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Quad-Screen Test

The quad-screen test is another test that can help find out if you might be carrying a baby with Down syndrome. This blood test can also help rule out other problems, such as neural-tube defects.

The quad-screen test is the same as the triple-screen test, with the addition of a fourth measurement—your inhibin-A level. Measuring the level of inhibin-A, along with the three factors tested for in the triplescreen test, increases the detection rate of Down syndrome and lowers the false-positive rate.

The quad-screen test is able to identify 79% of those fetuses with Down syndrome. It has a false-positive result of 5%.

Complementary and Alternative Medical Techniques

There are many complementary and alternative medicine techniques that may help a woman during pregnancy. Complementary medicine refers to treatments and products that are not considered part of traditional medicine. Healthcare providers don’t learn about them during training, and they are not usually practiced by healthcare providers. When used with traditional medicine, they are called complementary medical techniques. When used in place of traditional medicine, they are called alternative medicine.

Many complementary and alternative treatments are untested scientifically. There is no definite way to determine if a treatment is safe or effective, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about any of these treatments before you have one.

The exception to the rule stated above is osteopathy. It uses manipulation and physical therapies to restore structural balance and improve the function of the body. Doctors of osteopathic medicine have graduated from an accredited osteopathic school of medicine and have fulfilled the requirements for a medical license. Treatments by an osteopathic physician are learned in osteopathic schools of medicine and are safe.

Homeopathy uses small, highly diluted substances to alleviate symptoms. In high doses, these same substances cause these symptoms. Chiropractic involves manipulating the spine to relieve pain and to assist the body’s ability to heal itself.

The Alexander technique is a gentle approach to movement that can help you rebalance faulty posture through awareness, movement and touch. Electromagnetic fields, also called energy healing, uses magnets to relieve nerve and joint pain. Low-frequency thermal waves, electrical nerve stimulation and electromagnetic waves provide energy to heal the body.

Acupuncture is the practice of placing tiny needles along pathways believed to connect energy points in your body with specific organs. It is performed by trained practitioners. Research shows acupuncture has many benefits, including changes in blood flow to the brain, as well as helping the body produce its own pain-killing substances. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, except it uses pressure instead of needles on key acu-points on the body.

Biofeedback employs various devices to give you visual or audio feedback about your effort to control automatic body functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and brain-wave activity. Guided imagery uses imaginary mental pictures, combined with your senses of sight, smell and hearing, to focus on imagining yourself being well. It is particularly useful for managing common stress-related problems, such as headaches or high blood pressure.

Therapeutic touch involves having a therapist pass his or her hands over a person’s body to bring energy into balance. Reflexology applies pressure to specific points on the hands and feet, especially tender points, believed to be linked to specific organs in the body.

Mind-body therapies involve the mind and body to treat a problem. Some common therapies include massage, meditation, yoga and various relaxation methods. Massage therapy employs the ancient healing art of rubbing and manipulating body tissue to help make your body, mind and spirit relax. You can massage your own head and neck, forehead, temple, hands and feet, or go to a trained professional for a complete body massage that may help many common ailments.

Meditation relaxes your mind and helps you get in touch with deeper thoughts. There are different kinds of meditation; some involve focusing on breathing, visualizing different objects or repeating a word or mantra. Other types, such as mindfulness meditation, allow the body to become less reactive to stress. Yoga, which comes from the word “union,” uses postures designed to align every aspect of a person—spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.

Aromatherapy uses scented plant oils that are added to products to be smelled or applied to the skin. Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements to help prevent illness. Herbs and herbal preparations are used as medicine. Chinese medicine is based on the belief that balanced energy (qi) flows through the body of a healthy person, and disease causes the flow to be interrupted.

Are You Thinking about Using a Doula?

You may be wondering if you want a doula to help you during baby’s birth. A doula is a woman who is trained to provide support and assistance during labor and delivery. The doula remains with you from the onset of labor until baby is born.

Doula is the Greek term for female helper. Doulas don’t deliver babies, replace a doctor or midwife, or play the role of a nurse. They are there to comfort the mom-to-be, to soothe her fears and to help her through labor. They can provide continuous care through labor. They provide pain relief through massage, breathing techniques and water therapy. In some cases a doula can guide partners in helping during labor and delivery. A doula may even be able to help you begin breastfeeding your baby.

Questions to Ask a Prospective Doula

If you are considering a doula, interview more than one before you choose someone. Some questions you may want to ask and some perceptions you might want to analyze after your interview are listed below.

