Women's Health

Health Library

Category: Pregnancy and childbirth

Abnormal Pap Test While Pregnant
Pregnancy does not seem to increase the progression of abnormal cervical cell changes. The presence of abnormal cervical cell changes or HPV does not affect the outcome of the pregnancy. Close monitoring is needed so that you and your health...

Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy
While you are pregnant, you may also have other common problems, like a cold, mild headache, backache, mild fever, or the flu, that are not caused by your pregnancy. These minor symptoms generally do not cause problems or hurt your baby. In...

Acupressure for Morning Sickness
Acupressure may help relieve or shorten the duration of your morning sickness symptoms. Acupressure is based on Eastern medicine practices used to open up blocked energy pathways in the body. Instead of using acupuncture needles, you or a...

After Childbirth: Coping and Adjusting
You can take measures to make your life easier in the days and weeks after childbirth (postpartum period).

After Childbirth: Pelvic Bone Problems
The left and right bones of your pelvic girdle are joined at the front by a narrow section of cartilage and ligament. This is called the pubic symphysis, or symphysis pubis. As the pelvic bones loosen during pregnancy, the pubic...

After Childbirth: Urination and Bowel Problems
You may have some difficulty urinating for a day or two after delivery. Your first bowel movement may be quite painful if you have had an incision (episiotomy) or a tear in your vagina. You may also have constipation or discomfort with bowel...

Alcohol Effects on a Fetus
A woman who drinks alcohol while she is pregnant may harm her developing baby (fetus). Alcohol can pass from the mother's blood into the baby's blood. It can damage and affect the growth of the baby's cells. Brain and spinal cord cells...

Alcohol or Drug Use During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, everything you eat, drink, or take into your body affects you and your growing baby (fetus). Pregnant women often need to make changes to have a healthy pregnancy, such as eating better or exercising. But one of the ...

Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) in Blood
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...

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.

Anemia During Pregnancy
Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common. Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. It can happen when you're pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow.

Antibiotics to Treat and Prevent Infection During Preterm Labor
During preterm labor, antibiotics may be used to treat or prevent an infection.

Antihistamines for Morning Sickness
Certain antihistamines such as dimenhydrinate or doxylamine, taken as your doctor advises, may relieve morning sickness.footnote 1 Doxylamine (Unisom SleepTabs) is available over-the-counter. If one of these antihistamines alone does not relieve...

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....

Antisperm Antibody Test
An antisperm antibody test looks for special proteins (antibodies) that fight against a man's sperm in blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. The test uses a sample of sperm and adds a substance that binds only to affected sperm.

Asthma During Pregnancy
Covers questions about asthma during pregnancy and labor. Looks at treatment with medicines including inhaled albuterol, budesonide, salmeterol, and formoterol. Includes treatment of allergies. Covers safety of steroids for pregnant mother and baby.

Automated Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a small device that you wear throughout the day, usually for 24 or 48 hours. The device takes your blood pressure automatically while you do your normal daily activities.

Avoiding Mercury in Fish
Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment. Human activities, such as farming, burning coal, and using mercury in manufacturing, increase the mercury cycling through the air, water, and soil. In water, mercury changes its form...

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...

Back Pain During Pregnancy
Most women develop back pain at some point during pregnancy. As the size and weight of your growing belly place more strain on your back, you may notice your posture changing. To protect your back from poor posture, unnecessary strain, and...

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting
The basal body temperature (BBT) is a person's at-rest temperature. Women can track their BBT to find out when they are ovulating. With this time line, a woman can learn when she is most and least likely to become pregnant.

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...

Bed Rest in Pregnancy
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.

Biophysical Profile (BPP)
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
Birth defects tests are done during pregnancy to look for possible problems with the baby (fetus). Birth defects develop when something is wrong with genes or chromosomes, an organ, or body chemistry. A birth defect may have...

Blood Tests for Preeclampsia
A woman who may have signs of early or mild preeclampsia will have her blood tested to detect additional signs of preeclampsia. A woman who has preeclampsia may have specific blood tests to help assess her health.

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 may also be done...

Braxton Hicks Contractions
During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you may notice episodes when your belly tightens and becomes firm to the touch, then relaxes. These are episodes of tightening (contraction) of the uterine muscles called Braxton Hicks...

Breast Cancer Treatment and 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, getting themselves ready to make and supply milk for your baby.

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

Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is feeding a baby milk from the mother's breasts. You can feed your baby right at your breast. You can also pump your breasts and put the milk in a bottle to feed your baby. Doctors advise breastfeeding for 1 year or...

Breastfeeding After a C-Section
A cesarean delivery may delay the start of breastfeeding. You may be sleepy from medicine or in pain from the surgery. Try breastfeeding your baby as soon as you are able.

Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
You usually can continue breastfeeding your child if you become pregnant. If you breastfeed while you are pregnant, be aware of the following issues:

Breastfeeding Multiple Infants
Most mothers can produce enough milk to breastfeed two or more babies. If you have twins or triplets, breastfeeding becomes more physically and emotionally challenging. But with support and guidance, you can be successful.

Breastfeeding Positions
Breastfeeding in the proper position will help your baby latch on and breastfeed correctly and make your experience more enjoyable. Also, when you are in a comfortable and relaxed position, let-down occurs more easily.

Breastfeeding When You Have Diabetes
Even though you have diabetes, you can have the same success with breastfeeding as any other woman. Breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical specialist organizations, because it benefits the...

Breastfeeding With Inverted Nipples
Inverted nipples fold inward instead of pointing out. Women with inverted nipples may have a hard time getting started with breastfeeding. A breastfeeding baby latches on more easily to a nipple when it is erect.

Breastfeeding Your Newborn and an Older Child
Breastfeeding more than one child is called tandem breastfeeding. If you continue to feed your older child along with your newborn, keep in mind that the newborn's feeding is the higher priority.

Breastfeeding a Sick Baby
If your baby has signs of a minor illness (such as cold symptoms or mild diarrhea), it is best to continue your breastfeeding routine. Breast milk provides your baby with the best possible nutrition.

Breastfeeding and Your Milk Supply
A number of things influence how much milk you produce (your milk supply). The two most important things are how often you breastfeed and how well your breast is emptied. The hormone that regulates milk production (prolactin) is stimulated...

