Lily raises $2M from NEA and others for a personal stylist service that considers feelings, not just fit

One of the reasons recently IPO’d Stitch Fix became so popular among female shoppers is because of how it pairs the convenience of home try-on for clothing and accessories with a personal styling service that adapts to your tastes over time. But often, personal stylists bring their own subjective takes on fashion to their customers. A new startup called Lily aims to offer a more personalized service that takes into account not just what’s on trend or what looks good, but also how women feel about their bodies and how the right clothing can impact those perceptions.

The company has now closed on $2 million in seed funding from NEA and other investors to further develop its technology, which today involves an iOS application, web app and API platform that retailers can integrate with their own catalogs and digital storefronts.

To better understand a woman’s personal preferences around fashion, Lily uses a combination of algorithms and machine learning techniques to recommend clothing that fits, flatters and makes a woman feel good.

At the start, Lily asks the user a few basic questions about body type and style preferences, but it also asks women how perceive their body.

For example, if Lily asks about bra size, it wouldn’t just ask for the size a woman wears, but also how they think of this body part.

“I’m well-endowed,” a woman might respond, even if she’s only a full B or smaller C – which is not necessarily the reality. This sort of response helps to teach Lily about how the woman thinks of her body and its various parts, to help it craft its recommendations. That same woman may want to minimize her chest, or she may like to show off her cleavage, she may say.

But as she shops Lily’s recommendations in this area, the service learns what sorts of items the woman actually chooses and then adapts accordingly.

This focus on understanding women’s feelings about clothing is something that sets Lily apart.

“Women are looking for clothes to spotlight the parts of their body they feel most comfortable with and hide the ones that make them feel insecure,” explains Lily co-founder and CEO, Purva Gupta. “A customer makes a decision because based on whether a specific cut will hide her belly or downplay a feature they don’t like. Yet stores do nothing to guide women toward these preferences or take the time to understand the reasons behind their selections,” she says.

Gupta came up with the idea for Lily after moving to New York from India, where she felt overwhelmed by the foreign shopping culture. She was surrounded by so much choice, but didn’t know how to find the clothing that would fit her well, or those items that would make her feel good when wearing them.

She wondered if her intimidation was something American women – not just immigrants like herself – also felt. For a year, Gupta interviewed others, asking them one question: what prompted them to buy the last item of clothing they purchased, either online or offline? She learned that those choices were often prompted by emotions.

Being able to create a service that could match up the right clothing based on those feelings was a huge challenge, however.

“I knew that this was a very hard problem, and this was a technology problem,” says Gupta. “There’s only one way to solve this at scale – to use technology, especially artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning. That’s going to help me do this at scale at any store.”

To train Lily’s algorithms, the company spent two-and-half years building out its collection of 50 million plus data points and analyzing over a million product recommendations for users. The end result is that an individual item of clothing may have over 1,000 attributes assigned to it, which is then used to match up with the thousands of attributes associated with the user in question.

“This level of detail is not available anywhere,” notes Gupta.

In Lily’s app, which works as something of a demo of the technology at hand, users can shop recommendations from 60 stores, ranging from Forever 21 to Nordstrom, in terms of price. (Lily today makes affiliate revenue from sales).

In addition, the company is now beginning to pilot its technology with a handful of retailers on their own sites – details it plans to announce in a few months’ time. This will allow shoppers to get unique, personalized recommendations online that could also be translated to the offline store in the form of reserved items awaiting you when you’re out shopping.

Though it’s early days for Lily, its hypothesis is proving correct, says Gupta.

“We’ve seen between 10x to 20x conversion rates,” she claims. “That’s what’s very exciting and promising, and why these big retailers are talking to us.”

The pilot tests are paid, but the pricing details for Lily’s service for retailers are not yet set in stone so the company declined to speak about them.

The startup was also co-founded by CTO Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan, previously of Box and Pocket Gems. It’s now a team of 16 full-time in Palo Alto.

In addition to NEA, other backers include Global Founders Capital, Triplepoint Capital, Think + Ventures, Varsha Rao (Ex-COO of Airbnb, COO of Clover Health), Geoff Donaker (Ex-COO of Yelp), Jed Nachman (COO, Yelp), Unshackled Ventures and others.

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Whitney Port Gets Candid About How She’ll Spend Her Son’s First Holiday – EXCLUSIVE

Whitney Port seemingly does it all: since rising to fame after being cast in the MTV series , Port’s career has only soared higher — she’s juggling her own fashion line, serving as a judge on the eighth cycle of and authoring a book, . And, as much as she’s accomplished in her career, she’s also made some big moves in her personal life. After marrying television producer Tim Rosenman in 2015, Port and Rosenman welcomed their first child in July 2017, a baby boy (adorably) named Sonny.

Needless to say, Port has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

Now, Port is sharing everything about her holiday plans as a new mom, including how she’ll be handling Sonny’s very first time on a plane as she and Rosenman visit family. She tells Elite Daily, “That should be interesting!”

