Your body during weeks 25 to

This month your uterus will expand to midway between your navel and breasts. Your baby will become increasingly active, especially in the second half of the month. By the end of your 28th week, you'll have completed 70 percent of your pregnancy. The homestretch is near Here's an overview of what's happening and where. This month your blood pressure will probably go up, returning to roughly where it was before you were pregnant. In addition, you may feel a fluttering or pounding sensation around...

Appointments with your health care provider

This month's visit to your health care provider will likely be your last once-a-month visit. Next month, you'll probably see your health care provider every two weeks and then once a week until your baby is born. During your visit this month, your health care provider can again check your blood pressure and weight and ask you about any signs and symptoms you may be having. You'll probably also be asked to describe your baby's activity schedule and movements. As during other visits, your health...

Birth control shots

Birth control shots are similar to birth control pills in that both methods use hormones to prevent ovulation and impair fertilization. These injections are given in your arm or buttocks. The shots are available in the form of a progestin-only injection (Depo-Provera). With Depo-Provera, you get an injection every three months. Birth control shots are more than 99 percent effective, meaning fewer than one out of 100 women who use this method as birth control for a year will become pregnant....

Aromatherapy

To trigger relaxation and ease pain naturally during labor, try using comforting smells. When you're home, light a scented candle or burn incense. When you're at the hospital or birthing center, bring along a pillow scented with your favorite fragrance. Or have your labor coach use a lightly scented oil or lotion when massaging you. Aromatherapy may relax you and reduce stress and tension. However, being in labor can make you sensitive to certain smells, so don't go overboard with fragrances....

Car seat knowhow

One of the most important pieces of baby equipment is a car seat, which you'll use right away, starting with your baby's first ride home from the hospital. Car seats are required by law in every state, and correct and consistent use of them is one of the best ways parents can protect their children. It's never safe to hold an infant or child on your lap in a moving vehicle. An infant must never ride in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has passenger air bags. The safest...

After Caesarean birth

In your last pregnancy, your baby was delivered by Caesarean. Can you have a vaginal birth this time Maybe. It used to be that once you had a Caesarean birth, all your subsequent deliveries would be by Caesarean as well. Now, vaginal birth after Caesarean birth (VBAC) is possible in many cases. But it's not without risk. Several factors must be considered before you and your health care provider decide to try VBAC or to arrange a repeat Caesarean. Women who choose VBAC go through labor. It's...

Birthing ball

A birthing ball is a large rubber ball and tool of natural childbirth. Leaning or sitting on the ball can decrease the discomfort of your contractions, relieve the pain of back labor and aid in the descent of your baby into the birth canal. Your hospital or birthing center may provide one for you. Or you may need to purchase one and bring it with you. Have someone on your health care team show you how to get the most out of a birthing ball. Its use can be combined with massage and touch...

Creating a birth plan

A birth plan encourages you to think about your labor and delivery before it happens. You can record your preferences regarding labor, delivery and post-partum care. You can use the list to talk about your preferences with your doctor, midwife or other support persons. This type of plan isn't set in stone because no one can predict how the birth will go. But it does help ensure the experience will come as close to your expectations as reasonably possible. Your health care provider may ask you...

Body image

In the early months of your pregnancy, you may be preoccupied with the physical changes occurring in your body. Given the emphasis our culture puts on being slim, you may be upset about these changes. Simply put, you may feel fat and unattractive. These feelings may be especially strong this month, as you start developing a small potbelly. Changes in your body's shape and function can affect the way you feel. You may feel less attractive in general and to your partner in particular. You may be...

Complications of prematurity

Babies born prematurely are at risk of several medical problems because they haven't had the chance to fully develop in the uterus. Recent years have seen an increase in the use of maternal medications given to prepare the premature baby for birth and improvements in NICU care. Today, survival rates and outcomes are excellent for all but the youngest or most ill newborns. Some babies' problems are apparent at birth. Others may develop weeks to months later. The earlier a baby is born, the...

Crib and sleeping safety

Because your newborn will spend at least half of the time sleeping, where and how you put the baby to sleep is no small matter. For the first weeks, many parents place their newborn's crib or bassinet in their own bedroom. Some families welcome the child into the family bed, while others provide a separate room and crib for the baby. Your choice will depend on personal preference and needs. Some breast-feeding mothers prefer to nurse while lying in their own bed. After feeding, they may place...

Developing good sleep habits

Drooping eyelids, rubbing the eyes and fussiness are the usual signs that a baby is tired. Many babies cry when they're put down for sleep, but if left alone for a few minutes, most will eventually quiet themselves. If your baby is not wet, hungry or ill, try to be patient with the crying and encourage self-settling. If you leave the room for a while, your baby will probably stop crying after a short time. If not, try comforting him or her and allow the baby to settle again. In the first few...

Diaphragm with spermicide

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber cap with a flexible rim that fits over your cervix. It's used along with spermicidal foam, cream or jelly to block sperm from reaching the egg. Diaphragms come in different sizes, so you need to be fitted by your health care provider in order to use one. The cervical cap is a similar method of birth control, but it's more difficult to insert and isn't recommended for women who've had children. The diaphragm is available by prescription, as is the cervical...

