Postpartum conditions

After your child is born, you're in the postpartum period. It's a transition time for you, both physically and emotionally. This section explains problems that can develop during the postpartum weeks. A blood clot inside an internal vein, called deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT), is one of the most serious potential complications following birth. If it's left untreated, a blood clot in the leg can travel to your heart and lungs. There, it can obstruct blood flow, causing chest pain, shortness of...

Part

Pregnancy, childbirth and your newborn_ Pregnancy brings change. From the moment of conception, your body begins to transform in ways that accommodate the new life starting within you. As your baby grows and develops, you adjust, too, both physically and emotionally. Late in your pregnancy, you prepare for labor and childbirth. And after your baby arrives, you begin the transition to life as a parent of this unique new person. Pregnancy, Childbirth and Your Newborn offers guidance on the many...

Natural family planning methods

Natural family planning methods, which are also called rhythm methods, involve determining the days during your monthly cycle that you're fertile (ovulating) and avoiding intercourse during those days. No devices or medications are required. The following ways can be used to assess when you're most fertile Calendar method. Using certain calculations, you determine the first and last days during which you can become pregnant in your cycle. Cervical position and dilation. Your cervix opens and...

Miscarriage

Physically speaking, it generally takes one normal menstrual cycle for a woman to recover from a miscarriage. It's usually four to six weeks before your period comes back. It's possible to conceive in those weeks between the miscarriage and your first menstrual cycle. During this time, you may wish to use a mechanical form of birth control, such as a condom or diaphragm. If you and your partner feel ready to become pregnant again, there are several issues to consider. Before conceiving, talk to...

When to call a health care professional during weeks 1 to

It's normal to have fears and worries about the physical changes you're experiencing with your pregnancy. Things aren't always clear-cut. Is a little spotting normal for early pregnancy, or is it a sign of an early miscarriage Is a nagging headache just the result of increased blood circulation, or is it something more serious It can be difficult to tell when you should grin and bear it and when you should take action. If this is your first pregnancy, you may be even more uncertain. In making...

How your body is changing

Hormones released throughout your pregnancy do two things. They influence the growth of your baby, and they send signals that change the way your own organs function. In fact, the hormonal changes of pregnancy affect nearly every part of your body. Here's an overview of what's happening, and where Hormone production is continuing to increase this month. This increase is likely resulting in some unpleasant signs and symptoms. You might be experiencing nausea and vomiting, breast soreness,...

In the operating room Getting ready

Most Caesarean births are performed in operating rooms specially set aside for that purpose. The atmosphere in the operating room may be a lot different from what you've experienced in the birthing room. Because surgery is a team effort, many more people will be there. In fact, if you or your baby have a complex medical problem, as many as 12 people may be in the room. If you don't already have an IV, you'll get one now. You might receive extra oxygen through a face mask. If you're going to...

Week

Your baby's reproductive system is continuing to develop this week. If your baby is a boy, his testicles are moving from their location near the kidneys through the groin on their way into the scrotum. If your baby is a girl, her clitoris is now relatively prominent. However, her labia are still small and don't yet cover it. Your baby's lungs are now more developed, but they're not yet fully mature. If your baby is born this week, he or she will probably need to stay six weeks or more in a...

Thinning and softening of the cervix

One sign that labor is starting is that your cervix begins to thin (efface) and soften (ripen) in preparation for delivery. As labor progresses, the cervix eventually will go from an inch or more in thickness to paper thinness. You won't be aware of this thinning process unless your cervix is checked during a pelvic exam. Effacement is measured in percentages or in terms of cervical length, and if your health care provider says, You're about 50 percent effaced, it means that your cervix is half...

Appointments with your health care provider

You'll probably see your health care provider once a week this month, until your baby arrives. As during previous visits, your health care provider will likely check your weight and blood pressure, as well as the activity and movements of your baby. Your health care provider may also measure your uterus and ask you about any signs and symptoms you may be experiencing. You may have a pelvic exam this month. This exam will allow your health care provider to determine whether your baby is...

Coping with the loss of a baby

In rare situations, a baby dies during the course of late pregnancy. This is called an intrauterine fetal death, and the result is stillbirth. When a baby dies, the loss is immense and the grief is hard to overcome. The baby that you've carried for many months, dreamed about and planned for is suddenly gone. There's possibly no greater pain than that inflicted by such a loss. You may feel as if your world has come crashing down. Maybe you can't even think of life continuing as normal. Yet you...

Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling

With percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS), a sample of blood is taken from your baby through the vein in the umbilical cord. This diagnostic procedure can detect chromosomal abnormalities, some genetic problems and the presence of infectious disease. PUBS is also known as umbilical vein sampling, fetal blood sampling and cordocentesis. Your health care provider may offer this procedure if other prenatal diagnostic tests, such as amniocentesis, ultrasound and CVS, have been unable to...

Care of your breasts

As you start to breast-feed, you may experience a few problems with your breasts, such as A few days after your baby is born, your breasts may become full, firm and tender, making it challenging for your baby to grasp your nipple. This swelling, called engorgement, also causes congestion within your breasts, which makes your milk flow slower. So even if your baby can latch on, he or she may be less than satisfied with the results. To manage engorgement, express some milk by hand before trying...

