..where little means a lot

What does gestational age and fetal age mean?

These terms are used to date your pregnancy. Gestational age refers to the length of time since your first day of your last menstrual period. If your gestational age is 5 weeks, this simply means it has been 5 weeks since the first day of your last period. Fetal age refers to the age of your baby, counting from the estimated date of conception. The gestational age is 2 weeks ahead of the fetal age. However doctors tend to rely on ultrasound reports and fundal measurements (measuring the height of your uterus done routinely at your prenatal visits) to cross-check the accuracy of your due date as well as ensuring your baby is developing on target. Most women prefer using gestational age over fetal age to keep track of their pregnancy.
How soon should I schedule my first appointment?

Studies have demonstrated the benefits of first-trimester prenatal care. That is why most doctors recommend that pregnant women be seen as soon as they realize that they are pregnant - typically 6-10 weeks after the start of the last menstrual period. This is even more important if you have not seen your doctor for a pre-pregnancy consultation. If your doctor does not consider it necessary to see you at this point, you may want to consider changing your caregiver - this person is clearly a little behind the times when it comes to understanding best practices in prenatal care.
I find myself worrying about every little ache and twinge. How can I tell what is normal and what is not?

Worrying kind of goes along with the territory of becoming a mum. Perhaps you are being prepared for the lifetime of worry that goes along with being a mother. You may find yourself less worried if you familiarize yourself with the list of situations when there is a definite source of concern (the theory being that if the symptom is not on the reasons to worry list, you can probably hold off pushing the panic button for now).

Is it normal to experience cramping after having sex?

Yes, that is your body's response to the oxytocin that is being released during orgasm. There is no need to worry about sex putting you into labor prematurely unless of course you are already at risk of premature labor. The other issue is again assuring: intercourse and orgasm during late pregnancy actually reduces the risk of preterm delivery in low risk patients
Do breasts really get bigger during pregnancy or is that a myth?

Most women find their breasts grow by one full cup size by the end of the first trimester and by another cup size by the time the baby arrives. Some women welcome these changes while some are not too thrilled with the change. It is a very individual thing.
What are the tell-tale signs of vaginal infection?

If your vaginal discharge becomes foul smelling, thick, yellow or greenish or if it causes itching or burning, then you have it. Treatment should be sought promptly because certain types of infection increase your chances of experiencing premature birth and because you don't want to pass on an infection such as yeast infection to your baby during birth.

Are yeast infections dangerous to the baby?

They are not dangerous to the developing baby but they can interfere with breastfeeding if baby acquires the yeast infection during the birth process and develops thrush. Thrush can lead to nipple soreness in the mother. It can also cause baby to develop yeast based diaper rash that can be very painful and extremely difficult to get rid of. With a sore perineum, labor is going to be even more painful. Fortunately there are all kinds of effective products to treat this infection. Check with your doctor on what is suitable for you.
What is fetal fibronectin test or fFN?

This is a diagnostic test used for predicting the risk of going into premature labor. It is similar in procedure to a pap smear and is performed between weeks 24 and 34 and when there are symptoms of preterm labor. The test can only be conducted on intact membranes and when cervical dilation is minimal (i.e. less than 3 cm). It is an expensive procedure and is not routinely offered to every pregnant woman.
What is salivary estriol test?

Its brand name is SalEst; as the name suggests it is a saliva test performed between weeks 22 and 36. The accuracy is 98% in identifying low risk candidates but only 9-20% in highlighting those who are risk. This test is cheaper than the FFN test.
I have itchy, inflamed patches of skin under my breasts and abdomen. How can this be treated?

This seems like a skin rash caused by a fungal infection that is prevalent when folds of skins are in close contact and prevents sweat from evaporating naturally. Overweight women are more prone and the affected areas are usually under the breasts and the groin area. Antifungal cream is able to treat this problem. You can prevent intertrigo by washing the areas often and powdering with talcum powder or cornstarch. If the itching is severe calamine lotion along with the antifungal cream may help. Consult your doctor on medicated creams.

I am a fit person but of late I can't seem to handle even a flight of stairs. Is this normal?

The breathlessness is a common third trimester complaint. Your growing uterus is causing pressure on the diaphragm. However the hormone progesterone, is helping you by causing you to breathe more deeply. This ensures your baby receives plenty of oxygen despite your diminished lung capacity. Although there is no cure other than giving birth, there are a couple of things you do to ease the situation. Make a habit of sitting and standing with your back straight and your shoulders back. Prop yourself on a pile of pillows or lie on your side so that some of the pressure will be taken off the diaphragm when you are resting in bed. However there isn't much you can do to reduce your breathlessness when taking a flight of stairs, besides climbing slowly.
What does the test involve?

A woman is typically tested between weeks 35 & 37; there is some controversy on the timing because although she may test negative earlier she may in fact be tested positive at the time of labor. Some doctors forgo the screening and treat any pregnant woman with the following risk factors with antibiotics during labor:

1. Preterm labor
2. Preterm rupture of membranes
3. Prolonged rupture of membranes (membranes have been ruptured for more than 18 hours before baby is born)
4. Has previously delivered baby with GBS
5. Has fever during labor
6. Has previously tested positive for GBS in a prenatal urine culture (Note: a woman tested positive for Strep B but undergoing C-section need not be on antibiotics during labor if her delivery occurs before labor begins or rupture of membranes occurs)
Will castor oil speed up the labor process?

While there is some truth in this, it is not recommended because taking castor oil may trigger some powerful bowel cramps that will only add to your misery during labor.
Is it safe to use herbal products to induce labor?

No. It is not a good idea to use herbal products to induce labor. Herbal products have not been standardized in dosage and potency for you to have an accurate sense of how much you should take. Secondly you risk triggering contractions that can be very strong - strong enough to cause the placenta to separate prematurely from the uterine wall causing a medical emergency for you and your baby.
What is the difference between being postdate and being overdue?

Ten percent of all babies don't arrive until at least 2 weeks past their due date; these are described as postdate. Overdue pregnancy is one where baby arrives a little after its due date.
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