unfortunate that we often have to wait until there’s issues.

Emily: I also think that so many of those things you said — things like going out with your friends or working out — we have trained people to think of those kinds of self-care as sort of luxuries. As in, “Well, I don’t know. Sure, would I like to be able to go running without urinary leakage? That would be great. But I should just suck it up.” This is something that would be enjoyable for me, but I don’t really have time to invest in myself. And that’s a disservice. It’s part of society’s way that this gets swept under the rug and that we learn to try to just, you know, push through. We say, “Okay, I guess I’ll do a kind of exercise I don’t like as much.”

But of course, that is also very damaging.

Sara: It is, and I think that that’s a lot of it, because we put more onus on the mother. I mean, again, the research also shows if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of experiencing incontinence postpartum. So during pregnancy, why aren’t we sending those moms to PT to help train their pelvic floors?

Why aren’t we proactively educating people on how to push optimally during birth, or training medical providers about how to help patients do? Versus kind of going through the same things we’ve always done, where we’re getting the same results: 50% of people are incontinent after the age of 65. It’s always kind of looking at it from both sides.

But again, the hard part about these pelvic floor issues is I don’t think we realize how far these ripples go. We know that exercise helps with depression and anxiety and sleep. We know that if you’re not interacting with your kids in the same way, that can affect your relationship. If you’re not interacting with your partner in the same way. People are missing work because of pelvic floor issues. If you have a job where you have bladder issues and you can’t use the restroom often, I think of the ripples of these things. I’ve had people, teachers who can’t work, nurses who can’t work because of pelvic floor issues. So these ripples start to really kind of seep into different aspects of our life, and that’s unfortunate. We don’t need more barriers keeping women out of the workplace.

Emily: No, we definitely do not.

Sara: We don’t need more things affecting our mental health. I always come back to these statistics, which are very clear to me. I think that the medical system really has to change the way it’s functioning to provide more proactive care and make this an integral part of pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

Emily: I agree with that. I also think there’s potentially a role for more advertising. I guess the way I would put it — I remember, and you presumably remember, when Viagra first came out. You know, there were a lot of commercials.

Sara: Right.

Emily: Probably still true; I don’t watch commercials anymore because of streaming. But I remember that there were a lot of commercials for Viagra. In some ways, it has the same — erectile dysfunction has some of the same shame aspects around it. But somehow because it was for men (or maybe for another reason), it became something that we were sort of telling everyone about.

I think that was actually quite important for people to understand, “Okay, if I’m experiencing this, it may not be something I want to talk about with everybody, but now I know that there’s this sort of solution.” I almost wonder if there’s a role for,  I don’t know, maybe you could have some advertisements on television. Like a Super Bowl ad. Would you do a Super Bowl ad about this?

Sara: Right? The hard part is that those things take money, and these aren’t backed by pharmaceutical companies. Physical therapy isn’t sexy, right? There’s not a lot of money in it. There’s nobody backing this, and there’s nobody backing the research either. Who backs these drug trials? It’s pharmaceutical companies.

That’s the hard part. I always feel like it’s a little bit of, like, David versus Goliath. Like these physical therapists are the boots on the ground, and we’re trying so hard, and we’re just trying to work against this medical system and these pharmaceutical companies. They really have such an advantage, because we’re not taking doctors out to lunch or we’re not putting commercials on.

I do think that there are a lot of companies that are servicing female bodies with incontinence liners and period products, and I see where they are changing their narrative a little bit. I’m hearing less and less “Little leaks are just part of being a lady” and I’m hearing more “Hey, this can help you live your life, but there’s also other resources for you.”

I’ve worked with those that really have that same philosophy of “I’m not trying to normalize this, but I’m trying to make this normal conversation.” I’m also giving people other options that are long-term solutions versus just, like, slip a liner on and then go about your day.

Emily: I want to end by talking about resources. So, obviously, your Instagram is a resource, but in terms of other resources — if people feel like, “You know, I need to learn more about this.” Or, more than that: “I’m experiencing this issue.” And maybe I feel dismissed or I brought it up to my provider and they said, “Little leaks are normal. Don’t worry about it.”

What is the place to go to, to almost arm yourself with information or understanding?

Sara: So, I think there’s two that I would think about. One is Google.

Emily: Dr. Google.

Sara: Also, it’s actually surprising, social media has really helped elevate the presence of pelvic floor physical therapy. TikTok.

Emily: Oh man, is there a pelvic floor TikTok?

Sara: Yes! There’s several of them. It’s really, as PTs, how we’re able to share this information. It’s free and reaches masses of people who we feel deserve this information. You know, people always say, “Oh, congratulations on your followers.” I’m like, “That to me is a testament to how many people really want this information.”

But there are two places I would say to look. One is called the Academy of Pelvic Health [Physical Therapy]. That is where all physical therapists are — well, not all physical therapists. Some physical therapists are members. It is kind of our national organization of pelvic floor PTs. There’s also, on there, a PT locator.

So if you’re looking for a pelvic floor therapist in your area, I would go to that website and go to the PT locator and look for someone in your area. In every state in the United States, you can get an evaluation by a physical therapist without a referral from a physician; so you can at least get an evaluation to say, hey, how is my pelvic floor functioning? Do I need anything else?

Then, most often we have relationships with physicians who would see you if you needed continuous medical care. In my state, you don’t even need to follow up with a physician; we can just continue seeing you as long as you progress.

There’s another website, called Pelvic Rehab, that also is another great resource to find a physical therapist. Even on my website, we have tons of blog posts about, for example, what helps with pain after sex? If you have pubic bone pain during pregnancy, what do you do? How do you push optimally during birth? I’m sure there’s so many other physical therapists that just have this information that we’re teaching people day-to-day in our clinics. We just want more people to have access to that info.

Emily: Also, on your Instagram sometimes you dress up like a vagina, so that’s information…

Sara: I do. I do own a vulva costume, which my kids think is a hot dog bun. They’re like, “What are we doing with a hot dog bun today, Mom?” And I say, “Oh, just a couple videos.” You know.

So, I do [videos], and part of it is that I also want to bring some levity and lightness to this. These are to me such approachable conversations for me personally, and I think we have fun. It doesn’t have to be so serious. We can normalize it, but it can also still be kind of fun to talk about and learn about.

Emily: I love it. I love it all. Thank you so much! This was a treat. Everyone should follow you on Instagram and everywhere else.

Sara: Awesome! Thank you so much, Emily, for having me.

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Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster

Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster
...

How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months. 

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages. 

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords

How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months.

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages.

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords
...

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit.

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit. ...

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata
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What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata

What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

 #emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

#emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids
...

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes
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Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices. 

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata

Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices.

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata
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Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster
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Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there! 

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there!

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife
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For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens. 

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children. 

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens.

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children.

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata
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If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips
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Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks
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As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData! 

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData!

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity
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Just eat your Cheerios and move on.

Just eat your Cheerios and move on. ...

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide
...

It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents

It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents
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