Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy complication’

National Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The US Department of Health and Human Services has designated May 2013 as the first National Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Throughout the month, several organizations educate about preeclampsia, a serious and common complication of pregnancy and the postpartum period. This condition is dangerous to both the mother and her unborn baby. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and can also include signs and symptoms such as swelling, headaches and visual disturbances. It’s so important for pregnant women to keep all their prenatal appointments and to alert their health care providers if they have any of the symptoms.

The Preeclampsia Foundation has launched a month-long campaign of education including infographics, Twitter chats, blogs and more. Learn as much as you can to help keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible.

What is placenta previa?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. (The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.)

Placenta previa happens in about 1 in 200 pregnancies. If you have placenta previa early in pregnancy, it usually isn’t a problem. It will be monitored, however, because it can cause serious bleeding and other complications later in pregnancy.

Normally, the placenta grows into the upper part of the uterus wall, away from the cervix. It stays there until your baby is born. During the last stage of labor, the placenta separates from the wall, and your contractions help push it into the vagina (birth canal). This is also called the afterbirth.

During labor, your baby passes through the cervix into the birth canal. If you have placenta previa, when the cervix begins to efface (thin out) and dilate (open up) for labor, blood vessels connecting the placenta to the uterus may tear. This can cause severe bleeding during labor and birth, putting you and your baby in danger.

The most common symptom of placenta previa is painless bleeding from the vagina during the second half of pregnancy. Call your health care provider right away if you have vaginal bleeding anytime during your pregnancy. If the bleeding is severe, go to the hospital.

An ultrasound usually can find placenta previa and pinpoint the placenta’s location. In some cases, your provider may use a transvaginal ultrasound instead.

Even if you don’t have vaginal bleeding, a routine, second trimester ultrasound may show that you have placenta previa. Don’t be too worried if this happens. Placenta previa found in the second trimester fixes itself in most cases.

Treatment depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, the seriousness of your bleeding and the health of you and your baby. To learn more, read our article on placenta previa.

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.

No cheating on bed rest

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

bed-rest“I’m putting you on bed rest” can mean a lot of different things.  Some women are put on bed rest at home, some are in the hospital.  Some are on partial bedrest, meaning they can get up and fix a sandwich for lunch, take a shower, etc. and stay off their feet the rest of the time.  Others are on strict bed rest and must remain horizontal, perhaps hooked to monitors, at all times.  You’ve got to know exactly what your doc means.

A lot depends on why you’re on bed rest.  Although there is no clear consensus on the benefits of it, many doctors prescribe bed rest to address a complication.   If your blood pressure is elevated, bed rest may help reduce the pressure. It may increase blood flow to the placenta or reduce strain with certain placental complications.  Bed rest may help reduce vaginal bleeding, take pressure off an incompetent or effacing cervix, lower the chance of preterm labor and the possibility of delivering too early. Bed rest can mean a lot of different things, so if your provider mentions it to you, ask a lot of questions so that you fully understand what is meant.  (Can I use the toilet, take a shower or bath? Can I sit up, go into the kitchen? Is sex off limits? What exercises are OK and what’s not?)

The object of bed rest is to allow pregnancy to continue in as healthy a way and for as long as possible.  But it can turn into a real drag pretty quickly.  If you’re going stir crazy and tempted to cheat, don’t.  Instead, work on crossword puzzles, Sudoku, photo albums, baby announcements, read, listen to books on tape, watch movies, write emails or blog posts… Take up a new hobby like scrapbooking or knitting. Plan a girls night in, watch a flick and do your nails. Allow your family and friends to help you.  Work up weekly menus and shopping lists for them.  Most of them will be happy to help keep you and your baby healthy.  It’s not forever, and it is for the best possible outcome.