Posts Tagged ‘fetal growth’

Got the munchies?

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

sweet treatsYou’re pregnant and can’t stop nibbling. But that’s OK because you’re eating for two, right? No, not really. You only need 300 extra calories per day to support your baby’s growth and development. But you don’t have to give up all the foods you love when you’re pregnant. You just need to eat smart and make sure that most of your choices are healthy ones.   You may find that your interest in food changes, perhaps a lot, during pregnancy. The old joke about pickles and ice cream came about for a good reason. You may not be very hungry during the first months. But you may want to eat everything in the house during the later months! Every woman is different, so if you don’t crave anything, that’s OK, too.

Watch your portions—you may be eating more than you think – and if you’re a grazer who eats “just a little” but all day long, keep an eye on your end-of-day total consumption. Those little doses of calories can add up to a lot! It will help you if you avoid lots of sugar and fat in your diet, too, so nosh on berries or bananas instead of bread pudding or sticky buns.  fruit

The important thing is to eat healthy foods that you like, handle them safely, and avoid foods that might be harmful throughout your pregnancy.

Fundal height

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

pregnant womanFundal height is defined as the distance from the top of the uterus to the pubic bone. It is measured in centimeters. As your baby grows, the top of the uterus (the fundus) grows up and out of the pelvic cavity.  At about 12 weeks of pregnancy it can be felt just above the pubic bone.  At 20 weeks, it reaches the navel. At about this time, your health care provider will start to measure your fundal height at each prenatal care visit. He or she will measure from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your uterus.  The measurement allows your provider to see how well your baby is growing.

Your fundal height measurement should roughly equal the number of weeks you’ve been pregnant. For example, if you’re 20 weeks pregnant, your health care provider would expect your fundal height to be somewhere between 18-22 centimeters. It isn’t unusual, however, to measure somewhat smaller or larger than expected.  Individual body types and factors such as a full bladder or carrying multiples, can affect fundal height measurements.  Some medical reasons fundal heights may be greater or smaller than expected include:
   • Fetal growth that is too slow or too rapid
   • Too much or too little amniotic fluid
   • Uterine fibroids
   • A baby prematurely descending into the pelvis or settling into a breech or other unusual position

It is important to remember that fundal height is only a tool for evaluating fetal growth.  It is not an exact science. Typically, fundal height measurements reassure you and your provider about your baby’s steady development. However, there are individual variations and no two babies are exactly the same.  So if your measurements are a bit more or less than what you might expect, don’t worry. However, if you are concerned about your fundal height measurements, make sure you talk to your health care provider.  There are other prenatal tests that can be done to assure you that your baby is doing well and growing as he or she should be.

Polyhydramnios

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

ultrasoundWhen a pregnant woman has polyhydramnios, the level of amniotic fluid surrounding her baby is too high. To understand why this can be a problem, it’s important to first understand the basics of amniotic fluid.

The amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby plays an important role in her growth and development. This clear-colored liquid protects the baby and provides her with fluids. Your baby actually breathes this fluid into her lungs and swallows it. This helps her lungs and digestive system grow strong. Your amniotic fluid also allows your baby to move around, which helps her to develop her muscles and bones.

The amniotic sac that contains your baby begins to form about 12 days after conception. Amniotic fluid begins to form at that time, too. In the early weeks of pregnancy, amniotic fluid is mainly made up of water supplied by the mother. After about 12 weeks, your baby’s urine makes up most of the fluid. The amount of amniotic fluid increases until about 36 weeks of pregnancy. At that time you have about 1 quart of fluid. After that time, the level begins to decrease.

Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) occurs in about 1 out of 100 of pregnancies. Most cases are mild and result from a slow buildup of excess fluid in the second half of pregnancy. But in a few cases, fluid builds up quickly as early as the 16th week of pregnancy. This usually leads to very early birth.

Polyhydramnios is diagnosed with ultrasound. Medical experts do not fully understand what causes this condition. In about half of cases, the cause is not known. Here are some of the known causes:
– Birth defects in the baby that affect the ability to swallow. Normally, when the fetus swallows, the level of amniotic fluid goes down a bit. This helps to balance out the increase in fluid caused by fetal urination.
– Heart defects in the baby
– Diabetes during pregnancy
– Infection in the baby during pregnancy
– Blood incompatabilities between the pregnant woman and the fetus (examples:
– Rh or Kell disease)

Women with mild polyhydramnios may have few symptoms. Women with more severe cases may have discomfort in the belly and breathing problems. That’s because the buildup of fluids causes the uterus to crowd the lungs and the organs in the belly.
Polyhydramnios may increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as:
– Preterm rupture of the membranes (PROM) (breaks or tears in the sac that holds the amniotic fluid)
– Premature birth
– Placental abruption (The placenta peels away from the uterine wall before delivery.)
– Poor positioning of the fetus
– Severe bleeding by the mother after delivery

The best thing you can do is to go to all your prenatal care appointments. Your health care provider can monitor the size of your belly and how much amniotic fluid is in your womb. If you have a problem, your provider can take steps to help prevent complications in you and your baby.

If you have diabetes, talk to your health care provider about your increased risk of polyhydramnios.

If your health care provider thinks you might have polyhydraminos, you will probably need extra monitoring during your pregnancy. In many cases, polyhydramnios goes away without treatment. Other times, the problem may be corrected when the cause is addressed. For example, treating high blood sugar levels in women with diabetes often lowers the amount of amniotic fluid. Other treatments include removing some amniotic fluid or using medication to reduce fluid levels.