Nov 072012
 

There are many misconceptions when it comes to miscarriage. Many women, for example, feel a tremendous amount of guilt about the miscarriage. They worry that there is something that they could have done differently. If only she had recognized the signs of miscarriage sooner. If only she hadn’t engaged in exercise. If only her diet had been better. It is easy for a woman who has gone through a miscarriage to blame herself. In most cases, however, miscarriage has little or nothing to do with what the mom did; rather, it was caused by something else, such as a genetic abnormality of the fetus.

It is normal to try to find rational explanations for events, like miscarriages, that don’t always have an immediate explanation. Because of this, however, many unproven and unscientific reasons for miscarriage have surfaced over the years. One of these theories suggests that a woman may have difficulty carrying a certain gender to term, and that it is impossible for them to have a baby that is one gender or another.

Research has not demonstrated any truth to this idea. In over two thirds of cases, a miscarriage is caused by a fetal abnormality. Typically, this is some sort of chromosomal problem with the fetus, where it is not developing the correct genetic structure. In other cases, miscarriage is related to chronic diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid problems. When combined with the relatively few lifestyle related causes of miscarriage, such as smoking, more than 9 out of 10 miscarriages can be accounted for. There are very few miscarriages that cannot be attributed to one of these causes. Gender does not appear to be a factor in miscarriage at all.

It is also relatively common for someone who has had a child of one gender for their next child to be of the same gender. In around 60% of cases, if you have one gender, your next baby will be of the same gender, regardless of whether or not you had a miscarriage in between. It is understandable the prevalence of having subsequent babies of the same gender would lead some people to connect miscarriage with gender, but it just does not appear to be the case in terms of the research that has been done.

Oct 172012
 

It is possible to determine your baby’s DNA while you are pregnant. There are two specific tests, the amniocentesis and the Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS for short) that are often done during pregnancy to test a baby’s DNA. There are several reasons that parents might want to determine a baby’s DNA while pregnant. These might include paternity testing, gender determination, or testing to determine whether the baby is at risk for specific genetic or birth defects.

The timing of DNA testing during pregnancy is crucial. There are essentially two specific windows of time in which DNA testing can be done. The first window is between the 10th and 13th week of pregnancy. During this time, a CVS can be done. With CVS, your health care provider will insert a thin tube or needle into the vagina, through the cervix, to try to obtain little finger-like pieces of tissue attached to the uterine wall, known as chorionic villi. Your health care provider will use an ultrasound to help guide the tube or needle. Chorionic villi comes from the same fertilized egg that your fetus comes from, and consequently has the same DNA makeup as your baby.

The second window of opportunity comes after the first, between the 14th and the 20th week of pregnancy. During an amniocentesis, your health care provider will utilize an ultrasound machine to help him guide a thin needle into your uterus, by way of your abdomen. This needle will draw out a little bit of amniotic fluid. This amniotic fluid is then tested for DNA. There are some risks with amniocentesis, including a chance of harm to the baby as well as a chance of miscarriage. You might also experience leaking of amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, or cramping.

Determining your baby’s DNA while pregnant can be expensive. Both of the procedures listed above will likely cost somewhere between $1000 and $2000. In many cases, unless your baby or your pregnancy are at risk, your insurance company will not pay this fee. In addition, these tests cannot be done at a whim. Each requires a doctor’s recommendation to have the testing done.

Aug 082012
 

It is indeed possible to determine paternity during pregnancy. Prenatal paternity testing uses testing of the baby’s DNA to match it against the potential father’s DNA. There are different things that can be done during pregnancy to determine paternity. The type of test given is determined, in part, by how far along you are in your pregnancy.

During the early part of your pregnancy, between the 10th and the 13th week of pregnancy, a CVS or chorionic villus sampling, can be done to determine paternity. In this procedure, a thin tube or a needle is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix, to try to obtain small pieces of tissue that are attached to the wall of the uterus, known as chorionic villi. The chorionic villi come from the same fertilized egg that produced the fetus, and therefore will have the same genetic makeup as your baby will have.

