Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pregnancy

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I’m pregnant! Now what? So many questions: How do I know if I am pregnant? What should you do in early stages of pregnancy? What about trimesters? What precautions should I take during pregnancy?

I hear it all and so today as a midwife and as someone who wants to help soon to be mothers have a smooth ride, let’s get started!

The trimesters are defined as the set of stages a pregnant mother goes through in her 9 months of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks from the last normal period. In these 40 weeks, the expecting mother will go through 3 trimesters. Each trimester has its own specific symptoms and changes that the body experiences. In the following, we will examine each trimester and the most common things a mother should expect to experience:

First trimester

The first trimester starts with the first week of pregnancy and lasts until the 12th week. During this time, the mother’s body will undergo a lot of changes as it adapts to carrying and nurturing a baby. The most common symptoms and changes a pregnant mother could experience are:

  • Morning sickness
  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness
  • Swollen, tender breasts
  • Intense food cravings
  • Constipation
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches

All of these symptoms occur mostly because of the hormonal changes in your body. The hormones will affect most of your organs, triggering changes and symptoms.

What to expect in your first month of Pregnancy

The first month of your new pregnancy marks the beginning of a very special journey for your body and your baby. It starts with the first week after your last menstrual period and ends with the fourth week. As part of the first trimester of labor, it marks only about 10% of the total time of the pregnancy.

What happens in the first month?

One of the first first month pregnancy symptoms is a missed period. After your last menstrual period, you will begin ovulating. If an egg will be fertilized during this time, it will travel to the uterus where it will start developing into a baby. The first two weeks mark the beginning of changes that will take place in your body. During this time, a certain hormone called hCG will be released in your bloodstream and then it will pass into your urine. Pregnancy tests will be able to identify its presence and concentration and they will confirm your pregnancy.

When the egg implants itself into the uterus, it will start developing into an embryo. During the first four weeks of pregnancy your baby will not be bigger than half an inch. It will have a head, eyes, a beating heart and even small hands and feet.

Some of the first month pregnancy symptoms that you will experience are: Missed period Tender breasts Mood swings Nausea Fatigue

These symptoms can also be associated with the premenstrual syndrome. A pregnancy test will determine whether you are truly pregnant or not. For a more details list of first month pregnancy symptoms you can check our article on early pregnancy symptoms.

DOs and DON’Ts

The first month of pregnancy is critical for the baby. Most pregnancy complications will occur during the early first trimester.

Diet is important.

As your body will have to start adapting to carry the extra load and support the baby’s nourishment needs, you will have to keep a close eye on your diet while pregnant: what and when you eat is important! Smaller meals distributed several times during the day are advisable as they will provide a steady energy source.

Keep you immune system up.

Avoid too much contact with strangers. Influenza, hepatitis or rubella can be easily transmitted and it could pose problems for the developing baby and yourself. Stay away from radiation-emitting devices such as X-ray machines. Also, avoid being too close to any devices that generate an electromagnetic field, for it could harm the embryo. Include Folic acid in your diet, as it helps with the baby’s brain developing.

Ectopic and Molar Pregnancies

An ectopic pregnancy or a molar pregnancy could develop in the first weeks. The ectopic pregnancy is a result of the fertilized egg implanting in other places, rather than the uterus. Most of the time, the egg will implant in the fallopian tube, developing into a tubal pregnancy. The molar pregnancy happens when an egg has incomplete or no genetic information. The sperm which fertilizes it will start dividing on its own, creating a mass of grape-like tissue which should have been the placenta in a normal pregnancy

Second trimester

By the end of the second trimester, the pregnant woman should be able to feel the baby moving and kicking. If you experience itching along with vomiting, jaundice and loss of appetite, contact your doctor immediately – this could be a sign of serious liver problems.

