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Chủ đề: Labor and Delivery

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    Labor and Delivery

    Pregnancy and Signs of Labor

    The first question most women have is, Am I pregnant? The question that usually follows is, What's labor and delivery like? This information will help answer the most common questions about labor, especially if this is your first pregnancy. For detailed information on delivery, see Methods of Delivery.


    Signs of Labor

    Some women experience very distinct signs of labor, while others do not. No one knows what causes labor to start or when it will start, but several hormonal and physical changes may indicate the beginning of labor.
    These changes include:
    • Lightening
    • Passing of the mucus plug
    • Contractions
    • Water breaking
    • Effacement and dilation of the cervix
    Lightening During Labor

    The process of your baby settling or lowering into your pelvis just before labor is called lightening. Lightening can occur a few weeks or a few hours before labor. Because the uterus rests on the bladder more after lightening, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently.
    Passing of the Mucus Plug

    The mucus plug accumulates at the cervix during pregnancy. When the cervix begins to open wider, the mucus is discharged into the vagina and may be clear, pink, or slightly bloody. Labor may begin soon after the mucus plug is discharged or one to two weeks later.
    Labor Contractions

    During contractions, the abdomen becomes hard. Between contractions, the uterus relaxes and the abdomen becomes soft. The way a contraction feels is different for each woman and may feel different from one pregnancy to the next. But, labor contractions usually cause discomfort or a dull ache in your back and lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis. Contractions move in a wave-like motion from the top of the uterus to the bottom. Some women describe contractions as strong menstrual cramps. Unlike false labor contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions -- true labor contractions do not stop when you change your position or relax. Although the contractions may be uncomfortable, you will be able to relax in between contractions.
    What's the Difference Between True Labor and False Labor?

    Before "true" labor begins, you may have "false" labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These irregular uterine contractions are perfectly normal and may start to occur in your second trimester, although more commonly in your third trimester of pregnancy. They are your body's way of getting ready for the "real thing."
    What Do Braxton Hicks Contractions Feel Like?

    Braxton Hicks contractions can be described as a tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes. These contractions do not get closer together, do not increase with walking, do not increase in how long they last and do not feel stronger over time as they do when you are in true labor.

    How Do I Know When I Am in True Labor?

    To figure out if the contractions you are feeling are the real thing, ask yourself the following questions.
    Contraction Characteristics False Labor True Labor
    How often do the contractions occur? Contractions are often irregular and do not get closer together. Contractions come at regular intervals and last about 30-70 seconds. As time goes on, they get closer together.
    Do they change with movement? Contractions may stop when you walk or rest, or may even stop if you change positions. Contractions continue despite movement or changing positions.
    How strong are they? Contractions are usually weak and do not get much stronger. Or they may be strong at first and then get weaker. Contractions steadily increase in strength.
    Where do you feel the pain? Contractions are usually only felt in the front of the abdomen or pelvic region. Contractions usually start in the lower back and move to the front of the abdomen.


    How Do I Know When to Go to the Hospital?

    When you think you are in true labor, start timing your contractions. To do this, write down the time each contraction starts and stops or have someone do it for you. The time between contractions includes the length or duration of the contraction and the minutes in between the contractions (called the interval).
    Mild contractions generally begin 15 to 20 minutes apart and last 60 to 90 seconds. The contractions become more regular until they are less than 5 minutes apart. Active labor (the time you should come into the hospital) is usually characterized by strong contractions that last 45 to 60 seconds and occur 3 to 4 minutes apart.
    What Can I Do to Relieve Labor Pain?

    The first stage of labor (called the Latent Phase) is best experienced in the comfort of your home. Here are some tips to help you cope.
    • Try to distract yourself -- take a walk, watch a movie.
    • Soak in a warm tub or take a warm shower. But, ask your health care provider if you can take a tub bath if your water has broken.
    • Try to sleep if it is in the evening. You need to store up your energy for active labor.
    What Happens When My Water Breaks During Labor?

    The rupture of the amniotic membrane (the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the baby during pregnancy) may feel either like a sudden gush of fluid or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily. The fluid is usually odorless and may look clear or straw-colored. If your "water breaks," write down the time this occurs, how much fluid is released and what the fluid looks like and then notify your health care provider. Although, labor may not start immediately after your water breaks, delivery of your baby will occur within the next 24 hours.
    Lastly, keep in mind that not all women will have their water break when they are in labor. Many times the doctor will rupture the amniotic membrane in the hospital.
    What Is Effacement and Dilation of the Cervix?

    During labor, your cervix gets shorter and thins out in order to stretch and open around your baby's head. The shortening and thinning of the cervix is called effacement. Your health care provider will be able to tell you if there are changes to the cervix during a pelvic exam. Effacement is measured in percentages from 0% to 100%. If there are no changes to the cervix, it is described as 0% effaced. When the cervix is half the normal thickness, it is 50% effaced. When the cervix is completely thinned out, it is 100% effaced.
    The stretching and opening of your cervix is called dilation and is measured in centimeters with complete dilation being at 10 centimeters.
    Effacement and dilation are a direct result of effective uterine contractions. Progress in labor is measured by how much the cervix has opened and thinned to allow your baby to pass through the vagina.


