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Pregnancy Labor and Delivery

Signs of Labor

Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular contractions that prepare your body for true labor. They slow down when you move or walk around and are not as painful as true contractions. Braxton Hicks labor contractions are felt more in your abdomen. True labor contractions may be felt more in the back.

Before the onset of labor and delivery your body will give you signs that full blown labor is about to begin. One of the signs of labor is "Lightening" which is when your abdomen seems to drop thus the term. Your baby moves into position for birth. Indigestion will not be as apparent in labor.

Another of the labor signs is the release of the mucous plug. As the cervix begins to dilate or open up, there will be a mucous discharge. It may be tinges with blood or be pinkish in color. If you notice any bright red discharge call your health care provider immediately! You could be bleeding which could be a life threatening condition.

Just before labor begins you may experience "nesting", a sudden urge to clean or a burst of energy.

All of the above conditions can occur days or week before labor and indicate that labor is imminent.

Your membranes may rupture. When this happens you may feel a gush of fluid coming from your vagina. Call your health care provider immediately. You are in true labor. You'll need to be monitored as infection can set in causing danger to your baby. If you think you are too early to delivery it will be too late to stop the labor. Labor contractions will increase in frequency and pain after the rupture of the amniotic sac. With most women this does not occur until they are about to deliver.
 

Stage I of Childbirth

Famous Quote: "I don't know nothing 'bout birthing no babies". Where was it from?

Early Labor

Early labor is exciting at first as you realize that it is now time to have your baby and that childbirth is imminent. It is the longest part of labor and the easiest. Your cervix will dilate to four centimeters during this period. Contractions will last between 30 and 60 seconds and be 5 to 10 minutes apart. When you think you are in labor call your health care provider. The early stage of labor may last from 2 to 10 hours. You'll be instructed not to eat just in case an emergency cesarean section is needed.

Active Labor

During Active Labor you will dilate from 4 to 8 centimeters. Your contractions will be about 45 seconds in length and be about 2 minutes apart. As time goes on you will want to focus on what you are doing and become increasing irritable. This is the stage when nasty things are normally said to a partner. You mind is on childbirth or "getting your baby out!".

Transition

This is your shortest but most intense phase of labor. Your contractions will last from 45 to 60 seconds and be 1 to 2 minutes apart. Your baby will be here soon. Don't be surprised to hear a groan come out of your mouth. It happens to most women and is quite normal during childbirth. You may have uncontrollable trembling or feel cold. You may feel like you want to vomit. You are less concerned about modesty at this point. You may feel a loss of control over the situation or feel like you can't take another contraction. If offered medication you are most likely to take it.

Before the onset of labor and delivery your body will give you signs that full blown labor is about to begin. One of the signs of labor is "Lightening" which is when your abdomen seems to drop thus the term. Your baby moves into position for birth. Indigestion will not be as apparent in labor.

Another of the labor signs is the release of the mucous plug. As the cervix begins to dilate or open up, there will be a mucous discharge. It may be tinges with blood or be pinkish in color. If you notice any bright red discharge call your health care provider immediately! You could be bleeding which could be a life threatening condition.

Just before labor begins you may experience "nesting", a sudden urge to clean or a burst of energy.

All of the above conditions can occur days or week before labor and indicate that labor is imminent.

Your membranes may rupture. When this happens you may feel a gush of fluid coming from your vagina. Call your health care provider immediately. You are in true labor. You'll need to be monitored as infection can set in causing danger to your baby. If you think you are too early to delivery it will be too late to stop the labor. Labor contractions will increase in frequency and pain after the rupture of the amniotic sac. With most women this does not occur until they are about to deliver.

Stage II of Labor

At this stage your cervix is completely dilated and effaced. You may here the doctor say that you are 100% effaced and 10 centimeters dilated (approx. 4 inches). Contractions are between 3 and 5 minutes apart and last between 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. This is called the pushing stage. When you feel like pushing be sure to let the nurse or health care professional know immediately so that they can get everything ready. Don't push until your health care professional tells you to push. Your baby is pushed through the birth canal at this stage. The pushing can be short or take up to 2 hours depending on how many children you have had before. When your baby comes through the birth canal your doctor may ask you to stop pushing. This is necessary as he may have to clean out the baby's airways before continuing. Your baby is here. The cord is clamped and cut.

Stage III of Labor

The placenta is delivered during this stage. Contractions will continue. Your nurse may push on your abdomen to help expel the placenta or your health care professional may ask you to push once more. He or she will examine it to make sure that is intact.

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Top Ten Signs of Pregnancy

More on Pregnancy

  • MISSED PERIOD
  • TENDER BREASTS
  • NAUSEA
  • FATIGUE
  • FREQUENT URINATION
  • HEADACHES
  • SPOTTING
  • LIGHT HEADEDNESS
  • CONSTIPATION
  • HEARTBURN

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STAGES OF PREGNANCY & FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Women's Health

Pregnancy

The Stages of Pregnancy

It's certainly exciting to "watch" your baby grow as you progress through your pregnancy. And it's just as important to know what these changes mean and to track the changes that are happening with your baby and inside your own body.