The second of the pregnancy stages starts with week 13 and lasts up to week 28. This second trimester is commonly easier to handle and go through for most women. The most noticeable change that will occur during this trimester is the expanding abdomen. Other symptoms and changes are:

  • Stretch marks that usually show on your abdomen and buttocks
  • Body aches, especially thigh, abdomen, back and groin pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Swollen ankles
  • Darker skin around the nipples and patches of darker skin
  • Itching

Third trimester

It starts up with the 29th week and lasts until the end of the pregnancy at week 40. In this trimester, the baby will fully form and get ready to come out into the world. Most of the symptoms experienced in the last trimester will be the same as those in the second trimester. But there are some which are specific due to the size of the baby and the body’s preparation for birth:

  • Heartburn
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Breasts leaking colostrum
  • Sleeping problems
  • Contractions

Effacing is will begin toward the end of the pregnancy. This process will thin and soften your cervix in order to prepare the birth canal for birth. Mothers will also sense that the baby is slowly moving lower in their abdomen.

Through all of the pregnancy stages, both the mother and the baby will undergo a series of changes. Concerning the mother, these symptoms may vary. Some of them might not even make themselves noticeable at all. This is because every body is different and reacts differently. If there are some symptoms which produce serious discomfort, the best and safest thing to do is go visit the doctor.

Pregnancy & Hormones

You’re pregnant and hormones are taking over your body. Learning about pregnancy hormones is a good thing for expecting mothers. Hormones are responsible for many of the emotional, physical, and other mental changes your body is experiencing. It’s best to embrace these changes now as they are going to stay with you over the next 9 months.

Below you will find information on the different hormones affecting your body and what they are doing.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone & Lutenizing Hormone

Follical Stimulating Hormone (FSH), stimulates your ovaries to start producing estrogen which helps to build the uterine lining. At the same time, Lutenizing Hormone (LH) is released to help stimulate the release of the egg from the ovary. At this point, the body starts pumping progesterone to further ripen the uterine lining and stop LH. The egg makes its journey down the fallopian tube to await the arrival of sperm. If no sperm are present, then you get your period. If sperm are present, then the ball gets rolling.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG is the hormone measured in home pregnancy tests. It is produced by the cells in the developing placenta. This occurs the days after the egg is implanted and helps to stimulate the release of even more estrogen and progesterone. hCG will keep pumping into your bloodstream rapidly during the first few months of pregnancy.

Of the pregnancy hormones, hCG gets the blame for your morning sickness. hCG also suppresses your immune system to reduce the chance of your body rejecting the baby. It is the reason why you should make sure you get plenty of rest and vitamins while pregnant.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen and progesterone are the big two of the pregnancy hormones. They are vital hormones to the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.

Estrogen helps to the make things grow. It is first produced by the ovaries and then by the growing placenta. It helps to keep the placenta growing and maintain the uterine lining that cushions and protects the baby. Estrogen also triggers the growth of the baby’s organs and regulates bone density.

Estrogen also increases bloodflow causing swelling in soft tissues and mucous membranes. This can often lead to sinus infections and a stuffy nose to the expecting mother as well as headaches and postnasal drip. You can blame your flushed face on estrogen.

Estrogen and progesterone also can cause skin discoloration and sensativity to sunlight.

Progestorone, the other of the two major pregnancy hormones, keeps the placenta functioning properly and the uterine lining nice and thick. Unfortunately, it also stimulates the growth of breast tissue. For those of you with smaller breasts, this could be a fortunate event for you. It also reduces the contraction of smooth muscle in your uterus to allow it to expand and grow.

Unfortunately, prgesterone also causes GI discomfort, heartburn, indigestion, and constipation. This can cause even more bloating in your stomach. Wonderful.

Progesterone also affects cartilage late in pregnancy and can cause you to have aches and joint pain. It also causes your gums to swell and bleed as well as increasing secretions in your sweat glands.

There are a few other pregnancy hormones, but Estrogen and Progesterone are the major two that are going to get you through your pregnancy. They are also the two that will cause you the most headaches (literally) throughout your pregnancy.

How to Prevent Stretch Marks While Pregnant

Stretch marks from pregnancy are an issue most women worry a lot about during pregnancy. Weight gain of course has a major impact as your body grows to accommodate your new baby on the way. But what most mothers don’t know… is that pregnancy is associated with both rapid weight gain and loss. Usually, these oscillations are pretty abrupt, and stretch marks are a high possibility.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are also called striae in medical terms. They actually are a form of scarring of the dermis, due to tearing. They appear as reddish or purple lines at first and then start to fade to a lighter nuance. They remain as permanent scars, even though in most cases they are hardly noticeable. Tears are usually caused due to rapid growth. This is especially true for teenagers who experience rapid, sudden growth during their progress into adulthood. Sudden weight gain or loss may also result in stretch marks. This is because the dermis has a certain factor of elasticity that, if surpassed, will produce tearing or scarring.

