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Health Library

Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Category: Pregnancy and childbirth

Abnormal Pap Test While Pregnant
Pregnancy doesn't seem to increase the progression of abnormal cervical cell changes. Having abnormal cervical cell changes or HPV doesn't affect the outcome of the pregnancy. Close monitoring is needed so that you and your health professional can make the best treatment decisions at each stage of the pregnancy. An...

Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy
While you are pregnant, you may have common problems that aren't caused by your pregnancy, like a cold or the flu. Or you may have a mild headache, mild fever, or backache. These minor symptoms generally don't cause problems. In general, doctors say it's usually safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain...

After Childbirth: Coping and Adjusting at Home With Your Baby
It's easy to get too tired and overwhelmed during your first weeks after childbirth. Be sure to rest whenever you can, and accept help from others. Be kind to yourself. Your new baby takes a lot of work, but your baby can give you a lot of pleasure too. Don't worry about chores for a while. Allow your friends or family...

After Childbirth: Pelvic Bone Problems
You may have pelvic bone problems after childbirth. Some problems include: Pelvic girdle pain. During pregnancy the extra weight from your growing baby puts more strain on your pelvic bones and joints. This can cause pain and discomfort. After childbirth the pain usually improves over several months. Separated pubic...

After Childbirth: Urination and Bowel Problems
It may be difficult to urinate for a day or two after delivery. And you may urinate more than usual for days or weeks after delivery. Your body is getting rid of the extra fluid from pregnancy. You may also sweat heavily as you lose the extra fluid. If you had an incision ( episiotomy) or a tear in your vagina during...

Alcohol or Drug Use During Pregnancy
One of the most important things you can do when you're pregnant is to avoid alcohol and drugs. During pregnancy, everything you eat, drink, or take into your body affects you and your growing baby. Using alcohol or drugs while you're pregnant can cause serious problems. It can cause problems for you during your...

Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) Test
An alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test checks the level of AFP in a pregnant woman's blood. AFP is a substance made in the liver of an unborn baby (fetus). The amount of AFP in the blood of a pregnant woman can help see whether the baby may have such problems as spina bifida and anencephaly. An AFP test can also be done...

Amniocentesis
Amniocentesis is a test to look at the fluid that surrounds your baby ( fetus) in the uterus. Amniotic fluid has cells and other substances that can give clues about the health of your fetus. For this test, a needle is put gently through your belly into your uterus. About 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of fluid is taken out and looked...

Anemia During Pregnancy
Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Anemia can happen when you're pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow. Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common. Sometimes anemia during pregnancy can be...

Antiphospholipid Syndrome and Pregnancy
Antiphospholipid syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease that has been closely linked to some cases of recurrent miscarriage. This syndrome increases blood clotting. It can cause dangerous blood clots (thrombosis) and problems with blood flow. Sometimes the only sign of this syndrome is an early miscarriage. Or, later in...

Antisperm Antibody Test
An antisperm antibody test looks for special proteins ( antibodies) that fight against sperm in blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. The test uses a sample of sperm and adds a substance that binds only to affected sperm. Semen can cause an immune system response. The antibodies can damage or kill sperm. If a high number of...

Anxiety During and After Pregnancy
This article discusses anxiety during and after pregnancy, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Covers self-care at home.

Artificial Rupture of the Membranes
When you are pregnant, your membranes may break or rupture. This means that a hole or tear forms in the fluid-filled bag that surrounds and protects your baby. It usually happens when you are in labor or close to labor. When it happens, women often say their "water broke." The chemicals in the amniotic fluid may help...

Asthma During Pregnancy
Covers questions about asthma during pregnancy and labor. Looks at treatment with medicines. Includes treatment of allergies. Covers safety of steroids for pregnant mother and baby.

Automated Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
Your doctor might ask you to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor after measuring your blood pressure in the doctor's office, to make sure that you actually have high blood pressure. This is because your blood pressure can change during the day. And sometimes blood pressure is higher only because you are seeing a...

Avoiding Mercury in Fish
Mercury is a metal found naturally in the air, soil, and water. Fish can take in mercury from water. When you eat fish containing mercury, you can also take in the mercury. The metal builds up in your bloodstream over time. It slowly leaves the body through urine, stool, and breast milk. For most people, eating a small...

Baby Blues
Many women get postpartum blues, also called the "baby blues," during the first few days after childbirth. They may lose sleep, feel irritable, cry easily, and feel happy one minute and sad the next. Hormone changes are one cause of these emotional changes. Also, the demands of a new baby, coupled with visits from...

Back Pain During Pregnancy
Offers tips and exercises for easing back pain during pregnancy. Explains when to seek help for back pain during pregnancy.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Tracking
Explains how basal body temperature (BBT) tracking can help pinpoint ovulation. Describes how to make a chart and track BBT.

Bed Rest for Preterm Labor
Expectant management is the close monitoring of a pregnancy for complications. It may involve some bed rest at home or in the hospital. Being on expectant management may mean you are advised to stop working, reduce your activity level, or possibly spend a lot of time resting (partial bed rest). There is no evidence that...

Bed Rest in Pregnancy
What is bed rest? Bed rest is limiting physical activity during your pregnancy. It can last a few weeks or even months. It may be at home or in the hospital. Your doctor may put you on partial bed rest or full bed rest. Partial bed rest usually means it's usually okay to sit, stand, or walk around for short periods of...

Biophysical Profile (BPP) Test
Discusses biophysical profile (BPP) or fetal biophysical profile (FBP), tests that measure a baby's health during pregnancy. Covers nonstress test with electronic fetal heart rate monitoring and fetal ultrasound. Discusses what results mean.

Birth Defects Testing
What is birth defects testing? Birth defects testing is done during pregnancy to look for possible problems with the baby (fetus). A birth defect may have only a minor impact on a child's life. Or it can have a major effect on quality or length of life. You and your doctor can choose from many tests. You may have no...

Blood Type Test
Blood type tests are done before a person gets a blood transfusion and to check a pregnant woman's blood type. Human blood is typed by certain markers (called antigens) on the surface of red blood cells. Blood type tests may also be done to see if two people are likely to be blood relatives. The most important antigens...

Braxton Hicks Contractions
During the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you may notice times when your belly tightens and becomes firm to the touch and then relaxes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions. Think of them as "warm-up" exercises for your uterus. These contractions may be so mild that you rarely notice them. Or they...

Breast Cancer Treatment During Pregnancy (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI]
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes. Each lobe has many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can make milk. The lobes, lobules, and...

Breast Changes During Pregnancy
As the rest of your body changes during pregnancy, your breasts change too. They are getting ready to make and supply milk for your baby. First-trimester changes In the first trimester (weeks 1 to 13): Your breasts may start to feel swollen and tender. Your nipples may stick out more than usual. Your breasts may start...

Breast Engorgement
Breast engorgement means your breasts are painfully overfull of milk. This usually occurs when you are making more milk than your baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen, which can make it hard for your baby to breastfeed. Engorgement...

Breastfeeding and Your Milk Supply
A number of things affect how much milk your breasts make (your milk supply). The two most important things are how often you breastfeed and how well your breast is emptied. Breastfeeding stimulates the hormone that prepares your breasts to make milk ( prolactin). So the more often you feed your baby and empty your...