Breastfeeding: Planning Ahead
The foundation for breastfeeding is established in the first few weeks after delivery.Planning ahead for breastfeeding can help you build a good breastfeeding routine.Minor problems may occur during breastfeeding. But with proper planning,...

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.

Breathing Techniques for Childbirth
As your due date draws nearer, learn and practice controlled breathing techniques for pain management during childbirth. Concentrating on your breathing can help distract you from pain, relax both your muscles and your mind, and keep your...

Breech Position and Breech Birth
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.

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:footnote 1

Cancer During Pregnancy
On rare occasions, cancer coincides with pregnancy. Because the medicines and radiation used for treating cancer can be dangerous to a fetus, a pregnant woman and her doctors must weigh a number of factors when planning her care, including:

Cancer Treatment and Infertility
Some treatments for cancer can cause infertility in both men and women. Also, cancer treatment in children may affect their future fertility. Infertility from cancer treatment may be temporary or permanent.

Cell-Free Fetal 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.

Cervical Cerclage to Prevent Preterm Delivery
Cervical cerclage is the placement of stitches in the cervix to hold it closed. In select cases, this procedure is used to keep a weak cervix (incompetent cervix) from opening early. When a cervix opens early, it may cause preterm labor...

Cervical Effacement and Dilatation
Effacement and dilatation allow a baby to be born through the birth canal. Effacement means that the cervix stretches and gets thinner. Dilatation means that the cervix opens.

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...

Cesarean Section
If you have had a C-section and would like information about how a cesarean affects future deliveries, see the topic Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

Chemical Exposure and Miscarriage
Exposure to certain chemicals on a regular basis during pregnancy has been linked to increased rates of miscarriage.

Childbirth Afterpains
Afterpains are sharp pains in the belly that occur in the first few days after childbirth. They may cause some discomfort. But afterpains help reduce uterine bleeding. They also help shrink the uterus back to the size it was before you were...

Childbirth Classes
You and your partner can learn a lot by taking a childbirth education class. This is especially true if it's your first pregnancy. A good time to start the class is in your sixth or seventh month. If a friend is going to be your labor support...

Childbirth Planning: How to Partner With Your Doctor
Pregnant women face lots of decisions about childbirth—what tests to have during pregnancy, where to give birth, how to manage pain. But sometimes those decisions are made for women without their opinions and guidance.

Childbirth: Epidurals
Epidural anesthesia has become a popular and effective form of childbirth pain relief. Epidural anesthesia is the injection of a numbing medicine into the space around the spinal nerves in the lower back. It numbs the area above and below the...

Childbirth: Forceps Delivery and Vacuum Extraction
When childbirth is not progressing in the pushing stage of labor, a health professional sometimes uses forceps or a kind of suction cup (vacuum extractor) to help deliver the baby. This is called an assisted delivery, or an operative vaginal...

Childbirth: Is Planning a C-Section a Good Choice?
In the past 40 years, the rate of cesarean (C-section) deliveries has jumped from about 1 out of 20 births to about 1 out of 3 births.footnote 1 This trend has caused experts to worry that C-sections are being done more often than needed.

Childbirth: Laboring in Water and Water Delivery
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. It also helps you to relax. For many women, laboring in water...

Childbirth: Opioid Pain Medicines
To help control the pain and stress of labor, you may get pain medicines. The medicine can be injected into a vein or into the muscle. The most common pain medicines used are opioids. Examples include fentanyl, morphine, and nalbuphine.

Childbirth: Perineal Massage Before Labor
In women, the perineum is the muscle and tissue between the anus and the vulva. During childbirth, the perineum stretches and sometimes tears. One way to help prevent tearing is to stretch and massage the perineum for a few weeks before...

Childbirth: Pudendal and Paracervical Blocks
To relieve pain associated with 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, numbing the area between the vagina and anus...

Childbirth: Reasons for Cesarean Delivery
A baby can be born in one of two ways. A vaginal birth is one in which the baby is delivered through the mother's birth canal (vagina). A cesarean birth (C-section) is one in which the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's...

Childbirth: Strep Infections During Delivery
Some women carry group B streptococcus bacteria in the vagina. And for some of them, it does not cause problems. (This type of strep is not the same as the type that causes strep throat.) But a woman who has group B strep in her vagina can pass...

Childbirth: Vaginal Exams During Labor
During labor, your health professional will examine your progress. He or she will put on sterile gloves and insert his or her fingers into your vagina. This allows the health professional to:

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 disorders) and chromosome defects. It is done during early pregnancy, most often between...

Congenital Heart Defects: Pregnancy
Both women and men who have a congenital heart defect need to think about a few things when planning a pregnancy. These include the risks of passing a heart defect to your child as well as the possible health risks of a pregnancy for a woman who has...

Congenital Syphilis
Congenital syphilis occurs when a mother's syphilis goes untreated during pregnancy and is passed to the baby through the placenta. A baby can also become infected with syphilis during labor or delivery.

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 fetal heart monitoring. The test is done when you are 34 or more weeks pregnant.

Contractions During Pregnancy: What to Expect
Regular contractions may mean that your uterine muscle is tightening (Braxton Hicks contractions) or that you are in labor. It may be hard to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and true labor. If there is any doubt, call...

Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease caused by a change (mutation) in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene. It is a chronic, progressive disease that causes mucus to become thick and sticky. The mucus builds...

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 are an important part of a healthy pregnancy.

Depression During Pregnancy
Depression is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. If you have symptoms of depression during pregnancy or are depressed and learn you are pregnant, make a treatment plan with your doctor right away.

Depression: Managing Postpartum Depression
Looks at postpartum depression. Discusses causes and symptoms. Covers treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal counseling, and medicines. Offers home treatment tips. Links to more in-depth info on postpartum depression.

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.

Diabetes: Preparing for Pregnancy
If you are a woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who is planning to become pregnant, meet with your doctor. Your doctor will want to talk to you about your A1c goal, your medicine for diabetes, your weight, and getting enough folic acid....