The most common places where stretch marks appear are the body parts that retain the most fat: abdomen, upper arms, thighs, breasts, back, buttocks and hips. Their presence poses no health threats – it is merely an aesthetic issue.

Pregnancy stretch marks appear due to the strain your skin has to put up with during various oscillations in body fat during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. The most exposed area of your body will be your abdomen.

Prevention and treatment

Pregnancy stretch marks are fairly hard to be avoided. Most methods are concluded by medical authority figures to be useless. Although there is a general consensus about the fact that proper skin hydration along with a proper diet could reduce the stretch marks.

During your pregnancy, you will experience abrupt weight gain or loss. This is because your body needs to adapt in order to feed two mouths. In order to prevent pregnancy stretch marks, your calorie intake should remain the same in the first 6 months of pregnancy. Most first-time mothers eat more than they should, thinking that they need the extra food for the baby. But it is not until the 6th month that you should increase the total calorie intake by about 200 a day to suit the baby’s needs.

Creams and lotions are argued to have an effect on preventing stretch marks. Specialists insist that creams cannot pierce so deep within the skin as to reach the dermis and contribute to its elasticity factor. However, abundant hydration will help with elasticity – drinking 8-10 glasses of liquid a day could help so that the pregnancy does not leave too many stretch marks.

After you have given birth, be very careful with the diet you will pursue. Do not try to lose weight very fast, as the process will surely leave stretch marks. You should continue with the same diet you were on prior to birth. This will help your body to regain its strength. Then, one day at a time, you can lower calorie input and start exercising steadily to lose any extra weight.

Pregnancy Cramps

Pregnancy cramps are a natural symptom of a normal pregnancy. They alert you of the changes taking place in your body as it adapts to carrying a baby. There are however, some circumstances in which cramps are severe and can point to problems with the pregnancy.

Normal pregnancy cramps

After the egg has been fertilized, around the second week of pregnancy, it will start traveling toward the uterus where it will implant. This triggers a reaction of the body to start flexing uterus muscles in order to prepare for the extra weight. These cramps are a result of implantation and are absolutely normal and should not be too hard to deal with.

Early pregnancy cramps can often be misattributed to a real pregnancy, as they are about the same in intensity like menstrual cramps. Premenstrual syndrome can lead to such cramps. A pregnancy test is usually the best way to determine whether the cramps are really a symptom of pregnancy or not.

Hormones also play a vital role in a pregnancy. The hCG hormone is released during the first 24 hours after conception and its presence is a clear sign of pregnancy. Other hormones act in softening your ligaments in order to prepare your body for birth – causing muscle cramps, especially around the uterus. Your digestive system will be slowed down considerably during pregnancy so that your body will have time to extract all the nutrients from the food you eat. This can cause gas which can lead to cramps. Taking walks in order to speed up the digestive process can help with these sorts of cramps.

During the second trimester the uterus will have to grow even larger to accommodate the ever-increasing size of your baby. Muscles and ligaments will start to stretch causing cramps. These are experienced more intensely especially when getting up from the bed, bathtub or chair and even when coughing. Constipation and heartburn can also cause cramps during the second trimester.

Pregnancy cramps in the third trimester can be intense and happen often. Your baby is almost fully grown by now and your uterus is starting to have trouble supporting it. Muscles will be stretched and under tension most of the time. Relieving this tension by resting and sitting in comfortable positions may help with the cramps.

Braxton-Hicks contractions are common by the end of the second and during the third trimester. These contractions are signs of false labor. Cramps resulting from these contractions are a sign that your body is getting ready for birth. The uterus will contract at irregular intervals, tightening the muscles around it. This is a normal process and should not post any reason of concern.