Breastfeeding: Choosing a Breast Pump
A breast pump is a device that allows you to empty milk from your breasts whenever you want to or need to. Then you can store the milk for later. You can also express breast milk by hand ( manual expression). But it takes longer to completely empty a breast this way. Pumps work faster and can be operated by hand, with...

Breastfeeding: Planning Ahead
Provides tips for how to prepare for breastfeeding. Covers talking with your doctor or a lactation consultant, taking a class, connecting with the birthing center, and gathering supplies and support.

Breastfeeding: Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Guides through decision to breastfeed. Discusses common concerns and issues related to breastfeeding. Links to personal stories. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Breastfeeding: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs
If you are breastfeeding, many things that you eat, drink, or take into your body end up in your breast milk. Some of these things may harm your baby. Tobacco and nicotine. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce your milk production. It also may make your baby fussy. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke...

Breathing Techniques for Childbirth
During childbirth, breathing in a rhythm can help distract you from pain. It can also help relax your muscles and your mind. As your due date gets closer, you can learn and practice different ways of doing focused breathing, such as belly breathing and pant-pant-blow breathing. Childbirth classes can also teach you...

Breech Position and Breech Birth
What is breech position? During most of pregnancy, there is enough room in the uterus for the baby (fetus) to change position. By 36 weeks of pregnancy, most babies turn into a head-down position. This is the normal and safest fetal position for birth. But in about 4 out of 100 births, the baby doesn't naturally turn...

COVID-19: Advice if You're Planning a Pregnancy, Pregnant, Recently Pregnant, or Breastfeeding
There are things you can do to protect your health and the health of your baby. Experts recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant, were recently pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you're pregnant or were recently pregnant You are at higher risk for getting seriously ill from...

Caffeine During Pregnancy
Many women have caffeine during pregnancy. And in small amounts, caffeine is safe for the baby. It's a good idea to keep your caffeine intake below 200 mg a day, because: More caffeine may be connected to a higher rate of miscarriage. There is not enough evidence to know for sure. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it...

Cancer During Pregnancy
Sometimes cancer and pregnancy can happen at the same time. The type of cancer treatment used during pregnancy depends on a number of things, including: How far along the pregnancy is ( gestational age). The type and location of the cancer. How advanced the cancer is. How rapidly the cancer is developing. Whether there...

Cell-Free DNA Test
Cell-free fetal DNA is a screening test to look for certain birth defects in a fetus. It's done to find birth defects caused by an abnormal number of chromosomes. It also can reveal the sex and blood type of the fetus. This is a blood test for the mother. The test can be done as early as 10 weeks in the pregnancy. If...

Cervical Cerclage
Cervical cerclage (say "SER-vuh-kul ser-KLAZH") is a procedure that helps keep the cervix from opening too soon before delivery. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. It leads to the vagina. During pregnancy, it is tightly closed to protect the baby. Normally, it doesn't open until the baby is ready to be born...

Cervical Effacement and Dilatation
Effacement and dilation allow a baby to be born through the birth canal. Effacement means that the cervix stretches and gets thinner. Dilation means that the cervix opens. As labor nears, the cervix may start to thin (efface) and open (dilate). This prepares the cervix for the baby to pass through the birth canal...

Cervical Insufficiency
What is cervical insufficiency? Cervical insufficiency means that the cervix can't stay tightly closed during the second trimester of pregnancy. Instead, the cervix opens (dilates) with little or no pain, usually before 24 weeks. This can lead to miscarriage or birth of a premature baby. You may also hear this condition...

Cesarean Section
What is a cesarean section (C-section)? A cesarean section is the delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) in the mother's belly and uterus. It's often called a C-section. Sometimes a C-section is needed for the safety of the mother or baby. When is a C-section needed? In most cases, doctors do a C-section because of...

Childbirth Classes
A childbirth education class can teach you and your partner a lot. This is especially true if it's your first pregnancy. If a friend is going to be your labor coach, they can come too. A good time to start the class is in your sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. Most childbirth education classes will: Give you good...

Childbirth Pain Relief Options
Learn about pain relief options for childbirth, including medical and nonmedical options.

Childbirth: Epidurals
An epidural for childbirth, called an "epidural" for short, is a tiny tube that puts pain medicine directly into the area in your back around your spinal cord. This area is called the epidural space. An epidural can be used during childbirth to partly or fully numb the lower body. The amount of medicine you get will...

Childbirth: I.V. Medicines
Intravenous (I.V.) medicines may be used in childbirth to help with pain during labor. They also may help you relax. They include opioids and other medicines. You may get one or more medicines through an I.V. How are these medicines given? A nurse will insert a small tube into a vein in your arm (intravenously, or...

Childbirth: Is Planning a C-Section a Good Choice?
A cesarean section is the delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) in the mother's belly and uterus. It's often called a C-section. Sometimes a C-section is needed for the safety of the mother or baby. In most cases, doctors do a C-section because of problems during labor. For example: Labor is slow and hard or stops...

Childbirth: Laboring in Water and Water Delivery
Laboring in water Some hospitals and birthing centers offer tubs or whirlpools for labor. If yours does, talk to your doctor or midwife about laboring in water. The warm water supports your body and can help you to relax. Laboring in water also may reduce the chance that you'll use an epidural for pain management...

Childbirth: Perineal Massage Before Labor
During childbirth, the perineum stretches and often tears. The perineum is the muscle and tissue between the anus and the vagina. One step you could take that might help prevent tearing is to stretch and massage the perineum for a few weeks before your due date. Studies show that some people who did regular perineal...

Childbirth: Pudendal Block
To relieve pain during the second (pushing) stage of labor, an injection called a pudendal block can be given through the vaginal wall and into the pudendal nerve in the pelvis. This numbs the area between the vagina and anus. It doesn't relieve the pain of contractions. A pudendal block works fast, is easily given, and...

Childbirth: Pudendal Block
To relieve pain during the second (pushing) stage of labor, an injection called a pudendal block can be given through the vaginal wall. It goes into the pudendal nerve in the pelvis. This numbs the area between the vagina and anus. It doesn't relieve the pain of contractions. A pudendal block works fast. It's easy to...

Childbirth: Strep Infections During Delivery
Group B strep infection is caused by a type of bacteria. It's a different kind of bacteria than the kind that causes strep throat. You may have this kind of bacteria in your body. Sometimes it may cause an infection, but most of the time it doesn't make you sick or cause symptoms. But if you pass the bacteria to your...

Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Learn about cholestasis of pregnancy, a liver problem that can happen when you're pregnant. Includes info on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and self-care.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a test that can find certain problems with your fetus. These include many diseases that run in families (genetic conditions) and chromosome problems. It is done during early pregnancy, most often between the 10th and 13th weeks. Chorionic villi are tiny finger-shaped growths found in...

Congenital Syphilis
Congenital syphilis occurs when syphilis isn't treated during pregnancy and is passed to the baby through the placenta. A baby can be infected with syphilis any time during pregnancy or during labor or delivery. It's very important to have a blood test to detect syphilis while you're pregnant. Treating it during...

