The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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It’s reader email week and I’ve picked my favorite. I’m not going to name my e-mailer because I think she speaks for a lot of women. Here’s what she wrote:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common ailment during pregnancy, because your expanded uterus—which sits atop your bladder—sometimes can block urine drainage, causing the infection.
It was heartburn that got me in the end. I could take the swelling, the back pain, the constant trips to the bathroom, the itchy skin, the fatigue, the sweating, the sleeplessness and even the psychological shock of seeing the scale tip 200 pounds. But the constant, searing pain of heartburn made the miracle of pregnancy seem more like a curse—by the middle of my third trimester, my mantra had changed from "Please, let him be healthy!" to "Just get him OUT!"
Fifty years ago, Thalidomide was yanked off the market. This sedative drug prescribed to alleviate morning sickness in the 1950s and 60s, caused crippling birth defects. Thousands of babies, born without arms or legs are now adults and while doctors quit prescribing Thalidomide in 1961, the company responsible for manufacturing the drug only apologized for the damage they caused last week.
Puffy feet and swollen hands happen to men and women year round, but they’re especially common for pregnant women in hot weather. Considering it’s been scorching these last couple weeks, I bet there are a whole lot of pregnant ladies out there who feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow woman.
What causes swelling?
Early in her pregnancy, Deborah Johnson (not her real name) started having on-and-off light bleeding. “At first I was really freaked out,” she recalls. “My immediate reaction was, ‘Oh, this can’t be good.’ ”
She called her doctor, who was concerned but calm. “She said she was going to play it safe by giving me progesterone, but that if the baby wasn’t meant to be, no amount of progesterone was going to make a difference,” Johnson says. Though the spotting continued throughout her entire first trimester, Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy six months later.
It’s not pretty, but it is very important and serves as grist for lore and ritual the world over: Some cultures bury it, some consider it the baby’s sibling, some even eat it.
Not only is the placenta the trading post between the mother’s and the baby’s blood supply, at around week 12 it takes over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy. And recent research found that its structure may even determine the length of a pregnancy.
Although the placenta usually functions flawlessly, occasionally a problem arises:
Every week I receive very similar emails from different women all over the world. They all ask the same question about pinkish-brown discharge during the first trimester. Very often, they notice the discharge the day after they’ve had sex. Each one of these emails is tinged with worry about what that discharge means and fear that it might mean miscarriage. The last few emails came from women in England, Alabama, San Francisco and Saudi Arabia, which just lets you know how u
There’s no getting around it, labor and deliver is messy business. That’s why nurses work hard to develop fast, close, personal and professional connections with our patients. Personal enough that we can do what we have to do without too much embarrassment and professional enough to respect our patients’ dignity and privacy, even when we’re all up in their business.
Wendy is 36 weeks pregnant with her third baby. She writes that she’s had a perfectly normal pregnancy with no excess weight gain, no nausea, “nada.” At her doctor’s office last week though, her blood pressure was a little elevated. Wendy says it was “140 over something normal” and then, after she rested in the office a bit, was “130 over something normal.” At another appointment a few days later her BP was “140 over something normal,” but this time there was a little protein in her urine.
A reader who is 24 weeks along wrote that she’s already had five urinary tract infections (UTI) with this pregnancy. Geez! Poor lady. I hate those things; the burning feeling like you have to pee and then nothing comes out. It’s miserable. I actually drove myself to the ER once in the middle of the night because I couldn’t stand the pain, and I wasn’t even pregnant. Add a growing baby to the mix, honey you’ve got all my sympathies.