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Q. How late into your pregnancy can you get a pedicure?
A. Until the doctor says it's time to push! Seriously, though, you can get a pedicure right up until the very end if you so desire. I was sure to have my toes done a few days before each of my due dates. Not only will your toes get a full viewing while being up in the stirrups, but also afterwards when you have visitors in the hospital and your feet will most likely be propped up on the bed. Who wants to stare at gnarly, long, yellowing toenails?
Q. My husband has been pushing me to get pregnant for years. I am only 29 and don't feel ready. I work with children but really don't want any of my own. However, in order to appease my husband I went off the pill. I found out I am pregnant last night. I immediately got very angry and have been in tears ever since. He is ecstatic. When will the hormones that make me want this baby kick in? Right now I feel so guilty because I find myself hoping for a miscarriage.
-Anonymous, South Carolina
A. Entering into any kind of life-altering situation like marriage or pregnancy against your will can be extremely stressful and potentially damaging to your relationship. Since you've already jumped in and gotten pregnant, it's going to be a little tougher for your marriage to weather the storm of pregnancy. The horror-mones of pregnancy can make you very moody, resentful and uncomfortable. Maybe before these horror-mones really kick in you can try to work out the issues underlying why you didn't want to get pregnant in the first place. Identifying the reasons for your feelings may help you work through them and accept, and maybe eventually embrace, your current pregnancy. A history of an unhappy childhood, worries about the future state of the world or doubts about your relationship can all contribute to not wanting children of your own. You might try seeking the help of a marriage counselor to work through your issues.
Once you have cleared the air with your husband, you will more easily be able to enjoy your pregnancy and look forward to the birth of your new family member. This little person was made possible by you and your husband and will bring you more joy and love than you could ever imagine. It's impossible to describe this kind of love. The closest description I can give is to take the most passionate love of your life (like that guy who made you sick to your stomach every night you were apart and put you on a pedestal of wild butterflies every moment you spent together) and multiply that feeling by a gazillion. No, that still doesn't quite describe it. It's something that can only be achieved through experience. It's like standing outside a huge cathedral with magnificent stained glass- that you can only see from the inside.
Some women experience a growing love for their babies the moment they conceive. Others notice it when they first feel the baby move. And some women don't really have an attachment to their babies until after the birth. It's a different experience for everyone.
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Q. Can a pregnancy last for exactly 10 months?
A. In my book, yes. If you count every four weeks as one month and the gestational period is 40 weeks, then pregnancy is 10 months long. In actuality, the real gestational period is 38 weeks if you start from the day of conception.
When doctors gauge your due date, they start counting from the first day of your last period. Of course there is no way you could be pregnant then because, chances are, you wouldn't be ovulating for another 12 to 14 days. I always thought that "week one" of the pregnancy started at conception, but this is not the case. Well, if the doctors want to tack on another two weeks, let them. Then it seems like a lot less time to wait out the 40 weeks.
Q. Is there a difference in a woman's hips spreading permanently postpartum if she delivers naturally vs. by Cesarean?
A. I think a permanent spreading or widening of the hips due to pregnancy depends on numerous factors. For example, if a Cesarean section is performed before a woman goes into labor, the chances for the pelvis bone opening up are greatly decreased. Also, if your mother got wider hips after childbirth, then your chances for the same increase.
I personally had a Cesarean section the first time because my pelvis didn't open up enough to allow the baby to pass. Afterwards, I found my hips to be wider anyway. After my second childbirth experience, my pelvis did open and I succeeding in having a VBAC. My hips got wider still, as did my mother's when she gave birth. Ah well, just chalk it up to another battle scar of pregnancy, I always say!
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Q. I'm 18 weeks pregnant with my first child and have had hiccups for the entire pregnancy, all day long. Sometimes I get relief for about 15 minutes or so. My doctor has never heard of this. I've had no morning sickness or heartburn yet. Any ideas what this could be and how to get relief?
A. The cause of hiccups is often unknown, but sometimes a case is brought on by a specific trigger. Triggers, especially those that put pressure on the diaphragm, are known to start an attack of hiccups. Some of these triggers may include: eating too quickly, eating spicy foods, indigestion, alcohol consumption, drinking carbonated drinks, smoking cigarettes, stress and pregnancy.
It's possible that the combination of the horror-mones of pregnancy and the increasing pressure of the uterus pushing on the diaphragm is the trigger for your hiccups.
Having hiccups is not physically harmful, but a prolonged case, especially if it disturbs your sleep, may cause severe exhaustion. You might try a few "cures" to see what may work best for you.
Some (supposed) hiccup cures are to: hold your breath for as long as possible, take several deep breaths, breathe into a paper bag for one minute, eat fresh ginger, suck on a lemon, drink hot water with honey, eat a spoonful of sugar, drink a glass of water slowly, eat ice, gargle with water, sit down and lean forward over your knees or have someone to give you a fright.