Between the 14th and the 20th weeks of pregnancy, paternity can be determined through the use of amniocentesis. This is the same test that may be given if your health care provider believes that your baby may have a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down’s Syndrome. During an amniocentesis, the health care provider uses an ultrasound machine to help him as he guides a thin needle into the uterus through the abdomen. The needle will draw just a small amount of amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid can then be tested for DNA. An amniocentesis does bring with it certain risks. An amniocentesis may contribute to a chance for miscarriage, leaking of amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, or cramping.

Paternity laws vary from state to state. In many states, if a woman is married, her husband is legally the father regardless of what a paternity test might show. In some states, if the father and mother are not married, the father’s name will not be listed on the birth certificate, without certain paperwork being completed. Make sure you know the legal ramifications of paternity testing in your state before you request the procedure.

Aug 062012
 

Becoming pregnant is an exciting time, particularly if you have been trying to conceive for some time. For women who have had to have fertility treatments, from medications such as Clomid to in-vitro fertilization, there is a concern that they may be pregnant with twins or multiples. Knowing the general signs of pregnancy, as well as the signs of a twin pregnancy, can help you to know whether you have become pregnant, and if you have become pregnant with twins.

The first sign of pregnancy for many women is a missed period. However, this is not always an indication that you are pregnant; a variety of other things, such as stress, vigorous exercise, and reproductive disorders may cause you to miss a period. In addition, many women have irregular periods, and may not be aware of actually “missing” one.

The most effective way that you can determine whether you are pregnant is, of course, with a pregnancy test. For most women, it may be possible to determine whether you are pregnant as early as 7-10 days after conception using a home pregnancy test. However, the time required depends greatly on the type of pregnancy test being used, as well as your own individual physiology.

Many women who are pregnant experience fatigue, especially during their first trimester. The hormonal changes taking place in your body can make you feel lethargic, or worn out after just a little bit of physical activity. These hormonal changes can also affect your mood. Some women will feel pronounced mood swings as little as a couple of weeks after becoming pregnant.

Implantation bleeding is another sign of pregnancy. When the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus, some women will have a very light bleeding. This will typically be from pinkish to reddish-brown in color, and typically lasts for 1-2 days.

Frequent urination can also indicate pregnancy. The old saying goes that the most dangerous place in the world is between a pregnant woman and a bathroom. While this is especially true later in pregnancy when your baby is pushing on your internal organs, many women experience a more frequent need to urinate throughout their pregnancy.

Nausea caused by pregnancy, sometimes called “morning sickness,” is a fairly common symptom of pregnancy. Around 70% of all new moms-to-be will experience morning sickness. Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day, not just during the morning. This nausea may be constant, as it is for some women; or, it may just occur occasionally. The degree to which you feel sick can also vary; you might just feel a little woozy, or you might experience full fledged vomiting.

Breast tenderness is one of the very earliest signs of pregnancy. Increased hormones cause breasts to be sensitive and sore, and often to swell.

For a twin pregnancy, these signs and symptoms are often exaggerated. The extra hormones that a woman who is pregnant with twins has can make breasts even more tender, make you more tired, make you need to urinate even more frequently, and, unfortunately, cause more morning sickness or nausea.

While it is not particularly scientific, many women who have become pregnant with twins feel that they just knew ahead of time that it was going to be twins. You cannot study this intuition in a lab, but neither can you discount a woman’s ability to know her own body.

Another sign of a twin pregnancy is rapid weight gain in the first trimester. This is normal and common for women who are pregnant with twins or multiples. Measuring large for gestational age, in which your health care provider determines that your uterus is larger than usual for how far along in pregnancy you are can be another early sign of a twin pregnancy.

Women who are pregnant with twins often have elevated levels of a protein released by the baby called AFP, or alpha fetoprotein. In addition, you will probably have rapidly rising levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG for short, which is a hormone produced by the fertilized egg and used to help your pregnancy while the placenta is developing.

Aug 032012
 

Pregnancy is a wondrous and exciting time, full of new experiences and wonderful surprises. One of the biggest surprises that some moms go through is the discovery that they are going to have twins (or more!) There are several things that can indicate a twin or multiple pregnancy.