    When Should I Call My Health Care Provider or Go to the Hospital?

    When you suspect you are in true labor, call your health care provider. Also call:
    • If you think your water has broken
    • If you are bleeding (more than spotting)
    • If the baby seems to be moving less than normal
    • When your contractions are very uncomfortable and have been coming every five minutes for an hour
    Your health care provider will give you specific guidelines about when you should get ready to come to the hospital.
    Woman of short-lived passions

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    Re: Labor and Delivery

    Getting Pregnant

    The time to start working toward a healthy pregnancy is before you conceive. Learn strategies for getting pregnant, and how to prepare for pregnancy.
    Preparing for Pregnancy

    See Your Doctor First
    A preconception counseling appointment with your doctor is an important first step in preparing for pregnancy.
    Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
    Why you should take prenatal vitamins before and during your pregnancy.
    Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy
    If you're planning to become pregnant, prepare for a healthy pregnancy by taking care of medical and dental concerns beforehand.
    Your Prepregnancy To-Do List
    Trying to conceive? Print this to-do list for a healthy pregnancy.
    Preparing for Pregnancy Emotionally
    Here are a few points to think about before making a baby.
    Getting Pregnant After Birth Control
    How soon can you get pregnant after stopping birth control?
    Can You Time Your Pregnancy?
    Is it possible to schedule your pregnancy for a certain month or season?

    Improve Your Fertility

    Understanding Conception
    This article helps you understand the various steps from ovulation to a positive pregnancy test.
    Getting Started on Getting Pregnant
    You've decided to have a baby! Now you're probably wondering: how long will it take to get pregnant, when to have sex, and how often? Find out here.
    8 Ways to Boost Your Fertility
    If you're like most couples who are trying to conceive, you want to get pregnant sooner rather than later. Here’s help.
    7 Tips for Getting Pregnant Faster
    There are some things you can do -- or not do -- to help increase your chances of getting pregnant. Here are seven expert-approved tips for getting pregnant.
    Tool: Ovulation Calendar
    Find out the best times for you and your partner to conceive.

    Already Pregnant?

    Early Pregnancy Symptoms
    Do you have any of these five early signs of pregnancy?
    False Pregnancy (Pseudocyesis)
    False pregnancy, or pseudocyesis, is the belief that you are expecting a baby when you are not really carrying a child.
    Home Pregnancy Tests
    Some women approach the prospect of pregnancy with excitement, others with worry. No matter how you feel about the idea of being pregnant, a pregnancy test may let you know, one way or the other, if you are pregnant.
    Choosing Your Pregnancy Health Care Provider
    Who will help care for you during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery?
    Due Date Calculator
    Congratulations, you're pregnant! Now find out when your baby will arrive.
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    Re: Labor and Delivery

    Nutrition and Fitness

    A healthy lifestyle is vital during pregnancy. Here's what you should (and shouldn't) do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and to prepare for baby's arrival.
    Eating Right

    Pregnancy: Eating Healthy for Two
    You should avoid these five foods during pregnancy.
    Healthy Pregnancy Diet
    Eating healthy food -- and enough of it -- during pregnancy is very important for your baby.
    Separating Myths vs. Facts
    Experts set the record straight on diet, weight gain, alcohol, caffeine, and more.

    Exercise

    Pregnancy and Exercise
    Who should not exercise during pregnancy; which exercises are safe, and which are not.
    Exercise During Pregnancy: Myth vs. Fact
    Test your knowledge with these questions, vetted by several top fitness and medical experts.
    Exercises for Pregnant Women
    Here are some exercises that will help you stay fit during your pregnancy.

    Weight Gain

    Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much Is Healthy?
    Tips for gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy, and what to do if you gain too much.
    Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines Explained
    Answers to some common questions women have about their pregnancy weight gain.
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    First Trimester

    Every stage of pregnancy brings different issues and concerns. Use this part of the guide as a roadmap to the first three months of your pregnancy journey.
    What to Expect

    First Trimester of Pregnancy
    No matter how well you prepare for your pregnancy, you may not be able to fully anticipate all of the different changes that are about to take place in your body.
    Pregnancy Week by Week: The First Month
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the first month.
    The Second Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the second month.
    The Third Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the third month.

    Prenatal Tests

    Prenatal Tests During Pregnancy
    The most common prenatal tests you can expect to undergo at some point during your pregnancy.
    Prenatal Tests: First Trimester
    Here are some tests you may undergo during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
    Rh Sensitization
    At your first prenatal visit, every woman has her blood tested to see what her blood type is. If your blood is Rh-negative, it will also be tested for antibodies to Rh-positive blood.
    Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
    Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a type of prenatal test done during the first trimester to look for problems with the fetus.