Heat and cold

Applying heat or cold, or both, can be a soothing, natural pain reliever in labor. The goal of applying heat or cold is to make you more comfortable so that you can better relax. Heat relieves muscle tension. It can be applied through a heating pad, a warm towel, a hot compress, a hot water bottle or a heated rice-filled pack or sock. You can apply heat to your shoulders, lower abdomen or back to relieve pain. As you near the time to push, you may find it comforting to place a warm blanket over...

Nonsurgical sterilization

In November 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first nonsurgical method of sterilization for women (Essure System). It consists of placing a small, metallic device within each fallopian tube. These devices cause scar tissue to form, effectively blocking the fallopian tube and preventing fertilization of the egg. Your doctor inserts a device into each of your fallopian tubes using a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that's threaded through the vagina into the uterus and on into the...

Part

Complications of pregnancy and childbirth Every woman wants a problem-free pregnancy. But at times, problems develop. If you have or develop a medical condition, it can change how your pregnancy proceeds. Complications of Pregnancy and Childbirth explains some of the problems that can develop, how they might affect your pregnancy, and how you and your health care provider can manage the situation. Maternal health problems and pregnancy Cancer High blood pressure 511 Depression Epilepsy Heart...

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Aromatherapy, 340-341 heat and cold for, 340 hypnosis, 341-342 medications, 175, 176, 327-332 music for, 341 natural methods of, 326, 332-342 nonprescription medications, 423, 467 reflexology, 342 TENS, 342 painting and decorating, 23-24, 474-475 anticipation of, 64 models and ideals of, 64 planning for next child, 407-412 sharing chores of, with partner, 266 paroxetine, 466 partners. see also labor coach abusive, during pregnancy, 8 body image and, 76 bottle-feeding and, 367 Caesarean birth...

Molded head

At first, your baby's head may appear flat, elongated or crooked. This peculiar elongation is one of the common features of the newly born baby. A baby's skull consists of several sections of bone flexibly joined so that the head shape can change to correspond to the shape of your pelvis as your baby moves through the birth canal. A long labor usually results in an elongated or tall skull shape at birth. The head of a breech baby may have a shorter, broader appearance. If a vacuum extractor was...

Populationbased screening

Certain racial and ethnic groups are more at risk than are others for certain disorders, some of which are listed below. If you belong to one of these groups, talk to your health care provider or a genetic counselor about your risks of being a carrier and the screening process. Racial or ethnic group_Genetic disorder_ Ashkenazi Jew Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, Canavan disease, Niemann-Pick disease (type A), Fanconi anemia (group C), Bloom syndrome, Gaucher disease, _familial...

Positioning the baby at the breast

Different women find different positions comfortable. Here's a sampling of breast-feeding positions to try Bring your baby across the front of your body, tummy to tummy. Hold your baby with the arm opposite to the breast you're feeding with. Support the back of the baby's head with your open hand. This hold allows you especially good control as you position your baby to latch on. Cradle your baby in an arm, with your baby's head resting comfortably in the crook of the elbow on the same side as...

Review choices for your labor and childbirth

In addition to attending childbirth classes in your final months of pregnancy, you and your partner may want to discuss with your health care provider When making a birth plan with your health care provider, don't be embarrassed by any question. For example, you may be wondering What if I have to go to the bathroom during labor In the past, it was normal for a woman to have an enema when she went into labor, the theory being that emptying the bowel reduced the risk of infection for the mother...

Urinating and bowel movements

New parents often wonder what's normal when it comes to their baby's urination and bowel movements. By the time a baby is three or four days old, he or she should have at least six wet diapers a day. As your baby gets older, he or she may have wet diapers with every feeding. However, if the baby is ill or feverish or if the weather is very hot, the usual output of urine may drop by half and still be normal. If urine output decreases when a baby is sick, especially if the baby is vomiting or...

Signs that youre in labor

As your due date approaches, after about the 36th week of your pregnancy, your health care provider may want to examine you more often, typically weekly. The principal medical reason for this is to watch for preeclampsia, the serious form of high blood pressure in pregnancy. He or she likely will also check for the early signs of labor (pre-labor signs) in addition to monitoring your health and that of your unborn child. Your health care provider likely also will review signs of labor with you...

Spinal block

This technique offers an anesthetic and narcotic mixture. Anesthetics used include chloroprocaine, lidocaine and other caine drugs. Narcotics include fentanyl (Sublimaze), meperidine (Demerol), morphine, nalbuphine (Nubain). A spinal block is given during active labor or, if necessary, shortly before a Caesarean birth. The medication is injected into the fluid-filled space around the spinal nerves. It takes effect in seconds. The technique provides complete pain relief from the chest down for...

Take childbirth classes if you havent already

Childbirth classes help you and your partner fully prepare for labor and childbirth. They vary in name and are available at most hospitals and birthing centers, so ask about them as part of your prenatal care. Typically, classes are offered as one- to two-hour sessions over the course of several months or as full-day sessions that take place over one or two weekends. Childbirth classes are often taught by nurses, who cover more than just breathing techniques used for relaxation during labor, or...