Problematic pregnancy cramps

There are some instances in which cramps during pregnancy can point out to problems. But these sort of cramps usually are very intense, painful and accompanied by other alarming symptoms like: heavy vaginal bleeding, belly tenderness, spotting, fever, sharp pains on one side or the other, dizziness or the presence of grape-like tissue in your discharge. Any of these combinations can lead to a miscarriage, signs of an ectopic or molar pregnancy. If you experience these symptoms along with cramping, consult your doctor immediately.

Period During Pregnancy

First, there is no such thing as a period during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and healthy, there is no way you can have a period. What you are experiencing is vaginal bleeding and it is a normal symptom of early pregnancy. There are indeed some cases in which menstruation can occur during pregnancy. These cases usually end in miscarriage or loss of pregnancy.

About vaginal bleeding

Often confused with a period during pregnancy, vaginal bleeding is very common in the early stages of the pregnancy. This can occur in the first trimester pretty frequently and usually there is no reason for concern.

After the egg has been fertilized by the sperm it will travel along the fallopian tubes into the uterus where it will implant and start dividing and growing. The embryo will get attached to the uterus anywhere between 5 and 10 days after conception. It is then when you will probably start experiencing vaginal bleeding.

There are a number of things that can explain vaginal bleeding.

The first is just a sign that the embryo has attached itself to your uterus. However, the bleeding should be light and not come close to the amount you would expect with a normal period. Hormones are a major factor that can lead to vaginal bleeding as well. Sudden changes in hormone levels and the introduction of new hormones into the system may lead to vaginal bleeding. The hormones may even start attacking the uterine wall, a condition called decidual bleeding. Reports show that even though it sounds scary, it does not present a risk factor for you or the baby’s health.

A subchorionic bleed may also be the culprit – a blood clot is formed at the end of the placenta, causing vaginal bleeding. While it usually goes away on its own, it is better to have your doctor check regularly with an ultrasound to make sure.

If you do experience vaginal bleeding, it is advisable to wear a pad and check the amount of blood. This is important, as you will be able to notice if there is a lot less blood than your normal period. If you notice too much blood, contact your doctor or go to the ER. Do not use tampons and avoid sexual intercourse if you experience any kind of bleeding until it stops.

There are however, some cases in which period during pregnancy will be experienced. About 15-20% of pregnancies end with a miscarriage. Experiencing bleeding after confirming being pregnant should be immediately reported to your doctor. If the bleeds are exactly like those experienced during your menstruation, then there are high chances that the pregnancy will terminate.

Ectopic and molar pregnancies may also be the reasons why you are still experiencing a period during pregnancy. In the case of ectopic pregnancies there is no chance to save the baby. Molar pregnancies may result in a multiple pregnancy (twins, for example) out of which one embryo may survive while the other will be nothing more than a lump of grape-shaped tissue.

Sex During Pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy is a very delicate matter with which couples confront themselves when expecting. They often dread talking about it, fearing not to upset one another or being ashamed to bring such a thing up. This could lead to unwanted and unnecessary frustrations.

Medical authorities worldwide agree that during a normal pregnancy, intercourse is safe. There is nothing that can directly affect the baby or the mother. From a psychological standpoint, sex is even recommended. Mothers tend to start believing that, as the pregnancy advances, they become less and less attractive and desirable. This usually happens in the second trimester of pregnancy when their sex drive is re-established.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, the mother will usually feel less sexually active. This happens because of all the changes that are taking place in her body in order to accommodate the new baby. During the second trimester there is an increase in blood flow in the pelvic area which can lead to an increase in sexual drive. By this time, the morning sickness, overall nausea and fatigue tend to make themselves less noticeable as well. During the third semester, the mother will become very fatigued due to the weight she has to carry around and the body preparing itself for birth. Also, many pregnant women have reported that during this final trimester they felt very self-conscious about their body and the way it looked.

The implications of sex during pregnancy affect both partners in a relationship. At first, they may be concerned whether it is safe or not. Probably the most common aspect they fear is causing a miscarriage by having sex. The baby is safely protected in the uterus and surrounded by amniotic fluid. The risk of a miscarriage is higher in the first trimester, but intercourse is not one of the causes.

There are some warning signs which can tell you that sex during pregnancy is not safe.

