The “estimated date of delivery” (EDD), or “due date” as it is commonly called, is the expected date that you will begin labor. As the name suggests, this date is just an estimate. It is likely you will start labor any time from two weeks before or two weeks after this estimated date. It is unlikely that your baby will be born exactly on the estimated date of delivery. In fact, only 5% of babies are born on the exact due date.
Whichever method you use to determine your expected due date, it is an important and necessary step. The months ahead of you are full of planning and learning so that you are prepared for the arrival of your new baby.
During pregnancy your body is going through many changes. These changes are triggered by hormones that prepare your body for pregnancy. These hormones can also cause many physical discomforts. Luckily, there are easy ways to relieve your pains.
Backache is one of the most common problems women face during pregnancy. The extra weight you are carrying causes a strain on your lower back muscles causing them to become stiff and sore. If you have a backache that refuses to go away or continues to get worse, call you doctor to be sure that this pain is not caused by another health concern.
Some ways to lessen and relieve back pain:
As you body prepares itself for breastfeeding your breasts become larger and heavier. They most likely feel full and tender.
To help relieve breast discomforts:
During pregnancy you may get “backed-up” from hormonal changes or from vitamin supplements. This can cause painful bloating and gas which may be exaggerated late in the pregnancy when the weight of your uterus begins to push on your rectum.
To reduce bloating and gas:
Frequent urination during pregnancy is caused by many influences. Your body is working hard to remove waste from your body. As your uterus grows it begins to press against your bladder and cause you to feel like you have to use the bathroom even if your bladder is almost empty. This may lessen in mid-pregnancy, as the uterus no longer rests on the bladder, but may begin again late in the pregnancy when the uterus drops into the pelvis. You may leak urine when you sneeze or cough due to pressure on your bladder. If this happens you can protect yourself by wearing panty shields or sanitary napkins.
To relieve frequent urination:
Headaches during pregnancy can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, increased hunger, fatigue, or even caffeine withdrawal. It is best to speak with your doctor before taking any drugs to relieve the pain.
Here are some drug-free tips to reduce headache pain:
Heartburn, a feeling of burning in the throat and chest, and indigestion, a bloated and gassy feeling that happens when a stomach is slow to digest, may happen during pregnancy. There are many drug-free ways to help relieve symptoms and prevent heartburn and indigestion. Before taking antacids you should speak with your doctor.
To reduce your heartburn:
Hemorrhoids are painful, itchy varicose veins in the rectum. These can be caused by extra blood in your pelvic area and the pressure of your growing uterus on veins in the lower body. They may appear when you are constipated because straining bowel movements trap more blood in your veins. They may disappear only to return again during labor due to the strain of delivery.
Try these tips to help prevent hemorrhoids:
To reduce the painful swelling of hemorrhoids:
Your growing belly may make it hard for you to find a comfortable position while sleeping. Also, the impact emotionally and physically of having a new baby may make it hard for you to fall asleep.
To help you relax and get a good night’s sleep:
Leg cramps, especially at night, are a common discomfort during pregnancy, although the cause of them is uncertain.
To reduce cramping:
As your uterus grows, the ligaments that support it are pulled and stretched. This can cause dull or sharp pains on either side of your belly. These pains are most common between weeks 18 and 24. If these pains worsen or don’t go away, call your health care provider.
To prevent or relieve pains:
In the beginning of your pregnancy, you may feel queasy by the smell of certain foods and have trouble keeping food down. This feeling, known as “morning sickness,” can happen at any time during the day or night and may lessen by the middle of your pregnancy. This nausea and vomiting does not harm you or your baby if mild, but if it gets severe, you can’t keep any foods or fluids down, and you begin to lose weight, you should see your health care provider.
To help relieve nausea and vomiting:
The increase of progesterone early in pregnancy may leave you short of breath. Later in the pregnancy, your uterus grows larger and may press against your diaphragm, making it difficult to breath. You may feel short of breath but you are still getting adequate oxygen.
To help you breathe easier:
Due to the increase in water in your body you may experience some swelling, known as edema, in your hands, feet, face, and other body parts especially later in the pregnancy and during the summer. If you notice a sudden swelling of any body part you should contact your health care provider.
To relieve swelling:
Varicose veins, blue bulges on your legs or in the lower body during pregnancy are caused by the weight and pressure of your growing uterus. There are no ways to prevent this, but you can reduce the swelling, soreness, and itching.
Following are suggestions to help reduce your risk of developing varicose veins:
In any stage of your life, exercise is a part of a healthy lifestyle and pregnancy should not interfere with this. As busy as you may be, it is important for you to make the time to exercise. After all, research has shown that women who exercise while pregnant not only tend to have smoother pregnancies, but they may also experience easier labors, and feel better about themselves during pregnancy and after delivery.
Like many pregnant women, you probably wonder just how much exercise is safe, how you should do it, and at what intensities. As with all exercise programs, you should check with your own health care provider to be sure that there is no reason that you should not embark on or continue an exercise program.