Ultrasound

The ultrasound exam may be the prenatal test you've heard the most about. Your health care provider can use ultrasound imaging to get a picture of your unborn baby and determine how your pregnancy is progressing. Usually, you're able to watch the screen and see images of your baby while the test is being done. Ultrasound can also be used to diagnose some types of birth defects, such as a spinal abnormality (neural tube defect) or, in some cases, a heart defect. Using ultrasound, this...

Breathing techniques

Breathing techniques, like other natural pain relief options, don't involve drugs or require medical supervision. You're in control. They involve the use of practiced, paced breathing during contractions and are another mainstay of self-comforting measures for labor. Concentrating on your breathing during labor and delivery helps distract you from the pain and relaxes your muscles so that tension, which heightens pain, is eased. Deep, controlled, slow breathing can also reduce nausea and...

Other natural pain relief methods

Research continues to find other methods of pain relief that don't involve medication and are safe for both you and your baby. Some examples include hypnosis, acupuncture, reflexology and a procedure called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses electrical impulses to try to control pain. If you're considering using any of the following more nontraditional methods of natural pain relief, you may need to arrange for a qualified practitioner to be with you throughout your...

Week 4 Early pregnancy

Even this early in your pregnancy, your body is undergoing significant physical changes. During the first weeks of pregnancy, your body begins producing more blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to your baby. The increase is greatest in the first 12 weeks, when pregnancy makes enormous demands on your circulation. By the end of your pregnancy, your blood volume will have increased by 30 percent to 50 percent. Increasing your fluid intake at this stage of your pregnancy can help your body adjust...

Infections during pregnancy

Pregnancy doesn't make you immune from everyday infections and illnesses. It may, however, change the way an infection is managed by your health care provider. This section explores how pregnancy might be affected by various infections. Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It's a common and highly contagious childhood illness characterized by red, itchy spots on the skin. About 4 million Americans, mostly children, contract the illness each year. Adults also can have...

Stage 1 Early labor active labor and transition Early labor

During labor, the cervix opens (dilates) so that your baby can move downward into the vagina in preparation for pushing and delivery. Over time, the cervix will go from being completely closed to being completely open (complete) at 10 centimeters (cm), which is 4 inches in width. This opening is large enough for the baby's head to pass through. The uterus, which houses the baby, is a muscular, hollow organ. Think of it as a large, upside-down elastic bottle. The opening of the uterus (cervix)...

Chorionic villus sampling

Like amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can detect chromosomal and other genetic abnormalities in your unborn baby. But instead of sampling amniotic fluid, CVS examines tissue from the placenta. Because no amniotic fluid is collected, CVS can't test for neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Part of the placenta is a membrane layer called the chorion. Tiny, hair-like projections called villi extend out of the chorion and act as routes for nutrients, oxygen and antibodies from...

When a baby is born prematurely

Footprint Baby Boy

Each year, about 11 percent of babies in the United States are born prematurely that is, before they've completed 37 weeks of development. If your baby is among these ranks, you'll likely feel a range of emotions including fear, disappointment and worry. This is natural and understandable. The good news is that today's neonatal intensive care has dramatically improved the outlook for premature infants. In fact, more than two-thirds of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks can survive with the proper...

Dilation of the cervix

Dilated Cervix

In your final days of pregnancy, your health care provider might also tell you that your cervix is beginning to open (dilate), another sign that labor is getting closer. With a first pregnancy, effacement usually begins before dilation. With subsequent pregnancies, the opposite is generally true. Dilation is measured in centimeters, with the cervix opening from 0 to 10 centimeters (4 inches) during the course of labor. Your health care provider estimates how far dilated you are by feeling the...

Recurrent pregnancy loss

Recurrent pregnancy loss is the consecutive loss of three or more pregnancies in the first trimester or very early in the second trimester. As many as one couple in 20 experiences two pregnancy losses in a row. Up to one in 100 has three or more consecutive losses. Losses after the first weeks of the second trimester are much less common. In the rare circumstance where more than two miscarriages have occurred, a specific cause can sometimes be identified and treated. Possible causes include...

Will you need a blood transfusion during labor

Blood transfusions are required in a very small percentage of births. Women do lose some blood during a routine labor and delivery. But it's not a lot generally not enough to warrant a blood transfusion. Women at high risk of needing a blood transfusion are those who have a known blood-clotting disease, have had bleeding problems with past births or have placenta previa. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta is near or blocks the opening of the cervix. Sometimes, a blood...

Whats that for

If you've never been hospitalized, you may find medical surroundings slightly intimidating. But if you understand what's going on around you while you're laboring and delivering, you can better relax. Here is a list of equipment and supplies often found in a typical delivery room and what each item is used for during the birthing process. A birthing bed (delivery bed) is usually a twin bed that's high off the ground. Delivery beds are designed to be practical. The bed can be raised or lowered,...

Maternal health problems and pregnancy

When you have an existing health condition and become pregnant, it can change the way your pregnancy proceeds. The good news is, with the help of your health care provider, most problems can be managed in a way that's safe for both you and your baby. This section explains how pregnancy might interact with some health conditions. Asthma occurs when the main air passages of the lungs bronchial tubes become inflamed and constricted. When the muscles of the bronchial walls tighten, extra mucus is...