Most common of these signs are:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Broken water
  • Cramps or abdominal pain
  • A low lying placenta
  • Cervical weaknesses

If any of these symptoms occur, be sure to check with your doctor and stop any sexual activity until you do so. Also, conditions that your partner might suffer from, like genital warts for example, could cause some problems for the developing baby. Both anal sex and the mother receiving oral sex from her partner and getting air blown into her vagina are to be avoided during pregnancy.

Overall, sex during pregnancy is up to the mother and the father. There is no medical advice against it, apart from the complications presented above. The only real issues are mood swings and sudden drops in sex drive. But if there is an open line of communication between the partners, these things can be talked about and solved so that at the end of the day, both of them are happy and comfortable. There should be no worries about anything physiological regarding sex. The only aspect that demands attention is the psychological one.

Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

Pregnancy induced hypertension is a condition also known as gestational hypertension. Pre-eclampsia and proteinuria are also associated with the condition.

How does it happen?

Pregnancy induced hypertension is actually a result of high blood pressure. This happens when the pressure inside the arteries is higher than normal (hypertension) and it means that the blood is pushing against the walls of the arteries harder than usual. The modern-day term used to define hypertension during pregnancy is hypertensive disorder during pregnancy.

Hypertensive disorders manifest at four different levels resulting in four different conditions:

  • Gestational hypertension
  • Chronic hypertension
  • Preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • Chronic hypertension featuring preeclampsia and eclampsia

Pregnancy induced hypertension is detected in early prenatal visits – that is why it is important to have these as often as possible in order to avoid further complications.

Gestational hypertension usually appears around the 20th week of pregnancy – just about halfway through. The baby is now pretty big and taking up space in your uterus. The size of the baby or babies (multiple pregnancies) will stretch the uterus walls, putting pressure on the arteries that travel down to your legs. This extra pressure on the arteries can result in higher blood pressure and can lead to hypertension.

Symptoms associated with gestational hypertension include:

  • Raise in blood pressure
  • Blurry vision
  • Severe headaches
  • Vision spotting
  • Decreased amount of urine
  • Protein found in urine
  • Excessive and rapid weight gain

There is still a massive debate about the reasons that lead to hypertensive disorders during pregnancies. While genetic predisposition is unanimously supported, speculation surrounds placental and hormonal involvement or an underlying disease. One in every 14 pregnant women will experience gestational hypertension. The general physical condition of the mother may contribute to hypertension. Most affected women are those who are under age 20 or over age 35. A history of chronic hypertension in the family can lead to an increased predisposition toward the condition.

Other conditions that increase the risk of hypertension during pregnancy are:

  • Kidney diseases
  • Obesity or undernourishment
  • Heavy drug, alcohol and tobacco use
  • Immune system disorders (rheumatoid arthritis or lupus)
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets)

Diagnosis and treatment

Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) is diagnosed by your doctor in early prenatal visits. Your blood pressure, weight and urine are constantly monitored during these visits and they can all point out to possible hypertension disorders. If PIH is discovered or suspected, you and your baby will go through what is called a non-stress test. This test will monitor the baby’s heart rate while you will have to take a note every time it moves. By comparing heart rate changes of the baby, an accurate diagnosis can be made and treatment provided.

Ultrasounds also are a way of determining if there are reasons to worry or not. Treatment involves anything for longer rests to hypertensive medication. A diet may also be recommended to deal with the disorder. In extreme cases, magnesium is delivered through an IV and if the condition persists, the baby will have to be delivered prematurely. If left untreated it can lead to seizures, temporary kidney failure, maternal bleeding, liver problems, blood clotting and forced early delivery of a premature baby.

Pregnancy Spotting and Vaginal Bleeding

What is pregnancy spotting and what do you do if you experience spotting during pregnancy?

Spotting or vaginal bleeding is a small amount of blood that discharges through the vagina. It is usually brown, pink or dark red in color. You will not be bleeding a lot. Most of the time, you will see it on toilet paper as opposed to on your underwear.

If you are experiencing heavier bleeding during your pregnancy, you should contact your doctor immediately as you may need emergency medical treatment.

Implantation

Spotting is common during implantation (the first 7-10 days of your pregnancy). Most women mistake this for menstration anyway so there is usually no cause for concern when this happens.