The best and most reliable way to confirm a twin or multiple pregnancy is to see it with an ultrasound. An ultrasound is the only guaranteed way to know whether you’re carring more than one baby. An ultrasound may be able to detect multiple embryos as early as your third week of pregnancy; However, the ultrasound will be most reliable at detecting a multiple or twin pregnancy at around 6 to 8 weeks.

While an ultrasound is the best method for detecting twins, there are other symptoms that can, in the absence of an ultrasound, suggest twins. They include:

  • Doppler Heartbeat Count. A Doppler system amplifies fetal heartbeat sounds, which can be distinguished late in your first trimester. An experienced health care provider may be able to recognize the sound of a second heartbeat. However, the sounds can sometimes be misleading, as the second beat could be caused by background noise or the mother’s heart.
  • Elevated hCG levels. While twin and multiple pregnancies do produce higher than average hCG levels, these levels are not out of range of a singleton pregnancy.
  • AFP test results. An AFP test is used during the second trimester to identify the risks of certain birth defects. A twin or multiple pregnancy can produce high AFP results.
  • Measuring large for Gestational Age. Your health care provider may use the measurement of the fundus (the area from the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus) to indicate gestational age. If the measurement is large, you may have multiples. However, there are other factors that can increase the size of the fundus as well.
  • Weight gain. Here, too, many factors can contribute to excessive weight gain. 
  • Excessive morning sickness. Some studies suggest that pregnancy with twins or multiples leads to a greater degree of morning sickness, but researchers are not entirely certain that this is always the case.
  • Early and frequent fetal movement. While multiples often do experience earlier or more frequent movement, many singles do as well.
  • Extreme fatigue. Fatigue can be an indication of multiples; it can also be an indication of work, stress, poor nutrition, or just plain old tiredness.
  • Family history and mother’s intuition. While not exactly scientific, a family history or mother’s hunches can sometimes be indicators of a twin or multiple pregnancy.
Aug 012012
 

The fetal heart rate will change during the second trimester, just as it changes throughout the various stages of pregnancy. In fact, the fetal heart rate can change on a moment-by-moment basis, in response to various stimuli or various conditions that can be affecting your baby. While your baby’s heart rate does tend to spike briefly around the age of ten weeks of pregnancy, by the time that the second trimester rolls around, your baby’s heart rate will not change much until after your baby is born.

The fetal heart rate can, typically, be heard at around eight to ten weeks of pregnancy, depending on the mother’s body size and the method used to find the fetal heart rate, whether a transvaginal ultrasound or a Doppler or some other method. At around the tenth week of pregnancy, roughly three weeks before the second trimester begins, the fetal heart rate will peak at around 175 beats per minute. By week fifteen, which is during the very early part of the second trimester, the fetal heart rate will have dropped down to around 140 beats per minute.

It was once thought that the fetal heart rate could predict your baby’s gender. It was thought that, if a baby’s heart rate was under 140 beats per minute that it would be a boy, and that if it was over 140 beats per minute it would be a girl. The theory behind this idea was that, because women usually have a higher metabolic rate than men, that unborn girls would have a slightly higher pulse rate than unborn boys. However, most research does seem to disprove this idea, and demonstrate that there is not necessarily a connection between the fetal heart rate and the gender of your baby.

If you have concerns about your fetal heart rate, you should speak with your health care provider. Your health care provider can help to interpret what a high or a low fetal heart rate might mean, as well as help to figure out if it indicates some sort of a problem that will need to be addressed.

Jul 162012
 

The heartrate should be heard, to be certain, some time during the first trimester. When exactly the heartrate should be heard during the first trimester will vary from one woman to the next, and even from one pregnancy to the next. There are a variety of factors that go into when the heartrate will be heard during the first trimester, including what sort of equipment is being used to try to hear the heartrate, as well as the physical build of the mother.

