Category Archives: Parenting & Families

Traveling During Pregnancy

  • If you are like most women, traveling during pregnancy is no problem, as long as you follow a few guidelines. These guidelines are:
  • Check with your caregiver to make sure there are no special healthcare contacts that would prevent you from traveling.
  • Try to plan any trips for your second trimester, when comfort is the greatest.
  • While traveling, walk around often to improve circulation.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Take along light snacks and juice to prevent hunger and decrease nausea.
  • Do not take motion sickness pills or any other medications before checking walk your caregiver.
  • Take time to eat regular, nutritious meals.
  • Eat plenty of high fiber foods to ease constipation.
  • Get your usual amount of sleep and rest often. Elevate your feet.
  • If you are traveling far from home, take a copy of your medical record and get the name of a doctor or facility where you could go for treatment if nectarine.
  • If traveling by car, do not ride for more than 6 hours a day. Stop every 1 to 2 hours to walk around. Always wear a seat belt.
  • If traveling by air, sit in an aisle seat for the greatest comfort. Wear layers of clothing so that you can adjust as the cabin temperature changes. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • If traveling overseas, drink only bottled beverages. Do not use ice in your drinks and do not eat raw, unpeeled fruits or vegetables. Also, avoid raw meat, and make sure that any milk you drink has been pasteurized.

The best guideline you can follow is to keep your plans flexible and to change them according to your body’s signals. If you use common sense, traveling during pregnancy can be a pleasure, not an inconvenience.

Oxytocin Challenge Test

Oxytocin Challenge Test (OCT) is done in the hospital to help determine how well the baby will undergo the stress of labor. The OCT is also known as the Contraction Stress Test.

Oxytocin is a medication that causes uterine contractions. While reclining on a 45-degree angle, the woman is given oxytocin intravenously until she has contractions 3 to 4 minutes apart for a full half-hour. At the same time, the heart rate is electronically monitored to check the effect of the contractions on the baby. If the results are positive—that is, the fetal heart rate appears normal during the stress of the contractions—the doctor may recommend a wean birth, since the baby may not be able to tolerate the stress of labor. If the results are negative—that is, the heart rate remains normal during the contractions—the baby will most likely do well during labor.

When taking the OCT, avoid lying flat on your back. This can cause your blood pressure to drop, decreasing oxygen to the baby and possibly causing the appearance of fetal distress on the monitor.

Length of Pregnancy

The average length of pregnancy is 280 days. This is about 9 calendar months or 10 lunar months. A lunar month is the time it takes to go from full moon to full moon – 28 days.

Your doctor calculated your estimated due date by adding 7 days to the first day of your last normal menstrual period and then counting back 3 months. For example, if the first day of your last menstrual period was February 15, he added 7 days, which brought the date to February 22, then subtracted 3 months, for an expected due date of November 22. This is about 280 days after February 15. The baby would be only about 266 days old on November 22, but the date of the last menstrual period is used because the actual date of conception is usually unknown and could be as early as day 5 or 6 of the menstrual cycle. Only about 4 percent of women carry their babies for exactly 280 days, but 66 percent deliver within 10 days before or after their due dates. The due date is only an estimate, based on an average of all pregnancies. Your baby may take more or less time to develop, the same way that some babies take more or less time to get their first tooth.

Emotional Symptoms During Second Trimester Pregnancy

Most women find the second trimester to be a more positive experience that the first, as they are now beginning to feel the movements of the life with them. Most husbands by now have accepted the existence of the pregnancy, and are as excited as the woman about the movements of the baby. During the second trimester, men frequently also become more aware of their wife’s growing dependence on them. As the pregnancy progresses, the woman may feel more vulnerable and may need her mate’s attention more. She may want him to become more involved with the pregnancy and the baby. In addition, she may become overly concerned for her husband’s safety. Meanwhile, the husband may share the woman’s interest in the pregnancy, or he may feel an increased creative interest in his work or hobby. He may gain weight or show other symptoms of pregnancy. These are all ways in which expectant mothers and fathers deal with the stresses and changes that are occurring. It is important for both partners to be aware of and to talk about their feelings, especially when friction arises between them.

A woman’s dreams may become very real during this trimester and are sometimes disturbing. Dreams are a way of bringing fears to consciousness, where they can be dealt with more easily. If a woman refuses to acknowledge her fears, she may suffer increasing anxiety.

