Category: Health and Wellness

The History of a Wrist: When Historians Fall Over

In mid-September, I fell over my back door step and landed on my wrist. The pain was so bad it made me vomit, and a lengthy trip to the local Minor Injuries Unit ensued. X-rays were done and a partial plaster cast applied, only to be removed 24 hours later at the Trauma Unit in… Read more →

Happy Miscarriages: An Emotional History of Pregnancy Loss

An article published earlier this year in Obstetrics and Gynecology exposed Americans’ misunderstandings about miscarriage. A team of researchers asked over 1,000 adults about their knowledge of miscarriage, including how common it is and why it occurs. Among the more common misperceptions: 55% of respondents reported that miscarriage was uncommon (occurring in 5% or less… Read more →

Milk Sharing: What History Can Teach Us

Milk sharing has been in the news lately. In 2013, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH analyzed over 100 samples of breast milk being sold online and found that 10% of the samples were contaminated with cow’s milk. Almost 75% of the samples contained disease-causing bacteria, presumably linked to poor collection and storage practices.1 As… Read more →

Toxics in our Living Rooms

The comfortable chair that I just bought and sit in for hours each day is giving me a sore throat and making my eyes sting. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been experimenting for about a month now, and I can say for certain that after about a half hour of sitting in it… Read more →

Premature Birth and the Right to Grieve

There are quite a few ways to experience loss of pregnancy. When I was expecting my own daughter, no woman ever warned me about what could go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. I was told to be wary of sharing the news of pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but also that I… Read more →

Placentophagy Isn’t New, But It Has Changed

Over the last several years, placentophagy has slowly crept into that vicious public media arena known as “the Mommy Wars.” While placentophagy (the act of ingesting your own placenta after giving birth) has not provoked the same kind of mother-on-mother vitriol that say, breastfeeding has, it has elicited a rather swift and scientifically fueled smack-down… Read more →

Big Promises, Bigger Failures: When Public Education Makes You Sick

Promises, promises… We take it as a given that schooling is good for us, that overall population health increases with increased educational attainment. Indeed, from their founding, public schools have promised to improve population health as part of their basic mission. As a result, in the name of health concerns, schools have long held a… Read more →

A Pot of Herbs, A Plastic Sheet, and Thou: A Historian Goes for a “V-Steam”

The first time I walked into the women’s area of my local Korean spa a few years back, my nose and my medical-history Spidey Sense both twitched. The unmistakable herbal scents of mugwort and yarrow were in the air, pleasant but almost strong enough to make me cough. Clearly there was some sort of medicinal… Read more →

VULVALUV: Taking Wearable Tech to a New Place

It seems like every day a new health tracking gizmo appears in stores. The fitbit. The Apple Watch. TICKRx. Leaf, a tracker that’s advertised as “for women” because it’s a fitbit copycat shaped like a piece of jewelry. But are any of these really that special? Do any of them really understand what women need?… Read more →

Pregnancy, Fear, and Conformity

Last fall, while in the midst of a severe head cold and four months pregnant, I emailed my obstetrician: “can I take Sudafed?” Within the hour he responded with “no sudafed until after 20 weeks if at all — concern is gastroschisis.” After Googling “gastroschisis” (a birth defect in the abdominal wall of the fetus… Read more →