4. Changes in You
Too Much Saliva
Some women experience an increase in saliva during pregnancy. Hormones are the culprit. Too much saliva is called ptyalism;
it occurs when estrogen levels increase. The condition often runs in
families. Morning sickness may also contribute to the problem.
Often when you feel queasy, you don’t
swallow as much as you normally do, which results in buildup of saliva.
The good news is saliva decreases the amount of tooth-decaying acid
produced by bacteria.
To treat the condition, drink plenty of fluid to increase swallowing. Sucking on hard candies may also offer relief.
Swelling in Your Legs and Feet during Pregnancy
Your body produces as much as 50% more
blood and body fluids during pregnancy. Some of this extra fluid leaks
into your body tissues. When your growing uterus pushes on pelvic
veins, blood flow in the lower part of your body is partially blocked.
This pushes fluid into your legs and feet, causing swelling.
Tip for Week 31
Wearing rings and watches may cause
circulation problems. Sometimes a ring becomes so tight on a pregnant
woman’s finger that the ring must be cut off by a jeweler. You might
not want to wear rings if swelling occurs. Some pregnant women purchase
inexpensive rings in larger sizes to wear during pregnancy. Or you
could put your rings on a pretty chain and wear them around your neck
or on a bracelet.
You may notice if you take your shoes off
and leave them off for a while, you may not be able to put them back
on. This is related to swelling. You may also notice wearing nylon
stockings that are tight at the knee (or tight socks) leaves an
indentation in your legs. It may look like you still have clothing on.
Avoid tight, restrictive clothing.
The way you sit can also affect
your circulation. Crossing your legs at the knee or ankle restricts
blood flow to your legs. It’s best not to cross your legs.
5. How Your Actions Affect Your Baby’s Development
We’ve already described the
importance of lying on your side when resting or sleeping in Week 15.
Now’s the time it will pay off. You may notice you begin to retain
water if you don’t lie on your side.
Visiting Your Healthcare Provider
It’s important to go to all prenatal
appointments. It may seem not much happens at these visits, especially
when everything is normal and going well. But the information collected
tells your healthcare provider a lot about your condition and your
Your healthcare provider is
looking for signs of problems, such as changes in your blood pressure
or weight, or inadequate growth of the baby. If problems aren’t found
early, they may have serious consequences for you and baby.
It’s time to start thinking about how
you want to deliver your baby. It’s not too early to do this because
many of the methods used need a lot of time and practice to prepare you
and your partner or labor coach to use them.
If you decide you want to use a
particular method, such as Lamaze, you may have to sign up early to get
a place in a class. In addition, you and your labor coach will want
time to practice what you learn so you’ll be able to use it during
labor and delivery.
Some women decide before birth they are going to labor and deliver with natural childbirth.
What does this mean? The description and/or definition of natural
childbirth varies from one couple to another. Many people equate
natural childbirth with a drug-free labor and delivery. Others equate
natural childbirth with the use of mild or local pain medications. Most
agree natural childbirth is birth with as few artificial procedures as
possible. However, a woman who chooses natural childbirth usually needs
some advance instruction to prepare for it.
Childbirth Philosophies and Methods.
There are various philosophies of natural childbirth. Three of the most
well-known are Lamaze, the Bradley Method and Grantly Dick-Read.
Lamaze is the oldest
childbirth-preparation technique. Through training, it conditions women
to replace unproductive laboring efforts with fruitful ones and
emphasizes relaxation and breathing as ways to relax during labor and
The Bradley Method embraces a
basic belief in the ability of all women to give birth naturally.
Classes teach relaxation and inward focus; many types of relaxation are
used. Emphasis is put on deep abdominal breathing to make labor more
comfortable. Bradley includes a woman’s partner in the birthing
process. Classes teach expectant parents how to stay healthy and keep
their risk of complications low through good nutrition, exercise and
lifestyle choices. Classes begin when pregnancy is confirmed and
continue until after birth.
In 1933, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read published the book Childbirth without Fear to put forth the belief that fear and tension cause pain in 95% of women giving birth. (He did believe pain-relief medication was useful for women who had problems or a difficult birth.) The Grantly Dick-Read
method tries to break the fear-tension-pain cycle of labor and delivery
through relaxation techniques. The classes were the first to include
fathers in the birth experience.
Other childbirth methods are also taught. Marie Mongan, a hypnotherapist, used the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read to develop hypnobirthing. She believes if you’re not afraid, pain is reduced or eliminated, so anesthetics during labor are unnecessary.
Physical therapist Cathy Daub is the founder of Birth Works Childbirth Education.
The goal of Birth Works is to help women have more trust and faith in
their ability to give birth and to help build self-confidence. Classes
are taught once a week for 10 weeks. They may be taken any time during
pregnancy; it’s best to take them before you become pregnant or during
your first trimester.
Birthing from Within was developed
by Pam England, a midwife. She believes birth is a rite of passage, not
a medical event. Classes center on self-discovery. Pain-coping measures
are intended to be integrated into daily life, not just used for labor.
ICEA, ALACE and CAPPA are
three associations that share a similar philosophy. They believe in
helping women trust their bodies and gain the knowledge necessary for
making informed decisions about childbirth. The International
Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) most commonly certifies
hospital and physician educators. The Association of Labor Assistants
& Childbirth Educators (ALACE) and the Childbirth and Postpartum
Professional Association (CAPPA) usually offer independent classes.
Each of the above groups teach the stages of labor and coping techniques for each stage. Class series vary in length.
Should You Consider Natural Childbirth?
Natural childbirth isn’t for every woman. If you arrive at the hospital
dilated 1cm, with strong contractions and in pain, natural childbirth
may be hard for you. In this situation, an epidural might be
On the other hand,
if you arrive at the hospital dilated 4 or 5cm and contractions are OK,
natural childbirth might be a reasonable choice. It’s impossible to
know what will happen ahead of time, but it helps to be aware of, and
ready for, everything.
Keep an open mind during the
unpredictable process of labor and delivery. Don’t feel guilty or
disappointed if you can’t do all the things you planned. You may need
an epidural. Or the birth may not be accomplished without an
episiotomy. You should never feel guilty or feel you’ve failed if you need a Cesarean, an epidural or an episiotomy.
Beware of instructors in
childbirth-education classes who tell you labor is free of pain, no one
really needs a Cesarean delivery, I.V.s are unnecessary or an
episiotomy is foolish. This can create unrealistic expectations for
you. You may need some of these procedures.
The goal in labor and delivery
is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. If this means you end up with a
C-section, it’s OK. Be grateful a Cesarean delivery can be done safely.
Babies that would not have survived birth in the past can now be
delivered safely. This is a wonderful accomplishment!