Try to relax

Most women greet the end of their pregnancies with a mixture of anticipation and, often, nervousness. But try not to worry. Women's bodies are made to accommodate labor and delivery. Labor, as the name implies, is work, that's true. But you can help make the experience go as smoothly as possible by learning about the birth process and by practicing relaxation techniques. Many women experience a spurt of energy in the last weeks of pregnancy, a behavior often referred to as nesting. You may find...

Tips for planning a vaginal birth after a Caesarean birth

Most women who've undergone a previous Caesarean are candidates for a vaginal birth after a Caesarean birth (VBAC). Yet in 2000, only about 20 percent of eligible women went through with it. Given that the success rate is 60 percent to 80 percent, why don't more women choose VBAC Part of the reason may be women's fears of the possibility of a long, protracted delivery that ends in surgery. Another possible reason is that not all women have access to facilities that are prepared to handle VBACs....

Where to start

Finding the right health care provider for your pregnancy and childbirth can be a daunting process. Use this information to help you make this important decision. Look for help in identifying potential obstetrical health care providers Ask family and friends for recommendations. Consult with your regular doctor and other medical professionals. Contact your county medical society for a list of the providers in your area. Check your local Yellow Pages for a list of providers by area of specialty....

Your body during weeks 29 to

This month, your uterus will continue its expansion toward the bottom of your rib cage, creating a new set of physical changes and signs and symptoms. Nearly all of the signs and symptoms of late pregnancy are caused by the expansion of your uterus. Plus, you'll probably start to feel tired again much of the time. Here's an overview of what's happening and where. Your heart and circulatory system are continuing to work overtime to carry oxygen and nutrients to your baby. To meet the demands of...

Male condom

A male condom is a thin rubber sheath that's used to cover a man's penis when it's erect. It blocks ejaculation fluid from entering the vagina. Condoms made of latex are most common, but they're also available in lambskin or polyurethane materials, for those who are allergic to latex. Before intercourse, unroll the condom all the way down the shaft of the penis, leaving a half-inch space at the head of the penis to allow semen to collect. Use once only and then discard. Male condoms are 86...

The emotional effects of a Caesarean birth

Once you're discharged from the hospital, you may begin to experience negative feelings about having had a Caesarean birth, even if you were accepting of the surgery at first. You may be angry that childbirth didn't happen the way you had hoped it would. You may grieve that you weren't able to give birth vaginally. You may feel like a failure as a woman, doubting your femininity and self-worth. To make things worse, you may feel guilty about having these feelings Comments from friends and...

Preparing for the appointment

At your first appointment, your health care provider will review your past and current health, including any chronic medical conditions you have and problems you've had during past pregnancies, if any. Gathering as much information as possible about your past and present health is one of your health care provider's biggest goals at your first visit. The answers you give have an impact on the care you receive. Some health care providers make the first part of this appointment a one-on-one...

Your body during weeks 37 to

Before you were pregnant, your uterus weighed only about 2 ounces and could hold less than a half-ounce. At term, it will have multiplied in weight by a factor of 20, to about 2 1 2 pounds and will have stretched to hold your baby, your placenta and about a quart of amniotic fluid. At the end of this month, after 40 weeks of growth and change, you'll go through labor and delivery, giving birth to a new human being your one-of-a-kind baby. Here's an overview of what's happening and where You may...

Your body during weeks 5 to

The second month of pregnancy brings enormous changes for your body. It's the time you're likely to begin experiencing most of the major discomforts and annoyances of early pregnancy, such as nausea, heartburn, fatigue, insomnia and frequent urination. But don't let these get you down. Consider them as signs that your pregnancy is proceeding smoothly. A recent study, in fact, found that women who experience pregnancy-related signs and symptoms by their eighth week were less likely to have a...

Can you prevent a Caesarean

Can you prevent having a Caesarean birth Probably not. If your baby is in a breech position, you can ask your health care provider whether it would be possible for him or her to turn the baby into the proper position for a vaginal birth, a procedure called an external version. But the decision to perform a Caesarean will depend on your doctor's assessment of your health and the health of your baby. If either of you is in danger, a Caesarean birth may be necessary. Remember, your aim is to be a...

Family history screening

If a certain disease runs in your family, you may wish to be tested to determine whether you carry the genetic alteration that causes it. For instance, if you have a sibling with an autosomal recessive condition, there's a 50 percent Normal Unaffected Unaffected Affected result when both parents carry a single altered gene for the same disease. If both parents pass the altered gene to the child, the child is affected by the disease. Normal Unaffected Unaffected Affected chance that you're a...

Your emotions during weeks 29 to 32 Conquering anxiety

In just a few weeks, you'll be responsible for a new human being. That fact is probably really starting to sink in this month. As a result, you may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed, especially if this is your first baby. To help keep anxiety at bay, review the decisions that need to be made before your baby is born. Is your baby going to see a pediatrician or a family doctor Are you going to breast-feed or use formula If your baby is a boy, are you going to have him circumcised Taking stock...

