Are you pregnant, or want to become pregnant, and need information?
We like to provide pregnancy information here on our blog to help our readers and customers, but not in an official medical capacity. Educating yourself, and reading on pregnancy information is very helpful, but you should never just read, and not consult with your doctor care for any pregnancy information you find online.
Each of you are different, and each pregnancy and baby and birth are different. There is never a one size fits all in our opinions when it comes to medicine and your patient care.
Please find a pregnancy information round up from our blog series at the end of this post for more information and reading.
Today we’re covering Pre-Term Labor and Cesarean Section vs. Vaginal Birth Information…
What Is Pre-Term Labor?
When you are pregnant, you will experience a host of aches, pains, bumps and bruises. Part of it will be clumsiness and part will be the baby making himself at home inside your body. But, sometimes pains are an indication of other things going on. Keep reading to find out if you are just achy or if you are at risk.
Pre-term labor is occurring when labor has started but you are not at full term. It can occur as early as 20 weeks. A full term gestation is 37 weeks. Ideally you want to go longer which can add up to ten months instead of nine.
If you feel pains that are similar to what labor most likely feels like, talk to your doctor. As you approach 37 weeks, the pains you feel could be false pains known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. But, earlier on it could be something else.
Since babies born at 20 weeks are less likely to survive outside the womb, pre-term labor is a condition that doctors will give much attention and care.
Information on Your Care
Pregnant women who have experienced miscarriages or previous premature deliveries are more likely to present this condition. Your doctor will do everything that he or she can to extend your pregnancy as long as possible so the baby can be born healthy, and without the risk of developing health problems associated with premature deliveries.
What can lead to pre-term labor? We have touched on two reasons why your pregnancy could be at a risk for this condition. What are other causes or reasons for pre-term labor?
First, let’s just take a look at how a typical labor begins. When labor begins, the uterus contracts and the cervix will open up. As it does, it thins (effaces) to prepare for delivery. When it is thin enough, your “water” will break and the baby begins to settle into the birth canal.
When this process begins too soon in the pregnancy, we call that “pre-term labor.” When this happens, it can be due to a few reasons:
- Multiple babies being carried
- Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall
- Incompetent cervix
How will you know that this is happening to you? Signs include abdominal pain and contractions. Since these are also signs of normal pregnancy pain, you’ll need to investigate a little further. If the pains occur before your due date, and the pains are coupled with a fever or leakage from the vagina, you could be in premature labor.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms. Your doctor will assess your situation and take immediate steps and care to stop labor or deliver if you are far enough along and the baby is healthy. Don’t guess ever. With proper medical attention, your pregnancy, and your baby, will be in good care.
Now on to pregnancy information for C-Section vs. Vaginal Birth…
When Is A Cesarean Section Advisable Over A Vaginal Birth?
Does it seem like more and more women are giving birth by cesarean section instead of vaginal birth? Why is that? Is it based on need, convenience or something else? Keep reading to find out about both options for delivery.
It used to be that all babies were born by vaginal birth, or a birth canal delivery. If a baby was breech, the midwife or doctor took care to reach inside and turn the child. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it did not. There were times when the child was too large, or the mother didn’t dilate enough, or the pelvis didn’t soften for delivery. Both the mother and child suffered during a birth like this.
Things have changed. Cesarean sections are performed when it is not safe for the baby to be delivered through the birth canal. It is usually performed with the mother awake so that she can report any discomfort or changes as the doctor is at work and care delivering the baby.
Why are c-sections chosen over vaginal births? One reason is fetal distress. If the baby’s heart rate drops during a contraction, that is a sign that the baby is in distress. The baby could be turned wrong or the umbilical cord could be wrapped around the neck cutting off oxygen and blood supply.
Another indication for a cesarean section is a child that is too large for the birth canal. A woman with a small bone structure and narrow pelvis, or a pelvis that doesn’t soften and spread, may have trouble delivering a large baby. The head may be in the birth canal too long and the baby could be left without oxygen which could lead to brain damage.
Vaginal Birth Information
Unless the doctor decides it is medically necessary for care, most babies are delivered vaginally. Here are some facts about vaginal delivery:
- Less chance of infection
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recuperation time
- Less blood loss
- Possibility of urinary or bowel incontinence
Since the birth canal is the way that babies are designed to be delivered, a baby can be delivered that way in subsequent births as long as there are no problems with the pelvis or musculature of the pelvis.
Cesarean Birth Information
A cesarean birth is actually a surgical procedure, and as such, you have the possible complications that go along with most other surgeries:
- Bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Scar tissue on the abdominal wall
- Longer hospital stay and recuperation period
- Possible bowel issues
Elective cesarean sections are less common than emergency c-sections, except in the case of a second pregnancy after a c-section where it is very common to elect to deliver the second baby by c-section. Because a cesarean section can put the mother at unnecessary risk, elective c-section is a type of care for discussion that must be approached seriously with your doctor.
Choosing a cesarean section because it seems more convenient, when there are no other indications for a c-section, is normally not recommended by health care professionals. If you believe a c-section is more convenient than a vaginal birth, make a thorough study of the possible complications before you decide which birthing method and care is right for you and your baby.