Contraction Stress Test
A contraction stress test checks to see if your baby will stay healthy during contractions when you are in labor. This test includes external electronic fetal monitoring. The test is done when you are 32 or more weeks pregnant. During a contraction, the blood and oxygen supply to your baby drops for a short time. This...

Contractions During Pregnancy: What to Expect
Braxton Hicks contractions During the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you may notice times when your belly tightens and becomes firm to the touch and then relaxes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions. Think of them as "warm-up" exercises for your uterus. These contractions may be so mild that you...

Coombs Test
Coombs tests are done to find certain antibodies that attack red blood cells. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system. Normally, antibodies bind to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and cause them to be destroyed. The following conditions cause antibodies to be made. Transfusion reaction Human...

Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a common genetic disease that causes mucus in the body to become thick and sticky. The mucus builds up and causes problems in many of the body's organs, especially the lungs and the pancreas. People who have CF can have serious breathing problems and lung disease.

Dental Care During Pregnancy
It's important to take care of your body when you are pregnant. This includes your teeth and gums. A healthy mouth—and good dental habits—will help you and your baby. Taking care of your teeth while you are pregnant helps prevent cavities and other dental problems. Brush, floss, and try to limit sugary foods and drinks...

Depression During Pregnancy
Who is at risk for depression during pregnancy? If you had depression before you became pregnant, you're more likely to have it during your pregnancy. Or you may have it for the first time when you're pregnant. Depression during pregnancy may also be more likely if you have anxiety or more stress in your life or lack...

Depression: Managing Postpartum Depression
Covers treating postpartum depression with counseling and medicines. Discusses when to seek care. Offers home care tips. Briefly outlines symptoms and the importance of treatment.

Depression: Should I Take Antidepressants While I'm Pregnant?
Guides through decision to take antidepressants while pregnant. Covers SSRIs (Zoloft and Prozac) and tricyclic antidepressants. Lists reasons for and against medicines. Covers benefits and risks. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Doulas and Support During Childbirth
Learn how a doula can help support you during childbirth.

Eclampsia (Seizures) and Preeclampsia
Eclampsia is pregnancy-related seizure activity that is caused by severe preeclampsia. Less than 1% of women who have preeclampsia experience seizures. Eclampsia is life-threatening for both a mother and her fetus. During a seizure, the oxygen supply to the fetus is drastically reduced. Sudden seizures can occur before...

Electronic Fetal Monitoring
Electronic fetal monitoring is done during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It keeps track of the heart rate of your baby ( fetus). It also checks the duration of the contractions of your uterus. Your baby's heart rate is a good way to tell if your baby is doing well or may have some problems. Two types of monitoring can...

Endometrial Biopsy
An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus ( endometrium). The sample is looked at under a microscope for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy helps your doctor find problems in the endometrium. An endometrial biopsy is sometimes done at the same time as another...

Episiotomy and Perineal Tears
What is an episiotomy? An episiotomy (say "eh-pih-zee-AH-tuh-mee") is a cut, or incision, made in the perineum during childbirth. The perineum is the tissue between the vagina and anus. The cut may be done to help deliver the baby or to help prevent the muscles and skin from tearing. The cut is made just before the...

Estrogen Test
An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogen hormones in a blood or urine sample. It measures estradiol, estriol, and estrone. Estradiol is the most common type of estrogen measured for nonpregnant women. The amount of estradiol in a woman's blood varies throughout her menstrual cycle. After...

Exercise During Pregnancy
Explains why exercise is helpful during pregnancy and how to exercise safely. Outlines what types of exercise are recommended.

External Cephalic Version for Breech Position
At the end of most pregnancies, the baby's head is near the birth canal (vagina). But sometimes a baby's rear end or feet are near the birth canal. This position is called breech. If your baby stays in this breech position, you will probably need a cesarean section (C-section). Most breech babies are healthy and don't...

Fallopian Tube Procedures for Infertility
A fallopian tube blockage often prevents successful passage of the egg to the sperm, or the fertilized egg to the uterus. Surgery can be used to try to correct this common cause of infertility. What type of surgery you have depends on where and how much the fallopian tube is blocked. Some tubal procedures can be done...

Fatigue During Pregnancy
It's common to feel more tired during pregnancy. This tiredness, or fatigue, is most common during the first and third trimesters. During the first trimester, your developing baby (fetus) is growing quickly. Your body is producing higher levels of progesterone. This hormone has been linked to increased fatigue. You may...

Feeding Your Infant
Feeding a baby is an important concern for parents. Experts recommend feeding your baby only breast milk for about 6 months. They also support breastfeeding for 2 years or longer. But your baby benefits from any amount of time that you breastfeed. Try to breastfeed for as long as it works for you and your baby. If you...

Fertility Awareness
Discusses natural family planning or periodic abstinence as a form of birth control. Covers using one of six basic methods to either get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant. Covers how each method works and what could affect the method.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Learn about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, including the effects, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Fetal Blood Sampling (FBS) During Pregnancy
Fetal blood sampling (FBS) is the collecting of fetal blood directly from the umbilical cord or fetus. The fetal blood is tested for signs of anemia and other blood problems. FBS is also known as cordocentesis or percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling. FBS is usually used when a Doppler ultrasound and/or a series of...

Fetal Fibronectin Test
Fetal fibronectin is a protein that helps keep the amniotic sac attached to the wall of the uterus during pregnancy. If there is a problem with the amniotic sac staying attached to the uterus, high amounts of fetal fibronectin can end up in the vaginal fluid. This can mean there is an increased chance of having a...

Fetal Ultrasound
Fetal ultrasound is a test done during pregnancy that uses reflected sound waves. It produces a picture of the baby (fetus), the organ that supports the fetus ( placenta), and the liquid that surrounds the fetus ( amniotic fluid). The picture is displayed on a TV screen. It may be in black and white or in color. The...

Find Your Ovulation Day
You can most accurately pinpoint your ovulation day by monitoring your cervical mucus, your basal body temperature (BBT), and your luteinizing hormone (LH) changes. During the 5 to 6 days before and on the day of ovulation, the cervix produces a type of mucus that is stretchy, slippery, thin, and clear. This quickly...

First-Trimester Exams and Tests
At each prenatal visit during your first trimester, you'll be weighed and have your blood pressure checked. Your urine may also be checked for bacteria, protein, or sugar. As early as weeks 10 to 12, you may be able to hear your baby's heartbeat using a Doppler ultrasound. By the 20th week, the heart tone is strong...

First-Trimester Screening for Birth Defects
During the first trimester of pregnancy, screening tests for birth defects may be done. These tests look for possible problems with your baby. The tests may be called first-trimester screening, combined first-trimester screening, or the combined screening. The screening tests show the chance of your baby having certain...

Folate Deficiency Anemia
Discusses folate deficiency anemia. Discusses role that folate plays in making red blood cells. Covers symptoms and complications of anemia. Covers treatment with diet and daily supplement. Offers list of foods that provide folate.

Folate Test
A folate test measures the amount of folate in the blood. Folate is one of many B vitamins. The body needs folate for normal growth and to make red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Folate also is important for the normal development of a baby (fetus). Folate can be measured in the liquid...

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test
A follicle-stimulating hormone test measures the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a blood sample. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland. FSH helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries. FSH also helps control the production of sperm. The amount of FSH varies throughout the...