Pregnancy Nutrition Guide

As your pregnancy progresses the nutritional demands of your body increases. A look at these increasing needs by trimester can provide a good first insight.

Pregnancy First Trimester Nutrition

During the early weeks of pregnancy, you may not be aware of the baby with your body. Therefore, you should consume an adequate diet even before you become pregnant. Once you realize that you are pregnant, you may experience morning sickness, which tends to minimize thoughts of food. But even in pregnancy, you need to make sure that you eat a good diet. This can be difficult, since your nutritional requirements at this point are already the same as those for a non-pregnant woman, with the exception of the additional folic acid requirement.

Lack of certain nutrients in the diet, primarily vitamin B6, is thought to cause morning sickness. Morning sickness may also occur because of dime sugar after not eating all night. Some women experience nausea the day, however, especially if they go for long periods without. Many women find that natural remedies can bring relief from morning sickness. However, if natural remedies do not help you, and nausea and vomiting is a severe problem, your doctor can prescribe medication. Gratefully sickness usually disappears by the fourth month.

Pregnancy Second Trimester Nutrition

During the second trimester, nutritional needs increase, and you should begin additional calories, vitamins, and minerals by following a pregnancy diet. The baby puts on very little weight during the second However, the maternal tissues greatly increase. The woman begins putting down a store of fat for her body to utilize during lactation. Her uterus and breasts enlarge, the volume of amniotic fluid increases, the placenta in size, and the blood volume expands. Therefore, increased protein intakes are essential.

Pregnancy Third Trimester Nutrition

During the last trimester, the baby gains weight rapidly. His brain grows the last 2 months, and his liver stores up iron. Continue with your pregnancy diet during this time—and beyond, if you wish. You must take in sufficient calories and protein to ensure optimum nutrition of the baby’s brain and body. Dieting at this point is not beneficial for either of you, and fasting before doctor’s appointments to minimize Lam is foolish. Make certain that you eat well, and your weight gain will guarantee the health of both you and your baby.

If you experience increased swelling as your due date approaches, try adding more protein to your diet. In rare cases, swelling puts pressure on the nerves in the wrist, resulting in tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands. This is called carpal tunnel syndrome. Additional vitamin B6 may help relieve this condition or prevent its further development. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome will gradually subside following delivery.

Posture During Pregnancy

The way you use the different parts of your body to move, as well as to hold, and carry things, is called body mechanics. Having proper body mechanics is important during pregnancy to help minimize discomforts as your body gets larger. The first step in achieving proper body mechanics is maintaining good posture. Good posture is essential throughout pregnancy because your center of gravity changes. You will be tempted to compensate change by slumping. Instead, you should maintain the same good posture before becoming pregnant. Standing erect lessens back discomfort, improves digestion, and enhances body image.

While standing, the way you hold your head influences the position of your body. If you let your head hang forward, your body will droop wilted flower. Instead, think tall! Hold your head up, with your chin in and your neck straight. Lift your shoulders up and pull them back. Good posture will keep you from cramping your rib cage, which can make something difficult and possibly cause indigestion.

Put special attention to your pelvic area, which contains the weight of the baby. Think of your pelvis as a bowl filled with liquid. To prevent the liquid from spilling out, tilt the “bowl” back by tightening your abdominal muscles. By keeping the pelvis tilted back, you can prevent tension in the muscles of your lower back. You can maintain proper alignment by bending your knees slightly and keeping your body weight at your feet. Place your body weight on the center of each foot. If you stand for long periods, put one foot on a small stool to flex the hip. While sitting in a chair, use the back of the chair as a guide to sit up against. Do not slump forward. Straight-back chairs are preferable over cushioned chairs during pregnancy for this reason. Place a pillow behind your neck or your back to increase your comfort. Rest the entire length draw thigh on the seat of the chair. The chair seat should be high enough to keep your knees even with your hips.

While sitting, or sitting Indian style, is an excellent position during pregnancy. It is comfortable and improves the circulation in the legs while stretching and increasing the flexibility of the inner thigh muscles. Sit this way when possible; for example, when you watch television, read the newspaper, wear clothes, or peel potatoes. If your legs become tired, stretch them out in front of you.

The supine position or lying flat on your back, for extended periods of time is not recommended after the first trimester. This position puts the weight of the baby and uterus on your major vessels, causing them to be compressed. This can lower your blood pressure, thereby reducing the count of blood traveling to the placenta and the baby. If you must lie on your back during an examination, for example, modify the position by placing a pillow in the small of your back for support and bending your knees. Refrain from doing exercises that require you to lie on your back.