    Health Concerns

    High-Risk Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy is called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of a health problem.
    7 Pregnancy Warning Signs
    Some symptoms during pregnancy are par for the course, but others are cause for alarm. How do you know the difference?
    Bed Rest During Pregnancy
    Most women are able to stay active throughout pregnancy, but each year, nearly 20% of pregnant women are prescribed bed rest for at least some part of their pregnancy.
    Dealing With Morning Sickness
    For many women, the toughest part of early pregnancy is morning sickness.
    Blighted Ovum
    Learn about the causes and symptoms of a blighted ovum.
    Sex During Pregnancy
    Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy. Could there be risks? And what about sex after pregnancy?
    Common Pregnancy Pains
    Your body is constantly changing during pregnancy, which may cause discomfort.
    Bleeding During Pregnancy
    Bleeding during pregnancy is common, especially during the first trimester, and usually it's no cause for alarm, but sometimes can be a sign of something more serious.
    Understanding Miscarriage
    A miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, is a pregnancy that ends by itself within the first 20 weeks.
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    Second Trimester

    Every stage of pregnancy brings different issues and concerns. Use this part of the guide as a roadmap to the second trimester of your pregnancy journey.
    What to Expect

    Second Trimester of Pregnancy
    The second trimester of pregnancy spans from week 13 to week 27 of your pregnancy.
    The Fourth Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the fourth month.
    Fifth Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the fifth month.
    Sixth Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the sixth month.

    Prenatal Tests

    Second Trimester Tests During Pregnancy
    Here are the prenatal tests you may face in the second trimester of your pregnancy.
    Amniocentesis
    Amniocentesis is performed to look for certain types of birth defects.
    Quad Marker Screen
    The quad marker screen predicts the likelihood of certain problems occurring with a pregnancy.
    Glucose Screening
    All women should be screened for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

    Health Concerns

    Back Pain in Pregnancy
    At some point in pregnancy between morning sickness and labor pains, you may experience another unwelcome aspect of being pregnant: back pain.
    Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
    What causes preeclampsia and eclampsia? Who is at risk, and what are the signs?
    Heartburn During Pregnancy
    Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid and is a common part of pregnancy.
    Placenta Previa
    When the placenta blocks the cervix, it is called placenta previa. Here’s how you can lower your risk.
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    Third Trimester

    Every stage of pregnancy brings different issues and concerns. Use this part of the guide as a roadmap to the last trimester of your pregnancy journey.
    What to Expect

    Third Trimester of Pregnancy
    Now that you've reached the third trimester, you're in the home stretch of your pregnancy.
    Seventh Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the seventh month.
    Eighth Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the eighth month.
    Ninth Month of Pregnancy
    Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect during the ninth month.

    Prenatal Tests

    Third Trimester Tests During Pregnancy
    These tests are common in the third trimester of pregnancy.

    Health Concerns

    Braxton Hicks or True Labor Contractions?
    Before "true" labor begins, you may have "false" labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
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    Re: Labor and Delivery

    Countdown to Baby

    You've got questions about labor and delivery, pain relief, and preparing for baby. We've got answers.
    Preparing for Baby

    Childbirth Class Options
    Like painting the nursery or stocking up on disposable diapers, attending childbirth classes is often part of a couple's preparation for a baby's arrival.
    Preparing Your Children for Baby’s Arrival
    Practical tips for helping your children adjust to the new baby.
    What to Buy for Your Baby: The Essentials
    Everything you need to take care of your baby during the early months.
    Managing a High-Risk Pregnancy
    A pregnancy is considered high-risk when there are potential complications that could affect the mother, the baby, or both.

    Labor and Delivery

    Vaginal Delivery
    Vaginal delivery is the most common and safest type of childbirth.
    Prolonged Labor
    How quickly your bundle of joy arrives depends on many things, including how fast something called labor is happening.
    Normal Labor and Delivery Process
    After months of anticipation, your baby's due date is near. Here's what you can expect from the start of labor until the first days and weeks with your new baby.
    The Truth About C-Sections
    Today, C-sections represent 31.8% of all births in the U.S. annually. With the numbers inching upward, it's important for expectant moms to understand what a C-section means for their bodies, and their health.
    What to Expect After C-Section
    After a routine cesarean section, expect to be monitored closely for the next 24 hours to make sure that you don't develop any problems.
    Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC)
    If you have had a cesarean delivery (also called a C-section) before, you may be able to deliver your next baby vaginally. This is called vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC.
    Childbirth Options: What’s Best?
    Find your personal birthing zone, and the delivery method that's right for you.
    Pain Relief Options for Child Birth
    There are a number of different medications a woman can take during labor and childbirth. Here are the options.
    Inducing Labor
    If a pregnancy isn't proceeding as it should, or if the health of the mother or baby is threatened, doctors may have to speed up the process by inducing labor.
    Stages of Labor
    Labor happens in three stages; here's what to expect during each of them.
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