As far as holiday traditions, Port says things have changed a bunch over the years. She says,

And when it comes to traveling with Sonny, Port is no-nonsense in regards to his health. Recently partnering with Tylenol, Port tells Elite Daily she is going to arm herself with all of the travel must-haves for her baby’s first flight. She says,

She adds that she might even do something special for other passengers, in the event that Sonny becomes difficult. She says, “Someone asked me, ‘Are you going to make little goody bags for all of the passengers sitting around you, so that if your baby is kind of a mess and crying, you’ve given them [the passengers] a little something, like some candy or some treats?’ and I was like ‘Oh, that’s actually a really good idea, I’ve never thought about that!'”

A new mom who knows how to keep her baby the plane passengers around her happy? Definitive proof that not all heroes wear capes.

Whitney Port

Traveling aside, Port explains that Christmas is about the “simple things,” and how her idea of perfect Christmas morning is much like the holiday season itself: relaxed and comfortable. “I think honestly that by the end of the year, it’s normal for people to feel so burnt out, and it’s really nice to have the time to travel and do nothing with people that you feel very comfortable with,” she says.

And don’t forget the food. She continues,

When Port reflects back on her year, she explains how being a mom has changed her life in ways she didn’t believe were possible. She tells Elite Daily, “It’s wild. It’s obviously completely overwhelming – it’s something so new that you have no experience doing, and can read about but don’t really know what to expect until you have it. But it’s also just so rewarding and amazing and filled with love at the same time. It’s awesome.”

She also shares some of the highlights of being a new mom:

Whitney Port

But Port notes that there challenging times, and trying to find a “balance” is something that she knows she might not ever perfect. “I think the most challenging part is just finding the balance between your old life and your new life,” she says. “And I’m not even sure if it’s something you ever really find perfectly, but I think that you kind of do your best to pay attention to both aspects of your life. I think that when I was pregnant, I thought, “Oh, I’m just going to be one of those moms where my baby just fits into what going to do.” And it didn’t really take me too long to figure out that Sonny’s the boss, and that I kind of have to make my life fit into what needs.”

She continued, “I think that’s the biggest challenge is that it’s just the sacrifice you have to make, both professionally and in your relationship with your husband, to keep your baby happy and healthy.”

Still, it seems that Port is balancing her plate pretty well: as a new mom, a wife, and a business woman, she seems to strike an envious equilibrium that makes her extraordinary yet somehow also relatable to the everyday mom.

For more of Whitney Port’s tips on being a new mom, you can visit her YouTube channel.

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The Speculum Finally Gets a Modern Redesign

It was afternoon in the San Francisco headquarters of Frog, the design firm best known for its hand in creating the iconic look of products like Apple's original Macintosh computers. Hailey Stewart, one of Frog's industrial designers, had scattered an array of prototypes on a table. On one end, you could see cylinders of foam that looked almost like skinny vibrators, with handles that stuck out at different angles and sketches of levers and screw mechanisms. And on the other, the common speculum—the device used in routine gynecological exams to inspect the cervix. Stewart picked one up and cranked it open. "You're literally in the stirrups with that sound"—the device made a loud, painful sounding click—"and it's like, excuse my language, but what the fuck?"

Most of the designers in the room had never seen a speculum before. Some (the men) had never considered the contents of a pelvic examination—stripping off your clothes, laying on an examination table, and strapping your feet into stirrups, while a doctor pries you open with a cold, metal gadget. But Stewart hadn't gathered her colleagues just to explain what happens to women at their annual exams. She had a greater goal in mind.

For the past several months, mostly during down time and on weekends, Stewart and interaction designer Sahana Kumar had been studying this device. They'd wrenched it open and closed, studied the curve of the bills, read endlessly about its history. And now, she told the rest of the designers at Frog, they had taken on what was turning into a particularly ambitious project: redesigning the speculum for the 21st century.

The current design of the speculum, fashioned by American physician James Marion Sims, dates back to the 1840s. The device had two pewter blades to separate the vaginal walls, and hinged open and closed with a screw mechanism. Sims, sometimes called the "father of modern gynecology," used the speculum to pioneer treatments for fistula and other complications from childbirth. But his experiments were often conducted on slave women, without the use of anesthesia. So to say that the speculum was not designed with patient comfort in mind would be an egregious understatement.

And yet, the speculum today looks almost identical to the one Sims used more than 150 years ago. The most noticeable difference between the original Sims device and the one you can find in gynecological offices today is that instead of pewter, modern specula are made of stainless steel or plastic.

That the speculum is old is not, on its face, a problem. It's that the design is neither optimal for patients nor physicians. Doctors have to stretch the speculum's bills wide in order to see as far back as the cervix, and even then, it's not always possible to get a good look inside. (Some specula come with built-in lights, but the problem has more to do with tissue falling in than the darkness of the vaginal canal.) All of that pressure causes discomfort; one review of the medical literature found that some women even avoid the gynecologist because of the dreaded device.

Mercy Asiedu

In 2014, the American College of Physicians went so far as to recommend against pelvic exams, citing the "harms, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort" associated with speculum examinations. Those side effects impact gynecologists, too. "The more comfortable a patient is, the faster they can do their job, the more patients they can see," says Stewart. "There's actual monetary value to [patient] comfort."