Here are some guidelines which should be followed for a safe and healthy exercise program for pregnant women:
While exercising during pregnancy, listen to your body and signs it may be giving you. Stop exercising and call your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms while exercising (note: call even if you experience these symptoms when not exercising):
Right from the onset, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is vital for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. Although many people will say that you are "eating for two," this is really not the case. In fact, most pregnant women only need an additional 300 calories each day.
Recommendations for total weight gain in pregnancy are based on your pre-pregnancy weight for height or BMI (body mass index):
Keep in the mind the following tips in order to keep your weight gain within the recommended ranges:
MyPlate is a simple and practical guide to help you choose a healthy diet. You can access more reputable nutrition education in many categories including pregnancy at the ChooseMyPlate.gov website. There is an interactive activity called "Super Tracker" that can help you design an individualized food plan depending on your trimester of pregnancy. MyPlate was designed by the United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) and based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and simplified to Five Food Groups.
1. Grains (6-11 servings)
This group provides your body with complex carbohydrates that give you energy. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When choosing a food from this group try to include at least half of your intake as whole grains such as whole-grain bread, cereals, oatmeal, whole wheat pastas, and rice. Try to avoid foods that are loaded with fat and sugar.
One serving equals:
2. Vegetables (3-5 servings)
Vegetables are a good source of many vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. They are also great for you because they are low in fat and high in fiber. To ensure that you get a wide variety of these vitamins and minerals choose an array of colorful fresh vegetables such as:
One serving equals:
3. Fruits (2-4 servings)
Like vegetables, this group also provides many vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamin A. Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits such as melons, berries, and citrus fruits. Another good choice is natural, unsweetened, fruit juices. Fruit drinks, which contain excess sugar and artificial flavors, should be limited.
One serving equals:
4. Dairy (3-4 servings)
Dairy products are a significant source of calcium and other nutrients such as protein and phosphorus. Calcium is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. When meeting your daily dairy requirements, try to choose low-fat, skim, or part-skim varieties of your cheeses, milk, and yogurt.
One serving equals:
5. Protein (2-3 servings)
This group includes meat and meat alternatives and provides protein, vitamin B, iron, and zinc that the fetus needs to develop. To reduce unnecessary fats, choose lean meats and cut off fat and skin before cooking.
One serving equals:
Fats, oils, and sweets (eat sparingly)
Excessive intake of these items may have too many calories and cause high weight gain. Choose a limited amount of good fat such as olive oil or low saturated vegetable oils to provide some flavor. Other foods such as low-fat salad dressings, avocados, olives, nuts butter, margarine, and gravies can be eaten in small quantities depending on your caloric need. Limit your intake of sugary foods and high calorie desserts. Sugar substitutes or sugar free products even natural sweeteners such as stevia are likely safe in very small amounts, but need to be researched more to determine the effects on your developing baby.
Food Safety: To minimize the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria or toxic chemicals, wash with cold water all fresh unpeeled and peeled fruits and vegetables before eating them. Avoid raw or undercooked meats, fish, and poultry. You can heat sandwich meats to destroy any surface bacteria. Also, only eat "MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK" dairy products and no RAW milk. Some fish is good to eat in limited amounts as they provide good omega-fatty acids. Do not eat large, older fish such as:
Commonly eaten fish like chunk light canned tuna (not white albacore), shellfish, shrimp and smaller whitefish such as cod, haddock, flounder, and salmon are lower in risk of contamination from pollutants. Limit to 4-12 oz./week.
Label Reading: Learning to read a food label can be very helpful. The food label (usually titled Nutrition Facts) lists important information such as the serving size, the amount of calories and major nutrients per serving. The percentage listed on the labels refers to a basic intake of 2,000 calories per day. This may or may not be your caloric intake so the percentage listed may not be appropriate for you.
Vitamin Supplementation: Often your health care provider will prescribe a prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement. This is primarily for the iron and folic acid (a B vitamin) contained in the multi-vitamin as those two important nutrients during pregnancy are difficult to meet your daily requirement even if you eat a well-balanced diet. It is wise not to take any individual vitamin or mineral supplement unless your health care provider recommends or prescribes them for specific medical conditions or nutrient deficiency.
If you need further assistance with nutrition education or counseling for specific nutrition-related medical conditions during pregnancy, please have your health care provider refer you to a registered dietitian or call Women & Infants' Outpatient Nutrition Services at (401) 274-1122 ext. 42749.
Pregnancy is a time of change and new experiences. You experience feelings, both physical and emotional, that you may have never experienced before. It is a big change to all areas of your life. It is also a learning experience for you, your partner, and your family. To help you prepare, we offer educational classes in English and Spanish to include childbirth preparation, breastfeeding, and newborn care. We also offer a virtual hospital tour of Women & Infants Hospital in English and Spanish.
Some feel no symptoms until they are right in the beginning of labor. Others have many symptoms such as cramping for weeks before labor actually begins. During labor four major changes occur:
Before labor actually begins, many women experience some of the following:
Before you go into true labor, you may experience what is known as Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labor. These are labor-like contractions, often felt for many weeks, that help to prepare your cervix for true labor by thinning, softening, and sometimes even opening your cervix slightly. The contractions often occur more frequently as you get closer to your due date and in the afternoon, evening, after you have exercised, or at other times when you are tired. These contractions can range from mild, when you can’t even feel them, to severe, where they can be quite painful.