This video takes you inside pregnancy with information from weeks 21-27…
More Pregnancy Information & Round Up:
Precautions For High Risk Pregnancy and Common Aches and Pains…
About High Risk Pregnancy
It is always prudent to tell your doctor about any symptoms that worry you and to discuss all your lifestyle habits. Your visits will be more frequent if your doctor deems it necessary given the information you share and your possible status. This can also mean extra ultrasounds to be sure that baby is developing on schedule.
Make lifestyle changes. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. These habits can contribute to low birth weight and fetal alcohol syndrome, respectively. Boost your immune system and that of your unborn baby by taking a prenatal vitamin. Your doctor may recommend additional vitamin supplements as needed.
What Indicates A High Risk Pregnancy?
What classifies a pregnancy in this status? While there are certain conditions that present themselves during pregnancy that can affect your health, sometimes the risk begins before you get pregnant.
Here are some of those indicators:
*High blood pressure
If you are aware of these being present in your life, talk to your doctor. It is ideal to talk to your obstetrician before you become pregnant, but if you already are, the first prenatal visit is the best time to discuss any of these presenting health issues.
There are certain conditions that occur when and only when a woman is pregnant. An example of this is preeclampsia. It shows up after about 20 weeks of pregnancy. When the pregnancy is over, the condition usually goes away in most cases.
One indication of this condition is abnormally high blood pressure. A woman with a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy increases her risk of this condition once she gets pregnant.
You always need to follow your doctor’s instructions during pregnancy, but belonging to this category makes it doubly important to comply.
What Are Preeclampsia and Placenta Previa About During Pregnancy?
There are three types of placenta previa:
- Complete: cervical opening is totally covered
- Partial: only a portion of the placenta covers the cervical opening
- Low-lying: the placenta is very close to the cervix but does not cover the opening
If placenta previa has been seen before, the mother may be at risk for a hysterectomy later as it can grow into the uterus where it is unable to be separated during birth. One cause of placenta previa is a previous cesarean section. Whenever you have surgical intervention, there is a chance of scarring internally. Scarring on the inside of the uterus may explain why the placenta moves lower.
Births among older women or women who smoke have a greater chance of developing this condition as well.
What Is Preeclampsia?
- Nausea or vomiting
- Vision changes
- Protein in the urine
- High blood pressure
Explaining Aches & Pain During Pregnancy
- Headaches…Pregnancy isn’t just about the changes you see with the baby, but is also about hormones. Headaches can result from hormonal changes, tension in your body as you carry your baby, nasal congestion and other conditions that may develop during pregnancy. Try natural remedies before reaching for Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Lavender oil rubbed into the temples can reduce the severity of your headaches. Deep breathing, meditation, easy yoga moves, and a relaxing shower are other things to try. A damp cloth on your forehead along with closing curtains to shut out the light for a few minutes can be a great comfort.
- Backaches…As the weight of the baby shifts during pregnancy, pressure is put on your lower back. One way to counteract this is to wear low heel shoes with good support, like walking shoes. Even if you had perfect posture before, just the fact that you are carrying around a living, moving, kicking baby inside will make it hard to sit or stand for long periods of time. Try to keep your center of gravity low. When you sit, place a pillow behind your lower back to alleviate the pressure. Some women feel relief when they’re sitting by placing their feet (or one foot) up on a low stool instead of on the floor.
- Leg pain…To find relief, try sleeping in a semi-sitting position, propped up in bed or even in a recliner. Find a qualified massage therapist and get routine pregnancy massages to help keep blood flowing to your lower extremities which will reduce the cramping feeling. You may find yourself simply walking normally and all of a sudden your legs just seem to get weak, wobbly, or just give out. This may happen due to the pressure of the baby on the nerves and vessels in your back, torso, and legs. This sensation may get worse the later into your pregnancy you get, and it may even feel like you have a painful case of sciatica.
- Swollen gums…Consult your dentist for proper care of bleeding and swollen gums. Even though this may seem like a simple inconvenience, bleeding and swollen gums may lead to infections which is definitely something you do not want when you are pregnant. Teeth often suffer during pregnancy. They can become tender to the touch and bleed even when you use the same pressure when brushing that you used before you became pregnant.
- Hemorrhoids…This is one pain that is very irritating but very treatable. Don’t suffer a moment longer than you have to. Call your doctor immediately at the first signs of hemorrhoid discomfort. This problem is often the most bemoaned! Blood vessels in the anus can become swollen and painful due to increased pressure on the rectum. Constipation can cause even more distress to the hemorrhoids, which in turn causes increased pain and burning, which can then cause even more constipation as a woman may tend to avoid having regular bowel movements. It’s a vicious cycle! Try to stop this cycle from starting by consulting with your doctor about increasing fiber in your diet to help prevent constipation. If hemorrhoids continue to cause pain and burning, ask your doctor for simple over-the-counter remedies.
Pregnancy & Midlife
There are some things you may need to expect if you’re women over the age of 40. We’ll cover a partial list of some of those things, along with some suggestions to reduce the possible risks for midlife pregnant women.