Being discharged

The typical hospital stay after a Caesarean birth is three days. Some women are discharged as early as two days after surgery Before leaving the hospital, be sure that your questions are answered. Know what your health care provider recommends for relieving pain and what restrictions he or she is placing on your activity. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of possible post-Caesarean complications. In addition, schedule an appointment with your health care provider for a postpartum exam. Most...

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Positions for labor and childbirth

Once you're in labor, experiment to find what's most comfortable for you. Listen to your body to discover what feels good. One tip Give each new position a chance. The first few contractions may be stronger until you get used to a new position. Lying flat on your back isn't recommended for labor or childbirth. It can cause the weight of your uterus to compress major blood vessels and decrease blood flow to your uterus. Some of the positions for labor and...

Your needs while youre breastfeeding

If you're like most mothers, your attention will be focused intently on the needs of your baby. Although this commitment is completely reasonable, don't forget about your needs. If your baby is to thrive, he or she needs a healthy mother. Consider The specific amounts of foods, fluids and calories you need to support breast-feeding aren't universally agreed on, but you may need fewer calories than was previously thought. The best approach to nutrition while breastfeeding isn't unlike the best...

Breastfeeding

Some techniques may be helpful when you start breast-feeding after a Caesarean birth. You may want to try the football hold, in which you hold your baby much the way a running back tucks a football under his arm. This breast-feeding position is just as effective as any other, but it keeps your baby from putting pressure on your still-sore abdomen. To do the football hold, hold your baby at your side on your arm, with your elbow bent and your open hand firmly supporting your baby's head, near...

Working and breastfeeding

With a little planning and preparation, you can combine breast-feeding and employment. Some mothers work at home or can take their babies with them to work. Some arrange to have their babies brought to them for feedings, or they go to the babies. The mothers can continue to do most of the feedings with only occasional bottle feedings. If these aren't options for you, you may choose to have your child-care provider give your baby bottled breast milk or infant formula. For a few weeks before your...

Abdominal tenderness due to muscle separation

During pregnancy, your growing uterus stretches the muscles in your abdomen. This may cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate. This separation, called diastasis, can also cause a bulge where the two muscles separate. For most women, the condition is painless. Others experience some tenderness around the bellybutton. The muscle separation can also contribute to back pain. The condition may first appear during the second trimester. It may...

Alcohol use of

Don't drink alcohol during your pregnancy. No level of alcohol has been proved safe during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which can result in both physical and mental birth defects. If you have a drink or two before you realize you're pregnant, don't panic. It's unlikely that drinking a small amount of alcohol early in the pregnancy will do harm. However, stop drinking alcohol as soon as you suspect you're pregnant better still, quit before you...

Allergies

Many women have allergies, either seasonal or year-round, before getting pregnant. Others develop a stuffy nose during pregnancy, even if they haven't had that problem before. During pregnancy, elevated levels of estrogen appear to increase mucus production and swelling in the nose, causing congestion. In addition to a runny or stuffed nose, you may experience sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. Many of the usual remedies for these signs and symptoms should be avoided in pregnancy Antihistamines....

Amniocentesis

With amniocentesis, your doctor uses a thin needle inserted into your abdomen to take a small sample of amniotic fluid from the sac surrounding your baby. The two common types are genetic amniocentesis and maturity amniocentesis Genetic amniocentesis. It can give you and your doctor information about your baby's genetic makeup before your baby is born. Maturity amniocentesis. With this test, the fluid is analyzed to find out if the baby's lungs are mature enough to function normally at birth....

Analgesics and narcotics

These medications include butorphanol (Stadol), fentanyl (Sublimaze), meperidine (Demerol), nalbuphine (Nubain). Narcotics can be given anytime in labor, but they're favored in earlier labor when you're dilated less than 7 centimeters (cm) if you're a first-time mom or less than 5 cm if you've given birth before. The medications are injected into a muscle in your thigh or buttocks or injected into an IV catheter. In some instances, you may be able to control your dosage by pressing a button...

Anticipation

Anticipation is a normal part of making the transition to parenthood. It's a time for collecting information about how to be a good mother. It begins early in pregnancy. It has its foundations in the parenting you received as a child and your observations of other families you've encountered. The memories of how you were raised, along with your personal ideals of parenting, serve as a bank of images you can draw from as you think about what your own parenting style will be. During this time of...

Assisted birth

If labor is prolonged or complications develop, you may require some assistance (medical intervention). For example, instruments such as forceps or a vacuum extractor may be needed to help you deliver if your cervix is fully dilated but your baby fails to make progress down the birth canal. An assisted delivery may also be necessary if your baby's head is facing the wrong direction and is wedged in your pelvis or if your baby is large. If your baby is in distress and must be delivered quickly...