It’s not that nobody’s tried to change things. In 2005, a San Francisco-based company patented the design for an inflatable speculum called FemSpec. The device was made out of polyurethane, the same material used to make condoms; a physician could insert it like a tampon and inflate it like a tiny balloon. It debuted to some fanfare, but ultimately flopped. As an article in The Chicago Times pointed out, most women never even got to experience the new speculum "because it is so new on the market that most doctors aren't using it."

"With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want. With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick." — Biomedical engineer Mercy Asiedu

Other do-overs have focused on more modest improvements. A prototype called the Lotus, created by a student at the Pratt Institute, kept the bill shape but curved it slightly for a more ergonomic insertion. The design also included a rotating handle to open the speculum bills vertically, and a hidden lever mechanism to prevent pinching. It seemed promising, but after appearing in a student showcase last year, it never turned into anything real.

In Oregon, a group called Ceek Women's Health has begun clinical trials for a series of new devices—including a sleeve, a speculum with narrower bills, and a speculum that patients can self-insert. Their goal is to create a variety of specula to serve a variety of patients, rather than recreating another one-size-fits-all tool. "For women who have a lot of tissue, women who have had more than two vaginal births or a high BMI, for women with a history of trauma or rape, for post-menopausal women who have vaginal atrophy—there isn't any product to address their needs," says Fahti Khosrow, Ceek's co-founder and CEO. Give physicians a whole new toolkit, she says, and they can better serve their patients.

Perhaps the most promising new design comes from Duke University, where researchers are testing a device that could circumvent the speculum altogether. Mercy Asiedu, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering at Duke, designed a tampon-sized device with a 2 megapixel camera attached to the end. "The speculum was originally designed for a physician to view the cervix from outside the body," Asiedu says, "but with current technology, you can easily view the cervix from inside the body."

Asiedu tested her prototype in a pilot study with 15 volunteers this year, the results of which were published in the journal PLOS One in May. Every single patient said the smaller device provided a better experience than the speculum.

The Duke study looked at patient satisfaction, and Asiedu acknowledges that physicians may offer more criticism of the device. The design emphasized comfort, modesty, and patient empowerment, not necessarily ease of use for physicians. "With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want," Asiedu says. "With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick."

When Stewart and her team set off to redesign the speculum, they knew what they were up against. Plus, Stewart says, "I hadn't even seen a speculum."

So before they started researching or sketching ideas out, Stewart and Kumar listed the things that had bothered them in gynecological exams. There was the noise (like a can opener), the temperature (freezing cold), the feeling inside (as if someone was stretching your insides like a rubber band). When they acquired a set of specula, one plastic and one metal, they realized they needed to change the aesthetics too. These things looked like medieval torture devices.

First, Stewart explored how to silence that ratcheting sound. She and Fran Wang, a mechanical engineer at Frog, investigated new types of opening mechanisms. No concept was too bizarre. What if, like a pufferfish, they used saline to inflate the device from the inside? Or what if they used air, blowing it up like an air mattress? They looked for inspiration in nature (cobra hoods), in machining (milling chucks), and in everyday objects (bicycle pumps); they studied how a tripod clamps open and shut, how ski bindings clip in and out, searching for ideas that might replace the old-fashioned screw mechanism.


Next, they considered new materials. Instead of constructing the device out of plastic or metal, they decided to cover the whole thing in autoclavable silicone—a material that wouldn't feel cold, could be easily sterilized, and would make insertion more comfortable. "On the metal speculum, there are pokey bits," says Wang. "Those shouldn't go near your delicate body parts! Having all of that covered in silicon, it prevents tissue from getting damaged. And also when you look at it, it's nicer."

They experimented with using three prongs instead of two, opening the device into a triangle shape. They tried shrinking the device to the size of a tampon, or borrowing design language from the vibrator industry. They put the device's handle at different angles, ranging from 90 degrees to 120 degrees, to find most ergonomic position for physicians. And then they 3-D printed a few different prototypes and put them in the hands of OB/GYNs and medical providers.

"The one they were really excited about was the one that opened up using three bills, rather than just two," says Stewart. The triangle-shaped opening gave physicians the same field of view without having to open the bills as wide, making the process less "stretchy" for patients. OB/GYNs also liked the device's handle at 110 degrees, which enough extra space between the physician's hand and the patient's body to eliminate the "last scooch" down the examination table. The silicon covering was a big hit, too. A button unlocks or locks the speculum with one hand, freeing up the other hand; a push handle eliminates the need for screws. Even more comforting, the speculum was totally silent.

Conferring with OB/GYNs made one thing very clear, though: The project wouldn't succeed with redesigned hardware alone. Stewart wondered why she felt more comfortable getting a bikini wax than she did seeing the gynecologist once a year, and the answer boiled down to the environment. One felt cold, clinical, and scary; the other, relaxing and personal, even if it was more physically painful. If they wanted to redesign the speculum, they had to redesign the entire experience.

Half a year later, the project has turned into something of a coup d'état on the modern pelvic exam. There's the speculum itself, still in development with the insight from several OB/GYNs who have signed on to help. There's a list of guidelines for physicians, which include simple but meaningful tips like giving patients somewhere to hang their clothes and explaining the components of the exam. "It's never going to be perfect," says Kumar. "So how do we at least prepare people emotionally for how it's going to be, and make them feel like they got some value out of it at the end?"

