Doctors have long noted that the birth rate seems to increase during the full moon. So it came as no surprise to obstetricians around the world when the “Great Kate Wait” came to an end near the peak of lunar brightness.
“Many of us in the field brace for full moons,” Robert Atlas, M.D., chief of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Newsmax Health. “There’s a belief that the pull of the tides can induce labor. It’s anecdotal for sure, but many of us do seem to get busier when there’s a full moon.”
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Kate Middleton was reportedly well past her due date when she gave birth Monday to a baby boy who will be third in line to become the British monarch.
The theory is that the moon can affect amniotic fluid in much the same way it makes the ocean tides rise and fall. There has never been solid scientific evidence for the relationship, however.
Other speculation holds that low barometric pressure associated with stormy weather can cause a woman’s water to break and start labor. In fact, there was a thunderstorm around Kensington Palace at 6 a.m. on Monday, about the time Kate went to the hospital.
Dr. Atlas looked into a possible connection between barometric pressure and labor. “We came up with a title for this research project and we called it ‘When It Rains, It Pours,’” he said. “We set about trying to correlate whether this happens or not, but we couldn’t find a connection.”
The duchess reportedly used a trendy form of natural childbirth call “hypnobirthing” during the delivery, and all went well. At 4:24 p.m. she delivered a healthy boy who weighed a hefty 8 pounds, 6 ounces, which makes him the largest royal offspring in a century.
Although the baby may seem big (the U.S. average is 7 pounds, 8 ounces), Dr. Atlas pronounced the birth weight of the future king “perfect.”
He defines a “large” baby as one weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. “A baby that is larger runs a risk of obesity, but there is no evidence that this baby will have any problems along that line. The royals seem to be in very good shape,” he said.
Given the hoopla surrounding the birth, Dr. Atlas is following the news reports closely in the hope that Kate will act as a breastfeeding role model for new mothers. “I’m hoping she breastfeeds because I think that would result in a bump in the breastfeeding rates,” he said. “It’s cheap, convenient, and women who breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight quicker.”
The practice also benefits babies. “When you look at breast milk versus cow milk, there is a difference in lipids and fats, so breastfeeding decreases obesity risk, and there’s also a belief it leads to fewer allergies and less asthma.”
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The royals have a mixed history of breastfeeding. Queen Elizabeth II was breastfed following her birth in 1926 and chose to continue the practice with her own children. The late Princess Diana breastfed sons William and Harry. But most other royal mothers preferred to hand their children to a wet nurse at feeding time.
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