Baby movement decreased

Most pregnant women get to know their baby's typical patterns of movement and are attuned to changes in the frequency or intensity of those movements. You may notice a slight decrease in your baby's activity in the last few days before birth. In late pregnancy, the number of fetal movements you perceive often declines gradually. The baby has less room to move around in the uterus, especially after his or her head drops into the pelvis. Although a baby who isn't very active in the womb may be...

Backaches and back pain

Pregnant women are prone to backaches and back pain for a number of reasons. During pregnancy, the joints and ligaments in your pelvic region begin to soften and loosen in preparation for the baby to pass through your pelvis. As your uterus grows, your abdominal organs shift, and your body weight is redistributed, changing your center of gravity. Gradually you begin to adjust your posture and the ways you move. These compensations can lead to backaches and back pain. (See also Abdominal...

Being intimate with your partner

If you're like many women, you may be more interested in sex now than you were earlier in your pregnancy. You may even be more interested in sex now than you were before you became pregnant. Enjoy this feeling while it lasts and before your baby arrives to put a significant crimp in your style. This heightened sexuality is by no means universal, and it's possible you may not feel it at all. As you enter the final months of pregnancy, you may find your desire waning again or waning even further.

Birth control pills safety of after conception

It rarely happens, but birth control pills can fail. If you get pregnant while you're taking birth control pills, stop taking them immediately. The hormones in the pills should be avoided during pregnancy. The risk is low, but there is a potential for harm. If you're planning to become pregnant, most health care providers recommend that you stop taking the pill two to three months before conception. For birth control during this time, you may want to use condoms or a diaphragm. Conceiving...

Bloody show

During pregnancy, the opening to your uterus (cervix) is blocked by a thick plug of mucus. This plug forms a barrier between your cervix and vagina so that bacteria can't enter your uterus and cause an infection. A few weeks, days or hours before labor begins, this plug is sometimes discharged, and you may have what health care providers call bloody show. You may notice a small amount of blood-tinged, brownish mucus leaking from your vagina. Some women don't notice the loss of this plug. Bloody...

Blue lines or veins under skin

Veins throughout your body become larger during pregnancy to accommodate increased blood flow to the baby. These enlarged blood vessels show up as fine bluish, reddish or purplish lines under the skin, most often on the legs and ankles. Blood vessels in the skin over your breasts also become more visible and appear as blue or pink lines. These lines usually disappear after pregnancy. About one in five pregnant women develops varicose veins protruding, swollen veins, particularly in the legs....

Blurred vision

Changes in your eyes during pregnancy can cause slightly blurred vision. Because your body retains extra fluid, the outer layer of your eye (cornea) becomes about 3 percent thicker. This change may become apparent by the 10th week of pregnancy and persists until about six weeks after the baby is born. In addition, the pressure of fluid within your eyeball (intraocular pressure) decreases during pregnancy. In combination, these changes can in rare cases cause blurred vision. If you wear contact...

Bonding with your baby

As soon as babies are born, they need and want you to hold, stroke, cuddle, touch, kiss and talk and sing to them. These everyday expressions of love and affection promote bonding and recognition. They also help your baby's brain develop. Just as an infant's body needs food to grow, his or her brain needs positive emotional, physical and intellectual experiences. Relationships with other people early in life have a vital influence on a child's development. Some parents feel an immediate...

Braxton Hicks contractions

Throughout your second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you may experience occasional, painless contractions a sensation that your uterus is tightening and relaxing. They're especially noticeable when you place your hand on your abdomen. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions, and they're your body's way of warming up for labor. Your uterus is exercising its muscle mass to build strength for the big job ahead labor and the birth of your child. As you approach your due date, these...

Breast discharge

In the final weeks of pregnancy, you may notice a thin, yellowish or clear substance leaking from one or both nipples. This discharge is colostrum, the yellowish fluid produced by your breasts until your milk comes in. Colostrum can range in color and consistency, but such variations are normal. It may be sticky and yellow at first and become more watery as you approach your due date. The older you are and the more pregnancies you've had, the more likely it is you'll have some breast discharge....

Breast enlargement

One of the first signs of pregnancy is an increase in breast size. As early as two weeks after conception, your breasts start to grow and change in preparation for producing milk. Stimulated by estrogen and progesterone, the milk-producing glands inside your breasts get bigger, and fatty tissue increases slightly. By the end of your first trimester, your breasts and nipples will be noticeably larger, and they may keep growing throughout your pregnancy. Breast enlargement accounts for at least a...

Breast tenderness

Often the first hint of pregnancy is a change in the way your breasts feel. By a few weeks of gestation, you may notice tingling sensations in your breasts, and they may feel heavy, tender and sore. Your nipples may be more sensitive. As with breast enlargement, the primary reason for these changes is increased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Breast tenderness normally disappears after the first trimester. Self-care for breast tenderness A good support bra that fits well...

Breath shortness of

Having trouble catching your breath Many pregnant women experience mild breathlessness beginning in the second trimester. This is because your expanding uterus pushes up against your diaphragm the broad, flat muscle that lies under your lungs. The diaphragm rises about 1 2 inches from its usual position during pregnancy. That may seem like a small amount, but it's enough to crowd your lungs and alter your lung capacity the amount of air your lungs are able to take in. At the same time, your...