There are three stages of pregnancy called trimesters:

  • First Trimester
    The first trimester of pregnancy lasts for three and a half months or 14 weeks. During this stage of pregnancy you may experience the dreaded morning sickness (which can occur anytime during the day and sore and enlarged breasts. During this stage it's vital that you get enough vitamins, minerals and nutrients as they are essential for growth and development. It's a good idea to consult with your health care provider to determine what is best for you.
Nutrition and Exercise
  • 2200 calories/day
  • Well balanced, healthy diets with adequate fiber promotes baby’s growth and mother’s energy and comfort
  • Take prenatal vitamins as prescribed
  • Avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco
  • Small, more frequent meals may help a nauseous woman get good nutrition
  • Many women can continue to exercise regularly.
  • Daily exercise that suits your level of fitness can help decrease fatigue and stress
  • Discuss your exercise habits with your health care provider
  • Avoid overheating and maintain good hydration during exercise
  • Second Trimester
    This second stage of pregnancy lasts until the end of the seventh month and is many times the easiest stage of pregnancy as most women will start to regain some of their energy. During this stage your stomach will begin to expand and those around you will start to notice that you are pregnant. At this time any feelings of morning sickness should dissipate, although some women may continue to experience it (usually to a lesser extent). At this point you may also feel your baby beginning to kick and move. If you wish, you can find out whether you are having a girl or boy.
Nutrition and Exercise
  • 2500 calories/day
  • Continue to maintain a well balanced diet with plenty of fiber
  • Continue to take prenatal vitamins if prescribed
  • Continue to avoid the use of alcohol
  • Modify your exercise regimen if needed to protect weight bearing joints, back and abdominal muscles
  • Take care with lifting and carrying
  • Third Trimester
    As you enter into the final trimester of your pregnancy you may notice that you feel more sensitive, emotional and anxious. Be rest assured, these feelings are very natural. It's common to begin worrying about about what kind of mother you are going to be. Many times, the increased size and weight of your baby can cause increased pain (often in your back), making you feel more uncomfortable and anxious.
Nutrition and Exercise
  • 2500 calories
  • You may need to resume small frequent feedings to prevent heartburn
  • Continue prenatal vitamins as prescribed
  • Continue to avoid the use of alcohol
  • Adequate hydration and avoiding overheating are important to protect the baby and you
  • Further modify your exercise regimen as needed to protect muscles and joints
  • Shortness of breath is common on exertion-You may need to reduce the intensity of your exercise regimen if you are becoming too winded
  • Stretch and tone to prepare for childbirth

     

Tracking Fetal Development

Fetal Development Fetal Organs
First Month (Embryo) Vital organs are forming and the brain and beginning of the spine are evident.
Fifth Week Heart begins to beat and circulate blood; arm and led buds emerge; brain, spinal cord, and nervous system are established.
Sixth Week Digestive system is forming and arms and legs begin to grow.
Seventh Week The umbilical cord joins the embryo to the placenta; long bones and internal organs are developing.
Second Month
(Fetus)
Human face, arms, legs, fingers, toes, elbows, knees, eyelids and bone cells are forming.
Twelfth Week Sex is distinguishable; fingers and toes are moving; teeth buds are present and the kidney and bladder form. Baby is 2-4" long and weighs an once or two.
Sixteenth Week Baby moves and kicks, sleeps and wakes, swallows; hair forms, digestion becomes active; fetus is pick in color and has a large.
20 Weeks Spurt in baby's growth; internal organs are maturing; hair, eyebrows and lashes are present; baby increases storage of iron. Baby is 8-12" long and weighs 1/2 pound.
24 Weeks Baby's skin is wrinkled; covered by lanugo and vernix; and baby has an audible heartbeat.
28 Weeks Most rapid growth; red and wrinkled; eyelids can open and close; baby storing large amounts of calcium and iron; fetus has a chance of surviving if born. Baby is 15" long and weighs 3 pounds.
32 Weeks Weight gain and rapid growth; settles in favorite position; valuable fat increases.
36 Weeks Baby gains 1/2 pound per week; bones of head are soft and flexible; baby has developed immunities. Baby is 18" long and weighs 6 pounds.
Birth
38-42 Weeks
Organs developed; respiratory system is mature.

 

 

 

 

Changes in Your Body

Besides the obvious change in appearance, there are many changes that will happen during your pregnancy–both physically and emotionally. We don't want you to be alarmed by these paind and discomforts, so we will explain them here as well as offer some suggestions for relief.

Nausea (morning sickness)

Early in pregnancy, many women get morning sickness. This is a feeling of being nauseated (feels like you want to throw up) and can include some vomiting. Even though it is called morning sickness, some women may feel sick at different times of the day.

What to do:

Constipation

Constipation (hard bowel movements) also may develop during pregnancy.

What to do:

Backache and Leg Pains

 

 

As your baby grows, your muscles stretch, causing strain on your back.
What to do:

Emotional Changes

During pregnancy, your hormones are changing. This may cause you to experience ups and downs. You may feel excited, tired, worried, or like you need to talk about everything that is happening to you.
 
What to do:
Remember that having a baby is a very personal experience. Everyone may have different kinds of feelings. If you are concerned about how you feel, please talk about it with your health care provider.

Heartburn

 

 

Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in your throat. As your baby grows, your digestion slows down. Also, toward the end of pregnancy, the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach. This can cause heartburn.

What to do:


Hemorrhoids (Piles)

Hemorrhoids may be caused by straining with a bowel movement, or by pressure on your rectum for the growing baby.

What to do:


Feeling Short of Breath

You may feel short of breath as the baby grows and fills up your abdomen. This puts pressure on your diaphragm, a muscle in your chest.

What to do:

Feeling Tired

Most women feel tired during the early and later weeks of pregnancy.

What to do:


Urinary Frequency

As the baby grows larger, your bladder will hold less and less urine.

What to do:

Vaginal Discharge

A vaginal discharge occurs normally during pregnancy, because of hormonal changes. A yellow or cheesy white discharge that is accompanied by itching or burning is not normal and needs to be reported to you health care provider.

What to do:


Swelling in Your Hands and Feet

Some mild swelling may occur from the increased weight of the baby and hormonal changes.

What to do: