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Published 30 November 2017

Video: Period pain to pregnancy weight gain: what's going on in the female body?

A video is available for the talk as part of the Sharing Women's Discoveries series on the biology of being female.

Covering the 'fun' of period pain, what to eat during pregnancy and the discovery that breastfeeding may not be easy, Liggins Institute researchers Dr Anna Ponnampalam, Jasmine Plows, Dr Clare Reynolds and Dr Shikha Pundir address issues that in some way affect the vast majority of women, and the interventions that could make a difference.

RSNZ Great Kiwi Research AK Liggins Tu 21 Nov photo of speakers Custom

This was one of the eight events from the Great Kiwi Research: Sharing Women's Discoveries series, presented in partnership with the Liggins Institute at The University of Auckland.


Let’s talk about endometriosis!

Dr Anna Ponnampalam

Endometriosis is one of the world’s most misunderstood diseases. More than 170 million girls and women worldwide suffer from it, yet most people have never heard of it. As invasive surgery is the only diagnostic tool and severe pain during periods is considered ‘normal’, many women put off getting help until the disease is very advanced. Anna is passionate about understanding what actually causes endometriosis in order to find ways to develop non-invasive diagnostic tests and non-hormonal medical treatments that can both prevent and treat it.

Life before birth: What happens in the womb and can it set us on a path to adult disease?

Jasmine Plows, PhD candidate

We all know there are two things that are responsible for disease: genetics and the environment. We can’t change our genetics, but we can improve our chances of staying healthy by eating the right things and exercising regularly. But did you know there is a third, very important determinant of life-long health? It turns out that the experiences a person has even before birth can greatly influence their chances of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease as adults. Jasmine will explain the fascinating evidence behind this concept and the personal story that motivates her to study it.

Eating for two: Can what we eat during pregnancy shape our children’s future?

Dr Clare Reynolds

There are many myths and old wives tales about pregnancy and one of the most common is the misconception that pregnant women should be “eating for two”. However, with so much conflicting advice it can be almost impossible to work out what you should be eating and whether you should be exercising. One thing has become very clear though: gaining too much or too little weight can be detrimental for both mother and child. Clare’s research examines the adverse effects that nutrient excess in early life can have on our health and whether or not these effects can be reversed.

Mother’s milk: Locally sourced and custom made for your baby

Dr Shikha Pundir

For babies, their mother’s milk is a magic potion containing all sort of nutrients essential for boosting growth and immunity. Breast milk even has the remarkable ability to change its composition and volume to adapt the growing needs of the baby. In short, it’s a food exclusively made for your child: a tailor-made and cost effective option for infant feeding. But is the health and wellbeing of breast-feeding mothers sometimes neglected? In Shika’s talk she will examine the benefits of breast milk as well as the stereotypes, challenges and expectations placed on new mothers.

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Great Kiwi Research: Sharing Women's Discoveries was a part of Royal Society's 150th Anniversary celebrations.


 RS Te Aparangi LOGO 150th Custom


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Dr Sandra Cortés-Acosta

I have also learned that a relationship is something that we need to build continuously. Researching with communities requires building trust, respect, and reciprocity.