Caffeine

It's best to avoid caffeine whenever possible during pregnancy. At the very least, don't overindulge. Study results on the subject have been mixed. But overall, studies show that a moderate intake of caffeine 200 milligrams (mg) or less a day, which is the amount found in about one to two cups of coffee has no negative effects on pregnant women and their babies. However, high amounts of caffeine 500 mg or more a day, for example, five or more cups of coffee may cause a decrease in your baby's...

Car travel

Avoid staying in a sitting position for more than two hours at a time. Limit total car time to six hours a day, if possible. Walking around for a few minutes every couple of hours will keep blood from pooling in your legs. This activity will reduce the risk of a blood clot forming. Wear your seat belt. Now more than ever, it's important to wear your seat belt. Trauma to the mother-to-be is the leading cause of fetal death, and vehicular accidents are to blame for...

Carpal tunnel syndrome

2nd, 3rd trimesters Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often caused by repetitive movements of the hand and wrist, such as typing. You may be surprised to learn that it's also common in pregnant women. That's because hormonal changes, swelling and weight gain can compress the nerve beneath the carpal tunnel ligament in your wrist. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, weakness, pain or a burning sensation in the hands. In pregnant women carpal tunnel syndrome often occurs...

Changing positions

Moving about freely during labor allows you to find the most comfortable positions. So, if possible, change positions frequently, experimenting to find the ones most comfortable for you. Changing positions during labor is actually a natural method of pain relief. Moving helps improve your circulation. It can also help distract you from the pain. It may even help a slow labor progress. Try a new position whenever you feel like it, and if it's possible, throughout your labor. For example, you may...

Chickenpox and shingles

Most pregnant women are immune to the viral illness chickenpox (varicella) because they had it or were vaccinated as a child. Once you've had the disease, you're immune for life. So if you had chickenpox or have been vaccinated against it, there's no need for concern if you're exposed to it during pregnancy. If you haven't had chickenpox, it poses risks to you and your fetus if you get the disease while pregnant. That's why during a preconception or prenatal visit your health care provider will...

Choosing a birthing location

You have a choice about where to have your baby. This decision is often closely tied to your choice of a health care provider and where he or she has practicing privileges. Most women in the United States around 99 percent have their babies in a hospital. Others choose to give birth at a birthing center or in their own home. Today, hospitals treat childbirth less like a medical procedure and more as a natural process. Many hospitals offer a relaxed setting in which to have your baby, with...

Circumcision

If your new baby is a boy, you may decide to have another procedure performed circumcision. When a baby boy is circumcised, a doctor surgically removes the foreskin covering the tip of the penis. The procedure exposes the end of the penis. It can be performed before you bring your baby home. There are advantages and disadvantages to circumcising your baby. You can learn more about this important decision in the decision guide titled Considering circumcision for your son on page 355.

Clothing concerns

When you're buying clothes for your newborn, choose a 3-month size or larger so that the baby doesn't immediately outgrow them. In general, look for soft, comfortable clothing that's washable. Select sleepwear that's labeled flame resistant or flame retardant, which can be either a synthetic fiber or cotton treated with flame-retardant chemicals. Avoid buttons, which are easily swallowed, and ribbons or strings, which can cause choking. Don't buy garments with drawstrings, which can catch on...

Colds

Most women catch a cold at least once during pregnancy. Although the signs and symptoms can make you miserable, even a bad cold isn't a hazard to your baby. Colds tend to last longer during pregnancy because of changes in your immune system. Prevention and self-care for colds To keep from catching a cold, the best strategy is to eat well, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly and avoid close contact with anyone who has the sniffles or a sore throat. If you're around family members or...

Coloring your hair

Studies have not linked hair dyes to birth defects, and the chemicals in the dyes are not readily absorbed through the skin. Still, some experts advise pregnant women to err on the side of caution and avoid any possible risk by switching to a toxin-free hair dye or not getting hair colored during the first trimester. Your colored hair's appearance also may be a concern hormonal changes can cause your hair to react differently when you're pregnant, leaving you with an unexpected color.

Constipation

Constipation is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy, affecting at least half of all pregnant women at some point. It's usually more troublesome in women who were prone to constipation before pregnancy. When you're pregnant, an increase in the hormone progesterone causes digestion to slow down, so food passes more slowly through the gastrointestinal tract. In the later months, the ever-expanding uterus puts pressure on the lower bowel. In addition, your colon absorbs more water...

Contractions

When you're about to go into labor, you'll notice an increase in contractions, the tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscles. During labor, the uterus repeatedly contracts, causing the cervix to thin (efface) and open up (dilate) so that you can push your baby out. The contractions gradually dilate the cervix until it's wide enough for the baby to pass through. During the early phase of labor, contractions can vary greatly from one woman to another. They might last 15 to 30 seconds at the...