Food Poisoning During Pregnancy
Preventing food poisoning During pregnancy you may become much more ill from food poisoning than other people, so it is important to take steps at home to prevent it. Use extra care with foods that can spoil, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, and other dairy products. Shop safely. Bag raw meat...

Genetics
What are genes? Genes are the part of a body cell that contain the biological information that parents pass to their children. Genes control the growth and development of cells. Genes are made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), a substance inside the center (nucleus) of cells that contains instructions for the development...

Gestational Diabetes
Discusses gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy). Discusses symptoms and how it's diagnosed. Covers treatment with healthy food choices, exercise, medicine and insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Gestational Diabetes: Checking Your Blood Sugar
Describes monitoring blood sugar levels when you have gestational diabetes. Gives step-by-step instructions. Covers how to record testing results and how to prevent sore fingers.

Gestational Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar
Discusses how to deal with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when you have gestational diabetes (diabetes that developed during pregnancy). Covers symptoms and complications of hypoglycemia. Offers tips on preventing and managing low blood sugar.

Gestational Diabetes: Giving Yourself Insulin Shots
Offers step-by-step instructions for preparing and giving single-dose and mixed-dose insulin shots. Includes where on the body to give shots.

Getting Enough Folic Acid (Folate)
Folic acid is measured in micrograms using Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE). Here are the daily recommended amounts of folic acid: Babies 0–6 months old need 65 mcg (micrograms) DFE each day. Babies 7–12 months old need 80 mcg DFE each day. Children 1–3 years old need 150 mcg DFE each day. Children 4-8 years old need...

Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control
How long it takes for a woman's full fertility to return after stopping birth control varies for each woman. It also depends on the birth control method she is using. Your ability to get pregnant gradually decreases as you age, starting at age 25. After you stop any form of birth control, you may have a harder time...

Group B Streptococcal Infections in Newborns
Looks at causes and symptoms of group B streptococcal infections in newborns. Explains what group B strep is. Covers how and why it is treated. Includes treatment for mothers and newborns.

HELLP Syndrome
What is HELLP syndrome? HELLP syndrome is a serious liver disorder that can develop during pregnancy. HELLP stands for H emolysis (destruction of red blood cells), E levated L iver enzymes, and L ow P latelet count. HELLP is usually related to preeclampsia. In most cases it happens in the third trimester, but it can...

HIV and Pregnancy
Early detection and treatment are the key to preventing HIV infection in newborns. Experts agree that all people should be screened for HIV during pregnancy. If you do have HIV, your baby could also become infected. The virus is usually passed on during labor and childbirth. Sometimes it's passed during pregnancy...

Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn is common during pregnancy. That's because hormones cause the digestive system to slow down. The muscles that push food down the esophagus also move more slowly when you are pregnant. And as the uterus grows, it presses on the stomach. This can sometimes force stomach acid up into the esophagus. Heartburn may...

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Learn about causes and effects of high blood pressure during pregnancy.

High-Risk Pregnancy
What is a high-risk pregnancy? Your pregnancy is called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of having a health problem. These problems include slowed growth of the baby, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and a problem with the placenta. Many things can make a pregnancy high-risk, from a current condition...

Home Pregnancy Tests
Home pregnancy tests can find the presence of a pregnancy hormone (called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG) in a sample of urine. High levels of hCG are made during pregnancy. The home tests have similar results to the pregnancy tests done on urine in most doctors' offices if they are used exactly as instructed...

Hormone Inhibin A Test
The inhibin A test is done to measure the amount of this hormone in a pregnant woman's blood to see if the baby may have Down syndrome. Inhibin A is made by the placenta during pregnancy. The level of inhibin A in the blood is used in a maternal serum quadruple screening test. Generally done between 15 and 22 weeks...

Hospital Policies and Breastfeeding
It's important to have support from the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who care for you and your baby. Before it's time for you to give birth, ask about the breastfeeding policies at your hospital or birthing center. Look for a hospital or birthing center that has policies for: "Rooming in." This policy encourages...

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) Test
The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is done to check for the hormone hCG in blood or urine. Some hCG tests measure the exact amount. Some just check to see if the hormone is present. HCG is made by the placenta during pregnancy. The test can be used to see if a woman is pregnant. HCG can be found in the blood...

Infant Formulas
What are infant formulas? Infant formula is a nutritional product. It's made from processed cow's milk or soybean products. Special processing makes cow's-milk formula more digestible and less likely to cause an allergic reaction than regular cow's milk. Vitamins and minerals are added to infant formula. Formula can be...

Infertility Tests
What are infertility tests? Infertility tests help find out why you cannot get pregnant. These tests include a physical exam, semen analysis, blood tests, and other procedures. Many of these tests are done in your doctor's office or clinic. Some other procedures may be done in a hospital. Should you be tested? Before...

Infertility: Emotional and Social Support
When you have infertility, you may feel alone, confused, or scared. Talking with others about your feelings can help. Here are some places you may find support. Family and friends. They can help you cope by giving you comfort and encouragement. Counseling. Professional counseling can help you understand and deal with...

Infertility: Problems With Fallopian Tubes
Problems with the fallopian tubes are a leading cause of infertility in women. Tubal blockage may be caused by: Past infection. This is most often a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes it can be linked with a ruptured appendix. Tubal ligation or other types of surgery. Endometriosis. This is a common cause of...

Infertility: Problems With Ovulation
It can be hard to find out the cause of ovulation problems. Possible causes may include: Hormone imbalances. Most women with ovulation problems have hormone imbalances. An example of a condition that causes a hormone imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other ovulation problems can start in the ovaries or in...

Infertility: Problems With the Uterus and Cervix
Problems with a woman's uterus and/or cervix may be caused by many things. Causes include: Abnormalities of the uterus. These may have been present from birth. A past surgery or procedure, such as a cervical cone biopsy or a dilation and curettage (D&C). These may decrease fertility if the procedures have damaged the...

Infertility: Questions to Ask About Medicine or Hormone Treatment
When thinking about medicine or hormone treatment for infertility, ask your doctor these questions. Are there are any long-term risks related to the treatment? Do I need to change my sexual activities during treatment? Your doctor may have suggestions for timing sex to increase the chance of getting pregnant. How long...

Infertility: Setting Limits on Testing
Looking for a cause of infertility can be a brief process. Or it can become a financially, emotionally, and physically demanding series of tests and procedures. Before you start testing, think about how far you are willing to go. Think about: How you feel about having invasive testing if your first sperm and blood tests...

Infertility: Thinking About Adoption
You may want to consider adoption as an alternative to treatment for infertility. Learning more about the tests, exams, success rates, and costs of infertility treatment may help you decide. Adoption gives people a chance to raise and nurture a child. When deciding whether to adopt, think about: Why you want a child...

Insemination for Infertility
Insemination procedures can be used to treat infertility. They use a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to place sperm in the vagina, cervix, or uterus. The sperm then travel into the fallopian tubes, where they may fertilize an egg. If the sperm are placed in the uterus, it's called intrauterine insemination (IUI). These...

Interactive Tool: From Embryo to Baby in 9 Months
Offers interactive tool that shows the growth of an embryo into a baby. Provides links to info on pregnancy and labor and delivery.