• What are your qualifications and training? Are you certified? By which organization?

• Have you had a baby yourself? What childbirth method did you use?

• What is your childbirth philosophy?

• Are you familiar with the childbirth method we have chosen (if you have a particular method you want to use)?

• What kind of plan would you use to help us through our labor?

• How available are you to answer our questions before the birth?

• How often will we meet before the birth?

• How do we contact you when labor begins?

• What happens if you aren’t available when we go into labor? Do you work with other doulas? May we meet some of them?

• Are you experienced in helping a new mom with breastfeeding? How available are you after the birth to help with this and other postpartum issues?

• What is your fee?

Perceptions include how easy the doula is to talk to and to communicate with. Did she listen well and answer your questions? Did you feel comfortable with her? If you don’t hit it off with one doula, try another!

Another strength of a doula is to provide support to a woman who has chosen to have a drug-free labor and delivery. If you’ve decided you want anesthesia, no matter what, a doula may not be a good choice for you.

Although a doula’s primary function is to provide support to the mom during labor, she often assists the labor coach. She does not displace a labor coach; she works with him or her. In some situations, a doula may serve as the labor coach.

The services of a doula may be expensive and can range from $250 to $1500. This usually covers meetings before birth, attendance at labor and delivery, and one or more postpartum visits.

If you and your partner choose to have a doula present during labor and the birth, talk to your healthcare provider about your decision. He or she may find her presence intrusive and veto the idea. Or the healthcare provider may be able to give you the name of someone he or she often works with.

If you decide to use a doula, begin early to search for someone. Start looking as early as your 4th month of pregnancy—certainly no later than your 6th month. If you wait any longer, you may still be able to find someone, but choices may be limited. Starting early allows you to relax and to evaluate more critically any women you interview.

Postpartum Doulas. In addition to doulas who help during labor and delivery, there are also postpartum doulas. These women help ease the transition into parenthood. A postpartum doula will help a new mother and her family learn to enjoy and to care for the new baby through education and hands-on experience.

A postpartum doula provides emotional and breastfeeding support, and makes sure a new mother is fed, hydrated and comfortable. She may go with mom and baby to pediatric appointments. A postpartum doula may also take care of grocery shopping, preparing meals and other household tasks. She may even help tend older children.

A postpartum doula’s services are most often used in the first 2 to 4 weeks after birth, but support can last anywhere from one or two visits to visits for 3 months or longer. Some doulas work all day; others work 3- to 5-hour shifts during the day or after-school shifts until Dad gets home. Some doulas work evenings and/or overnight.

Doulas don’t treat postpartum depression but can offer support to a woman who experiences it. Some postpartum doulas are trained to help women screen themselves for depression and will make referrals to healthcare providers and support groups.

Tips for Choosing Maternity Clothes

Wearing maternity clothes may be the first public sign you’re pregnant. Luckily, today’s maternity clothes are more stylish than in the past. Below are some suggestions to help you choose fashionable, comfortable clothes to grow with you.

• Be sure maternity clothes provide you room to grow in your pregnancy.

• A waistband shouldn’t be too tight. You have a long way to go before baby arrives. Clothing that fits tightly at the waist can put pressure on veins in the tummy, which can cut off circulation to the legs. Adjustable-waist pants, skirts and shorts help avoid this problem.

• Select a pregnancy bra with wide straps to help avoid putting pressure on the trapezius muscle in your back. If this muscle becomes tight and knotted, you may experience neck pain, a headache or tingling and/or numbness in your arms. A sports bra with a racer back evenly distributes the weight of the breasts.

• Choose clothes you can use for work (if you work outside your home) and for leisure. Pants and comfortable tops can often do double duty.

• You may want to buy one nice dress to have on hand for special occasions.

• Don’t forget about shoes—low-heeled styles can work with pants and dresses.

If you think you may want a postpartum doula, make arrangements a few months before your due date. Even though you don’t know exactly when your baby will arrive (unless you’re having a scheduled Cesarean delivery), contract with a postpartum doula in advance to be sure of her availability. Costs range between $15 and $30 an hour for this service, depending on the postpartum doula’s additional training and experience.

6. Exercise for Week 17

 

Sit on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you. Lift your arms straight out in front of you, to shoulder height. “Walk” forward on your buttocks for 6 paces, then return to the starting position by “walking” backward. Repeat 7 times forward and backward. Strengthens abdominal muscles and lower-back muscles.

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