Infection

Some women experience spotting if they have an infection such as yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases. This can cause the cervix to become inflamed and irritated.

Sex

If you had sex during pregnancy, this can be the cause for your spotting. During pregnancy, the cervix has more blood flowing to it because of the excess estrogen. So it is not unusual to experience spotting after sex.

Miscarriage or Ectopic Pregnancy

Spotting and bleeding, especially if accompanied by abdominal pain or cramping, can be the sign of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening because the embryo implants itself outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. If you have bleeding during your first trimester, make sure to let your doctor know.

The first trimester of pregnancy is the most volatile for the baby. If you have a heart beat after 9 weeks of pregnancy, the chance of you carrying the baby to term is about 90%.

Nearing Labor

When approaching labor, you will experience bleeding or spotting. This is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern. Again, if there is an excess amount of blood, you should get in touch with your practitioner immediately.

Tanning Beds During Pregnancy

As there are numerous things to avoid while pregnant, there may come a time when you wonder whether using tanning beds during pregnancy could have unwanted effects for you or your baby. In order to answer this question, we need to see how exactly tanning beds work and how do they affect our bodies.

How do tanning beds work and how do they affect us?

A tanning bed is a special device that emits UVA and UVB (ultraviolet) radiation, mimicking the sun’s effect on our skin. Their purpose is to get a sun tan when the weather is not suitable to get a natural one. There are some who believe that a tanning bed is actually healthier than sitting under the sun. Phosphor blend fluorescent lamps are usually used with a combination of reflection systems and filters to generate the cosmetic tan.

The only two known and demonstrated benefits of tanning beds are a controlled tanning environment and minimized risk of sunburn from overexposure. As for the risks of tanning beds, the main focus is on skin cancer. Studies have repeatedly shown that overexposure to ultraviolet radiation increases the chances of skin cancer. Apart from that, DNA mutations, slightly compromised immune system and wrinkling of the skin are also linked to ultraviolet radiation. Overuse of tanning beds is thought to triple the chances of developing the deadliest of skin cancers – melanoma.

How Tanning Can Effect Your Baby?

Using a tanning bed during a pregnancy poses a primary risk for you, first of all. But there is nothing to worry about if you know your limits, wear proper protection and avoid overexposure. However, there are some specialists who propose a few theories which may explain how tanning beds could harm your baby.

Although a tanning bed is properly ventilated, there is always the risk of overheating. A sudden, major increase in body temperature could expose your baby to hyperthermia. This in turn can lead to birth defects. It is advised that you use a tanning booth rather than a tanning bed and that you properly hydrate yourself and your skin.

Folic acid levels – a substance that is vital for a normal baby development – are thought to drop considerably during the use of a tanning bed. A folic acid deficiency may lead to your baby having spina bifida (split spine).

There are no written reports on these issues, however. Using tanning beds during pregnancy is thought by the medical community as being safe for the baby. This is because the ultraviolet light is not able to pierce through that much tissue and reach the baby. And even if it would reach it, the intensity would be too low in order to cause any damage. Also, it is a well known fact that a baby’s skin is fairly transparent throughout most of its life in the womb, making it even less likely that it could be affected.

The main concern is your skin and your health. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, whether it comes from the sun or a tanning bed – can lead to serious medical conditions. Talk with your doctor about using tanning beds during pregnancy.

Twin Pregnancy Symptoms & Causes

A twin pregnancy is a pretty demanding task, especially if it is your first pregnancy. There are many factors that can lead to twins and if you feel like you might be carrying more than just one baby, the proper way to confirm this is to visit your doctor.

Causes

During the first two weeks of pregnancy, eggs are produced by the mother and fertilized by the sperm. If one egg is produced and one sperm fertilizes it, it will result in one baby. But there are instances in which the egg splits in two. This results in an identical twins. There is another case in which your body produces more than one egg. When two eggs are produced and successfully fertilized, non-identical twins or fraternal twins are conceived. Fraternal twins are the most common kind of twins.

The main causes for a twin pregnancy nowadays are fertility treatments. If you are on any fertility drugs, you have a higher chance of having twins – either identical or non-identical or fraternal. This is because the fertility drugs give your body a boost and this may result in producing more than one egg or an existing egg to split in two.

