You're in the home stretch! Your body is growing right along with your baby and your excitement about his arrival. If you haven't already, it's time to get busy—you have lots of decisions to make and things to do before he's born.
External cephalic version (ECV) is a technique in which an obstetrician attempts to turn a breech baby to the head-down position. He does this by first giving a medication to relax the mother's uterus and then applying external pressure to her abdomen. The technique has a 65 percent success rate; if it is successful, an "abdominal binder" is placed over the woman's belly to keep the baby in the proper position. ECV may not be an option if you've had a prior uterine incision or if there is any concern about the baby.
The non-stress test is an opportunity to "interview" the fetus to ensure it is doing well. Typically the test is performed in the third trimester to assess various situations, such as if a woman has passed her due date or has certain medical conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes. We also might employ this test when there are concerns about the fetus's well-being, such as a perceived decrease in movement.
Many women experience vivid dreams during pregnancy, and no wonder—they're dealing with huge changes in their physical, emotional and spiritual selves, says Raina Manuel-Paris, Ph.D., author of The Mother-to-Be's Dream Book (Warner Books). Here are some common themes by trimester:
First Trimester: Women tend to dream about their past: childhood experiences, ex-boyfriends and parents. These dreams are a subconscious way of coming to terms with their new identity and letting go of the old.
Not necessarily. The use of episiotomy—an incision made to the perineum during labor—has decreased in recent years. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discourages its "liberal or routine" use while saying the procedure is nevertheless indicated in some situations, such as to prevent perineal tears or facilitate delivery.
It is perfectly appropriate for you to outline some specific goals in a birth plan, whether those include pain-blocking techniques you hope to use, positions you intend to try during labor, your preferences about being "hooked up" to a monitor, or simply your attitude toward something as basic as your partner's participation in the birth. But it's also important to have a healthy degree of confidence in--and communication with--your caregiver, whether he or she is a midwife, nurse practitioner or obstetrician.
You might be referring to a recent report that intercourse hastens labor in full-term pregnancies and reduces the need for inductions. But another study, published just weeks earlier, showed completely opposite findings. "As these studies demonstrate, we still aren't sure if intercourse triggers labor," says Sean S. Daneshmand, M.D., clinic director of maternal-fetal medicine at the San Diego Perinatal Center at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women, who wasn't involved in either study.
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.
Parents who have a board-certified pediatrician to care for their infant can be assured that the doctor has been deemed competent and up-to-date about developments in the field. But two studies from Michigan found that parents can't assume a pediatrician recommended by their hospital or health plan has been certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. The studies showed that 78 percent of U.S. hospitals don't require board certification to grant privileges to pediatricians, and only 41 percent of health plans require the certification.
• Eat just 300 calories more per day Even though your appetite is noticeably increasing, your daily calorie intake should go up just a little during the second and third trimesters. (Note: Your total gain should be 25 to 35 pounds if you're of normal weight.)
• Give in to some cravings But try to eat healthfully overall by choosing nutrient-rich foods like low-fat dairy, legumes, poultry, lean meats and fish.
• If you "run hot," eat cold foods Chilled fruit, frozen yogurt, and cold, cooked wild salmon are good choices.
The urge to go frequently is a common side effect of pregnancy, but for most moms, restroom visits dwindle after delivery. Dutch researchers found that as early as the 12th week of pregnancy, pressure from the growing uterus, an increase in urine production and changing capacity caused an overactive bladder in nearly half the women they studied. By the 36th week, nearly 15 percent also noticed urine leakage. But by three months postpartum, nearly 90 percent reported no bladder issues, and only 3.5 percent had leakage.
Despite how foreign they can look on your body, stretch marks (or striae) are a normal part of pregnancy: Half of all moms-to-be can expect to find these rippled stripes on their skin.
What's the cause?
"Stretch marks are an odd entity," says dermatologist Alan Rosenbach, M.D., a clinical assistant professor at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "Considering how common they are, we don't know much about their cause, though some suspect the reasons are at least partly hormonal."