Cramping or continuous pain

Abdominal cramping or pain and back pain often go along with the normal processes of pregnancy (see also Abdominal discomfort or cramping Backaches and back pain Pelvic pressure). However, in early pregnancy, cramping and back pain accompanied by bleeding may be signs and symptoms of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. In midpregnancy and beyond, cramping and constant back pain could be warning signs of preterm labor. Sudden, constant, severe abdominal pain can be an indication of placental...

Dealing with lochia

With the birth of your baby, your hormone levels have shifted. These shifts cause a vaginal discharge called lochia a brownish to clear discharge that lasts for several weeks. Some women who've had Caesarean births are surprised at the amount of vaginal discharge they have after surgery. Even though the placenta is removed at the operation, the uterus still needs to heal and this discharge is part of the process. During your hospital stay, you'll use sanitary pads to absorb your lochia.

Dehydration after stomach flu

If you've had a stomach flu (gastroenteritis), you've probably lost a lot of fluids as you endured the misery of diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration is the most common complication of gastroenteritis. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include Dark yellow urine or infrequent or no urination Severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness After a bout with gastrointestinal illness, it's essential that you take in enough fluids to replace those lost from diarrhea and vomiting. Although...

Diaper changing

To parents of young babies, life often seems to be an endless round of changing diapers. Indeed, the average child goes through 5,000 diaper changes before being toilet trained. That statistic is daunting, but it may help to think of this necessary task as an opportunity for closeness and communication with your baby. Your warm words, gentle touches and encouraging smiles help make your baby feel loved and secure, and soon your infant will be responding with gurgles and coos. Because newborns...

Difficulty learning to eat

Whether you choose to breast-feed or bottle-feed, for the first few days after your baby's birth, you may find it difficult to interest your newborn in eating. This isn't uncommon. Some babies just seem to adopt a slow-and-sleepy approach to eating. If you're concerned that your baby isn't getting enough nourishment, talk to your baby's nurse or doctor. Occasionally, pokey eaters require tube feedings to help them along for a few days. Soon they'll catch on and breast-feed or bottle-feed with...

Dreams vivid

You're being grabbed around the middle by a gorilla flying over tall buildings talking to your newborn, who is talking back Vivid dreams and nightmares are common during pregnancy. Dreams may be the mind's way of processing unconscious information. During this time of emotional and physical changes, your dreams may seem more intense and strange. You may find that you're dreaming more frequently or remembering your dreams more clearly when you wake up. Indeed, if you're regularly waking up...

Eating and drinking

You'll probably be allowed to have only ice chips or sips of water for the first 12 to 24 hours after your surgery. You'll receive fluids intravenously in order to prevent dehydration. Once your digestive system starts to come back on line, you'll be able to drink more fluids and probably eat some easily digested food. You'll know you're ready to start eating if you begin to pass gas. It's a sign that your digestive system is waking up and starting to again function the way it should. You...

Eating and sleeping

Two important items on a newborn's agenda are eating and sleeping. Because most of a baby's energy goes into growing, many nonsleeping hours are spent eating. During the first several weeks, most babies will be hungry six to 10 times during a 24-hour period. Their stomachs don't hold enough breast milk or formula to satisfy them for long. That means you could be feeding your baby every two or three hours, including during the night. But there's tremendous variation among infants in how often...

Emergency methods of birth control

If you had unprotected sex or a method of birth control failed during vaginal intercourse, you can use an emergency form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. Two types of pills are dedicated to emergency contraception Preven, which contains a combination of estrogen and progestin, and Plan B, which contains progestin only. An IUD also may be used as an emergency contraceptive. These emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, by preventing the egg from being fertilized...

Emotional and lifestyle changes

The physical changes and complaints of the postpartum period are only part of life after having a baby and, some women would say, the easy part. As you and your partner get to know your baby and begin to bond as a family, your feelings will probably be more intense and fluctuating than you expected, and the stresses may be more overwhelming than anticipated. Caring for a new baby is a demanding and exhausting job that can turn your life upside down. During the postpartum weeks, most women are...

Enjoying pregnancy

This month marks the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. Things will undoubtedly be exciting during the last three months until your baby arrives, but they'll also likely be a bit stressful. You'll be busy buying final supplies, finishing your baby's room, attending childbirth classes and making more frequent visits to your health care provider. Plus, the last three months of pregnancy will bring new physical demands on your body. Make an effort to really enjoy this month of your...

Examinations

Apgar scores a quick evaluation of a newborn baby's health are noted at one minute and five minutes after birth. Developed in 1952 by anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar, this test rates newborns on five criteria color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiration. Each of these criteria is given an individual score of zero, one or two. Then all scores are totaled for a maximum possible score of 10. Higher scores indicate the healthier infants, while scores below 5 mean an infant needs help at...

Expressing breast milk

You may want to remove (express) your breast milk for feeding your baby by bottle when you're unable to breast-feed. You can express your milk either with a breast pump or by hand. To help with let-down, find a quiet place to express. Relax for a few minutes before starting to express. Most breast-feeding mothers find using a breast pump is easier than expressing milk manually. There are many pumps to choose from hand, battery-operated or electric ones. The type of pump you select will depend...

