The Ultrasound Test
Ultra–sonography is performed during 16–18 weeks of gestation. A second scan may be carried out at 32 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but not indicated in the absence of any risk markers.
Ultrasound is a most useful means in antenatal care. It gives vast information about the growing baby, the placenta and the umbilical cord. Its importance are as follows.
Accurately ascertainments the gestational age of the baby (menstrual history can be unreliable in up to 45% of women)
Locating the cause of bleeding and/or abdominal pain during early pregnancy
To check for fetal size and liquor volume when the uterus is small or large
For excluding multiple pregnancy
For establishing the maturity of the baby
Looking for fetal defects when serum AFP (alpha fetoprotein concentration) levels are found to be high
For a detailed examination of the baby when the risk of congenital anomaly is high or an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling is being planned
Monitoring fetal growth in high–risk pregnancies
For determination of fetal presentation when the same can not be made out on palpation
For ascertaining the placental health
A woman is given health education and advice on, diet, hygiene, dental care, rest and sleep, care of the breasts, smoking (avoid it), coitus. Also advised are investigations and maternity benefits which are very important for herself and her baby.
The woman should wear loose and comfortable fitting clothes. Tight clothes can make movement difficult. Tight clothing might worsen indigestion and heartburn due to the reflux of acid, on the other hand they increase the chances of fungal infection or Candidacies in the vagina. Gowns and loose flowing robes are probably the best in pregnancy.
Avoid the use of high–heeled shoes. They can strain the back and throw one off balance. So, shoes with low heel or flat heel are the best.
Rest and sleep
The woman should continue her usual day to day activities during pregnancy. She should always take some rest as soon as she feels tired. Women who are working should take maternity leave at least 6 weeks before her expected date of delivery. All pregnant women should avoid strenuous work especially in the first trimester and the last 6 weeks.
Sleep should be for 10 hrs. at night and 2 hrs. in the day.
A pregnant woman should travel only when required. She should avoid traveling in the 1st and 3rd trimester. Traveling should be done without any stress and strain on the pregnant mother. She should avoid traveling on roads that might cause a lot of jerking.
She should not fly after 28th week.
Walking is good exercise for the pregnant mother. It helps improve the circulation in the legs and tones up the body and mind. She should walk in free, unpolluted air for 1hr daily.
Regular antenatal exercises under the supervision of a trained physiotherapist is recommended. This helps the woman to relax and prepare herself for childbirth. It also teaches how to breath and relax during labor and thus makes the woman more comfortable during delivery.
Slow deep breaths followed by shallow and fast breathing. Do not hold breathing.
Intercourse should be avoided during the first trimester and during the last 6weeks of pregnancy.
Smoking, Alcohol and Medicines
Quit smoking. Smoking during pregnancy is very dangerous for the mother’s health as well as the development of the baby. Smoking mothers have smaller babies. There is also a higher risk that the baby will be premature and underweight. Babies of women who smoke are, on average 200 gm (7 oz) lighter than they should be.
The nicotine and carbon monoxide that the woman inhales goes from her bloodstream into the babies’ and due to this the baby gets less oxygen and cannot grow well.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect the development of the baby adversely, especially during the early weeks.
Consult your dentist at the earliest, normally in the 2nd trimester. Also tell the dentist that you are pregnant before he prescribe the medicine.
Also stay away from radiation sources such as x–ray examination rooms, radiation therapy rooms and industries which make use of radiation sources. Thus it is very important for a pregnant women to take care of herself and her infant, ultimately Giving birth to a new life in turn signifies the birth of a new you.