There is a lot of information to absorb before, during, and after pregnancy. We have compiled some of the frequently asked questions all sourced from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment if you have further questions.
The RH Factor and how it can affect pregnancy: Just as there are different major blood groups, such as type A and type B, there also is an Rh factor. The Rh factor is a protein that can be present on the surface of red blood cells. Most people have the Rh factor—they are Rh positive. Others do not have the Rh factor—they are Rh negative.
How the RH Factor is obtained: The Rh factor is inherited—passed down through parents’ genes to their children. If the mother is Rh negative and the father is Rh positive, the fetus can inherit the Rh gene from the father and could be either Rh positive or Rh negative. If the mother and father are both Rh negative, the baby also will be Rh negative.
Problems caused by RH: The Rh factor can cause problems if you are Rh negative and your fetus is Rh positive. This is called Rh incompatibility. These problems usually do not occur in a first pregnancy, but they can occur in a later pregnancy.
Prenatal testing for genetic disorders: There are two types of tests. Screening tests assess the risk that a baby will be born with a specific birth defect or genetic disorder. Diagnostic tests can detect if a specific birth defect or genetic disorder is present in the fetus.
When screening tests are offered during pregnancy: Screening tests often are part of routine prenatal care and are done at different times during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Screening tests include blood tests that measure the level of certain substances in the mother’s blood combined with an ultrasound exam. These tests assess the risk that a baby will have Down syndrome and other trisomies, as well as neural tube defects.
When diagnostic tests are offered during pregnancy: Diagnostic tests may be recommended if a screening test shows an increased risk of a birth defect. Diagnostic testing also is offered as a first choice to all pregnant women, even those who do not have risk factors. Diagnostic tests can detect if a specific birth defect or genetic disorder is present.
Diabetes and Pregnancy: Pregnancy health care providers often call diabetes that is present before pregnancy “pregestational diabetes.” When the body does not make enough insulin or does not respond to it, glucose cannot get into cells and instead stays in the blood. As a result, the level of glucose in the blood increases. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the body and cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision problems, and kidney disease.
How does diabetes affect pregnancy:
If your diabetes is not managed well, you are at increased risk of several of the complications associated with diabetes. The following problems can occur in women with diabetes:
– Birth defects
– High blood pressure
– Hydramnios—In this condition, there is an increased amount of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby. It can lead to preterm labor and delivery
– Macrosomia (very large baby)—The baby receives too much glucose from the mother and can grow too large. A large baby can make delivery more difficult. A large baby also increases the risk of having a cesarean delivery.
How can diabetes affect a baby: Babies born to mothers with pregestational diabetes may have problems with breathing, low glucose levels, and jaundice. Most babies do well after birth, although some may need to spend time in a special care nursery. The good news is that with proper planning and control of your diabetes, you can decrease the risk of these problems.
Menopause: Menopause is the time in your life when you naturally stop having menstrual periods. Menopause happens when the ovaries stop making estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle. Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years. The average age that women go through menopause is 51 years.
Perimenopause: The years leading up to menopause. Beginning in your 30s and 40s, the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries begins to fluctuate. A common sign of perimenopause is a change in your menstrual cycle. Cycles may become longer than usual for you or become shorter. You may begin to skip periods. The amount of flow may become lighter or heavier. Although changes in menstrual bleeding are normal during perimenopause, you still should report them to your health care provider. Abnormal bleeding may be a sign of a problem.
Signs and symptoms of perminopause:
– Hot flashes—A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that rushes to the upper body and face. A hot flash may last from a few seconds to several minutes or longer. Some women have hot flashes a few times a month. Others have them several times a day. Hot flashes that happen at night (night sweats) may wake you up and cause you to feel tired and sluggish during the day.
– Sleep problems—You may have insomnia (trouble falling asleep), or you may wake up long before your usual time. Night sweats may disrupt your sleep.
– Vaginal and urinary tract changes—As estrogen levels decrease, the lining of the vagina may become thinner, dryer, and less elastic. Vaginal dryness may cause pain during sex. Vaginal infections also may occur more often. The urethracan become dry, inflamed, or irritated. This can cause more frequent urination and increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Preventing Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become thin, brittle, and weak. These changes can increase the risk of fractures. Fractures can lead to disability. Fractures caused by osteoporosis have been linked to an increased risk of death. Women are five times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
Risk factors for Osteoporosis:
– Certain medications
– Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
– Low calcium intake
– Vitamin D insufficiency
– Excess vitamin A
– High caffeine intake
– High salt intake
– Aluminum (in antacids)
– Alcohol (three or more drinks per day)
– Inadequate physical activity or being immobile
– Smoking (active or passive)
– Falling Being thin
Symptoms of Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms for decades. However, some signs and symptoms do occur as the disease progresses. As the spinal bones (vertebrae) weaken, they can fracture. Fracture in the front part of the spinal bones can result in loss of height or a slight curving of the spine. This type of spinal fracture often causes no pain. Sometimes, fractures of the spine can cause pain that travels from the back to the sides of the body.