If you are pregnant, you are not alone: Healthy Pregnancy

Debbie Musselwhite answers some commonly asked questions about motherhood
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Indy Lifestyle Online
QI keep worrying that something's wrong with my baby

AEvery pregnant woman shares this fear, but it's important to remember that 97 per cent of all babies born in the UK are perfectly healthy. There are also special antenatal tests available such as CVS (Choronic villus sampling) and amniocentesis, which will determine whether or not your baby has any problems, but these do carry a small risk of miscarriage.

QIs it dangerous to catch chickenpox in pregnancy?

AContracting chickenpox in pregnancy can have serious implications for the baby especially if it's contracted between weeks 13-20 of pregnancy. If you think you've been in contact with the virus ask your doctor for a blood test which will show whether or not you're immune to it. If you're not, you can be given an injection of antibodies against chickenpox. If you have this within 10 days of contact with chickenpox, it's very unlikely there's any damage to your baby.

QCan working on a computer do any damage in pregnancy?

AThe general consensus these days is that the very low levels of radiation emitted by VDUs have no link with miscarriage or abnormality. In December 1994 new laws came into force giving better health and safety rights to pregnant women and new mothers. The Maternity Alliance has a useful leaflet, Pregnant At Work. For a copy send an sae to the Maternity Alliance, 45 Beech Street, London EC2P 2LX.

QMy baby's due in three weeks but she doesn't seem to be moving so much.

AIn the last weeks of pregnancy the baby's head drops down into the pelvis ready for birth. Once her head is engaged, she'll have much less space to move around in so you won't feel her moving so much. However if you're at all worried, see your GP or midwife who may ask you to keep a kick chart, where you record how long it takes your baby to move or kick 10 times, starting from a certain time.

QI've heard about a scan you can have to detect Down's syndrome.

ACalled a nuchal translucency scan this test is carried out at 10-14 weeks by ultrasound to assess the risk of the chromosomal problem which causes Down's syndrome. This defect results in an increased fluid at the back of the baby's neck which is only visible during this period of development. By measuring this and combining it with other factors, a risk estimate can be worked out. For more information call the Harris Birthright Centre on 0171-346 3040.

QIs it safe to take paracetamol in pregnancy?

AMedical opinion holds that it's best not to take any unnecessary drugs during pregnancy, especially during those crucial first 12 weeks when all the baby's organs are forming. However, paracetamol is thought to be perfectuly safe to take occasionally for the odd headache or joint pain. Check with your GP for the latest advise on drugs.

QApparently I have a low-lying placenta. What does this mean?

AThe medical term for this is placenta praevia and it means that the placenta has implanted low down in the uterus so that it's partially or completely covering the cervix, blocking the baby's exit. In most cases, as the uterus expands, the placenta will move upwards and be in the right place by the end of pregnancy. If it hasn't then the baby will have to be delivered by caesarean.

QI'm 12 weeks pregnant and have had some bleeding though no pain. The baby seems to be fine, but I can't help worrying.

ALight spotting in the first two or three months of pregnancy is generally nothing to worry about. It often happens about the time your period was due because the level of the hormone progesterone isn't high enough to completely stop menstruation. Bleeding can also occur in the month of conception when the fertilised egg is implanting in the wall of the uterus.

But heavy bleeding doesn't always mean the worst. In one study,carried out by Hampshire GP Chris Everett about one in five women who reported heavy bleeding didn't miscarry.

Debbie Musselwhite is features editor of Our Baby magazine.

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