Interactive Tool: When Are You Most Fertile?
Offers interactive tool to find out when you are most likely to get pregnant. Tool estimates peak fertility period and when you are most likely to ovulate. Offers links to info on fertility, pregnancy, and birth control.

Interactive Tools
These Interactive Tools are easy-to-use personal calculators. Use any of them to start learning more about your health. Health and Fitness Tools Do Your BMI and Waist Size Increase Your Health Risks? How Bad Are Your Urinary Symptoms From Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)? How Many Calories Did You Burn? What Is Your...

Intrauterine Fetal Blood Transfusion
An intrauterine transfusion provides blood to an Rh-positive fetus when fetal red blood cells are being destroyed by the Rh-sensitized mother's immune system. This treatment is meant to keep the fetus healthy until the baby is mature enough to be delivered. Transfusions can be given through the fetal abdomen or, more...

Labor Induction and Augmentation
If you pass your due date and your labor does not start on its own, your doctor may want to try to start (induce) labor. Your doctor may suggest doing this for other reasons. It may be a good idea to induce labor if you have another problem. For example, it may be done if you have high blood pressure. Or it may be a...

Labor and Delivery
Explains labor and delivery, including planning, signs of labor, pain management, types of delivery, labor stages, labor positions, medical procedures, and what happens right after birth.

Laparoscopic Ovarian Drilling (Ovarian Diathermy) for PCOS
Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is a surgical treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that can help with ovulation. Electrocautery or a laser is used to destroy parts of the ovaries. This surgery is not commonly used. But it can be an option if you still don't ovulate after you lose weight and try fertility...

Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Leg cramps are common during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. And they happen most often at night. Doctors don't know exactly what causes leg cramps during pregnancy. Here are some things you can do to help relieve a leg cramp. Stretch your leg (flex your toes toward your head). Place a heating...

Local Anesthesia for Childbirth
Local anesthesia for childbirth is most commonly given as a shot that numbs the area around the vagina just before an episiotomy is done. An episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vagina and anus just before the baby's head starts to emerge. (The tissue is called the perineum.) The cut makes the vaginal...

Low Amniotic Fluid
What is low amniotic fluid? Low amniotic fluid means that there is too little fluid around your baby in the uterus during pregnancy. Having a low amount of this fluid can affect how the baby grows. It may lead to problems during labor and delivery. Amniotic fluid protects your baby from being bumped or hurt as you move...

Low-Lying Placenta Versus Placenta Previa
A placenta is normally attached to the upper wall of the uterus. A low-lying placenta is a placenta that forms low in the uterus without covering the opening of the cervix. It is not a high-risk condition. It often gets better on its own as the pregnancy progresses. As the uterus gets bigger, the placenta will shift...

Lupus and Pregnancy
Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) doesn't usually affect a woman's ability to conceive. But if you are having a lupus flare or are taking corticosteroid medicines, you may have irregular menstrual cycles. This can make it hard to plan a pregnancy. If you plan to have a baby or are already pregnant, it's very...

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Test
A luteinizing hormone test measures the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in a sample of blood or urine. LH is produced by the pituitary gland. LH helps regulate the menstrual cycle and egg production ( ovulation). LH levels normally change with the phase of the menstrual cycle. This hormone goes up fast just before...

Making a Birth Plan
A birth plan lets you write down your vision of an ideal birth and share it with your support person, the hospital or birth center, and your doctor or midwife. Your birth may not go as planned. But the process of making a plan can be a great way to get everyone on the same page about what you think you'd prefer. Here...

Managing Emotional Changes During Pregnancy
Being pregnant can be an exciting time. But it can also be a stressful and emotional time. There's a lot you need to think about and plan for, which can be overwhelming. You may notice your moods changing often. And when you're pregnant, your body goes through lots of hormone changes, which can affect your emotions and...

Massage Therapy During Pregnancy
A family member or friend could give you a massage. Or you could get a professional massage. In either case, there are things you can do to help make sure that the massage is safe. If you get a professional massage, tell your massage therapist that you are pregnant. Be sure that your massage therapist has special...

Mastitis While Breastfeeding
What is mastitis? Mastitis is a breast inflammation usually caused by infection. It can happen to any woman. But it's most common during the first 6 months of breastfeeding, especially during the baby's first 2 months. After 2 months, the baby's feeding patterns become more regular, which helps prevent mastitis...

Medicines During Pregnancy
Medicines you can take during pregnancy It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe during pregnancy. Most medicines are not studied in people who are pregnant. That's because researchers worry about how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for so long by so many people during...

Milk Oversupply
Milk oversupply happens when your body makes more milk than your baby uses. It's sometimes called overabundant milk supply or hyperlactation. With oversupply, your milk may come out very fast. This can make it hard for your baby to swallow it....

Miscarriage
What is a miscarriage? A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. Most happen because the fertilized egg in the uterus doesn't develop normally. Miscarriages are very common. You can even have a miscarriage before you know that you're pregnant. What causes it? It may help to know that most...

Molar Pregnancy
What is a molar pregnancy? A molar pregnancy means that tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes a mass of abnormal tissue in your uterus. It is also called a hydatidiform mole. This abnormal tissue causes symptoms of pregnancy. This tissue can cause serious problems in some cases. So a molar pregnancy...

Multiple Pregnancy: Preterm Birth
Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks. When delivery occurs between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, it's called a preterm birth. A baby born early is called preterm (or premature). Preterm babies are sometimes called "preemies." Multiple pregnancies rarely last for the usual 40 weeks. For twins, the average time to...

My Birth Plan
Name: ___________________________________. Partner's name: _____________________________. Doctor or midwife's name: __________________________. Today's date: _____________________. This birth plan is a guide for my labor and delivery. Since childbirth does not always go as planned, some of this birth plan may change...

Myomectomy
Discusses surgical removal of fibroids from uterus. Covers hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and laparotomy. Looks at what to expect after surgery and how well it works. Explains possible risks. Discusses hysterectomy, infertility, and miscarriage.

Nitrous Oxide Pain Relief for Childbirth
Nitrous oxide is a gas that is sometimes used during childbirth to help relieve pain. It won't put you to sleep. It may be used with other pain relief options. How is it given? You'll get a mouthpiece or mask to breath in the nitrous oxide when you need it. You should feel the effects soon after taking it. Because it...

Nonstress Test
A nonstress test is a test that checks your baby's heartbeat patterns. It can show heart rate changes when the baby moves. It also shows changes when you have contractions, if you're having them. A fetal heart rate that speeds up when the baby moves means the baby is getting enough oxygen.

Nuchal Translucency Screening Test
The nuchal (say "NEW-kuhl") translucency screening is a test done during pregnancy. It uses ultrasound to measure the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of the developing baby's neck. If this area is thicker than normal, it can be an early sign of Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart problems. The test is done...

Nutrition During Pregnancy
Your nutrition needs increase during pregnancy. Your body needs protein, carbohydrate, and fats for energy. Good sources of these nutrients include: Lean protein. Examples include fish that are low in mercury, poultry without skin, low-fat milk products, and beans and peas (legumes). Fish that are low in mercury include...

Obesity and Pregnancy
Reviews obesity and healthy pregnancy.