Diabetes: Should I Get Pregnant?
Guides you through decision to become pregnant when you have diabetes. Discusses getting diabetes under control. Looks at decreasing risks to mother and baby if you have uncontrolled diabetes. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Doulas and Support During Childbirth
Having support while you're in labor and delivering your baby can be a very positive experience.

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.footnote 1 Eclampsia is life-threatening for both a mother and her fetus. During a...

Ectopic Pregnancy
Discusses ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy), a condition where a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Covers tests and treatments. Discusses complications, including fallopian tube damage. Covers risk factors like smoking, PID, or tubal ligation.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Getting Pregnant Again
Having an ectopic pregnancy may affect your future fertility, and it increases your risk of having another ectopic pregnancy. When an ectopic pregnancy grows in a fallopian tube, it can damage the surrounding tubal tissue. This may make it...

Ectopic Pregnancy: Managing Methotrexate Side Effects
Methotrexate side effects are more likely to cause problems when treatment lasts for many months, which is common in cancer and rheumatoid arthritis treatment. But side effects do occur when methotrexate is given to end an ectopic pregnancy.

Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring
Electronic fetal heart 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...

Emergency Contraception
Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy if:

Emotional Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy prompts your body to make lots of hormones. These hormones can affect your mind and your body. It's common to feel tired, forgetful, or moody. And you also may be focused on other things, like body changes, symptoms, money worries, and...

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...

Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia
Epidural and spinal blocks are types of anesthesia in which a local anesthetic is injected near the spinal cord and nerve roots. It blocks pain from an entire region of the body, such as the belly, the hips, the legs, or the pelvis. Epidural...

Episiotomy and Perineal Tears
An episiotomy (say "eh-pih-zee-AH-tuh-mee") is a cut the doctor or midwife makes in the perineum (say "pair-uh-NEE-um"), which is the area between the vagina and anus. It is done to help deliver the baby or to help prevent the...

Estrogens
An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogen hormones in a blood or urine sample. It measures estradiol, estriol, and estrone.

Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise is good for healthy pregnant women who are receiving prenatal care. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks...

Expectant Management in Ectopic Pregnancy
Some early ectopic pregnancies are watched closely to see whether the embryo will become reabsorbed by the body. (This is also called expectant management.)

External Cephalic Version (Version) for Breech Position
External cephalic version, or version, is a procedure used to turn a fetus from a breech position or side-lying (transverse) position into a head-down (vertex) position before labor begins. When successful, version makes it possible for...

Fallopian Tube Procedures for Infertility
A fallopian tube blockage typically 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. The specific type of surgery...

Fatigue During Pregnancy
Most women struggle with feeling very tired when they are pregnant. This tiredness, or fatigue, is most common during the first and third trimesters.

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.

Fertility Problems
Looks at infertility. Includes info on various tests used for women and men to find out why a woman can't get pregnant. Covers treatments for men and women, including medicine to help a woman ovulate and procedures to increase a man's sperm count.

Fertility Problems: Should I Be Tested?
Guides you through the decision to have infertility testing. Talks about causes of infertility. Lists risks and benefits of infertility testing. Explains how you might use test results. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

Fertility Problems: Should I Have a Tubal Procedure or In Vitro Fertilization?
Guides you through the decision to have a procedure to fix a tubal problem or to have in vitro fertilization. Looks at chances of pregnancy and risks after each procedure. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Fetal Blood Sampling (FBS) for Rh Sensitization 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...

Fetal Monitoring During Labor
Fetal heart monitoring is a way to check the heart rate of your baby (fetus) during labor. The heart rate is a good way to find out if your baby is doing well. It can show if there is a problem.

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...

Fever During Pregnancy
It is not unusual to develop a viral illness that causes a fever during pregnancy or after your delivery. Mild fevers that last only a short time usually are not a concern.

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 with an ovulation test.

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. Your doctor will monitor your fetus's growth by measuring the height...

First-Trimester Screening for Birth Defects
What is the first-trimester screening for birth defects?

Folic Acid Test
A folic acid test measures the amount of folic acid in the blood. Folic acid is one of many B vitamins. The body needs folic acid to make red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets, and for normal growth. Folic...

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
A follicle-stimulating hormone test measures the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in a blood sample. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland.

Food Poisoning During Pregnancy
A balanced, nutritious diet during your pregnancy is important to maintain your health and nourish your fetus. When making your food choices, you generally are able to eat the foods you usually eat. But because some types of food poisoning...

Gamete and Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT and ZIFT) for Infertility
Some infertile couples are affected by conditions that prevent the sperm and egg from traveling through a fallopian tube. (This is where fertilization and the first stage of cell division take place.) The following are assisted...

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) During Pregnancy
Most pregnant women have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially heartburn, at some point. These symptoms may start at any time during a pregnancy. And they often get worse throughout the pregnancy. Heartburn is common...

Genetic Testing: Ethical, Legal, and Religious Issues
The decision to have genetic tests may bring up ethical, legal, and religious issues.

Genetics
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 contained in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), a substance inside...

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. Covers list of supplies needed, including blood sugar meter, testing strips, and lancet. Gives step-by-step instructions. Offers slideshow on using a blood sugar meter.

Gestational Diabetes: Counting Carbs
Guides you through carbohydrate counting as a good way to help control blood sugar when you have gestational diabetes. Explains why you need to count carbohydrates and how to count them. Includes suggestions that can help you count carbohydrate grams.

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 emergencies.

Gestational Diabetes: Giving Yourself Insulin Shots
Describes how to give an insulin injection when you have gestational diabetes. Covers what is needed, including syringe and vial or cartridge of insulin. Offers step-by-step instructions and links to slideshows on preparing an injection.

Getting Enough Folic Acid
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins your body needs for good health. Getting enough of this vitamin prevents folic acid deficiency anemia. It also prevents certain birth defects.

Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control
The amount of time it takes for a woman's full fertility to return after stopping birth control varies for each woman and depends on the birth control method she is using. Your ability to get pregnant gradually decreases as you age, starting...

Ginger for Morning Sickness
Ginger may relieve nausea and morning sickness after a few days of treatment.footnote 1 There are several ways you can use ginger to relieve your symptoms. Try:

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 and Preeclampsia
HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening liver disorder thought to be a type of severe preeclampsia. It is characterized by Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes (which indicate liver damage), and Low Platelet count.

