Posts Tagged ‘fetus’

Amniotic fluid surrounding your baby

Friday, July 26th, 2013

insideWhat is this made of and how much is enough, too much? What’s normal, what’s not?

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.

Sometimes you can have too little or too much amniotic fluid. Too little fluid is called oligohydramnios. Too much fluid is called polyhydramnios. Either one can cause problems for a pregnant woman and her baby. Even with these conditions, though, most babies are born healthy.

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.

Normal amniotic fluid is clear or tinted yellow. Fluid that looks green or brown usually means that the baby has passed his first bowel movement (meconium) while in the womb. (Most babies have their first bowel movement after birth.)

If the baby passes meconium in the womb, it can get into his lungs through the amniotic fluid. This can cause serious breathing problems, called meconium aspiration syndrome, especially if the fluid is thick. Some babies with meconium in the amniotic fluid may need treatment right away after birth to prevent breathing problems. Babies who appear healthy at birth may not need treatment, even if the amniotic fluid has meconium.

HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY is here!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

book1Looking for a great gift for someone pregnant or thinking about pregnancy? Order a copy of HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY, brought to you by the March of Dimes! This new book clearly lays out all the must-know information about every stage of pregnancy, along with research-based advice to help stay healthy and full of energy!

Written by obstetrician gynecologist and medical advisor to the March of Dimes Siobhan Dolan, M.D. and award-winning health writer Alice Lesch Kelly, HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY (HarperOne; February 2013: Trade Paperback Original) is designed for women at all stages of pregnancy. It provides the most accurate, up-to-date pregnancy health information including information you need before pregnancy, throughout nine months, and into the newborn period. HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY is a practical, accessible, friendly guide with clear explanations, research-based recommendations, and sensible advice for the healthiest pregnancy possible, and explains the latest advances in:
• Prenatal testing
• Pregnancy nutrition
• Fitness recommendations
• Breastfeeding
• Infant screening and care
• Making your home environment safe
• Managing postpartum symptoms.

The book also provides practical advice every mom-to-be wants quick access to, including:
• A month by month guide showing your baby’s development
• A comprehensive checklist for labor, delivery and beyond
• A glossary of terms women are likely to hear over the course of their pregnancy
• A list of resources for specific circumstances (i.e. pregnant athletes; moms of multiples; and those lacking health insurance).

Learn more at this link.

Fetal scalp pH testing

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Fetal scalp blood sampling is a quick test your health care provider can use to check if your baby is getting enough oxygen during labor.

Sometimes fetal heart monitoring doesn’t provide enough information about how the baby is doing with the stress of labor. In these cases, testing the scalp pH can help the health care provider decide whether the baby is getting enough oxygen during labor. This helps the provider decide if the baby is healthy enough to continue labor on its own, or if a faster delivery with forceps or a cesarean section might be a better route to take.

During labor, a woman’s cervix, the opening of the uterus, thins and opens to let her baby pass through the vagina. In order to have fetal scalp blood sampling, the cervix must be dilated enough that the provider can reach the baby’s head.

The test may remind you of a pelvic exam. It takes about 5 minutes. The woman lies on her back with her feet in stirrups. The provider places a plastic cone in the vagina that fits up against the baby’s head. The provider pricks the baby’s scalp and takes a small amount of blood. The blood is tested, and results are ready in just a few minutes.

If mom has an infection, like HIV or hepatitis C, her provider may not recommend fetal blood sampling. This is because she can pass these infections to her baby through the spot where his scalp is pricked.

What is a fetal nonstress test?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The nonstress test is a way of monitoring your baby’s health through your skin. This is not an invasive test, meaning it is not performed internally. A nonstress test allows your health care provider to check if your baby’s heart rate pattern is one seen in healthy babies. It checks to see that the heart rate increases when the baby moves around.

The nonstress test usually is performed between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, especially when you’re past your due date, to make sure all’s well with the baby. It can be done as early as the 27th week of pregnancy, if your health care provider feels there are reasons to take a closer look.

For this test, you will sit with knees and back partially elevated, sometimes with a cushion under the right hip to help shift your uterus to the left. Sensitive electrodes (connected to monitors) are placed on your abdomen over conducting jelly. The electrodes can sense the fetal heart rate (FHR) and the presence and length of any uterine contractions. Usually, the results of this test appear on a computer screen, or they are printed out. If there are contractions, the external monitors will show them but they won’t be able to tell how strong they are.

If there is no fetal heart rate increase from being moved around after 30 – 40 minutes, your baby may be napping. Seriously, babies do go to sleep! If that’s the case, you will be given something sweet to drink or a small meal which may perk your baby up and get him moving. If that doesn’t work, the use of fetal acoustic stimulation (sending loud noise to the baby) may work as may gently placing your hands on your abdomen and moving the baby from side to side. Wake up little one!

If your baby still is not as responsive as your health care provider would like to see, you may move on to either a biophyiscal profile (taking a closer look with detailed ultrasound), a stress test (testing to see how your baby responds to contractions) or even delivery.

Alcohol during pregnancy and FASDs

Friday, September 7th, 2012

pregnant-bellySeptember 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) Awareness Day. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASDs, which include a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and lasting emotional and behavioral problems in a child.

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. The alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and to your baby through the umbilical cord.

Although your body is able to manage alcohol in your blood, your baby’s little body isn’t. Your liver works hard to break down the alcohol in your blood. But your baby’s liver is too small to do the same and alcohol can hurt your baby’s development. That’s why alcohol is much more harmful to your baby than to you during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol (one glass of wine, a beer…) is proven safe to drink during pregnancy.

Alcohol can lead your baby to have serious health conditions, FASDs. The most serious of these is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome can seriously harm your baby’s development, both mentally and physically.  Alcohol can also cause your baby to:
• Have birth defects (heart, brain and other organs)
• Vision or hearing problems
• Be born too soon (preterm)
• Be born at low birthweight
• Have learning disabilities (including intellectual disabilities)
• Have sleeping and sucking problems
• Have speech and language delays
• Have behavioral problems

In order to continue raising awareness about alcohol use during pregnancy and FASDs, the CDC has posted a feature telling one woman’s story and her challenges with her son who has FASD. It’s an eye opener. The CDC’s FASD website has lots more information, too.

What is a nuchal cord or loop?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Sometimes the umbilical cord may become wrapped around a part of a developing baby’s body. This is most often found around the baby’s neck and happens when the baby moves through a loop of the cord. Less frequently, the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around other body parts, such as a foot or hand. Generally, this doesn’t harm babies and they are born healthy.

Believe it or not, this happens more often than you might think. One loop around the neck occurs in approximately 20% of pregnancies, while multiple loops occur in 5% of cases. Again, most of the time, everything is fine.

Sometimes, though, fetal monitoring shows heart rate abnormalities during labor and delivery in babies with a nuchal cord. This may be as a result of pressure on the cord.  Doppler ultrasound usually can detect any nuchal loops. Even then, the pressure is rarely serious enough to cause death or any lasting problems. A nuchal loop alone is not a reason to change a woman’s birth plan. Occasionally, a cesarean delivery may be needed if multiple loops are involved or the baby’s heart rate appears to be seriously effected.