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The rupture of membranes is sometimes the first indication that the birth of a baby is going to happen soon. This usually happens spontaneously in about 12% of pregnant women. Most of the time, a woman's water won't break until she is already in labor. Sometimes an obstetrician will rupture the membranes to stimulate the progress of labor. When the membranes rupture, the fluid that surrounds the baby in the amniotic sac begins to leak out of the cervix. This leak may be a trickle or it may feel like a flood. Either way, if you aren't already at the hospital, contact your doctor. Call immediately if you notice the following:
* Green or brownish fluid, instead of clear.
* You experience fever.
* You feel a pulsating sensation in your vagina, which could indicate a prolapsed cord.
Episiotomies are often performed during the vaginal birth of a baby. An episiotomy is a surgical incision in the perineum, which is the skin between the vagina and the anus. Its purpose is to widen the opening for baby's imminent birth and to prevent tearing of the perineum. You should always consult with your doctors about episiotomies.
Sometimes, determining if you really are in labor can be quite tricky. False labor pains may seem to be just like real labor during pregnancy. How can you tell the difference? Real labor typically has some common signs that you can look for, including the following:
* Nesting instict-You have a sudden urge to clean and get everything in order.
* Bloody show-Small amount of vaginal bleeding towards the end of pregnancy.
* Loss of mucous plug-This is the plug from the opening of your cervix. Once you lose it, don't take tub baths, go swimming, or have sex.
* Upset stomach or diarrhea
* Regular contractions that continue to get harder and closer together.
* Water breaks-Contact your doctor immediately
False labor includes the following symptoms:
* Contractions are irregular and don't form a pattern or get stronger.
* Contractions don't last very long.
* Contractions are felt only in the front.
* Cervix isn't dilating.
If you think you are in labor, you should immediately call your doctor.
An ultrasound is typically performed a couple of times during a woman's pregnancy. It is basically an x-ray that uses sound waves to make a black and white picture of your baby and your surrounding organs. It is used for a variety of reasons, including the following:
* Confirming the due date.
* Diagnosing multiple pregnancies.
* Checking for problems, such as spinal defects.
* Checking on baby's development.
* Estimating the amount of amniotic fluid.
* Looking for causes of vaginal bleeding.
An ultrasound is painless for both mother and baby. A small devices is placed on your belly, and the image is transmitted on a computer screen.
Placenta previa is a term often found pregnancy glossaries. It isn't a common condition, but it does occur in about one out of every 200 pregnancies. Placenta previa is the implantation of the placenta so that it covers or partially covers the cervix. Diagnosis typically occurs during the third trimester of a woman's pregnancy. Bleeding and premature contractions are typically indicators that placenta previa may be present. Once diagnosed, a mother is usually placed on bed rest, may be hospitalized, and an emergency cesarean may be performed.
There are many terms which surround the labor and delivery that a pregnant woman experiences during the birth of her baby. The following glossary lists some common labor and delivery terms.
* APGAR Score- This a score given to newborns at both one and five minutes immediately after birth. It measures an infant's response to birth on a rating from one to ten.
* Breech-This term refers to a baby who is positioned with his buttocks and/or feet first as delivery approaches.
* Cesarean-This refers to the birth of a baby by extraction from the uterus through surgery.
* Contraction-This is the regular tightening of the uterus, which occurs as the baby is advancing down the birth canal.
* Crowning-This term refers to the baby's head appearing at the top of the vaginal opening.
* Dilation-The cervix is measured from one to ten centimeters as it opens for childbirth.
* Effacement- The cervix begins to thin as birth approaches. The measurement is typically in percentages from one to 100 percent.
* Episiotomy-An incision that is made during childbirth to widen the vaginal opening for easier delivery of the baby.
* Labor-When the uterus contracts regularly to open the cervix.
* Post-partum-The period after childbirth has occurred.
Preeclampsia is a very dangerous condition that can affect both the mother and the baby. When preeclampsia occurs, the mother's blood pressure can rise, increasing the risk of stroke, blood clotting problems, seizures, and kidney and liver problems. Preeclampsia can also restrict blood flow to the baby.
* Teen pregnancies
* Pregnancies in moms over 40.
* Moms carrying multiple babies.
* Moms who have high blood pressure already.
* High blood pressure
* Sudden excessive weight gain
* Abdominal pain
* Rapid heartbeat
* Severe headaches
* Large amounts of protein detected in the mother's urine.
If you have more questions about preeclampsia, you should contact your doctor.
There are several tests that a woman may have to experience during her pregnancy. Some of these are optional, while others are typically routine. The following pregnancy glossary lists common tests that could be performed.
* Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP)-A blood test which measures alpha-fetoprotein levels in the mother's blood. Any abnormal levels could indicate twins, wrong due date, risk of Down syndrome, or brain/spinal defects.
* Amniocentesis-A test performed between 15 and 20 weeks of a woman't pregnancy that could show chromosomal abnormalities.
* Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)-A test that can be performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy and can show chromosomal abnormalities.
* Glucose Tolerance Test-This blood test evaluates a woman's response to sugar and can indicate gestational diabetes.
A common term found in many pregnancy glossaries is "amniocentesis." Anmiocentesis is a test that is used to look for any chromosomal abnormalities in a baby. It can also test lung maturity. The test is given by inserting a small needle into a pregnant woman's abdomen and collecting a small amount of amniotic fluid. This can be done anywhere from 11 weeks until the end of the pregnancy. There is a slight risk of miscarriage. If a genetic disorder is detected, an appointment with a genetic counselor may be in order.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|