There's also a mock-up of an app, which would let patients fill out forms, ask questions, or follow a guided meditation before the exam. Kumar invented a gear kit—a stress ball, socks to cover your feet in the stirrups—to improve patient comfort, alongside the new speculum. The team also added Rachel Hobart, a visual designer at Frog, to help brand the experience. The result is called Yona.

For now, the Yona project is still an early-stage design concept. Stewart and Wang are still hashing out new speculum prototypes, while Kumar and Hobart refine the app and experience. They're working with their board of physicians to fine-tune the idea, to negotiate what's feasible and what isn't. And collectively, they're searching for partners who may have similar goals, like the tech-savvy healthcare service One Medical, who can bring Yona from concept into reality.

The trickiest part, it seems, is developing something that physicians will actually adopt. It's not lost on the Frog designers that other prototypes have failed after physicians bristled at the idea of investing in something new, either financially (the cost of purchasing a new device) or mentally (the time it takes to learn how to use a new device). Gynecologists have been using the speculum for over a century, and so far, it's worked. Why change now? "You could create the most beautiful, most unique, most user-friendly device, but if a doctor doesn't want to learn how to use it, your patient's never going to see it," Stewart says.

But Wang says that's mostly a matter of getting the product out there, showing physicians how great it can be for them and for their patients. She knows the traditional speculum works fine for most gynecologists. "It passes, but it's not great," says Wang. "But we're working on making it better. When you give [physicians] the option to choose a better one or a worse one, then they're going to choose the better one. But they might not know that until they get that option."

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10 Gifts To Buy Yourself This Christmas, Because You Know You’ve Had Your Eye On A Few Things

10 Gifts To Buy Yourself For Christmas, Because You Know You’ve Had Your Eye On A Few Things

Just because people say it’s better to give than to receive, doesn’t mean you have to play martyr and deny the fact that when you wake up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree, you’re pretty damn excited to rip off the wrapping and see how your loved ones chose to spoil you this year. You work hard, and probably don’t play as hard as you deserve, so it’s not a crime to scope out gifts to buy yourself for Christmas. Trust me, friends, you’ve earned it.

And don’t you dare think, even for the tiniest of milliseconds, that splurging on yourself is in any way . Think of it this way, OK? Gift exchanges are wonderful, and I’m sure you’re very appreciative of any present a friend or loved one goes out of the way to give you. But, unless you make a detailed wishlist or Pinterest board and send them out for reference every year, I’m willing to bet you don’t receive everything you want.

If you a) have the funds and b) are constantly adding and deleting a specific item from your digital shopping cart, allow yourself the luxury this holiday season and treat yourself. Here are a few special gifts to buy yourself for Christmas this year, because you deserve a little TLC and spoiling, too.

1Eye Masks

Honest Hazel

Eye Gels – “TRY ME” – 3 pack, $12, Honest Hazel

I will not hesitate to admit that I am a sucker for cosmetic trends on Instagram. Lime Crime, Dose of Colors — you name it, I’ve tried it.

Lately, however, viral makeup products have been pushed aside, allowing real skincare goodies shine though. I’m all about self-care these days, so once I spotted Honest Hazel’s eye gels all over the health and wellness social accounts I follow, I knew they’d be at the top of my wishlist.

2Artisan Teas

David’s Tea

24 Days of Tea, $45, David’s Tea

To say that I’m a tea addict would be the understatement of the year. I come from an Irish household where tea time was served the time, and on average, I’d probably sip down about three cups a day.

Over the years, I’ve expanded my palette well beyond traditional black brews, and I personally find joy in sampling new flavors, which is why this advent calendar of loose leaves from David’s Tea has me working my way up on my husband’s “Nice List.” In each miniature compartment, you’ll find a tiny tin of single-serving delicacies like cream of earl grey, silk dragon jasmine, and white cranberry bark. Now sounds like a delicious way to kick off the new year, no?

3A Cropped Hoodie


Women’s Cropped Hoodie in Pale Turquoise, $38, Gymshark

I’ve been a fan of Gymshark’s since the very beginning of my fitness journey. If you’re a fan of Lululemon, I’d definitely go out on a limb to say this brand is the slightly more affordable version.

Gymshark leggings are bae, and their sports bras fit nice and snug, but I’ve been eyeing this turquoise hoodie from the second I got wind of its release. Obviously, cropped anything is associated with warmer weather, but when you’re killing it at the gym, this is definitely a staple piece for any high-intensity wardrobe.

4The Perfect Makeup Kit


Limited-Edition Magic Star Collector’s Set, $49, Tarte Cosmetics

Purchasing high-quality makeup adds up fast. For an all-encompassing set, you’re generally spending over $50, but thankfully, Tarte’s giving the gift of affordable cosmetics to its loyal customers this holiday season.

This limited-edition set is comprised of all the essentials you’ll need to perfect a full face. With 25 exclusive matte and metallic eyeshadows, the brand’s signature clay blushes, highlighter, bronzer, and every tool necessary to master a wicked cat eye and bold lip, this is the dream set every beauty buff deserves to treat herself to this year.