Whether you take a laid-back approach to a midlife pregnancy or have a lot of concerns, the fact is that care providers look at midlife age pregnancies differently than they do the pregnancies of a younger age.
Genetic Testing for Midlife & Pregnant Over Age 40
Early in your midlife pregnancy (around 14 to 17 weeks), women can have blood drawn and checked for various disorders, such as Down Syndrome. These early tests, however, tend to be inaccurate.
Over the age of 40, and even as young as the age of 35, the risk of a baby developing with a genetic disorder is said to increase. Your care giver will probably give you the option of testing your baby for one or more of these disorders. There are various types of genetic testing.
Some warn that tests could bring on labor and subsequent miscarriage; others claim they are perfectly safe.The more sweeping test for genetic disorders is amniocentesis, which tests for every known inconsistency and abnormality of the chromosomes.
This is also done fairly early in the midlife pregnancy (around 15 to 18 weeks), and involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid via a needle and syringe.
Whether you go with these types of tests, or other ones such as ultrasound is entirely up to you at your age, as is dealing with what you learn from the tests.
Potential Risks for Midlife Pregnancy
What are some of the potential risks to the mother during a midlife pregnancy?
* Pre-eclampsia – This dangerous condition is to be taken seriously in anyone’s pregnancy, but the odd thing about pre-eclampsia is that first-time moms have about the same risk as moms over 40. It stands to reason from this, that if you are a first-time mom over the age of 40, it would be wise to be especially aware of the signs of pre-eclampsia.
* Cardiomyopathy – It occurs when the heart undergoes changes, such as weakening, stiffening, or thickening of the heart muscle. This disorder of the heart can occur among postpartum women, but older mothers are more at risk, according to statistics.
* Gestational diabetes – The numbers also indicate that older moms are more at risk for this metabolic disorder of pregnancy.
* Cancer – For many older women, fertility treatments are required to get pregnant, and the potential risk of cancer (particularly breast) may increase with these hormone-intensive treatments. Pregnancy itself is not known to increase cancer risk.
* Placenta previa – Women over 40 are said to be at greater risk for this problem. This is a condition where the placenta fails to move away from the cervical area during pregnancy. Consequently, the placenta forms near the mouth of the uterus which can cause bleeding, cramping, and premature labor.
* C-section – The probability of a C-section is another risk that increases with women over the age of 40.
What do you think of these women?
Let us know in the comments!
Older Age Pregnancy & How to Reduce Risk
What can older age pregnant women do to reduce some of these risks?
Alcohol consumption is generally considered a bad idea during pregnancy, but it may be riskier for the unborn babies of over age 40 midlife pregnant moms.
Healthy nutrition and lifestyle are key in any pregnancy, but they are perhaps even more important for older age moms. If you haven’t quit smoking, try to do so. Study up on the ideal pregnancy diet with high nutrition, and follow it carefully.
It’s also a good idea to take supplements; you may need more or different supplements than the average prenatal vitamin, but here is more on that subject below…
Are Prenatal Vitamins for Midlife Pregnancy Needed?
The answer to this question seems to depend on whom you ask.
Some say prenatal vitamins are essential, and others say no. In the middle are those who believe prenatals should be taken by only some midlife pregnant women like smokers or vegetarians.
Here are some thoughts and suggestions about this unresolved subject on midlife and pregnant…
The Controversy for Midlife Pregnant Women
Some contend that the risk of birth defects, particularly neural tube defects, is higher among women who do not take prenatal vitamins. Other experts cite studies where women who took prenatal vitamins gave birth to babies who were no healthier than those babies born to midlife pregnant women who did not take prenatals.
There are medical professionals and other experts who claim that the need for prenatal vitamins is driven by the supplement industry.
Some nutritional and medical experts think supplementation is a good idea during pregnancy, but they do not stress prescription prenatals.
There are many opinions to weigh on being midlife and pregnant.
What About Folic Acid for Older Age Pregnancy?
This is one supplement that nearly everyone agrees on, because the evidence is so overwhelming. The effects of folic acid deficiency are clear, and because folic acid is not necessarily ample in the average diet, it is needed.
Midlife & Pregnant Alternatives
There are cereals available with 100% of the USDA of all major vitamins and minerals, and many pregnant women find this easier to stomach.
There have been doctors who advised their pregnant patients to eat fortified cereal for breakfast instead of taking a pill.
Some prenatals come in food-based forms or capsules, which may be more bio-available. You can also compromise by purchasing your own prenatal vitamins instead of relying on prescription ones.
Midlife & Pregnant Sickness
One major reason why some women simply give up taking vitamins during pregnancy is that many pregnant women find that prenatal vitamins simply make them sick. The pills are enormous, and even non-pregnant moms can get nauseated from taking so many vitamins at once.
Midlife & Pregnant Absorption
Pregnant moms can question the necessity of any supplements, as some sources claim that prescription prenatal vitamins are not bio-available, meaning they are not absorbed by the body very well.
As you can see, your midlife pregnancy will take more homework and research, and is a tougher decision.
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Courtney & Betina~LaDy LaDuke