Friday, December 24, 2010

23 Weeks Pregnant: Surviving Bed Rest

Occasionally, pregnancy complications dictate that you slow down ... quite a bit. Your doctor may recommend that you go on partial or full bed rest. Find out what this means and what you can do to get through it.

You're feeling like a human jungle gym! It's a rockin' and rollin' in there! Since there's still room to move, that little guy or gal is using it all! Somewhere around now, you may have an internal exam to check your cervix for risk of preterm labor.

Pregnancy Week 23: All About You

As your baby bump gets more noticeable, so will your aches and pains. Added weight puts pressure on your back, often leading to soreness. Your feet and ankles can swell, especially if you haven't been able to take a break during the day. You may find your appetite increases but that your digestive system is off. Your digestion slows in pregnancy, and your stomach is forced upward as your baby-to-be needs growing room. Both problems mean you may have frequent heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and flatulence. But your discomfort won't last forever—you're well past the midpoint of your pregnancy!

Bed Rest

Forty weeks can seem like forever, especially when you can no longer see your toes and you're taking bathroom breaks every hour (even at night). But your baby-to-be needs time to grow and develop within your uterus so that she/he'll be healthy and strong when she/he first greets you. In some pregnancies, however, your body may want to push the baby out before your 40 weeks are up. About six to seven percent of all pregnant women go into preterm labour, sometimes in the second but more often in the third trimester. Any contractions that lead to the cervix beginning to open before week 37 are considered preterm labour.

There are several risk factors and reasons why you may experience preterm labour pains. Sometimes physicians are able to pinpoint what's happening with preterm labour, but often doctors aren't sure why women go into labour early. If you're experiencing preterm labour pains, your healthcare provider may take several steps to keep your baby-to-be delivery day from happening too soon.

Restrictions and bed rest: Depending on the severity of your labour pains your healthcare provider can suggest a range of strategies to prevent labour. First your provider may try to pinpoint any changes in your lifestyle or diet that could be modified. For instance, dehydration can lead to preterm labour pains, according to Dr. William Camann, MD, director of obstetric anaesthesia at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and co-author of Easy Labour. By drinking plenty of water and slowing down more, your labour pains may slow down too.

If, however, your labour pains are more severe, your healthcare provider may put you on bed rest. There are several reasons why bed rest can delay labour. First, with your feet raised and your body relaxed there's less pressure on your cervix. Simply standing creates force on your cervix from the weight of your baby pushing down. Putting your feet up relieves pressure on your cervix and on all your internal organs. Lying down also aids blood flow, making it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.

Labour-preventing medications and monitoring: When bed rest alone doesn't prevent preterm labour pains, your healthcare provider may give you medications that will. Often you can take these medications at home. Depending on your circumstances, your healthcare provider may also give you at-home, contraction-monitoring machines.

Hospitalization: If bed rest and medications fail to keep your labour pains away, or if there are other complications, you may be hospitalized so you can be under constant care.

Surviving bed rest: Bed rest can be tedious. You may feel fine and able to get up and move around, but it's important you follow your doctor's guidelines to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Try the following to make bed rest more bearable:

Enlist the help of friends and family. Get your friends and family involved with your care. They can come over and keep you company during the day. Perhaps you have other children that will need to be cared for while you're in bed. Let them know what you need and allow them to help you.

Talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor needs to know how you're feeling. She'll expect to hear a few complaints during your time on bed rest.

Join a support group. Your doctor may give you information on support groups in your area where you can talk to others who've experienced difficult pregnancies. Or, visit sidelines.org to find local support groups on your own.

Bed rest doesn't have to be all bad. You may finally have time to read all those novels you've been talking about. Maybe there's an online course you've been meaning to take. Try to look on the bright side—it won't last forever, and at the end you'll have someone else to cuddle with you the next time you're in bed.

Pregnancy Week 23: All About Baby

Twenty-three weeks marks an important point for your unborn baby. Your baby-to-be is far enough along in his development that he could have a chance at survival outside the womb.

According to the March of Dimes, of all babies born at 23 weeks, 25 to 35 percent survive. This number goes up considerably when you add just a couple weeks: roughly 50 to 70 percent of all babies born at 24 to 25 weeks survive. And 90 percent of all babies born at 26 to 27 weeks survive.

Although all of your baby-to-be's internal systems are in place, he needs more time for those intricate systems to mature.

How Big Is Baby?

Baby is about 11 inches long (crown to heel) and weighs around 1 pound. He's about the size of a mango.

Most Common Pregnancy Questions

Pregnancy can induce several different types of vaginal discharge, and most of the time, these discharges are normal. Increased blood flow to your vagina coupled with increased oestrogen can cause you to experience a whitish, mucous discharge known as leucorrhoea. Leucorrhoea is experienced by many women, even when they are not pregnant, at different times in their cycles.

If you experience discharge that causes itching or you notice that your labia are red, you may have a yeast infection. Before you treat yourself with an over-the-counter product, always check with your doctor. It may be a common yeast infection or something else requiring different treatment. If the discharge has a foul odour or is yellow or green, it may be sign of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other infection.

To avoid or manage a yeast infection, try these tips:

Wear panty liners to absorb discharge

Always wipe from front to back

Wear cotton panties to help with good airflow to the area

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Don't use scented sprays or wipes

Never douche!

Check with your healthcare provider if you have questions and before pursuing any form of treatment

If you see any blood mixed with any vaginal discharge, let your practitioner know right away. This may be a sign that you are going into labour. You should also contact your healthcare provider if the discharge is thin and clear, as you may have broken your water.

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