4″ Live Assorted Succulents Set of 4, $49, Urban Outfitters

Not all of us were born with a green thumb, OK? I know myself, and even though I love the look of plants, I definitely am not one for maintaining them.

This succulent set from UO is perfect for anyone who adores the homey aesthetic plants add to their space, but is admittedly sort of forgetful when it comes to trimming thorns and daily watering. TLC requirements are minimal with these lovely blooms; just make sure they’re strategically located where they can soak in the sunshine, and water once in awhile for nourishment.

6Earthy Apothecary

Hello Crisp

The Earthy One Gift Box, $48, Hello Crisp

I recently came across Hello Crisp and instantly fell in love with the brand’s cozy, minimalist aesthetic. They offer a range of themed gift boxes catering to unique personalities, and this earthy blend stood out to me as the perfect wintertime treat.

Each product is hand-selected and made by artisans that are environmentally friendly and produce high-quality goods. The Earthy One is comprised of a black pepper birch wood cedar candle, a body lotion that harmonizes notes of vanilla and greenery, as well as a warm apple-scented soap bar enhanced with amber and wild lavender.

7A Graphic Sweatshirt

Wholesome Culture

I Know Guac Is Extra, But So Am I – Unisex Crewneck Sweatshirt, $35, Wholesome Culture

Guac may be extra, but it’s worth it — and so are you.

I love graphic tees and sweatshirts emblazoned with phrases that are not only catchy, but speak to my soul. Avocado speaks to my soul my stomach, so Wholesome Culture’s crewneck truly says it all. Plus, their sizes seem to run a little roomy, which is optimal for post-holiday dinner lounging.

8The Gift Of A New Hobby

We Are Knitters

Avanto Beanie – Knitting Kit, $49, We Are Knitters

I realize that knitting is often associated with a vision of a grandmother in a rocking chair with balls of unraveling yarn at her feet, but We Are Knitters is making this craft cool again, and I personally want in on the fun.

The site is divided into levels of expertise, so if you’re a beginner, there are tons of kits to get you started. The Avanto Beanie kit is technically a two-for-one special if you think about it. Not only will you be honing a new skill, you’ll also have a chic piece of headgear to sport all winter long.

9Book Club Membership

3-Month Membership, $44.99, Book of the Month Club

If you prefer books over people, there’s a club for that. Share your joy of enticing plots and genius character development by gifting yourself a three-month membership to Book of the Month Club.

The process is simple: Choose one or multiple of five titles showcased each month, and have them shipped to your door (sometimes the brand sneaks a surprise inside your bundle), and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a book club that’s a little more engaging, Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss launched their own exclusive association where readers can purchase Belletrist’s monthly pick and discuss via social media.

10A Fancy Planner

Erin Condren

Erin Condren 2018 Hardbound LifePlanner, $30, Amazon

I wouldn’t exactly call myself cheap, but I’m definitely not the type of girl to pay a visit to the mall on a weekly basis and waste money on material things I don’t need (except books — you can never have too many books).

When it comes to planners, though, I’ve been known to splurge. Some people look at $30 for a planner and think it’s outrageous. I, on the other hand, am drawn to pricey notebooks and will gladly drop a few bills on a hardbound planner clad with pages dedicated to setting goals and organizing schedules.

Erin Condren’s life planner comes in three designs: watercolor splash quote, painted petals, and floating florals. It’s also huge, with 164 pages to doodle, take notes, and plan your entire 2018. Is it worth the big bucks? For you, I definitely think so.

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Stillbirth link to sleeping on your back

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Women are being advised to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirth.

A study of just over 1,000 women found the risk doubles if women go to sleep on their backs in the third trimester.

The study looked into 291 pregnancies that ended in stillbirth and 735 women who had a live birth.

Researchers say the position which women fall asleep in is most important – and they should not worry if they are on their back when they wake up.

About one in 225 pregnancies in the UK ends in stillbirth and the study authors estimate that about 130 babies’ lives a year could be saved if women went to sleep on their side.

The MiNESS study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG) is the biggest of its kind, and confirms findings from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia.

Is waking up on your back a problem?

Prof Alexander Heazell, clinical director at the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, who led the research, advises women in their third trimester to sleep on their side for any episode of sleep, including daytime naps.

“What I don’t want is for women to wake up flat on their back and think ‘oh my goodness I’ve done something awful to my baby’.

“The question that we asked was very specifically what position people went to sleep in and that’s important as you spend longer in that position than you do in any other.

“And also you can’t do anything about the position that you wake up in but you can do something about the position you go to sleep.”

Tips for going to sleep on your side

  • Put a pillow or pillows behind your back to encourage side-sleeping
  • If you wake during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side
  • Pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night
  • If you wake on your back during the night, don’t worry, just roll on to your side
  • The study didn’t find a difference in risk between right or left side

Source: Tommy’s charity

Researchers can’t say for certain why the risk of stillbirth is increased – but there is a lot of data that suggests when a woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of the baby and womb puts pressure on blood vessels which can then restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby.

Edward Morris, from the BJOG, said the new research was “extremely welcome” .

“This is an important study which adds to the growing body of evidence that sleep position in late pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for stillbirth.”