Side-lying is a position that takes the weight of the baby off your back and groin, and allows the joints to be aimed loosely. A pillow placed between your legs will make it easier for you to relax. You may feel more comfortable on your abdomen. It is a three-quarter position. Place your lower arm behind your back and position your upper arm and leg forward, supported by pillows.

To get up from a supine position, first roll onto your side and then yourself to a sitting position with your arms. If you are in bed, swing your over the side of the bed. Be careful not to twist your body as you get up technique will help you to avoid strain to both your back and abdominals.

When walking, remember all the points of correct posture described previously. Bring your legs straight forward from the hip. Do not sway them sideways in a “waddle.”

Be careful when climbing stairs. Lift your body up using your legs, r than pulling yourself up with your arms. Lean slightly forward as you go placing your foot completely on each step. During your postpartum, climb steps slowly, tightening your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Let your leg muscles do the work.

Many women, especially those with small children or toddlers, find some lifting is necessary during pregnancy. Incorrect lifting can put excess strain on the back and the pelvic floor. Therefore, it is important to learn to lift correctly.

Avoid lifting heavy objects. Lift only what you can lift easily with arm. To lift, get close to the object and lower yourself into a squat, bending the knees, not at the waist. Keep your feet parallel and your back straight, as you lift the object; straighten your legs without twisting your body. Alternate method is to place one foot in front of the other and slowly lo yourself to one knee. Lift the object by pushing yourself up with your r foot, keeping your back straight.

A small child can climb onto a stool or chair, enabling you to lift him her without straining your back.

Preterm Labor

If a baby is born before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy – more than weeks early – the birth is called preterm and the baby premature. Premature birth represents the greatest health risk to newborns. Preterm babies have increased risk of neonatal problems. Their lungs and other organs may not ready to function yet. Respiratory distress is the greatest concern, and babies often have difficulty maintaining their body temperature. In addition their sucking may be weak, and they are more susceptible to infection.

Women who are more likely to go into preterm labor include those w had a previous miscarriage or preterm birth; who have an over distend uterus from a multiple pregnancy or from an excess of amniotic fluid; smoke, take drugs, or are malnourished; who are under the age of 18 or over 35; who are experiencing a high degree of emotional distress; who have jobs that involve standing for long periods or enduring other stressful working conditions; and who have a vaginal or urinary tract infection or an infection of the membranes of the amniotic sac.

Preterm labor can often be stopped if it is caught in time. The treatment f preterm labor includes bed rest; antibiotics, if indicated, for infection; possibly medications to relax the uterus and stop the contractions. While so studies question the efficacy of bed rest, it is the current treatment of choice The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a test that can predict whether a pregnant woman is about to experience a preterm birth. The test detects a substance called fetal fibronectin in the cervical/vaginal secretions. Fetal fibronectin is an adhesive protein that serves as “natural glue” on the placenta. The substance changes into a lubricant just before labor begins. It should not be present in the cervical/vaginal secretions after twenty-second week of pregnancy unless there is a problem, such as an infection. Its presence indicates a high risk of delivering within the next 2 weeks.

In cases of impending preterm birth between 24 and 34 weeks gestation, a treatment is available that accelerates fetal lung maturity. Synthetic steroids wit been shown to reduce the incidence of respiratory distress syndrome and brain hemorrhage in newborns by 50 percent and to reduce death rates by 40 percent. According to a recommendation of the National Institutes of Health this medication should be used when delivery prior to 34 weeks gestation is likely, unless the medication will have an adverse effect on the woman or delivery is imminent. If you experience any signs of labor more than 3 weeks before your due date, contact your caregiver right away.

Unborn Baby Placenta

By the time the developing being is 2 weeks old, the placenta, or afterbirth, may begin to develop. The villi, embedded in the lining of the uterus, are joining primitive blood vessels, which tap into the woman’s blood supply. The function of the placenta is to supply the growing being with the oxygen gnat nutrients it needs from the woman’s blood system and to pass to the scan the waste products it does not need.

