Asbury Park Press
April 26, 2006
Frank Advice During Pregnancy
by Samantha Critchell
The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- There are a lot of books out there to advise expectant mothers on medical issues, nutrition and what they'll need to buy. But those weren't the things Stacy Quarty wondered about when she was pregnant with her first daughter: She wanted to know about her body odor and dry skin.
Karman, now 6, was born without most of those questions being answered, but when Quarty got pregnant again, she sought out her answers and then put them on paper in the new book Frankly Pregnant: A Candid, Week-by-Week Guide to the Unexpected Joys, Raging Hormones and Common Experiences of Pregnancy (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95).
Turns out increases in body odor, dry skin -- and oily skin, for that matter -- are considered normal side effects of pregnancy.
Keeping the diary that would become the book gave Quarty something productive to do over the 40-week period, she explains. A Long Island, N.Y.-based graphic artist and Web designer, she saw her business shrink considerably after Sept. 11, 2001. She devoted herself to being a full-time mother but still needed a creative outlet. She also has a Web site: www.franklypregnant.com.
''I thought, 'I'll write a book,' '' she says. ''I read so many pregnancy books the first time that weren't informative enough. They were either too clinical or the funny or personal ones didn't have enough information.
''In my book, I didn't want to leave out the embarrassing details that other people don't want to talk about. I want others to know what's normal. People don't want to ask about vaginal discharge, but almost everyone has it.''
Based on feedback from her Web site, Quarty says women are most interested in the little details they don't want to bother their doctors about: cracking or leaking nipples, flatulence, insecurities, scrambled brains, bouts of tears and those raging hormones -- especially when they make you feel like you hate everyone, especially your husband.
''It's so much more comforting to know you're not alone and you're not losing your mind. People are thankful that I'm willing to share my embarrassing story,'' she says.
She worked with gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Miriam Greene, who is an assistant at New York University School of Medicine and who gave the book a clinical counterpart to Quarty's personal tales.
Many of the questions her patients ask are fueled by other books and magazine articles, Greene says. ''A few [patients] read everything available. Mostly, it's those who don't want to lose control, and they have a small amount of fear because they don't know what to expect.''
She adds, ''Do they read too much? Some do, some don't. Sometimes I'll say, 'Step away from the book' because they're taking such negatives from the information. What I try to stress is that we've been having babies for years and we didn't always have all this advice.''
That said, Greene says there's never a question that's too dumb to ask their doctors.
At first, new patients' questions focus on the many changes they feel in their bodies, including fatigue, headaches and nausea, Greene reports. It the middle, the questions are fairly benign as most moms-to-be cruise through the second trimester -- they want to know if they can travel, or if they can continue to exercise.
As they get closer to labor, their minds are fixated on just that -- the labor, Greene says. ''Episiotomy is the No. 1 question. They hear a lot of stories from other people and put it on themselves. They also ask about pain management. But they ignore asking about the details of the labor until they have to face it. Most think labor will be much [more] painful than it is -- and that's a good thing.''
How does Quarty's family feel about her sharing such intimate details about her life and body with readers?
''My husband knows my personality, and he knows this book is pretty much it. There's a little husband-bashing, but he understands. My parents are a little embarrassed but supportive. My dad certainly couldn't read it out loud.''
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