The pregnancy charity Tommy’s has started a campaign to raise awareness of the study and to encourage women to sleep on their side.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Michelle Cottle is 36 and lives in London – she is a clinical psychologist and writes an award-winning blog Dear Orla

Michelle Cottle’s baby Orla was stillborn at 37 weeks in 2016 after a healthy pregnancy where there were no signs that anything was wrong.

She writes a blog “Dear Orla” and hears from women who have been through the same experience.

Michelle, whose daughter Esme was born a year later, says practical advice like this for mothers is important to make them feel more in control.

“I really think it helps to empower people, as it feels like something you can go away and do with the hope of having a more healthy pregnancy and a better outcome than sadly lots of people do have.

“I look back now and I actually feel quite traumatised by my (second) pregnancy because it was a bit like living your worst nightmare every single day.

“Every time there’s maybe a quiet moment and you don’t know whether your baby is alive or not is absolutely terrifying.

“Night-time is the worst as well because a lot of people would say they believe that their baby died maybe when they were sleeping. I think that’s really scary because you have to sleep.

“So I think having clear things that can help you feel a bit more in control is really important for women.”

Related Topics

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‘Huge deal’ therapy cuts migraine attacks

Image copyright Getty Images

A new approach to preventing migraines can cut the number and severity of attacks, two clinical trials show.

About 50% of people on one study halved the number of migraines they had each month, which researchers at King’s College Hospital called a “huge deal”.

The treatment is the first specifically designed for preventing migraine and uses antibodies to alter the activity of chemicals in the brain.

Further trials will need to assess the long-term effects.

  • One in seven people around the world live with the regular agony of migraine
  • Migraine is up to three times more common in women than men
  • The Migraine Trust estimates there are more than 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK
  • People with headaches for fewer than 15 days a month have episodic migraine
  • If it is on more than 15 days it is classed as chronic migraine

Research has shown a chemical in the brain – calcitonin gene-related peptide or CGRP – is involved in both pain and sensitivity to sound and light in migraine.

Four drug companies are racing to develop antibodies that neutralise CGRP. Some work by sticking to CGRP, while others block the part of a brain cell with which it interacts.

Clinical trials on two of the antibodies have now been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One antibody, erenumab made by Novartis, was trialled on 955 patients with episodic migraine.

At the start of the trial the patients had migraines on an average of eight days a month.

The study found 50% of those given the antibody injections halved their number of migraine days per month. About 27% did have a similar effect without treatment, which reflects the natural ebb and flow of the disease.

Another antibody, fremanezumab made by Teva pharmaceuticals, was trialled on 1,130 patients with chronic migraine.

About 41% of patients halved their number of migraine days compared with 18% without treatment.

Prof Peter Goadsby, who led the erenumab trials at the NIHR research centre at King’s, told the BBC: “It’s a huge deal because it offers an advance in understanding the disorder and a designer migraine treatment.

“It reduces the frequency and severity of headaches.

“These patients will have parts of their life back and society will have these people back functioning.”

He said other data, not published in the latest studies, suggested a fifth of patients had no migraines at all after treatment.

Better option?

The antibodies are not the only preventative drugs for migraine. Others include former epilepsy and heart disease pills as well as botox.

But Simon Evans, the chief executive of Migraine Action, said those drugs came with a lot of side-effects and did not work for everyone.

“Some doctors give patients a choice of being angry or fat-and-dosey and the drug they give them depends on their answer,” he said.

The hope is discovering CGRP and precisely targeting it with antibodies should lead to fewer side-effects. Both studies say long-term safety data still needs to be studied.

The problem with antibodies is they tend to be more expensive to make than other therapies.

Prof Goadsby thinks patients who get no benefit from existing treatments or cannot cope with the side-effects are those most likely to benefit.

Dr Andy Dowson, who runs headache services in Kent and London, said: “I am really enthusiastic we have something new that’s coming, but we need to know cost, who will respond and a lot more detail as we go down the line.

“Chronic migraine is in the top seven conditions for lifetime disability and yet nothing much is done about it, maybe this is going to help us to make some progress.”

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Please don’t be afraid to save my life because of my boobs

A new study suggests that women are more likely to die in a situation where they could otherwise be saved by CPR, because bystanders are afraid of touching breasts.

The research, conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institutes of Health, examined nearly 20,000 cases of cardiac arrest and found a disturbing gender gap when it came to receiving life-saving procedures from public responders. Only 39 percent of women who suffered cardiac arrest in a public place were given CPR versus 45 percent of men—and men were 23 percent more likely to survive, according to the study.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, a lead researcher on the project from UPenn, noted that when rescuers were questioned, they remarked that a fear of touching a woman’s chest area and being reluctant to “move a woman’s clothing” prevented them from responding. The study also found gender biases within CPR training itself: Most practice mannequins do not have breasts, and some people thought large breasts would “impede proper placement of defibrillator pads.”

First and foremost, let’s clear up how CPR works: Properly administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation does not ever entail putting your hands on anyone’s pectoral area, male or female. Correct procedure involves placing hands directly against the sternum. As in, between the breasts. If you are one of the 12 million people who the American Heart Association certifies annually, you would know this basic information. When statistics about cardiac emergencies are already bleak (less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive), having breasts absolutely should not stand in the way of helping a victim’s chance of survival, which can double or triple when given CPR.