Obstetric Panel
Briefly discusses obstetric panel, a group of blood tests used to check a person's health during early pregnancy. Includes links to info on tests such as antibody screening, blood type, complete blood count, hepatitis B, HIV, and rubella.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
Discusses oral glucose tolerance test that measures glucose (blood sugar) levels. Explains that test checks for gestational diabetes, prediabetes, and diabetes. Covers the types of tests done and how to prepare for them.

Oxytocin
Explains how oxytocin creates the let-down reflex and shrinks the uterus.

Partner Support During Pregnancy
Provides tips for strengthening your relationship with your partner and supporting your partner during pregnancy. Also offers tips for keeping your other children involved in the pregnancy.

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
Discusses peripartum cardiomyopathy. Covers symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Also covers risk factors and prevention.

Physical Growth in Newborns
In the first month, your doctor will pay close attention to your baby's increasing weight, length, and head circumference. The head is measured around the largest point of the head, usually starting at a point on the forehead. The average birth weight for babies is around 7.5 lb (3.5 kg), although between 5.5 lb (2.5...

Placenta Previa
What is placenta previa? Placenta previa is a pregnancy problem in which the placenta blocks the cervix. The placenta is a round, flat organ that forms on the inside wall of the uterus soon after conception. During pregnancy, it gives the baby food and oxygen. In a normal pregnancy, the placenta is attached high up in...

Placental Abruption
What is placental abruption? Placental abruption is a pregnancy problem in which the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus. The placenta is a round, flat organ that forms during pregnancy. It gives the baby food and oxygen from your body. In a normal pregnancy, the placenta stays firmly attached to...

Polyhydramnios
What is polyhydramnios? Amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus during pregnancy. Having too much of this fluid is called polyhydramnios. It means that there's more fluid around your baby than there should be. In some cases, too much amniotic fluid doesn't cause problems. In other cases, it can cause problems, such as...

Post-Term Pregnancy
Most pregnancies last 37 to 42 weeks. Your pregnancy is post-term (or post-date) when you are at 42 or more weeks. When you get to 40 weeks, your doctor will look at your health and the baby's health and decide whether to wait for natural labor. You may have tests to make sure everything is okay. If you and the baby...

Postpartum Bleeding
After delivery, you will have a bloody discharge from your vagina. You may also pass some blood clots that shouldn't be bigger than an egg. Over the next 6 weeks or so, your bleeding should decrease a little every day and slowly change to a pinkish and then whitish discharge. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding...

Postpartum Depression
Covers causes and symptoms of postpartum depression that can occur in the first months after childbirth. Includes treatment with counseling and antidepressant medicines. Covers thoughts of suicide.

Preeclampsia
Covers causes and symptoms of preeclampsia. Includes regular checkups with your doctor. Looks at prevention and treatment with close monitoring and possibly blood pressure medicine.

Preeclampsia: Creatinine Clearance Test
When muscles use energy, they release a waste product called creatinine into the blood. The kidneys then filter creatinine from the blood. From the kidneys, creatinine passes out of the body through the urinary tract. If the kidneys are not functioning normally, high amounts of creatinine remain in the blood while low...

Preeclampsia: Expectant Management
Expectant management, or observation, is sometimes used to manage a high-risk pregnancy. You may be advised to have expectant management at home or in the hospital. Where you have it depends on how severe your preeclampsia is. Care at home If you have signs of preeclampsia early in pregnancy, your doctor or...

Pregnancy
As soon as you think you might be pregnant, visit your doctor or midwife. Your health in the early weeks of your pregnancy is particularly important. During your pregnancy, you'll have regular checkups. These prenatal visits can help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife is watching for problems...

Pregnancy After Age 35
Most pregnancies after age 35 are healthy ones. But as you age beyond your mid-30s, some risks do increase. Your doctor will check you often to catch most problems early. The main age-related risks are: Miscarriage. Preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes. Certain chromosome problems, including Down syndrome. The risk of...

Pregnancy After Weight-Loss (Bariatric) Surgery
What is weight-loss (bariatric) surgery? Bariatric surgery is surgery to help people lose weight and improve health problems related to weight. It may also be called metabolic surgery. This type of surgery is used for people who have obesity. Weight-loss surgery may be an option for people who have not been able to lose...

Pregnancy and Childbirth
Provides links to info on pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period. Offers interactive tool to calculate your due date. Also links to interactive tool that shows how an embryo grows into a baby.

Pregnancy and Chronic High Blood Pressure
Some people have high blood pressure before they get pregnant (chronic hypertension). Some have high blood pressure that starts in the second or third trimester (gestational hypertension). High blood pressure can limit the baby's growth and cause other serious problems. Sometimes it's a first sign of a serious problem...

Pregnancy and Diabetes: Planning for Pregnancy
If you have diabetes and are planning to become pregnant, meet with your doctor. Things to discuss include: Your A1c goal, your medicine for diabetes, and your weight. Whether your immunizations are up-to-date and whether you're getting enough folic acid. The safety of any prescription and over-the-counter medicines and...

Pregnancy and Epilepsy
Most of the time, people with epilepsy who become pregnant deliver healthy babies. But the risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and seizure-related problems is higher for babies born to someone with epilepsy. Most antiepileptic medicines increase the risk even more. If you have epilepsy and become pregnant, stopping...

Pregnancy-Related Problems
Briefly discusses symptoms that may show a serious problem during pregnancy. Covers vaginal bleeding, fever, and swelling. Describes emergency symptoms like shock, seizures, and leaks from your vagina. Offers interactive tool to help decide when to seek care. Also offers home treatment tips.

Pregnancy: Blood Clots
Learn what blood clots are and how they can happen during and after pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. They usually go away after pregnancy. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. This nerve runs through a small space...

Pregnancy: Changes in Bowel Habits
Constipation and hemorrhoids are common problems during pregnancy. Constipation Constipation causes less frequent and more strained bowel movements. The bowels commonly move more slowly when you're pregnant. And iron in prenatal vitamins also can cause constipation during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids are swollen...

Pregnancy: Chemicals, Cosmetics, and Radiation
Chemical exposure Protect yourself as much as you can from harmful chemicals. Avoid pesticides, household cleaners, and paint. Fumes from these substances can be harmful, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Use chemical-free cleaning alternatives while you're pregnant. If you must use chemical cleaners, wear...

Pregnancy: Choosing a Doctor or Midwife
You have a choice about who will deliver your baby. Doctors and midwives are trained to provide medical care and support before, during, and after the birth. Doctors and midwives share the same goal. They want you and your baby to be healthy. But their training and approaches may be different. Doctors Doctors have more...

Pregnancy: Dealing With Morning Sickness
Briefly discusses managing morning sickness. Offer tips to manage nausea and vomiting.

Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver
You have a choice of where to deliver your baby. Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy, you can decide to have your baby in a hospital, in a birthing center, or at home. Each of these options has pros and cons. Things you may want to think about include: Who you want to deliver your baby. What pain-relief options you...

Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)
Reviews what dropping means in pregnancy.

Pregnancy: First Prenatal Visit
Your first prenatal visit will probably be the longest visit you'll have. Your doctor or midwife will take your medical history and do a complete physical exam. You may also have some tests. This will provide information that can be used to check for any problems as your pregnancy progresses. Medical history Your doctor...