HIV and Pregnancy
The United States Preventive Services Task Force, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all pregnant women be screened...

Heart Valve Disease and Pregnancy
Women who have a heart valve disease and want to become pregnant have some special considerations. A valve disease may increase the risk to the mother and the developing baby (fetus). Treatment of a valve disease might have to change during a...

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
This topic is about high blood pressure that some women get while they are pregnant. For information about preeclampsia, a more serious kind of high blood pressure, see the topic Preeclampsia.

High-Risk Pregnancy
Your pregnancy is called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of a health problem. Many things can put you at high risk. Being called "high-risk" may sound scary. But it's just a way for doctors to make sure that you get...

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...

Hormone Inhibin A
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.

Hospital Policies and Breastfeeding
It is important to have breastfeeding support from your doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who care for you and your baby. Fortunately, most people involved in health care are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Before having your baby,...

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
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...

Immunizations and Pregnancy
Your immunity protects both you and your fetus. After you have been immunized (vaccinated) against or infected by a virus or bacteria, your body develops an immunity to that infectious agent. Full immunity can protect you from future...

In Vitro Fertilization for Infertility
During in vitro fertilization (IVF), eggs and sperm are brought together in a laboratory glass dish to allow the sperm to fertilize an egg. With IVF, you can use any combination of your own eggs and sperm and donor eggs and sperm.

Indirect Coombs Test
An indirect Coombs test determines whether there are antibodies to the Rh factor in the mother's blood.

Infertility Tests
Infertility tests are done to help find out why a woman cannot become pregnant. The tests help find whether the problem is with the man, the woman, or both. Tests usually include a physical exam, semen analysis, blood tests, and...

Infertility Treatment for Women With PCOS
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) do not ovulate regularly. They often have trouble getting pregnant. The medicine clomiphene (such as Clomid) is commonly used to stimulate ovulation. But it doesn't work for some women who have...

Infertility: Aging Egg Supply
From birth, females have a fixed—though plentiful—supply of eggs (ovarian reserve). As a woman ages past her mid-30s, her eggs gradually degrade, making it less likely that she will naturally conceive, or that an assisted reproductive...

Infertility: Emotional and Social Concerns
Infertility is a major life crisis for many couples. It may affect self-esteem, body image, sexual identity, life goals, and sexual relations. When faced with the possibility or diagnosis of infertility, you may experience a broad range of...

Infertility: Ethical and Legal Concerns
Reproductive research and treatment raise many ethical and legal concerns. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has issued a number of statements about these issues. You can review these statements on its website at...

Infertility: Factors That Affect Treatment Success
Infertility treatment success is defined as the birth of a healthy infant.

Infertility: Problems With Fallopian Tubes
Problems with the fallopian tubes are a leading cause of infertility in women. Tubal blockage may be caused by:

Infertility: Problems With Ovulation
It can be hard to find out the cause of ovulation problems. Possible causes may include:

Infertility: Problems With the Uterus and Cervix
Problems with a woman's uterus and/or cervix may be caused by many things. Causes include:

Infertility: Questions to Ask About Assisted Reproductive Technology
When thinking about an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure, ask your doctor:

Infertility: Questions to Ask About Medicine or Hormone Treatment
When considering whether to try medicine or hormone treatment for infertility, ask:

Infertility: Questions to Ask About Surgery
When you consider getting surgical infertility treatment, ask your doctor these questions.

Infertility: Setting Limits on Testing
Looking for a cause of infertility can be a brief process or can become a financially, emotionally, and physically demanding succession of tests and procedures. Before you start infertility testing, take some time together to talk about how...

Infertility: Setting Limits on Treatment
Infertility treatment has great potential for squandering some of your most precious resources—money, time, and peace of mind. Before you start infertility treatment, decide how much money, time, and emotional energy you can afford to spend on...

Infertility: Should I Have Treatment?
Guides you through the decision to have infertility treatment. Explains what infertility is and what may cause it. Discusses various types of infertility treatments. Covers benefits and risks. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

Infertility: Thinking About Adoption
You may wish 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 provides people with an opportunity to...

Inflammatory Bowel Disease During Pregnancy
Most women who have inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease) can have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. IBD does not affect the pregnancy itself. In most cases, if a woman who has inflammatory bowel...

Insemination Procedures for Infertility
An insemination procedure uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to put sperm into the woman's reproductive tract. For some couples with infertility problems, insemination can improve the chances of pregnancy.

Insemination for Infertility
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the flushing of sperm directly into the uterus. This is done through a thin, flexible tube (catheter).

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: What Is Your Due Date?
Offers interactive tool to find out your due date. Tool calculates when you are likely to deliver your baby. Offers links to info on pregnancy.

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.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection for Infertility
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to treat sperm-related infertility problems. ICSI is used to enhance the fertilization phase of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by injecting a...

Intrauterine Fetal Blood Transfusion for Rh Disease
An intrauterine transfusion provides blood to an Rh-positive fetus when fetal red blood cells are being destroyed by Rh antibodies.

Labor Induction and Augmentation
As the end of pregnancy nears, the cervix normally becomes soft (ripe) and begins to open (dilate) and thin (efface), preparing for labor and delivery. When labor does not naturally start on its own and vaginal delivery needs to happen...

Labor and Delivery
Is this topic for you?This topic provides basic information about normal labor and delivery. If you need information on pregnancy, other types of childbirth, or the first 6 weeks after childbirth (postpartum), see:PregnancyCesarean...

Laparoscopic Ovarian Drilling (Ovarian Diathermy) for PCOS
Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is a surgical treatment that can trigger ovulation in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Electrocautery or a laser is used to destroy parts of the ovaries.

Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Leg cramps affect almost half of all pregnant women.footnote 1 The cause of leg cramps during pregnancy is not fully known, but they may be caused by reduced levels of calcium or increased levels of phosphorus in the blood. Leg cramps are more...

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...

Low Amniotic Fluid
Low amniotic fluid means that there is too little fluid around your baby in the uterus during pregnancy. The medical term for this problem is oligohydramnios.

Low-Lying Placenta
During pregnancy, the placenta is normally attached to the upper wall of the uterus. A placenta that forms low in the uterus without overlapping the cervical opening is referred to as a low-lying placenta. It is not a high-risk condition....