In vitro fertilization or IVF is another common cause. Used as a treatment for infertility, this method consists of fertilizing egg cells with sperm outside the body (in vitro). Then the eggs are planted into the uterus. In order to have greater chances, more than one egg is usually fertilized and planted. This can lead to higher chances that two of them will start to develop into a twin pregnancy.

Also, you could be genetically predisposed to having twins. If there is a history of fraternal twins in your family, then chances are reasonably higher for you to have twins as well.

Symptoms and diagnosis

It is clear that by having twins, your body will have to put in double the effort than with a single baby. The weight problem is probably the most important and hard to deal with. As the twins grow, they will take more and more space in the uterus. But it will not be just them – two placentas will be there and double the amount of amniotic fluid. This can lead to your organs being pushed even farther than they would have with a single pregnancy. The need to go to the bathroom will occur more often, you will feel more tired and you will need to eat more in order to supply both of the babies with nutrients.

Hypertension is one common symptom for all pregnancies. But with a twin pregnancy, this could become a problem as the two babies will press on the arteries even more.

Diagnosis is fairly simple when it comes to twins. Blood tests can show multiple pregnancies. Later on, if you suspect you have twins, an ultrasound is the most common method of successfully diagnosing a multiple pregnancy.

Herpes and Pregnancy

Most women are concerned about herpes and pregnancy. Herpes in adults is a treatable condition. To infants however, it can lead to complications resulting in rare but serious illnesses.

What is herpes?

In order to understand the link between herpes and pregnancy, we first need to understand what herpes really is. Herpes, medically known as the herpes simplex virus, can take two forms: oral herpes or genital herpes. Oral herpes is also known as cold sores and it can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. In more than half the cases, the virus will remain asymptomatic. Visible symptoms include the sores that appear on the lips or around the mouth.

Genital herpes is the second form of the herpes simplex virus. It is a sexually-transmitted infection and it affects the mucous membranes and skin of the genitals. As with oral herpes, genital herpes can remain asymptomatic. This can be problematic as you can catch it and not even know it. Symptoms, apart from the visible blisters, can include: Fever; Decreased appetite; Muscle aches; Persistent sick feeling (malaise).

Cultures from the open sores or blisters will be taken in order to diagnose whether or not your are infected with herpes. Blood tests can also be used, but the most accurate test is the PCR test which searches for the herpes-related DNA.

There is no cure for herpes. Treatment for oral herpes involves acetaminophen and ibuprofen. It can be administered at home without involving a visit to your doctor. Drinking lots of fluids will prevent dehydration. Avoid contact in order not to transmit the condition. Genital herpes cannot be treated. There is medication that can help with the symptoms, but it can only heal the sores, not the condition itself.

Herpes and Pregnancy

The threat of a baby contracting herpes at birth is relatively low and it depends on many aspects. If the mother has a history of infections prior to conceiving, then the baby has less than a 1% chance of catching herpes during normal birth. However, if the mother becomes infected towards the end of the pregnancy for the very first time, the birth canal might be infected. When the baby is delivered, it can catch the herpes. This is because the mother did not have the chance to produce the natural antibodies for the herpes. If she would have gotten the condition prior to becoming pregnant, her antibodies would have passed through the placenta and into the baby’s organism, shielding it during birth from the virus.

If a baby indeed catches herpes, there is a chance that neonatal herpes will develop. Left untreated or undetected, this can lead to serious problems. Neonatal herpes can lead to anything from eye or throat infections to mental retardation, damage to the central nervous system and in very rare cases even death.

The baby is predisposed to developing neonatal herpes in the first 28 days of life. After that, antibodies might take care of the problem. The baby can catch the herpes not only during birth, but through contact with infected people as well.

Pregnancy Safety

If at any time whatsoever you are worried about your pregnancy then reach out for help from your doctor. Often times if there are complications a specialist can help deal and overcome them provided they find out as soon as possible.

Don’t worry! Everything almost always goes fine, yet it is best to be in close contact with your chosen doctor during this time.

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Jennifer Olson
A mother of three, lover of children and keeping them (and us adults!) as healthy as can be. I have worked as a midwife and nurse for 12 years. Email: [email protected]