It may be possible that the heartrate would be heard at just about five weeks along during the first trimester. The baby’s heart begins to beat at some time around four weeks to five weeks into the first trimester, but cannot always be detected quite so early. In most cases, a baby’s heartrate could be heard by about 8 weeks of pregnancy using a transvaginal ultrasound. It isn’t necessarily common or regular practice for a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound at this point during the first trimester, however. A Doppler test can typically detect the heartrate at around 9 or 10 weeks of pregnancy. Using a standard stethoscope, you should be able to hear your baby’s heartrate during the second trimester, at around week 18 of pregnancy. If you have a bigger build, it can add between 1 and 3 weeks to the time before a Doppler or a stethoscope may be able to hear your baby’s heartrate. In some cases, it can be during the final days of the first trimester, at around week 13 or even 14, that your baby’s heartrate can be heard using a Doppler.

  • Generally speaking, you will be able to see your baby on an ultrasound about the same time that you would be able to hear your baby’s heartrate during the first trimester. In some cases, you may be able to see your baby on an ultrasound even a little bit earlier than you would be able to hear the heartrate during the first trimester. It may be able to detect a pregnancy as early as five weeks of pregnancy using an ultrasound, although the 9th to 10th week of pregnancy is more common.
Jul 142012
 

For women who have been trying to conceive, especially for women who have been using fertility treatments or medications, finding out that you are pregnant is an extremely exciting time. Many women, once they become pregnant, may wonder if they are going to have twins. This is especially true for women whose fertility treatments tend to produce twin or multiple pregnancies. There are certain early signs that a woman can watch for to see if she may be pregnant with twins.

One of the early signs of a twin pregnancy is that other signs of pregnancy might be exaggerated. The extra hormones that a woman who is pregnant with twins has can make breasts even more tender, make you more tired, make you need to urinate even more frequently, and, unfortunately, cause more morning sickness or nausea.

Another sign of a twin pregnancy is rapid weight gain in the first trimester. This is normal and common for women who are pregnant with twins or multiples. Measuring large for gestational age, in which your health care provider determines that your uterus is larger than usual for how far along in pregnancy you are can be another early sign of a twin pregnancy.

Women who are pregnant with twins often have elevated levels of a protein released by the baby called AFP, or alpha fetoprotein. In addition, you will probably have rapidly rising levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG for short, which is a hormone produced by the fertilized egg and used to help your pregnancy while the placenta is developing.

One of the most reliable signs that you are carrying twins is the presence of multiple heartbeats. At around 12 weeks of pregnancy, your health care provider will be able to do a Doppler test, in which he may be able to distinguish two heartbeats. An ultrasound can also reliably reveal whether or not you are carrying twins. At around six weeks of pregnancy, a skilled technician can find two embryos, two heartbeats, and two sacs.

Finally, many women just know when they are pregnant with twins. While intuition is not scientifically reliable, a woman’s ability to know her own body cannot be discounted.

Jul 102012
 

 

A due date is, in reality, an educated guess by your physician based on your recollection of dates and, later during pregnancy, of your baby’s growth. The fact is your baby will arrive whenever she’s ready to arrive, not before or after. Most births don’t actually occur on the due date, believe it or not.

A healthy pregnancy is considered anywhere from 39 to 42 weeks. (Although full term is considered 37 weeks, many experts believe that babies have the best results in terms of health when delivered after week 38).

The due date prediction is fairly straightforward. Go back to the first day of your last menstrual period. Pregnancy typically lasts 280 days from that time until delivery. If you usually have a longer cycle than 28 days, you might deliver after your due date, and if yoru cycle usually is shorter, you might deliver a few days prior.

In addition to this sort of calculation, your health care provider might use other means to try to predict a more accurate due date. Using an ultrasound, your health care provider will take a measurement of various parts of your baby’s growth and development. The size of your baby during these ultrasounds, as well as the growth that your baby makes between ultrasounds, might prompt your health care provider to alter your due date, if the measurements don’t match up very well with the date calculated using the date of your last menstrual period.

Once you hit 40 weeks of pregnancy and become “overdue,” your health care provider will probably suggest some stress testing in order to make sure that your baby is still doing all right. If pregnancy goes much past your due date, your health care provider may suggest that you should have labor induced. On the other hand, if you were to go into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is likely that your health care provider would like to be able to stop labor, and postpone it long enough for your baby to do some more developing.