Lupus and Pregnancy
Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE) doesn't typically 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, making it difficult to...

Luteinizing Hormone
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.

Lyme Disease During Pregnancy and Nursing
Pregnant women who visit or live in areas where ticks carry Lyme disease should watch carefully for signs of the illness so that they can be diagnosed and treated promptly. Women who get Lyme disease during pregnancy should be assured...

Making Decisions About Very Premature Infants: Personal Stories
These stories are based on information gathered from doctors and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

Massage Therapy During Pregnancy
Massage is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, including the skin and muscles. Massage therapists usually apply pressure with their hands, but they can also use their forearms, elbows, or feet. Some people believe that massage works because...

Mastitis While Breastfeeding
Mastitis is a breast inflammation usually caused by infection. It can happen to any woman, although mastitis is most common during the first 6 months of breastfeeding. It can leave a new mother feeling very tired and run-down. Add...

Medical Abortion Care
A medical abortion is the use of medicines to end a pregnancy. Medical care for a medical abortion is different from medical care for a surgical abortion. This is because a medical abortion is like a miscarriage (in this case, caused by...

Medicines During Pregnancy
Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby's organs form. But sometimes you have to take medicine to treat a health problem, such as high...

Meningitis and Group B Streptococci
Some people carry group B streptococcus bacteria in their body but don't get sick. Without knowing it, a woman who has group B streptococci in her birth canal or in her colon can pass the bacteria to her baby when she is giving birth. This can...

Milk Oversupply
Milk oversupply happens when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. It is sometimes called overabundant milk supply or hyperlactation.

Miscarriage
Is this topic for you?This topic is about the loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For information about the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before the baby is born, see the topic Stillbirth.

Miscarriage: Expectant Management for Incomplete Miscarriage
Traditionally, an incomplete miscarriage has been treated surgically with dilation and curettage (D&C). This practice is based on the concern that an incomplete miscarriage, in which a woman's uterus retains tissue, can lead to excessive...

Miscarriage: Should I Have Treatment to Complete a Miscarriage?
Guides you through decision to use medicine, surgery, or no treatment to complete a miscarriage. Discusses benefits and risks of each. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Miscarriage: Vacuum Aspiration
Vacuum aspiration can be used to empty the uterus after an incomplete early miscarriage. It's also called suction aspiration or dilation and aspiration. The doctor uses a hollow tube called a cannula. It is attached by tubing to a vacuum...

Missed Periods and Endurance Training
If you participate in endurance sports, you may miss periods or stop menstruating. This is called secondary amenorrhea, and it occurs because your ovaries are not producing enough estrogen. It is believed that stress and low body...

Missed or Irregular Periods
Most women have between 11 and 13 menstrual periods each year. You may be different: You may have more or fewer. Missed or irregular periods must be looked at in terms of what is normal for you.

Molar Pregnancy
A molar pregnancy happens when tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in your uterus. Even though it isn't an embryo, this growth triggers symptoms of pregnancy.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction
Multifetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) is a procedure used to reduce the number of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy, usually to two. When a pregnancy involves three or more fetuses (high-order pregnancy), the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth,...

Multiple Pregnancy: Genetic Disorders and Birth Defects
Genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis, and birth defects occur more frequently in multiple pregnancies than in pregnancies with one fetus. A group of deformities of the ankles and/or feet (clubfoot) is an example of a...

Multiple Pregnancy: Should I Consider a Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction?
Guides through decision to have a multifetal pregnancy reduction. Discusses comparisons between twins after fetal reduction versus triplets (no fetal reduction). Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Multiple Pregnancy: Twins or More
Discusses pregnancy of two or more babies. Covers identical and fraternal twins and triplets. Discusses infertility treatment, a common cause of multiple pregnancy. Discusses common tests, possible complications, and treatment options. Covers self-care.

Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy
Most people who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) are women in their child-bearing years. Questions about whether MS affects getting pregnant or about labor and delivery are common.

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.

Nausea or Vomiting During Pregnancy
Many women have problems with nausea and sometimes vomiting (morning sickness) during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. For some women, morning sickness may be one of the first signs of pregnancy. The term "morning sickness" can be misleading,...

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...

Nutrition During Pregnancy
A balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy is important to maintain your health and nourish your fetus. Be sure to increase your daily caloric intake by 300 calories after you become pregnant.

Obesity and Pregnancy
Most pregnant women have healthy babies—and that includes women who are obese. But being very heavy does increase the chance of problems.

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

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
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
Oxytocin is a hormone released from the pituitary gland in the brain. During pregnancy, oxytocin causes labor contractions to begin. Oxytocin also is released when a woman's breasts are stimulated by suckling or pumping, causing milk to move...

Partner Support During Pregnancy
Why is it important to support your partner during pregnancy?

Passing Tissue During Pregnancy
It may be hard to tell if you have passed tissue, because when you pass tissue you may also pass large blood clots. Tissue may appear gray or pink.

Physical Growth in Newborns
In the first month, your doctor will pay close attention to your baby's increasing weight, length, and head circumference, which is measured around the largest point of the head, usually starting at a point on the forehead.

Placenta Abruptio
Placenta abruptio 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 the mother.

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...

Polyhydramnios
Polyhydramnios is a condition in which there is too much fluid in the amniotic sac, the sac that holds the developing baby (fetus). This liquid is called amniotic fluid, and it surrounds the fetus throughout pregnancy.

Post-Term Pregnancy
Full-term babies are delivered sometime between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. (Those weeks are counted from the first day of your last menstrual period.) A pregnancy that has reached 42 or more weeks is called a "post-term" or...

Postpartum Bleeding
Immediately after delivery, you will have a bloody discharge (lochia) from the vagina. This will turn pinkish within a week and become white or yellowish after about 10 days. Lochia may last for 4 to 6 weeks, but it should be less bloody after...

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.

Postural Management for Breech Position
By the end of a pregnancy, a fetus is typically positioned head-down (vertex), ready to pass head first through the birth canal. Sometimes a fetus is in a bottom-down, or breech, position as the due date approaches. Postural management is a...