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Q. I have always had irregular periods and my last one was at the end of January 2004. I have not had a period for so long and thus have not shed my uterine lining. I just took a home pregnancy test and it is positive. What are the risks associated with this pregnancy?
A. In my opinion, there should be no risk to your pregnancy because you have not shed your uterine lining in quite a while. I've been unable to find reports or studies that show any health benefits to having a regular period and shedding the uterine lining vs. a semi-annual shedding. The risk associated with having a semi-annual period is that it's much harder to pinpoint ovulation and get pregnant. It's obvious you don't need to worry about that anymore.
Q. The first week I was pregnant, I felt a discomfort in my chest. It felt like my heart was working too hard. For the first three months of my pregnancy my heart would race out of control. Then that changed into irregular heartbeats. I saw a cardiologist and he said my heart was fine after some tests and I had PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions). He said that it could be hormonal. I had the irregular heartbeats up until l had my baby and a few days after. They seem to be going away now. I never had any problems like this before. Have you heard of this?
A. I, too, remember having heart palpitations during pregnancy. Every time I climbed the stairs my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I later learned that these PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) are very common in pregnancy. This irregular heartbeat is triggered by the increase of progesterone, which increases blood volume and the stroke volume of the heart. If your symptoms are accompanied by dizziness or shortness of breath, or if you have a history of cardiac problems, you should see a doctor immediately. For most women this is completely normal, yet irritating, and should disappear shortly after the baby is born.
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Q. I am 34 weeks pregnant. I have been experiencing some severe pain in my pelvic and vaginal area in the past few weeks. My doctor said that the baby's head was down in my pelvic area and causing the discomfort. The doctor checked to see if I was dilated. Is this how they came to believe that it was the baby's head or did they just guess at what was causing the pain? Is it possible for doctors to feel the baby's head when they check to see if you are dilated?
A. Severe pain in the pelvic area can be caused by pressure from the baby's head, contractions that cause dilation or both. When a doctor feels the cervix to check on dilation, he or she can also feel if the baby's head is engaged or not. A head that is not engaged will slip backwards when pushed on, while the engaged head will remain stationary. The good news is, you're locked and loaded, ready to go. If you're really lucky you may even go early and not have to endure this pelvic pain much longer.
Q. I am 36 1/2 weeks pregnant with my third child. I went in for my check-up and found out that my fundus height is not up to par. My doctor sent me to have an ultrasound and I found out that our baby is only 4lbs., 2oz. My other two were 6.2 and 6.4. I also have low amniotic fluid and the baby is in a footling breech position. I'm being monitored every 3-4 days with Non-Stress Tests and ultrasounds. I do not drink, smoke, etc. Everything is normal with the baby except the weight. What would be the cause of low fluid? My doctor wants me to increase my sodium and do kick counts. I am a little out of sorts because I had completely normal pregnancies and deliveries the first two times.
A. It's not always known what causes low amniotic fluid or oligohydramnios. Some causes in the third trimester can be due to:
- Leaky or ruptured membranes - You might have a small tear in the amniotic sac that allows fluid to leak out. The tear may heal on its own and the fluid will return to normal. Otherwise, your practitioner will need to watch you carefully for the rest of your pregnancy. As long as there are no signs of infection and all is well, you and your baby should be fine.
- Placenta problems - The placenta may have a problem that keeps it from supplying enough blood and nutrients to the baby, which could cause the baby to stop recycling fluid. If you're diagnosed with this kind of problem you may be told to go on bed rest to try to preserve as much fluid as possible.
- Medications - Certain drugs may cause oligohydramnios, including ACE inhibitors (used for management of high blood pressure) and prostaglandin inhibitors such as indomethacin or ibuprofen. As with most drugs during pregnancy, these should be avoided.
When you're near delivery, low fluid may increase your risk for complications during labor. The fluid may get so low that your baby will compress the umbilical cord and cut off the oxygen supply. If your practitioner thinks your baby is at risk, labor may be induced. If your doctor believes that labor will cause further constriction of the cord, you might have a Cesarean delivery.
Try not to worry. With close monitoring, as your doctor is practicing, you have a very good chance for delivering a perfectly healthy baby.
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Q. I have had four children and I know your cervix is always dilated to 1 after having a vaginal birth. I'm TTC (Trying To Conceive) #5 and wondering how I tell what my cervix does during a fertility cycle. Will mine also open when ovulating and then close back up? Is it more closed if I'm pregnant? When does this happen – right before I find out I'm pregnant or into the pregnancy?
A. Normally, your cervix opens and changes position at the time of ovulation. During ovulation, your cervix is slightly higher, softer and open. The cervix closes shortly after ovulation and the discharge of cervical mucous, signaling the end of your fertile time. It then opens again slightly about two weeks later to allow for menstrual blood to pass. If menstruation does not happen, pregnancy is a possibility. During pregnancy, the cervix is closed and quickly becomes quite engorged with blood. I think it most resembles an over-ripe plum.
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