The ABCs of Pregnancy

Pretty soon you will singing the ABCs to your little one. Here are some other important ABCs to know as you go on your pregnancy journey.

A: Anterior Placenta. I remember telling my nurse at roughly 22 weeks that I could feel my baby kicking. She reviewed my ultrasound and told me it was normal because I had an anterior placenta. A what?! An anterior placenta means the placenta has attached to the front of the front wall of the uterus. Dr. Rebecca Boudreaux, OB/GYN with Louisiana Women’s Healthcare, adds, “An anterior placenta may not allow you feel movement as strongly at first.”

B: Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is hard work, so make sure you are prepared. Woman’s Hospital and Baton Rouge General Medical Center offer classes and online resources that can help you get ready. Woman’s even provides virtual consultations with lactation nurses who are ready to answer all of your questions. 

C: Contractions. Contractions feel like heavy cramps, and they are common in the weeks leading up to delivery. Regular and consistent contractions can signal that baby is on his way.

D: Dilation. Dilation is the gradual opening of the cervix. Dr. Boudreaux explains, “There are three things I am usually looking for: an open cervix; effacement, how thin the cervix is on a scale of 0-100; and the consistency of the cervix, all of these things are subjective during a exam.”

E: Epidural. Every mama is different when it comes to choosing how you will manage your pain during labor. If you choose to have an epidural, an anesthesiologist will administer medication during a certain point in labor that will numb the lower half of your body, helping to alleviate the pain.

F: Fetal Doppler. Your physician will likely use a fetal doppler to measure your baby’s heartbeat after the first trimester and during your regularly scheduled appointments.

G: Group B Strep Test. Not the most pleasant, but who likes tests anyway? During this test, a vaginal swab is taken by your physician during the last several weeks of pregnancy to determine if you are a carrier of Group B streptococcus (GBS). According to the American Pregnancy Association, GBS is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum, and can be passed on to baby during delivery.

H: High Blood Pressure. Your OB/GYN will monitor your blood pressure at each appointment. High blood pressure can lead to preeclampsia, and can be harmful to both mom and baby if left unchecked.

I: Induction. Your doctor may decide at a certain point after 40 weeks to speed along labor with medication if baby is taking his time and the signs of labor haven’t yet started. However, Dr. Boudreaux says that “as long as everything looks fine, induction is not recommended until after 42 weeks.”

J: Junk Food. Trade your chips and cookies in for some fruit and healthy protein. Don’t worry, I know it’s hard. But, protein will last longer than empty carbs and will be better in the long run for baby.

K: Kegels. It’s never too early to start strengthening those pelvic floor muscles! Practicing contracting, holding, then relaxing your pelvic floor now may help you have an easier birth later.

L: Linea Nigra. This is a dark line that forms across your belly during pregnancy and goes away not long after baby is born. Until it does go away, it’s pretty fascinating to look at.

M: Mucus Plug. Exactly what it sounds like. In the week or two leading up to labor, the mucus plug will come out, leaving a trail of thick white, yellowish, blood-tinged material in its path.

N: Nausea. Nausea can hit at any time, although, it is most prominent in the first trimester. Eating frequently can often help ward off the nausea before it starts.

O: Overdue. A typical timeline for pregnancy is 40 weeks when measured from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. 

P: Parental Leave. Check with your employer regarding options for maternity leave. Your partner should also check to see what parental leave options are available.

Q: Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor too many questions. Make a list in your phone or planner in the weeks between appointments so you will remember all of them and be ready. And don’t worry, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Your doctor is ready and willing to answer all of them.

R: Registry. What will you need for baby? Begin making a list of things you want. Talk to your friends and family who have recently had a baby to determine what was most useful and helpful to them.

S: Secondhand Smoke. Limit your interaction around those who smoke. Go outside, ask the person to leave, or leave the room if you must. Secondhand smoke inhalation is not healthy for an expecting mama or her baby.

T: Toilet. You just might be taking way more trips to the restroom now. Visiting the bathroom frequently is going to be standard until the end of your pregnancy because a growing baby means more pressure on your bladder!

U: Ultrasound. Depending on your health and medical history, you will have a varying number of scans or ultrasounds of your baby. Typically, they will be done at your initial appointment, the 20-week mark, and around the 32-week mark.

V: Vaccinations. Check with your physician regarding your vaccine schedule while pregnant. Many will recommend getting at least a flu vaccine.

W: Washing Hands. As often as possible, wash your hands to avoid picking up germs. Also, after baby arrives, be sure to stock up on plenty of hand soap so that visitors can wash their hands before holding your new baby.

X: X-Ray. Always let your health care provider and/or dental provider know you are pregnant before getting an x-ray. X-rays of the torso area are generally not recommended.

Y: Yeast Infection. Yeast infections can be especially frustrating during pregnancy, and yes they do occur. If you think you may have one, Dr. Boudreaux says to “look for itching, burning, and redness on the outside of the vagina, and a white clumpy discharge” as possible signs of a yeast infection.

Z: ZZZs. Be sure to give yourself a break because the first trimester comes with a continued sense of drowsiness. Try to get in as much sleep as you can. It will take some time finding that sleeping position that is just right, but don’t worry, you will eventually find it. Take time to kick your feet up whenever possible, because after all, you are growing another human being.