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: Checkups and Monitoring
If you have preeclampsia, you will need regular exams to assess whether your condition is becoming more severe. Your exams may include:

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...

Preeclampsia: Expectant Management
Expectant management, or observation, is sometimes used to manage complications of a high-risk pregnancy. Depending on the severity of your preeclampsia, you may need expectant management at home or in the hospital.

Pregnancy
Is this topic for you? This topic covers pregnancy information, including planning for labor and delivery. If you aren't pregnant yet, see the topic Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy. For more information on labor and delivery, see the topic ...

Pregnancy After Age 35
Most women who are older than 35 have healthy pregnancies. But as you age beyond your mid-30s, some risks do increase. If you are an older mother-to-be, you can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. See your doctor for a checkup...

Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass or banding) helps people lose weight. It's only used for people who are obese and have not been able to lose weight with diet and exercise.

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
Women with chronic high blood pressure require special medical care before, during, and after their pregnancies.

Pregnancy and Diabetes: Planning for Pregnancy
Talk to your doctor if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and are planning to get pregnant. To make sure that both you and your baby stay healthy, you may need to fine-tune your diabetes care before you get pregnant.

Pregnancy and Epilepsy
Most women who have epilepsy deliver healthy babies. But the risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and seizure-related problems is higher for babies born to women with epilepsy. Most antiepileptic medicines increase the risk even more.

Pregnancy and High Blood Pressure: Questions for Your Doctor
If you have high blood pressure before or after becoming pregnant, ask your doctor or nurse-midwife:

Pregnancy and Malaria: Reducing Your Risk
Pregnant women need to take every possible precaution to avoid malaria. Malaria can cause death of the mother and increase the risk of problems in a pregnancy. These problems can include premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage, and...

Pregnancy and the Increased Risk of Developing Blood Clots
Pregnant women have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.footnote 1

Pregnancy-Related Problems
Discusses symptoms that may show a serious problem during pregnancy. Covers vaginal bleeding, fever, or swelling. Describes emergency symptoms like shock, seizures, or leaks from your vagina. Offers tool to check symptoms and info on when to call doctor.

Pregnancy: Avoiding Papaya
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid eating unripe papaya. Papaya that is unripe contains a latex substance that may cause contractions of the uterus. Papaya or papaya enzymes are sometimes recommended for...

Pregnancy: Belly, Pelvic, and Back Pain
Pelvic pain and problems urinating may mean you have a bladder infection. Flank pain with fever and urinary symptoms may mean you have a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Flank pain is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist. It can...

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, and they usually go away after pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Changes in Bowel Habits
Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. Delayed passage of bowel contents (slow transit) is the most common cause of constipation during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: Changes in Feet and Ankles
Some changes in your feet and ankles are normal during pregnancy. These symptoms occur from normal hormonal changes and increased body weight and usually go away after delivery. Many women see a change in shoe size during pregnancy and that...

Pregnancy: Chemicals, Cosmetics, and Radiation
Take care to protect your developing fetus from dangerous substances during your pregnancy:

Pregnancy: Choosing a Health Professional
It's important to find a doctor or midwife who can work closely with you and share in decision making. This partnership is key to getting the care that is best for you. And it will help you have the pregnancy and childbirth that you want.

Pregnancy: Dealing With Morning Sickness
Briefly discusses managing morning sickness. Offer tips to manage nausea and vomiting. Provides links to more extensive info on pregnancy and pregnancy-related problems.

Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver
When it's time to give birth, you have a choice of where to deliver your baby. Do you want to have your baby in a hospital? Is a birthing center more your style? Or would you prefer to have your baby at home? Do you plan to use a midwife? What will...

Pregnancy: Dropping (Lightening)
At the end of the third trimester, the baby settles, or drops lower, into the mother's pelvis. This is known as dropping or lightening.

Pregnancy: First Prenatal Visit
Your first prenatal visit is likely to be more extensive than later prenatal checks. Your doctor will take your medical history and do a complete physical exam.

Pregnancy: Hair Changes
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can affect how your hair looks and feels.

Pregnancy: Hand Changes
Mild swelling of your hands may be caused by the normal buildup of fluid during pregnancy.Red, itchy palms and soles of the feet are caused by changing hormone levels. The symptoms go away after delivery. Moisturizers may give some...

Pregnancy: Headaches and Preeclampsia
Headaches are one of the most common pain-related health problems in women. You may have a headache along with another minor health problem, such as a sore throat, cold, or sinus problem. If your headache is mild and a type you have...

Pregnancy: Healthy Weight Gain
During pregnancy, lots of women wonder about how their body will change and how much weight they will gain. Maybe this is something that you've been thinking about too.

Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins at the end of the large intestine (anus). They often stick out from the anus (external hemorrhoids). They can also be located on the inside of the lower intestine (internal hemorrhoids). Bleeding, itching, and...

Pregnancy: Hot Tub and Sauna Use
Raising your core body temperature is called hyperthermia. It can harm your developing baby (fetus). It's most harmful during the early weeks when the organs are forming. Experts don't forbid hot tub or sauna use. But they do advise caution.footnote 1

Pregnancy: Kick Counts
After 18 to 20 weeks, you will notice that your baby moves and kicks more at certain times of the day. For example, when you are active, you may feel less kicking than when you are resting quietly. At your prenatal visits, your doctor may ask...

Pregnancy: Nosebleeds and Bleeding Gums
Some women get nosebleeds when they are pregnant. That's because there is more blood flow to the tissue inside the nose (mucous membranes) when you are pregnant.

Pregnancy: Pelvic and Hip Pain
When you are pregnant, you may get aches and pains in your hips and pelvic area. This is a normal sign that your pelvic area is preparing for childbirth. (This area is also called the pelvic girdle.) Pregnancy hormones are relaxing...

Pregnancy: Prenatal Exam Schedule
Regular prenatal exams are a top priority during any pregnancy. They are important both for monitoring your own and your fetus's health and for giving you and your health professional time to build a working relationship.

Pregnancy: Relationship Changes
Pregnancy starts a new phase of your relationship with your partner. You can expect a natural shift in roles as well as attention to and expectations of each other.

