“Welcome, Mum and Dad!” to the adventure of questions and answers on the topic of babies!
Pregnant! This marks the start of a new phase in the life of the parents-to-be. Mother Nature now shows the miracles that she is capable of. The female body embarks on a veritable hormone party with the baby as the guest of honour and the mum as host. With the growing belly, the number of questions also grows. Mums and dads can use these nine months to read about the topics of pregnancy, babies and parenthood and also to enjoy this very special time together!
“Through your love, you are giving life to a new human being. And love means responsibility – and responsibility also stands for knowledge. I want to support and assist you in this process with my medical expertise together with my experience as father of two healthy daughters,” Dr Farmini declares.
How do I know that I am pregnant?
Your period is absent and a leaden fatigue makes it difficult to plan your days in your usual manner. If this is also accompanied by nausea as bad as sea sickness like three days at sea, a pregnancy test is most likely already superfluous. There is a wealth of advice for this exciting time, but your body only make you do what it wants, such as drinking a whole crate of alcohol-free malt beer alone in a week, devouring four grapefruit in the morning and evening and craving sausages with jam. Then there is no doubt: you are truly pregnant!
How reliable are pregnancy tests?
Modern pregnancy tests as found on the shelves of each well-assorted chemist are considered very accurate at 99.9% probability. Pregnancy can be verified only seven days after fertilization. Urine tests measure the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin); its levels double every two days in pregnancy, peaking in Weeks 9 and 10 of pregnancy. As the hCG level has already increased a hundredfold in Week 5 of pregnancy, this is the best week for a reliable pregnancy test. The highest hCG concentrations are found in the first urine in the morning (first void urine). For that reason, a urine test immediately after getting up makes most sense to get a clear result.
When may the test produce a false-negative result?
- If hCG in urine cannot be measures because concentrations are too low.
- If the fertilized egg has not continued to develop.
When may the test produce a false-positive result?
- If medicines are taken that contain the hCG pregnancy hormone, benzodiazepine, phenothiazine or neuroleptic agents.
- In case of cancerous conditions.
- In case of disturbed embryonal development, known as cystic or hydatid mole.
When is a blood test necessary to determine a pregnancy?
If urine and ultrasound pregnancy tests have not produced a definite result, the physician will perform a blood test. Its evaluation generally produces a result.
The blood test can also be used to calculate the embryonal week.
My pregnancy test is positive!
Our heartfelt congratulations! Please make an appointment for your first routine (“Mutter-Kind-Pass”) examination. This takes place between Weeks 8 and 12 of pregnancy, because prior to Week 8 embryos are still too small for their first ultrasound image.
Sex in pregnancy
During pregnancy, babies are well cared for in their amniotic sacs and protected against impact by the surrounding amniotic fluid. In a normal pregnancy, sexual intercourse does no harm and even good for babies – if mums are happy, their babies are too. Babies mainly notice their mum’s faster heartbeat and the movement which may even send them to sleep.
Interesting to know: Shortly before the due date, sex can help to induce labour; but no worries, prior to that prostaglandins cannot trigger premature birth. To prevent urinary tract infections, it is helpful to go to the toilet within approx. 10 minutes after intercourse; all germs are thus flushed out. In case of pregnancy complications such as previous miscarriages, bleeding, premature labour, loss of amniotic fluid, premature opening of the cervix, post cerclage (also known as cervical stitch to prevent premature birth) cervix status or the placenta covering the cervix, it is advisable to talk to your gynaecologist for clarification.
Jacuzzi, sauna, swimming pool – go or no-go during pregnancy?
Feeling well is important in pregnancy: For one reason, because the body increases in weight within a comparatively short period of time and mums crave for some relief, and second, because mum will not have much time for such activities once baby is born. So, ladies, grab a nice maternity costume and off with you into the water! However, the water in the jacuzzi or elsewhere should not be hotter than 38 degrees, as it would otherwise be teeming with bacteria and fungi, thus increasing the risk of a vaginal infection.
The same also applies to sauna visits: Moderate temperatures of 50-60 degrees with a maximum stay of 10-12 minutes per cycle on the lower benches are perfectly acceptable. Always sit on a dry towel to prevent contact with germs. Shortly before the due date, certain scents from sauna infusions may induce labour. After the sauna, just cool down with a water hose and do not jump heroically into an ice bath. Alternating temperatures are not suitable for women not used to going to a sauna or experiencing pregnancy complications.
Diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) – how can that happen?
Pregnancy is an extraordinary condition when hormones have a lot to do, because they help to create a new life. During the first trimester, certain hormones contribute towards an increased insulin effect. From the second trimester, the hormone balance changes and the insulin effect decreases, with the consequence of elevated blood sugar levels.
What are the signs of gestational diabetes?
- Increased thirst.
- Water retention.
- Excessive urination.
- Excessive amniotic fluid.
- Excessive growth (and high weight) of the baby.
What is the problem?
- The risk for mothers to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime increases by a staggering 50%.
- Increased risk of urinary tract infections.
- Increased risk of high blood pressure (gestational hypertension, >140/90 mm Hg).
- Increased risk of pre-eclampsia.
- Increased risk of high birth weight (macrosomia, >4.000 g). The baby grows too big which may hinder a natural birth free from complications. The risk of a C-section increases.
- Increased risk of impaired organ maturation (lungs, heart, liver).
- Increased risk of malformations (spine, kidneys, heart).
- Increased risk of low blood sugar levels in the baby after birth. Possible consequences are limpness, sucking weakness, jitteriness, low blood pressure, convulsive fits.
- Increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood.
- Chance of delayed maturation of kidneys and liver in the unborn child.
- Promotes premature birth
A change in diet, physical exercise and weight loss can help to counteract the development of diabetes. If these measures are not enough to normalize blood sugar levels, insulin treatment is required for remediation.
Elective C-section or natural birth
There should be no need for natural birth to compete with elective C-section. Even though there is a trend towards C-section, the considerable disadvantages of this procedure are often ignored. Originally, a C-section used to be an emergency procedure and thus should only be used in exceptional cases, i.e. when the lives of mother and/or child are at risk or if the positioning of the child could result in considerable complications during the birth process.
It should not be forgotten that a C-section is a major surgical intervention, i.e. a proper operation, generally under regional anaesthesia (epidural or spinal anaesthesia), which may be associated with side effects such as headache, heart problems and a loss of blood pressure. On the one hand, there is a risk of impaired wound healing, chronic scar tissue pain, removal of the womb, infections, thrombosis, embolism as well as injury to internal organs such as bladder or intestines. On the other hand, there is a rare risk in a subsequent pregnancy for the amniotic sac to implant within the C-section scar. The pregnancy cannot continue to term under such circumstances.
May I travel while pregnant?
If your pregnancy progresses normally, travelling is no problem. But there are some factors that you need to consider. We have listed them concisely for you underneath.
What you need to consider when planning a holiday:
- A humid-hot climate can cause breathing and circulation problems, swollen legs and disruptions to your water and electrolyte balance.
- Consider the hygiene standards at your holiday destinations to avoid infections.
- Ensure that medical care is available on location in case of pregnancy complications or premature birth.
- Avoid adventure trips. Be realistic about what you can do and plan for relaxing trips that are not too physically demanding.
- Flying is permitted to Week 32. Do remember that the return flight must also be before Week 32.
- Avoid destinations where malaria or other epidemics are rife.
- Long bouncy car journeys are particularly unpleasant in pregnancy and can cause abdominal pain.
- Remember to carry your pregnancy documents (“Mutter-Kind-Pass”) with you at all times.
A relaxing spa trip close to home avoids unnecessary risks and stress.