Eye changes

Some of the changes your body undergoes during pregnancy can affect your eyes and your vision. During pregnancy, the outer layer (cornea) of the eyes becomes a little thicker, and the pressure of fluid within your eyeballs (intraocular pressure) decreases by about 10 percent. These changes occasionally result in slightly blurred vision (see also Blurred vision). In addition to blurred vision, you may experience other changes related to your eyes Vision (refractive) changes. Changes in hormone...

Falls

You've taken a tumble and are terrified that you may have hurt your baby. It's easy to panic if you fall during pregnancy. But your body is designed to protect your developing baby. An injury would have to be severe enough to seriously hurt you before it would directly harm your baby. The walls of your uterus are thick, strong muscles that help keep your baby safe. The amniotic fluid also serves as a cushion. And during the early weeks of pregnancy, the uterus is tucked behind the pelvic bone,...

Fatigue

I'm so tired This is one of the most common refrains of pregnancy. Most women are more tired than usual in pregnancy. During the early months, your body is working hard pumping out hormones, producing more blood to carry nutrients to the fetus, speeding your heart rate to accommodate the increased blood flow and changing the way you use water, protein, carbohydrates and fat. High progesterone levels actually make you sleepy in a direct way. During the last couple of months of pregnancy,...

Feeling your baby move

By your 20th week of pregnancy or earlier if this is at least your second pregnancy you've probably begun to feel your baby move. These early movements are called quickening, and they're a great source of amusement and reassurance for most women. These early movements remind you of the reality that your baby is a separate, unique individual, allowing you to begin imagining what your baby will be like. They're also a much more pleasant and exciting reminder of being pregnant than are nausea and...

Feet enlarged

If you like shopping for shoes, you'll appreciate this aspect of pregnancy. Your feet may be spreading, changing your shoe size. Hormonal changes that relax the ligaments and joints in your pelvis in preparation for delivery also relax all the other ligaments and joints in your body, including those in your feet. While these changes are normal and necessary, they can make the arch ligament of the foot (the plantar fascia) stretch under your body's extra weight. As a result, the arch may lose...

First bowel movements

Your baby's first soiled diaper which will probably occur within 48 hours may surprise you. During these first few days, your newborn's stools will be thick and sticky a tar-like greenish black substance called meconium. After the meconium is passed, the color, frequency and consistency of your baby's stools will vary depending on how your baby is fed. In babies who breast-feed, stools will be more frequent, generally soft, watery and golden yellow. In bottle-fed babies, stools will be less...

Fontanelles

When you feel the top of your baby's head, you'll notice two soft areas. These soft spots, called fontanelles, are where your baby's skull bones haven't grown together yet. The fontanelle toward the front of the scalp is a diamond-shaped spot roughly the size of a quarter. Though it's usually flat, it may bulge when your baby cries or strains. By nine to 18 months, this fontanelle will be filled in with hard bone. The smaller, less noticeable fontanelle at the back of the head is the size of a...

Food cravings

You may not have had the classic pickles-and-ice-cream craving. But chances are you've had a strong desire for certain types of food during your pregnancy. Most expectant mothers do experience food cravings, which are likely caused by pregnancy hormones. You may wonder if a food craving is a signal from your body that you need the nutrients in that food. But such body signals are unreliable. A craving for ice cream doesn't mean your body needs the saturated fat. And even if you're not in the...

Forgetfulness

You misplace your keys, forget an appointment, can't focus on your work. If you feel like you've turned into a scatterbrain since getting pregnant, you're not alone. Some women become more forgetful or absent-minded during pregnancy. You may have trouble concentrating and feel like you're in a fog. These symptoms, similar to what some women experience premenstrually, are a temporary effect of hormonal changes. Prevention and self-care for forgetfulness Consider these tips to feel more in...

Gas and bloating

Gas, bloating, flatulence more fun aspects of being pregnant Under the influence of pregnancy hormones, your digestive system slows down. Food moves more slowly through your gastrointestinal tract. This slowdown serves an important purpose It allows nutrients more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and to reach the fetus. Unfortunately, it can also cause bloating and gas. The problem may be aggravated during the first trimester, when many women have a tendency to swallow air in response...

Getting started

The bottles for feeding your baby can be glass, plastic or plastic with a soft plastic liner. When your baby is old enough to hold a bottle, you may want to use plastic bottles for safety reasons. Some bottles are shaped to better fit a baby's hands. Bottles generally come in two sizes 4 ounces and 8 ounces. The amount the bottle holds isn't an indication of how much your baby needs to drink in a feeding. Your baby may need less or more for any given feeding. Many types of nipples are on the...

Guided imagery

Guided imagery is a drug-free method of pain relief that helps laboring mothers create an environment with a feeling of relaxation and well-being. Sometimes called daydreaming with a purpose, this method can be used anytime during your labor to help you relax. It involves imagining yourself in a comfortable and peaceful place. For example, you may picture yourself sitting on a warm, sandy beach or walking through a lush, green forest. Your chosen place can be real or imaginary. As you relax,...