Pregnancy: Should I Bank My Baby's Umbilical Cord Blood?
Guides through decision to have your baby's umbilical cord blood banked. Discusses reasons for umbilical cord blood banking and describes what it means. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

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 Screening Tests for Birth Defects?
Guides you through decision to have triple or quadruple test to look for Down syndrome and birth defects. Discusses what the tests look for. Covers benefits and risks. Includes interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Pregnancy: Should I Have an Early Fetal Ultrasound?
Guides you through the decision to have an early fetal ultrasound. Explains when ultrasound is usually done during pregnancy and why. Lists risks and benefits. Includes interactive tool to help you decide.

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
Stretch marks (striae gravidarum) are lines on the skin that may appear late in pregnancy. They look like slightly indented pink, red, dark, or white streaks, depending on your skin color. Stretch marks are most common on the belly, but they...

Pregnancy: Vaginal Discharge and Leaking Fluid
Changing hormone levels during pregnancy can affect the normal balance of organisms in the vagina. If you are pregnant and have abnormal vaginal symptoms, such as vaginal discharge or itching, talk with your doctor about your symptoms...

Pregnancy: Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins that are caused by faulty valves in the veins or weak vein walls. They are common during pregnancy, particularly in women with a family history of the problem.

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...

Pregnancy: Ways to Find Your Due Date
There are several ways for your doctor or midwife to figure out how long you have been pregnant. They help you predict when you are likely to have your baby. This is called your due date. The due date is only an estimate of when your baby...

Pregnancy: Work and School Issues
Many women work or go to school (or both) while they are pregnant. It can keep you active and engaged.

Premature Delivery in Multiple Pregnancy
Delivery before the 37th week is called a premature, or preterm, delivery. A premature delivery can cause problems for the infants if their organs are not fully developed. Infants delivered before 32 weeks have greater health risks than those...

Premature Infant
Is this topic for you?This topic is for people who want to know what to expect when a baby is born early. For information about early labor, its causes, and its treatment, see the topic Preterm Labor.

Premature Infant: Signs of Overstimulation
Premature infants are born before the nervous system is mature enough to handle outside stimuli without becoming overstimulated. Your baby will need to sleep most of the time and will not interact a lot with you at first. But your presence is...

Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy
Even though you're not pregnant yet, you might already be thinking about which room to turn into the baby's room and how to decorate it. And you might be making lists of all the baby clothes and supplies that you'll need. But it's also a good time...

Preterm Labor
Is this topic for you?This topic covers how preterm labor affects the pregnant woman. If you want to know how it affects the baby after he or she is born, see the topic Premature Infant.

Preterm Labor and Short Cervix
During pregnancy, the cervix is a closed and sealed tunnel between the uterus and the vagina. Before or during labor and delivery, the cervix stretches and flattens (effacement). At 24 weeks of pregnancy, the average cervix is about 35 mm...

Preterm Labor: Testing for Fetal Fibronectin
During pregnancy, a uterine infection causes inflammation, which can trigger preterm labor. This inflammation can also stimulate the amnion cells to produce fetal fibronectin, a protein.

Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (pPROM)
Before a baby is born, the amniotic sac breaks open, causing amniotic fluid to gush out or, less commonly, to slowly leak. When this happens before contractions start, it is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). PROM can occur at any...

Preventing Mastitis
Mastitis usually happens in nursing mothers when bacteria enter the breast through a cracked or sore nipple. This can cause an infection. Mastitis usually starts as a painful area in one breast. It may be red or warm to the touch, or both....

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
This topic contains information about loss of ovarian function before age 40. If you want information about the normal loss of ovarian function around age 50 or about symptoms in the few years before it, see the topic Menopause and...

Problems After Delivery of Your Baby
Looks at problems you may have in the days and weeks after the delivery of your baby (postpartum period). Covers emergency symptoms like signs of shock, fainting, or severe belly pain. Includes interactive tool to help you decide when to call a doctor.

Progesterone
A progesterone test measures the amount of the hormone progesterone in a blood sample. Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during release of a mature egg from an ovary (ovulation). Progesterone helps prepare the...

Progestin-Only Hormonal Methods (Mini-Pills, Implants, and Shots)
Looks at progestin-only hormonal methods (mini-pills, implants, and shots) to prevent pregnancy. Includes generic and brand names such as medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera). Covers how well they work and side effects.

Quick Tips: Healthy Pregnancy Habits
The following are ways you can take care of your own and your baby's health during pregnancy.

Quitting Smoking and Avoiding Smoke During Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, everything you put in your body can affect your baby. If you smoke, your baby is exposed to chemicals such as nicotine and carbon monoxide.

Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy
If you are Rh-negative, your red blood cells do not have a marker called Rh factor on them. Rh-positive blood does have this marker. If your blood mixes with Rh-positive blood, your immune system will react to the Rh factor by...

Risks of Multiple Pregnancy
There are pregnancy problems that can be more likely with a multiple pregnancy.

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...

Schizophrenia and Pregnancy
People with schizophrenia have goals and desires just like people who do not have the illness. These may include starting a family.

Screening for Gestational Diabetes
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and American Diabetes Association recommend that all women who are not already diagnosed with diabetes be screened for gestational diabetes after the 24th week of pregnancy.footnote 1footnote 2 Most women...

Second-Trimester Exams and Tests
At each prenatal visit, you can expect to be weighed. Your blood pressure will be checked. Your urine may also be checked for bacteria, protein, or sugar. Your doctor or midwife will track your baby's growth and position. To do this, he or...

Sex After Childbirth
For a while after childbirth, don't be surprised if you have little interest in sex. Physical recovery, exhaustion, and hormonal changes often affect sexuality after childbirth. Each woman's experience is different.

Sex During Pregnancy
Vaginal intercourse can be continued as usual if your pregnancy is uncomplicated. Discuss any concerns or questions with your doctor.

Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
You can be reassured that your baby is eating enough and is well nourished when he or she:

Sleep Problems During Pregnancy
Sleep problems are common during pregnancy. Sleep studies tell us that hormonal changes, plus the discomforts of later pregnancy, can break up a pregnant woman's sleep cycle.

Sleep, Rest, and Breastfeeding
Rest and sleep are important to breastfeeding women for keeping up their energy and their milk production.