Some ways to tell if you are feeling Braxton Hicks contractions are to:
If you begin to feel contractions, time them for one full hour and write down how they feel. Don’t hesitate to go to the hospital if you really can’t tell if you are in labor. It is better to be safe than sorry.
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor’s office or the hospital:
Some time around 33 to 36 weeks might be a good time to pack that overnight bag and leave it near the door, as you really could deliver at any time over the next month. Many women like to have some “comfort” items in the labor room, including:
Camera and/or video equipment if you want to capture the moment. Women & Infants does not allow the use of video and audio equipment while the birth or a medical procedure is in progress. However, this equipment is permitted during labor and after the birth of the baby or the completion of medical procedures. Still photography is permitted during the birth experience or at any time during your hospital stay. Please respect patient and staff privacy by limiting the use of cell phones and refraining from using cell phones to record, FaceTime, or engage in other social media activities.
Lotions or oils you might like for massage.
For your peace of mind, never bring large sums of cash, credit cards or other valuables such as jewelry with you to the hospital. The hospital cannot store your valuables, and is not responsible if they are lost. Cell phones and personal electronics are the responsibility of the patient for the duration of their stay.
At Women & Infants, the clothing that you wear on arrival is usually sent home and we will provide you with a “johnnie” (hospital gown) to wear during your stay. The following are some additional items that you may want to bring:
Clothing will be provided for your newborn infant as long as he or she stays in the nursery. It is recommended that you have clothing for yourself and your baby brought to the hospital the day before you are scheduled to return home.
The Department of Anesthesiology welcomes you to Women & Infants Hospital. We care about you and your family and want to make sure that you are well cared for during your labor, delivery and recovery. That’s why we’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week for you.
The Anesthesiology Department consists of physician anesthesiologists, certified nurse anesthetists and registered nurses. Women & Infants Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the country to provide around-the-clock coverage for obstetrical patients, and we maintain a record of excellence with respect to patient care and safety.
Sensitive to the needs of each individual patient, we recognize that some women may not need any pain relief medicines; whereas, other women may want some medicines to help relieve their pain. There are a number of choices available for you. The choice of anesthesia for your labor and delivery is important for your comfort and safety, as well as for the well-being of your baby. The members of the Anesthesiology team are here to make this time especially memorable for you and your loved ones. Whether or not you choose to have anesthesia, a member of the Anesthesiology team will be present during your delivery to be sure that you and your baby do well.
Your obstetrician or midwife may order a medicine to be given by injection into your intravenous line or your muscle. The medicine will help ease the discomfort of labor, but may make you sleepy.
Your obstetrician or midwife may give you an injection of local anesthesia into the birth canal during delivery. This will cause numbness of the birth canal and surrounding areas, making you more comfortable.
This is the most common form of anesthesia to make patients comfortable during labor and delivery at Women & Infants Hospital. The anesthesiologist will place a small, soft tube into the epidural space in your back and then inject some local anesthesia into the tubing. This will cause a tingling, warm, numb sensation of your belly and legs. Your legs may become heavier over time, and you will not be able to get out of bed. The procedure usually takes a few minutes to complete, and the anesthesiologist will make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure. Many women will continue to feel a tightening or pressure sensation that is not painful after having the epidural.
This procedure is similar to having an epidural but involves injecting a small amount of medicine into the spinal space before placing the tube into the epidural space. The effect of the medicine will be similar to that of the epidural; however, the medicine acts much faster. You will feel a tingling, warm, numb sensation of your belly and legs. Your legs may become heavier over time, and you will not be able to get out of bed. The procedure usually takes a few minutes to complete, and the anesthesiologist will make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure. Many women will continue to feel a tightening or pressure sensation that is not painful after having the combined spinal epidural.
If you have an epidural placed for pain relief during your labor it can be used for a cesarean section. The anesthesiologist will give you a stronger medicine through the epidural. Your belly will become very numb and your legs very heavy. You will feel some pressure during the cesarean section, but you will be comfortable.
If you do not have an epidural in place, the anesthesiologist will perform a spinal anesthesia for your cesarean section. The anesthesiologist will inject medicine into the spinal space which will cause your belly to become very numb and your legs very heavy. The medicine acts very quickly. You will feel some pressure during the cesarean section, but you will be comfortable.
In emergency situations or if you are not able to have an epidural or spinal, the anesthesiologist will give you medicines into your intravenous to make you sleep during the cesarean section. You will not be awake for the surgery and will not feel anything during the surgery.
Other options to help control your pain during labor and delivery include:
The Department of Anesthesiology holds two to three classes per week for anyone who is interested in learning more about the choices of anesthesia for labor and delivery. You can have all of your questions answered by an anesthesiologist and an anesthesiology nurse during this time. There is no charge. Please call the Department of Anesthesiology at (401) 274-1100, extension 41565 or 41566 to learn about the program and to enroll.