Pregnancy: Hair Changes
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect how your hair looks and feels. Hair loss slows down, and hair growth can increase. You may notice that your hair is thicker and healthier-looking than usual. But in some cases, hair may become more limp and lifeless during pregnancy. Hair may appear on other parts of your...

Pregnancy: Healthy Weight Gain
Explains healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation
Offers tips for easing constipation and hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Hot Tub and Sauna Use
Explains cautions for using a hot tub or sauna during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Kick Counts
Counting your baby's kicks is one way your doctor can tell that your baby is healthy. You will probably feel your baby move for the first time between 16 and 22 weeks. The movement may feel like flutters rather than kicks. Your baby may move more at certain times of the day. When you are active, you may notice less...

Pregnancy: Nosebleeds and Bleeding Gums
You may get nosebleeds during pregnancy. That's because there is more blood flow to the tissue inside the nose (mucous membranes) when you are pregnant. There are things you can do to help prevent nosebleeds, such as using a humidifier. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine. You also have more blood flow to the...

Pregnancy: Pelvic and Hip Pain
It's normal to get aches and pains in your hips and pelvic area when you're pregnant. Pregnancy hormones are relaxing your ligaments. This loosens up your pelvic bones so they can shift and open for childbirth. Try these tips to manage pelvic and hip pain. Lie on your back, propped up on your elbows or a pillow. Then...

Pregnancy: Should I Have Amniocentesis?
Guides you through the decision to have an amniocentesis test. Explains what amniocentesis is and how it is done. Discusses birth defects. Looks at the risks and benefits of amniocentesis. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Pregnancy: Should I Have CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling)?
Guides you through the decision to have chorionic villus sampling. Explains what CVS is and how it is done. Discusses birth defects. Looks at the risks and benefits of CVS. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Pregnancy: Should I Have an Epidural During Childbirth?
Guides you through decision to have an epidural during childbirth. Lists benefits and risks. Lists other ways to control labor pain. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Pregnancy: Should I Try Vaginal Birth After a Past C-Section (VBAC)?
Guides through decision to have a vaginal birth (VBAC) after a past cesarean section (C-section). Includes things to think about when making your decision. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Pregnancy: Stretch Marks, Itching, and Skin Changes
Common skin changes during pregnancy include stretch marks, darkening of parts of the skin, and tiny reddish, purplish, or dark areas on the skin. These changes usually fade after pregnancy. Acne may either get worse or clear up during pregnancy. Stretch marks Stretch marks are lines on the skin that may appear late in...

Pregnancy: Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins near the surface of the skin. They're caused by faulty valves in the veins or weak vein walls. Varicose veins usually occur on the legs, but they can also affect the vulva. They are common during pregnancy. When the growing uterus puts pressure on the veins that return blood...

Pregnancy: Vegetarian Diet
A balanced vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. If you eat a vegetarian diet, pay special attention to getting enough protein, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron while you are pregnant. These nutrients are vital to your baby's cell growth, brain and organ...

Pregnancy: Work and School Issues
Many people work or go to school (or both) while pregnant. If there are no problems with your pregnancy, you can probably keep working or going to school until you go into labor. On the other hand, long periods of standing, repeated lifting, or activities that are very tiring may increase the risk of preterm labor. Talk...

Premature (Preterm) Infant
What is premature (preterm) birth? Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks. When delivery occurs between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, it's called a preterm birth. A baby born early is called preterm (or premature). Preterm babies are sometimes called "preemies." Why is preterm birth a problem? When babies are born too...

Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy
Even before you get pregnant, you can help make your pregnancy as healthy as possible. Take these steps: See a doctor or certified nurse-midwife for an exam. Talk about the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Discuss any health problems or concerns you have. Don't take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)...

Preterm Labor
What is preterm labor? Preterm labor is labor that comes too early—between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. In labor, the uterus contracts to open the cervix. This is the first stage of childbirth. In most pregnancies, this happens at 37 to 42 weeks. Preterm labor is also called premature labor. Preterm labor doesn't...

Preterm Prelabor Rupture of Membranes (pPROM)
What is preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (pPROM)? Before a baby is born, the amniotic sac breaks. Then fluid either leaks slowly or gushes out. You may hear it called "having your water break." When this happens before contractions start, it's called prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM). When PROM occurs before 37...

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
What is primary ovarian insufficiency? Primary ovarian insufficiency (sometimes called premature ovarian failure) occurs when your ovaries-which store and release eggs-stop working before age 40. You may have no or few eggs. Depending on the cause, primary ovarian insufficiency may develop as early as the teen years, or...

Problems After Delivery of Your Baby
Briefly discusses problems that may occur in the days and weeks after the delivery of your baby (postpartum period). Covers emergency symptoms like signs of shock, fainting, and severe belly pain. Offers interactive tool to help decide when to seek care. Also offers home treatment tips.

Progesterone Test
A progesterone test measures the amount of the hormone progesterone in a blood sample. Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries during release of a mature egg from an ovary (ovulation). Progesterone helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. If...

Quad Screening for Birth Defects
The quad screening is a blood test that may be done at 15 to 22 weeks of pregnancy. It's used to look for possible problems with your baby. The quad screening measures the amounts of four things in a pregnant woman's blood. They are: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). AFP is made in the liver of an unborn baby (fetus). Human...

Quick Tips: Healthy Pregnancy Habits
Here are ways you can have a healthy pregnancy. See your doctor or midwife regularly. Visit your doctor or midwife as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. Go to all of your prenatal checkups. Get treatment for all infections. Call your doctor or midwife if you have signs of an infection during pregnancy, such as a...

Quitting Smoking or Vaping During Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, everything you put in your body can affect your pregnancy. If you smoke, your fetus is exposed to chemicals such as nicotine and carbon monoxide. Secondhand smoke also is a problem. If you breathe other people's tobacco smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to have health problems...

Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy
What is Rh sensitization during pregnancy? You may have Rh-negative blood, and your baby may have Rh-positive blood. If the two types of blood mix, your body will make antibodies. This is called Rh sensitization. In most cases, this isn't a problem the first time you're pregnant. But in future pregnancies, sensitization...

Rubella Test
A rubella blood test detects antibodies that are made by the immune system to help kill the rubella virus. These antibodies remain in the bloodstream for years. The presence of certain antibodies means a recent infection, a past infection, or that you have been vaccinated against the disease. Rubella (also called German...

Screening for Gestational Diabetes
People who are pregnant and are not already diagnosed with diabetes should be tested. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends testing after the 24th week of pregnancy. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. After delivery Even though your gestational...

Second-Trimester Exams and Tests
At each prenatal visit in the second trimester, you'll be weighed and your blood pressure will be checked. Your urine may be checked for bacteria, protein, or sugar. Your doctor or midwife will listen to your baby's heartbeat and measure the size of your uterus (fundal height) to track your baby's growth and position...

Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough to Eat
Babies give cues during feeding that show how hungry they are. Pay attention to these cues to help know when your baby has had enough to eat. A baby who is hungry will latch on to the breast or bottle and suck continuously. A baby who is getting full during a feeding will take longer pauses between sucking. A baby who...