However, the public’s “fear” of helping women points to a greater medical, and ultimately cultural, problem: The lack of research and information we have when it comes to female patients and women’s bodies. Common mythology tells us that heart disease is a “man’s problem.” However, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. Even the CDC acknowledges the media skewers cardiac disease to be about men. A Google Images search for “heart attack” yields a page covered in stock photos and drawings of 25 men and two women clutching their chests. A search for “CPR” art for this piece came up with hundreds of men and male mannequins being resuscitated, but only one woman.

It’s also been well-documented that women’s heart attacks can be vastly different than men’s, in terms of symptoms, blood pressure levels, and triggers. If we are only taught as a culture to look out for men grabbing their left arm during a cardiac emergency, we may miss out on a woman experiencing stabbing pain in her chest and jaw muscles while having an attack. These differences weren’t even recognized until a study on gender variations in cardiac symptoms pointed it out in 2007—only 10 years ago.

Normalizing male CPR dolls and male-focused cardiac studies speaks to pervasive gender bias in biomedical research and the medical community. Scientific studies limit their scope of findings and put half the population at risk when clinical trials disproportionately represent male subjects. For example, a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that women comprised only 10 to 47 percent of each subject pool in 19 heart-related trials. And a 2015 editorial published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal cited reports that show female subjects are “woefully underrepresented” in cardiovascular research.

Doctors and medical professionals also fail women in emergency situations by minimizing, mocking, and silencing female patients. “The Girl Who Cried Pain,” a study published in The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics in 2001, found that women are “more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the healthcare system until they ‘prove that they are as sick as male patients.’” In emergency rooms nationwide, men wait an average of 49 minutes for painkillers while women wait an average of 65 minutes for the same thing. According to a 2000 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, women are seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged mid-heart-attack because doctors fail to recognize women’s heart attack symptoms.

In the UPenn study, 70 percent of Americans said they feel “helpless” in a cardiac emergency because they don’t know CPR or their training has lapsed. But you don’t need to be officially certified in CPR to perform it on someone else. There are many, many, many, online resources, videos and apps to get you up to speed on basic first aid, AED, and resuscitation training. At a minimum, we should all know by now that performing chest compressions to the beat of the Bee Gees’ hit song “Stayin’ Alive” provides the optimal rhythm until an ambulance arrives.

Regardless, we cannot let this kind of “othering” of women’s bodies and women’s health issues—by doctors, by researchers, and by the media—stand in the way of keeping female-identifying members of society alive. If there is an emergency, we cannot be afraid of accidentally grazing the victim’s breast, wrinkling her shirt, or cracking her rib by being overly aggressive with chest compressions. None of those things matter if she dies due to gendered fear, a distorted sense of politeness, or social apathy.

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You FIRST! Conservatives fact-HAMMER Kamala Harriss latest lies and threats about GOP tax bill

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Kamala Harris is a disingenuous, pandering liar who wouldn’t know the truth if it fell out of the sky, landed on her face and started to wiggle.

Democrats are lying their backsides off about the GOP tax bill, but none of them are quite as obnoxious as Kamala:

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Make Nepotism Great Again: 20 Families Got Jobs in Trump Administration

Most people have heard of Ivanka and Jared, but the first family is far from the only group of relatives staffing the Trump administration.

A Daily Beast examination of public records reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment. They include the families of some of Trumps most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions.

A few of the most prominent cases came to the fore in recent weeks with the hiring of Eric Trumps brother-in-law to be chief of staff at the Department of Energy and the nomination of Brett Talley to a federal judgeship in Alabama. In paperwork filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Talley failed to disclose that his wife is the chief of staff to the White House senior counsel Don McGahnpresenting a potential conflict of interest if the administration ever argues a case in Talleys court.

But McGahn too has a direct relation in the administration. His wife, Shannon McGahn, was hired in May as a policy adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In March, Trump tapped former Ford Motor Company lawyer Jim Carroll to join McGahns team. Carroll has since moved over to the Office of Management and Budget, where he serves as general counsel. But before he did, the White House hired his son, James Carroll IIIwhose previous professional experience consisted of a stint as the sports editor of his college newspaperas a staff assistant.

Such staffing choices arent necessarily novel for this administration. From John Adams to John Kennedy, U.S. presidents and their teams have drawn on families for high-level staffing. A lack of comprehensive records for previous administrations makes it difficult to gauge whether the Trump administration is staffed by more families than his predecessors.

But Trumps administration is, more than any since perhaps Kennedys, defined by blood relations, with daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner occupying senior posts and other members of the family, including sons Don Jr. and Eric and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, serving as prominent public faces of the presidents political and business arms. And the degree to which other families supply the administration with top talent only further illustrates the insularity of the current group controlling the levers of power in Washington, D.C.

Though not technically a federal employee, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani serves as an informal adviser to the president. In March, his son Andrew joined the White House Office of Public Liaison as associate director after his professional golfing career petered out. The younger Giulianis LinkedIn page listed him as a former sales intern at investment firm CapRok.

As secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is one of the administrations most senior officials. But her family has also provided tremendous financial support for the president and the Republican Party, shelling out more than $200 million in Republican campaign contributions. Donors are frequently rewarded with administration posts and the DeVos were no different. In September, Dick Devos Jr., Betsys husband, was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administrations Management Advisory Council. The next month, Pamella DeVos, Betsys sister-in-law, landed a spot on the advisory board for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. DeVos brother, Erik Prince, the founder of notorious military contractor Blackwater, was also said to be informally advising Trumps incoming administration after last years election.

Other intra-family administration posts have been more prominent and filled more direct policy-making roles. Often, these appointments have illustrated another ongoing trend in the Trump administration: the tasking of high-level officials to regulate or oversee industries in which they formerly worked.

Former House Financial Services Committee Oversight Counsel, Uttah Dhillon, was appointed as a senior assistant to the president in January. In June, his wife Janet Dhillon was tapped to be an Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner, which puts her on a body that previously took enforcement actions against at least two of her former employers, United Airlines (PDF) and JCPenny, for allegedly discriminatory action that took place while she served in legal roles for the companies.

Pamela Patenaude, Trumps deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development, didnt work in industry. But she led the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation, which promotes U.S. housing policy reforms. When she was nominated in April, her daughter Meghan was already a deputy assistant for scheduling to Vice President Mike Pence. By the time she was confirmed to the HUD post in September, another of her daughters, Caitlin Patenaude, had been hired as a policy adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Trump administration families appear to have followed their principals into the federal government. Sisters Millan and Sydney Hupp both worked on Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitts campaign for Oklahoma attorney general. Sydney Hupp is now Pruitts executive scheduler, and her sister is EPAs director of scheduling and advance.

Jennifer Pavlik likewise followed her former boss into the administration. She was Pences chief of staff in the Indiana governors mansion, and now serves as the vice presidents deputy chief of staff. She joined the administration in January, and a few months later her husband followed. Brian Pavlik, a former concessions program manager for the Indiana State Parks system, was hired as a special assistant to the National Parks Service.

At least one familial Trump official is no longer in the job. A few months after former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka joined the administration, his wife, Katharine Gorka, landed a job at the Department of Homeland Security. She remains in that post, but her husband was unceremoniously ousted in August.

As she continues advising high-level government officials, Sebastian Gorka has been relegated to an advisory position at a group run by Pizzagate conspiracy theorists. He was recently pictured parking his car on a sidewalk in Virginia.

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Army lifts ban on cutters, mentally ill and drug abusers to meet recruiting goals

Facing low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army quietly lifted its ban on allowing people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military – despite warnings from the industry about the risks involved.

The new rules green-light recruits who have bipolar disorder, depression and issues with cutting – a process in which a person takes a knife or razor to his or her own skin – along with those who bite, hit or bruise themselves intentionally.

“I am shocked,” Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at The University of Utah, told Fox News. “This contradicts everything we have been working toward for the past 10-to-15 years.”

“This contradicts everything we have been working toward for the past 10-to-15 years.”

– Craig Bryan, National Center for Veterans Studies

Bryan says there is strong evidence to indicate self-injury is a “stepping stone to suicide” and is “the single strongest predictor of suicidal behavior.”

The Army signed off on the new policy in August but never announced it, according to USA Today, which first reported the news.

The decision to lift restrictions comes as the military looks like it will miss its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

In order to hit last year’s goal of 69,000 recruits, the Army also accepted men and women who did poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers for pot use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.

In fiscal year 2017, it paid out $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016. In 2014, that figure was $8.2 million. According to USA Today, some of the recruits qualified for bonuses of $40,000.

When it comes to mental health, recruits who would have previously been barred can submit waivers allowing them to sign up.

The change reverses an eight-year ban on the wavers following a spike of suicides.

The move is especially troubling following the Texas church massacre a week ago, in which 26 people were killed and another 20 injured when Devin Patrick Kelley, a veteran with a history of psychiatric problems, opened fire inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

Following the deadly episode, it was revealed that Kelley made death threats against his superiors and escaped from a mental hospital during his stint in the Air Force.  

Kelley was kicked out of the military and later ran away from a mental institution.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randy Taylor says the waiver expansion was possible because the government has more access to applicants’ medical records.

“These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories,” he said – but adds that the “waivers are not considered lightly.”

Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the University of Arizona’s Department of Psychiatry, told Fox News he believes lifting the ban is a step in the right direction.

“The label of mental illness is meaningless,” he said. “There are a ton of people who have a history of something – some kind of emotional trouble – and they are fine. There is no reason in the world they couldn’t serve in the military.”

He added, “Stereotypes are pretty evil all the way around. Because of the stigma (of mental illness), we stereotype them.”

Dvoskin said in some cases, mental illness might make would-be soldiers “tougher and better” as the result. 

But some say accepting recruits with mental health conditions – specifically cutting – puts others at risk, especially in high-pressure situations in the field.  

“Is it a red flag,” Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatrist who retired from the Army in 2010, said. “The question is, how much of a red flag is it?”

According to the Army, recruits with a history of self-mutilation must provide documentation that includes a detailed statement from the applicant, medical records, photos submitted by the recruiter and a psych evaluation.

The Army says the burden of proof will be on the applicant to provide a case why a waiver should be considered. 

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