The fetal blood is always separate from the maternal blood. Substances are issued back and forth through a semipermeable membrane. At one time, the placenta was thought to act as a barrier to materials that might hurt the fetus, however, it is now known that almost everything that enters the woman’s ricer—including viruses, drugs, nicotine, and alcohol—is passed to the fetus. The placenta continues to grow until about 2 months before delivery, when r 7raches its maximum size. At that time, it is about the size and shape of a firmer plate, approximately 8 to 9 inches in diameter, but thicker and heavier, weighing 1 to 2 pounds at birth. The side that is attached to the uterine wall M dark red and has sections like circular puzzle pieces in it. These are areas of tissue may be apparent. These are areas of calcification, and hey denote places that have degenerated. Women who smoke during pregnancy have more of these than do women who do not smoke. The side of the Macenta that is next to the fetus is white and smooth, being covered by a membrane, the amniotic sac.

Nutrients coming from the woman pass to the blood vessels in the placenta. From the placenta, they move through the umbilical cord into the blood circulating within the fetus.

Inside the umbilical cord are three blood vessels—one large vein and two smaller arteries. Nutrients travel from the placenta to the s through the vein. Waste products return to the placenta through the arteries to be passed into the woman’s system. A jellylike substance surrounds the blood vessels and helps to protect them.

The umbilical cord begins to develop during the second week and usually grows to about 18 inches in length, although it is possible for it to grow to anywhere from 12 inches to 40 inches. After the birth of the baby, the cord is clamped and cut. A stump remains, but dries up and falls off in 7 to 10 days.

Prenatal Care

You should begin receiving prenatal care the moment you suspect you are pregnant. All of your baby’s vital organs will have already begun forming by time. The person you choose as your caregiver will be the one providing you prenatal care. He or she will chart your progress during your pregnancy and will watch for any signs that indicate a potential problem.

When you visit your caregiver’s office for your first prenatal examination you will have a complete medical history taken and a physical examination done. If applicable, you will be told to stop smoking, to stop the use of alcohol and drugs, and to improve your nutritional habits. You may be advised the benefits of exercise and counseled about sex, hygiene, and any other relevant topics. Expect this first exam to take about an hour, and feel free to break up any areas of concern that do not come up in the normal course of the examination. The physical examination you receive will include:

  • A breast examination.
  • A pelvic, or vaginal, examination to:
    • confirm the pregnancy.
    • take a pap smear.
    • take a smear for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
    • take a vaginal culture.
    • estimate the size and shape of your pelvis.

    A pelvic exam usually will not be done again until the last month of pregnancy.

  • Blood tests for:
    • blood type and Rh factor.
    • complete blood count.
    • rubella titer to determine if you arc immune to German measles.
    • syphilis and hepatitis B.

    Some clinics and offices also provide other blood chemistry checks for a more complete analysis of the woman’s health. Additional blood tests that may be carry out after counseling include those for human immunodeficiency virus NW), toxoplasmosis, and alpha-fetoprotein. If your racial background dictates, you may be tested for sickle cell anemia, Taylieu disease, or thalassemia.

  • Urine tests for:
    • a complete urinalysis.
    • a culture to check for infection, if indicated.

    After the first examination, you will probably be given checkups on a monthly basis. Starting in the seventh calendar month, the checkups will be biweekly. In the ninth calendar month, they will become weekly. All these checkups will probably include:

  • Checking your weight.
  • Checking your blood pressure.
  • Checking your urine for:
    • protein, high levels of which may indicate pregnancy-induced hypertension.
    • sugar, high levels of which may indicate diabetes.
    • infection.
  • Checking your abdomen for:
    • Growth of the uterus to estimate the progress of the pregnancy.
    • size and position of the fetus. Some caregivers encourage women to participate in their prenatal care by checking their own weight and urine during their office visits. Other screening tests that may be performed, beginning at 28 weeks, are: Blood tests, including:
    • 1-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT). About 1 hour after drinking a liquid high in sugar, blood is drawn for a glucose level to check for development of motional diabetes. This test may be performed earlier, at around 16 weeks if there is a family history of diabetes or previous large babies. If the test result is high, a 3-hour glucose tolerance test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
    • Antibody screening. In Rh-negative women, blood is drawn to check for antibodies, and within the next week, a shot of an Rh-immune Conlin is given intramuscularly.
    • Culture of the vaginal and rectal area to check for the presence of group B streptococcal infection. In some practices, this test is not done until 36 weeks and may also be done when the woman is admitted in labor.

Vaginal exam to check the status of the cervix and the position of the baby may be done weekly, starting at 36 weeks.