Smoking: Problems With Pregnancy
If you are a woman who smokes and you are thinking about getting pregnant or are pregnant, now is a good time to quit smoking. Women who smoke may have a harder time getting pregnant. Women who smoke are more likely to have the following...

Sperm Penetration Tests
Sperm penetration tests check to see if a man's sperm can move through cervical mucus and the fallopian tubes to join with (fertilize) an egg. This test is usually done when a couple is having trouble getting pregnant (infertility).

Spinal Block for Childbirth
Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) is similar to epidural anesthesia, except the anesthetic is injected in a single dose into the fluid around the spinal cord. A spinal block may also be called a saddle block. It numbs the area that would come...

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.

Stillbirth
This topic has information about the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before the baby is born. For information about pregnancy loss before 20 weeks, see the topic Miscarriage.

Storing Breast Milk
Because what is in your breast milk changes as your baby develops, it is best to use milk as soon as possible after pumping or expressing it. Also, the antioxidant and other protective properties are most important and beneficial to your baby...

Subchorionic Hemorrhage
A subchorionic hemorrhage is bleeding under one of the membranes (chorion) that surrounds the embryo. It is a common cause of bleeding in early pregnancy. It also may be called a subchorionic hematoma.

Surgical Abortion Care
Evaluate your past health, including any medicines you are taking.Do a physical exam, including a pelvic examination, to evaluate your health, how long you have been pregnant, and the location and health of the embryo or ...

Swelling During Pregnancy
Some mild swelling during pregnancy may occur because of normal fluid buildup. Swelling is most likely to be noticeable in your face, hands, or feet. As your pregnancy progresses, your uterus puts pressure on the circulation to your legs and...

Symptoms of Pregnancy
Have had sexual intercourse and you have not used any method of birth control.Have missed one or more periods.Have your period, but there is a lot less bleeding than usual.Take birth control pills, but you missed a pill. It is ...

Third-Trimester Exams and Tests
At each prenatal visit, you can expect to be weighed and have your urine and blood pressure checked. Your health professional will monitor your fetus's growth and position by measuring the size of your uterus (fundal height) and feeling...

Tips for Pregnant Parents
If you have one or more children at home, your pregnancy simply can't be your central focus. Getting the rest you need can be a challenge. Sometimes you may even forget to take extra good care of yourself. As you juggle the demands of...

Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
Discusses risks to the fetus of a woman who 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. Offers link to more info on toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis Test for Fetus
When a pregnant woman has toxoplasmosis, a PCR test on amniotic fluid is used to learn whether her fetus is also infected.

Travel During Pregnancy
If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, you are likely to be able to travel during most of your pregnancy. Just be sure to discuss air travel and extended trips with your doctor ahead of time. When traveling, it's also smart to carry a written...

Treating Tuberculosis in Pregnant Women
It is important for pregnant women with an active tuberculosis (TB) infection to receive treatment, because the TB infection is dangerous to the developing fetus.footnote 1

Triple or Quad Screening for Birth Defects
The triple screening measures the amounts of three substances in a pregnant woman's blood: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and estriol (uE3). When a test for the hormone inhibin A is added, it's called a quad...

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation and Private Banking
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, immature cells that can grow into red or white blood cells or clotting cells. Stem cells are now used to treat a limited number of conditions, such as leukemia. They may someday be grown and used to...

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.

Urinary Problems During Pregnancy
Most women have an increased urge to urinate during pregnancy. This is a normal body response related to hormone changes that occur during pregnancy and to physical pressure on the bladder.

VBAC: Labor Induction
When labor does not start on its own and delivery needs to happen soon, contractions can be started (induced) with medicine. Some doctors avoid inducing labor when a woman is trying vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). But others are okay...

VBAC: Participation During Birth
You and your birth partner can take part more fully in a vaginal birth than you can in a cesarean delivery.

VBAC: Type of Past Incision
It is standard practice for doctors to use a low, side-to-side (transverse) incision across the uterus for a cesarean delivery. But a vertical type of incision is sometimes needed, such as for some emergency cesarean deliveries.

VBAC: Uterine Scar Rupture
The most rare yet most serious risk of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is that the scar on the uterus may break open (rupture) during labor. Women who have a low transverse cesarean scar have a lower risk of rupturing than women who have...

Vacuum Aspiration for Molar Pregnancy
Vacuum aspiration is a surgical procedure. It's used to remove molar pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This procedure uses a hollow tube (cannula) that is attached by tubing to a bottle and a pump. The pump provides a gentle vacuum.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (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.

Vaginal Bleeding After Delivery
The following guidelines will help you determine the severity of your vaginal bleeding.

Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy
The following guidelines will help you determine the severity of your vaginal bleeding.

Vaginal Exam for Preterm Labor
If you have symptoms of preterm labor, your doctor or nurse-midwife may examine you by feeling your cervix. If your contractions continue over a period of hours, you may be examined periodically to see whether your cervix is opening ...

Vaginal Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
Vaginal yeast infections are a common problem during pregnancy. They may be caused by high estrogen levels. These infections aren't a risk to the pregnancy. But they can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Vitamin B6 for Morning Sickness
Studies suggest that taking vitamin B6 for morning sickness greatly improves nausea, though not vomiting, for many pregnant women. There has been no sign of harm to the fetus with vitamin B6 use.footnote 1

Week 12 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
Congratulations, you've made it through your first trimester! You can now hear your baby's heartbeat with a Doppler heart monitor. That can be very exciting.

Week 16 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
At the end of four months, 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.

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.

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.

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! Believe it or not, babies find the movement and noise of daytime hours to be soothing. So they often sleep during the day and are awake at night.

Week 32 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
Around this time, some women start to notice times when their belly tightens and becomes firm to the touch and then relaxes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions. Think of them like "warm-up" exercises for your uterus.

Week 36 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
As your baby gets bigger, you may be getting more uncomfortable. It may be harder to walk around or to sleep well.

Week 40 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
You may have felt ready for baby to come for a while, but your baby may still be perfectly happy inside. It can be very hard to wait to meet your baby!

Week 8 of Pregnancy: What's Going On Inside
Pregnancy can be exciting, mysterious, and exhausting. During pregnancy, your body does a ton of work to support the growth of your baby. And even though you can't feel it yet, your baby is growing and changing very fast.