Sleep Problems During Pregnancy
Sleep problems are common during pregnancy. Hormonal changes plus the discomforts of later pregnancy can break up the sleep cycle. First trimester. The first trimester can bring insomnia and night waking. You may feel the need to take naps to fight daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Second trimester. The second trimester...

Smoking: Problems With Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, everything you put in your body can affect your pregnancy. If you smoke, your fetus is exposed to chemicals such as nicotine and carbon monoxide. If you breathe secondhand smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to have health problems. Smoking during pregnancy increases the chance of...

Sperm Penetration Tests
Sperm penetration tests check to see if sperm can move through cervical mucus or join with (fertilize) an egg. These tests may be done when you're having trouble getting pregnant (infertility). There are different sperm penetration tests. The sperm mucus penetration test checks if sperm can move through the cervical...

Spinal and Epidural Pain Relief for Childbirth
Spinal and epidural pain relief methods are used to block pain from an entire region of the body. They use numbing medicine given near the spinal cord. They can be used for either a vaginal birth or a cesarean delivery (C-section). They partly or fully numb your belly and lower body.

Staying Healthy Around Animals
When you spend time around an animal—whether it's a pet, a farm animal, or a wild animal—there's a chance you can pick up an infection. Some infections can seem mild, but others can be quite serious. So it's a good idea to learn about your risks and how to protect yourself and other people. People who are most in need...

Stillbirth
What is stillbirth? Stillbirth is the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before the baby is born. It can happen during the pregnancy or during labor. The loss of a baby can be hard. You may wonder why it happened. A loss can happen even in a pregnancy that had been going well. When stillbirth occurs before...

Subchorionic Hemorrhage
A subchorionic hematoma or hemorrhage is bleeding between the wall of the uterus and one of the sacs (chorion) that surrounds the embryo inside the uterus. It is a common cause of bleeding in early pregnancy. The main symptom is vaginal bleeding. But some people don't have symptoms. They may find out they have a...

Swelling During Pregnancy
You may have some mild swelling because of normal fluid buildup during pregnancy. It's most common in the face, hands, and feet. As your pregnancy continues, your uterus puts pressure on blood vessels that go to your legs. This may cause swelling in your feet and ankles. Normally, foot swelling gets worse during the day...

Third-Trimester Exams and Tests
At each prenatal visit in the third trimester, you'll be weighed, and your blood pressure and urine will be checked. Your doctor or midwife will measure the size of your uterus (fundal height) and feel your belly. This is done to check your baby's growth and position. Late in the third trimester, your doctor or midwife...

Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
Discusses risks to the fetus when someone gets toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. Covers common symptoms like swollen glands. Discusses treatment with antibiotics. Covers how to avoid toxoplasmosis, including avoiding raw meat and contact with cat feces.

Toxoplasmosis Test
Discusses toxoplasmosis test, a blood test that checks pregnant women for antibodies to the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Covers why and how it is done. Also discusses what results mean.

Travel During Pregnancy
Travel during pregnancy generally is safe if you're healthy and not at risk for problems. The safest time to travel is between 14 and 28 weeks, when your risks for miscarriage and early labor are lowest. Check with your doctor before you travel. Traveling by car You will probably be able to travel by car throughout your...

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation and Private Banking
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, which are immature cells that can grow into red or white blood cells or clotting cells. Stem cells can be used to treat a limited number of conditions, such as leukemia. The umbilical cord is usually thrown away after birth. But the blood inside the cord can be saved, or banked...

Umbilical Cord Care
Discusses basic care of your newborn's umbilical cord stump. Covers cleaning umbilical cord stump and around the navel (belly button) after the stump has fallen off. Discusses signs of infection and when to call your baby's doctor.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
What is a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)? Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) means delivering your baby through the birth canal after you had a cesarean section (C-section) for an earlier birth. VBAC is often safe, but it does have some risks. And it may not succeed. You may not be able to complete the birth...

Vaginal Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant and have vaginal infection symptoms, see your doctor. Do not use over-the-counter yeast infection medicine unless you discuss it with your doctor first. Your symptoms could be caused by another problem that will need different treatment, such as bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection...

Vitamin B6 for Morning Sickness
Vitamin B6 can be used alone or with doxylamine to improve nausea and vomiting from morning sickness. There has been no sign of harm to the fetus with vitamin B6 use. A typical dose of vitamin B6 for morning sickness is 10 mg to 25 mg, 3 times a day. Talk to your doctor or midwife before you take vitamin B6 for morning...

Week 12 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
By week 12, you can now hear a fetus's heartbeat with a Doppler heart monitor. Wondering what a fetus looks like at 12 weeks? It is now about the size of a lime. How a fetus is changing Here are some important changes that happen around this time. By 10 weeks of pregnancy, an embryo has nearly all of the body structures...

Week 16 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
By now, you may be looking a little more pregnant on the outside. And inside, your baby is starting to look more human and may even have sprouted a little bit of hair. Wondering what your baby looks like at 16 weeks? Your baby is now about the size of an avocado. Average baby length is 4.7 in. (120 mm). How your baby is...

Week 20 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
By week 20, you've probably felt your baby move. It may not feel like an obvious kick—yet! Instead, your baby's first movements might feel like "butterflies" or gas bubbles. Wondering what your baby looks like at 20 weeks? Your baby is now about the size of a red pepper. Average baby length is 6.3 in. (160 mm). How your...

Week 24 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
By week 24, you may have noticed some jerking movements inside your belly—or even seen them on the outside! Repetitive, jerky movements usually mean your baby has the hiccups. Hiccups are perfectly normal and can last anywhere from a minute to an hour. Babies at this stage can also now suck their thumbs and open and...

Week 28 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
At 28 weeks, your baby may be moving a lot more—and possibly keeping you up at night! Babies find the movement and noise of daytime hours to be soothing. So they often sleep during the day and are awake at night. Wondering what your baby looks like at 28 weeks? Your baby is now about the size of a large eggplant...

Week 32 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
Around this time, your baby is getting ready to do a very important thing that they will need to do in the outside world: Breathe. Wondering what your baby looks like at 32 weeks? Your baby is now about the size of a cabbage. Average baby length is 11 in. (280 mm). And average baby weight is 3.7 lb (1700 g). How your...

Week 36 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
At this time, your baby may be spending a lot of time upside down. This "head-down" position can be more comfortable for your baby because of the pear shape of your uterus. It's also easier to give birth if your baby's head comes out first. Wondering what your baby looks like at 36 weeks? Your baby is now about the size...

Week 40 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
At 40 weeks, you have reached your due date. Your baby could be coming any day. Wondering what your baby looks like at 40 weeks? Your baby is now about the size of a small watermelon. Average baby length is 20 in. (50 cm). And average baby weight is 8 lb (3400 g). How your baby is changing Here are some of the important...

Week 8 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
During this stage, the pregnancy is called an embryo. Wondering what an embryo looks like at 8 weeks? It is now about the size of an olive. How the embryo is changing Here are some of the important facts and developments around 8 weeks. The embryo starts out looking like a tiny seed, and then like a tadpole with a tail...

Your Baby's Movements During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, you'll feel your baby move. For example, your baby may kick, hiccup, roll, turn, and twist. These movements are common and expected. As your baby grows, these movements will get stronger. But sometimes you might feel a movement that surprises you. You may wonder what it means. It's a good idea to...