Your caregiver will probably discuss with you the symptoms he will want you to report. These symptoms, or warning signs, may or may not indicate serious complication. If you experience any of the warning signs, notify your caregiver immediately. Do not worry about bothering him. It is his job to answer you questions about your physical well-being.

A warning sign should be taken as an indication of possible illness, infection, or threatened miscarriage. However, it is just as important that you remain calm as it is that you recognize the sign and act on it, since nothing may be wrong. Just speaking with your caregiver can be reassuring. Genital sores, vaginal discharge, and other genital discomforts are warnings of venereal or sexually transmitted diseases. Your baby will be at risk if you contract a venereal disease while pregnant. Not only gonorrhea and syphilis are serious, but the herpes virus and chlamydia can also cause serious problems if the baby becomes infected. Inform your caregiver of any current or previous problems or venereal diseases so that he can test you and treat you if necessary during your pregnancy. In addition, recent studies indicate that pregnant women who have be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), are at risk for passing the virus on to their unborn children. It is important that you be tested for HIV early in your pregnancy because early treatment may decrease the risk of transmission to the fetus.

Another condition that you should be aware of is toxoplasmosis, a disease that is contracted by eating raw or rare meat or by coming in contact with infected cat, particularly the feces of such a cat. Toxoplasmosis can cause brain damage, malformation, blindness, or death in an unborn child. Therefore, while you are pregnant, you should avoid changing a cat’s shoebox and eating meat that is not well cooked.

A food item that could cause serious problems for pregnant women is cheese. Any soft cheese including feta, mozzarella could contain bacteria called listeria that causes miscarriages and stillbirths. These lethal bacteria may also be found in raw meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as on raw vegetables. The other foods in which listeria has been found are hummus dip and tabouli. Listeria can be killed only by heating to the boiling point. Cold or freezing temperatures do not destroy it.
The symptoms of listeria infection include fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms, plus headache, nausea, and vomiting.

Although information on these bacteria is not widely available, listeria is dangerous, so products that could be contaminated with it should be carefully avoided during pregnancy. Dr. Boris Petrikovsky, chief of maternity medicine at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island stated that listeria is the number one food-borne infection that kills fetuses. Listeria is not harmful to healthy adults, but it is very dangerous to the elderly and to people with weakened immune systems, as well as to pregnant women and their fetuses. The precautions used to avoid listeria infection will also help prevent food poisoning from E. coli and salmonella bacteria. Always cook meat, especially hamburger, until there is no pink and the thermometer registers 17 Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 185°F. Several other situations have been cited as possibly being hazardous during early pregnancy. For example, one investigation showed that the workers in a semiconductor plant who worked in a room where computers were etched with acids and gases had a miscarriage rate of 39 percent, which is nearly twice the national average.

Some concern also exists about a possible correlation between exposure to electromagnetic radiation and miscarriage. Sources of this radiation in computer monitors and video display terminals, electric blankets, water heaters, electric cable ceiling heat, and power lines and substations. There is no conclusive evidence to support this concern.

Other possible risks are to women who handle the chemicals used in cleaning and in hair dyes and permanents. In addition, the use of hot tubs saunas by pregnant women has been associated with birth defects and death. Further studies are needed to determine whether any danger act exists in these cases. Until then, you may want to avoid these situations.

Vitamin Needs

Vitamins are certainly an important factor in life. Fortunately, the average  diet, both for baby and adult, is adequate in most cases to meet daily vitamin needs.

However, some babies do have vitamin deficiencies. The most likely to be encountered are those due to a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or vitamin D.

Vitamin C is present in breast milk. If baby is breastfed, and is taking a reasonable daily intake, vitamin C needs will be adequately catered for.

Cow’s milk is devoid of this vitamin. A supplement is essential.

Correct. This is most simply given in the form of orange juice, which is very rich in vitamin C. One orange contains about 60 mg. It is essential that the juice, when squeezed, be not boiled, for this could destroy the entire vitamin C component. Give it to baby freshly squeezed. This can be done between feeds. It can serve a twofold purpose – adding to the fluid intake, and providing the essential vitamin.

Scurvy is the disease produced by a lack of vitamin C.

Rickets, due to a lack of vitamin D, is uncommon these days. Sunshine assists the vitamin to be produced in the body. However, occasionally cases of premature babies with rickets have been reported. Giving babies a vitamin supplement is practically standard practice in many developed countries. Doses are usually marked on the label.