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Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

Category: Fetal Testing

What Determines a Pregnancy High-Risk and What Can You Expect?

Pregnant woman with husbandMany women are concerned about health risks during pregnancy that may affect both themselves and their child. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a high-risk pregnancy is “one that threatens the health or life of the mother or her fetus.” But what are these risk factors, and how do you know if your pregnancy is high-risk? And if your pregnancy is high-risk, how will your prenatal course differ from a “normal” pregnancy? We will answer these questions below and provide some general advice for women during a high-risk pregnancy.

What Makes a Pregnancy High-Risk?

There are hundreds of factors that could raise the risk of any pregnancy. These factors can be broadly separated into controllable and uncontrollable categories. Controllable risk factors include problems like smoking or other substance abuse, obesity and poor diet. Examples of uncontrollable risk factors are maternal age, family medical history, preexisting diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and infections such as HIV. Read More

Pregnancy Week by Week: What to Expect at Your Prenatal Appointments Weeks 10-16

Your Pregnancy Weeks 10-16

pregnancy weeks 10-16Throughout the course of your pregnancy, you will see your doctor about 14 times, assuming all tests are reassuring that your baby is developing just fine. After your first prenatal visit and until week 28 you should plan to see the doctor once a month. Understanding what to expect with your pregnancy week-by-week will help you calm any fears you may have and make the best possible preparations. Here’s what you can expect during your pregnancy weeks 10-16:

Prenatal Appointments: Weeks 10 – 12

Your 2nd prenatal appointment occurs between your 10th and 12th week of pregnancy. Starting now, you’ll realize that almost every prenatal appointment starts with a nurse taking your weight and blood pressure and with a urine sample. The urine test looks for bacteria and high levels of sugar and protein in your system, which could indicate diabetes, urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or preeclampsia (high blood pressure). Preeclampsia typically occurs later in pregnancy if it occurs at all.
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An Overview of Your First Prenatal Visit

What to expect at the first prenatal appointment and Why it May Seem like a Marathon

first prenatal visit

On your mark, get set, go! With your obstetrician’s support, you’re on your way to the finish line where you will meet your new baby.  But what checkpoints, and potential roadblocks, does the road ahead hold for you? Once you leave the starting block, you and your obstetrician will navigate the road to motherhood together, starting with your first prenatal visit, which will feel more like a marathon rather than a sprint. At this first appointment, it will take more time than others because of the background information your doctor needs to discuss with you and the time you need to ask your questions.

At our office, we ask our patients to access the Athena Electronic Medical Record Portal available through our website two or three days before the first appointment, other providers may request the same information in different formats. This is an opportunity to have you carefully answer a series of questions that will help your obstetrician determine your due date and identify any potential risk factors.

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Understanding Group B Strep Screening

Between 35-37 weeks of pregnancy, every expecting mother should receive a group B streptococcus (GBS) screening. This requires a doctor to take a cell sample using a Q-Tip swab from your vagina and rectum to determine whether or not you are one of the 10-35% of women with the bacteria present in their digestive, urinary, or reproductive tracts.

It’s important that you receive the GBS screening, because there is a risk of passing the bacteria to your baby during delivery. GBS can cause serious problems in a newborn, even death.

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Special Fetal Testing in Your Third Trimester

The third trimester of pregnancy begins around week 28. With only three months left in your pregnancy, your prenatal appointments will pick up in frequency.  Instead of visiting the doctor every month, you’ll have an appointment every two weeks from week 28 through 36 and then every week throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

Many of the appointments during the third trimester are routine appointments, which means your vital signs and fundal height will be taken but little else will be done. The exceptions to this are the diabetes screening already discussed here on the blog, the group B strep screening that we’ll discuss in our next blog post, and special fetal testing that you may need or want. Read More

Prenatal Care at 28 Weeks: Diabetes Screening Test

There are two varieties of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 Diabetes results when your body does not produce

Exercise during pregnancy is recommended for all women, especially those with gestational diabetes.

insulin (this usually begins at an early age). Type 2 Diabetes results when your body does not respond to insulin and therefore produces more of it than usual. This type tends to begin later in life as a result of obesity and family history.

In terms of pregnant women, both types of diabetes are cause for concern. If you have diabetes before becoming pregnant (pregestational diabetes), then you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible about precautions to take throughout your pregnancy.

But even if you don’t have diabetes before pregnancy, you could develop it during (gestational diabetes). In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says gestational diabetes affects between 2-10% of pregnancies. Read More

Your Fourth Prenatal Appointment and Ultrasounds in Depth

The fourth prenatal appointment typically occurs between the 18h and 20th week of pregnancy. In my experience, most expecting couples look forward to this appointment the most. The reason for this anticipation is the anatomic scan, also called an ultrasound.

It must be noted that some doctor’s offices will administer an ultrasound earlier in the pregnancy (around 12 weeks) to determine the expected delivery date and confirm a healthy pregnancy. However, the ultrasound conducted after 18 weeks of pregnancy tends to reveal more information, including the sex of the baby or babies.

How an Ultrasound Works

Using what’s called a transducer either in the vagina or over the abdomen, the device converts sound waves into images of your uterus and growing baby. These images can be viewed on a computer or television screen in the room during the ultrasound. The process is painless and typically lasts about 20 minutes.

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