Babies need oxygen starting early in pregnancy to grow. But the first breath will not be taken by a baby until after birth. This means that in the womb, babies do not even breathe. Instead, the umbilical cord delivers oxygen to the infant before the first respiration.
The formation of the lung starts early in pregnancy, but is not completed until the third trimester. The lungs begin to produce alveoli, tiny lung sacs that fill with oxygen, between 24-36 weeks of pregnancy. A baby will have trouble breathing on its own outside of the womb before these sacs are fully formed.
Often women giving birth worry about how their babies are going to breathe, especially as the baby passes through the narrow confines of the birth canal. The umbilical cord continues to provide oxygen to a baby until after it is born.
Simple facts about how babies breathe in the womb:
- In the earliest weeks of pregnancy, a developing baby looks more like a ball of cells than a person. In these early weeks, there’s no need to breathe.
- The umbilical cord is the main source of oxygen for the fetus.
- As long as the umbilical cord remains intact, there should be no risk of drowning in or outside the womb.
How do babies breathe in the womb?
There is a role played by many biological systems and processes. Included are:
The umbilical cord
The umbilical cord forms after 5-6 weeks of pregnancy to deliver oxygen straight to the body of the developing fetus. The umbilical cord attaches to the uterus-connected placenta. Both structures house several blood vessels, and during pregnancy they continue to expand and develop.
The umbilical cord and placenta together provide nutrients to the baby from the mother. They also provide the baby with the requisite oxygen-rich blood for development.
This implies that for the infant, the mother breathes in, and the oxygen in her blood is then transferred to the blood of the baby. The mother still breathes out for the infant, as the baby’s carbon dioxide is passed from the placenta to the blood of the mother, absorbed with breath.
Substances that enter the developing infant, such as oxygen, never interfere, such as waste materials, with the substances leaving the baby. They pass through two distinct blood vessels through the umbilical cord.
Lung development in the womb
After 35-36 weeks of pregnancy, lung development is usually complete. However, growth varies, and when a baby is born, it is possible to miscalculate. That’s why even late preterm babies sometimes suffer breathing problems. Steroids can help accelerate the development of the lungs of a baby. Doctors may prescribe steroids to the mother when a woman has to give birth early, or when she is at risk of preterm labor, to boost the chances of a baby’s survival outside the womb.
Even when the lungs of a fetus are completely grown, breathing is difficult for the fetus until after birth. Babies that develop are surrounded by amniotic fluid, and this fluid fills their lungs. Developing babies begin to take “practice” breaths by 10-12 weeks of gestation. But these breaths do not provide oxygen for them, and instead replenish the lungs with more amniotic fluid. A fetus can’t drown in the womb because it’s common for the lungs of a fetus to be filled with fluid.
If there is an issue with the placenta or umbilical cord, there’s no other way for a growing baby to breathe. As a consequence, birth defects, brain damage or even the death of the fetus may be caused by complications with these systems.
Breathing during and after birth
Some babies are born with a neck-wrapped umbilical cord. In 12-37 percent of births, this relatively common issue, called the nuchal cord, occurs. It poses no issues in most instances. This is because the umbilical cord is still able to provide oxygen to the baby.
However, if the cord is wrapped around the neck of the baby very tightly, the supply of oxygen in the cord might be reduced. The care professional can look for a nuchal cord during delivery, and unwrap the cord if possible. The new climate, which entails changes in temperature, a lack of amniotic fluid, and exposure to air, causes the first breath of the baby after the baby is born.
During birth, some babies have their first bowel movement before leaving the womb. Meconium is called this stool. A baby may inhale meconium during a practice breath during or shortly prior to birth. Meconium inhalation can be serious and can impair the ability of a baby to breathe outside the womb. So, after birth , babies who have inhaled meconium may need suction and oxygen care.
How water birth affects breathing
Many hospitals provide water births, which are favoured by some women over conventional birth choices. Women giving birth can also prefer water birth at home or in birthing centers. The birth of water can be soothing, can help alleviate discomfort, and simulate the womb environment. It is normally healthy, and will not impact the ability of a baby to breathe.
This is because the baby will continue to get oxygen from the umbilical cord until the birthing tub is removed. Theoretically, a baby left for too long in the birthing tub could drown. Isolated studies indicate that during water birth, it is common for a baby to be harmed. A 2009 Cochrane study, which looked at 12 previous water birth trials, however, found no rise in the risk of harm to the infant. The baby is brought up and out of the water upon birth and then takes its first breath.
It is worth noting that water distribution is not recommended by both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Deprivation of oxygen as a birth injury
During and immediately after labor and birth, when a baby does not get enough oxygen, it is called hypoxia. Hypoxia deprives the brain and body of the oxygen that they need to function properly. This can cause a number of incidents at birth, including cerebral paralysis and death. Common causes of hypoxia include:
- Cord problems, such as a damaged cord, or a cord with damaged blood vessels.
- Abnormal presentation. Some babies born breech suffer from oxygen deprivation at birth.
- Shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the shoulders get stuck, slowing delivery after the head has emerged.
- Excessive bleeding during pregnancy or birth.
The risk of hypoxia can be significantly reduced by adequate maternal care and an attentive care provider throughout birth. A baby suffering hypoxia, such as oxygen therapy or a ventilator, may require supportive treatment.
Rh incompatibility in pregnancy: Things to understand
A negative Rhesus (Rh) test can have serious consequences for a pregnancy. People with Rh incompatibility and their babies, with the proper medical care, can have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
The Rh factor is a protein that is hereditary and can be found on the surface of red blood cells.
Testing negative for Rh protein is not a concern in and of itself, but in some situations, a pregnant woman’s Rh status may differ from that of her infant. This incompatibility may cause medical complications during and after pregnancy if not treated properly.
This page discusses Rh-negative pregnancy testing, results, risks, and follow-ups.
Pregnancy and Rh factor
The most common blood type is Rh-positive, which means that this protein is present in a person’s red blood cells. The remaining population is Rh-negative.
A Rh-negative person will not have any health problems as a result of their blood type. However, if they become pregnant with a Rh-positive spouse, difficulties may arise. In this case, the fetus may be born with Rh-positive blood.
Blood from the fetus can pass the placenta and enter the parent’s blood during pregnancy. Rh incompatibility can cause in a detrimental immunological response in the fetus or infant. The parent’s immune system may perceive the Rh-positive blood as foreign and develop antibodies against it.
Proper testing and care significantly reduce any risk to parent and kid with differing Rh factors.
Rh factor testing
Rh testing is recommended at the start of every pregnancy by medical specialists. It is critical to be aware of Rh incompatibility in order to minimize potential risks.
Other tests and screenings that may be advised include:
- regular antibody screening throughout pregnancy
- determining the Rh status of the other parent
- determining the fetus’s Rh status through amniocentesis.
Rh incompatibility is less problematic during the first pregnancy, according to research. In such circumstances, doctors may opt for routine antibody screening testing. These can indicate whether a pregnant woman is developing an excessive amount of antibodies.
Simple blood tests are used for Rh screening and antibody testing. For both parents, they are usually quick and painless.
A fetus may be at risk of anemia under various circumstances. Advanced ultrasound imaging can be used by doctors to screen for this condition. If a fetus shows signs of anemia, doctors can induce an early delivery or give the fetus blood transfusions.
Rh factor testing
When testing confirm Rh incompatibility, the growing fetus encounters a set of risks.
The following are some of the most common risks after birth:
If a pregnant woman has Rh incompatibility, her immune system may attack the blood of the fetus. If the fetus loses more blood cells than it can create, this might cause in anemia.
Because red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, this fetus may be deficient in oxygen. This may result in newborn jaundice. It could also cause fluid buildup inside the fetus, which could cause to more complications.
The presence of Rh incompatibility does not always indicate that a fetus will have difficulties. There are numerous diagnostic and treatment options available to help prevent significant health problems.
Parental antibodies can be avoided if they are detected early in pregnancy. If antibodies cannot form, they cannot affect the health of the developing fetus.
During pregnancy, doctors may recommend the following to avoid antibodies:
The most popular method of preventing these antibodies is to use Rh immunoglobulin. This drug is given to pregnant women as an injection and prevents the development of antibodies. This therapy program can help a fetus avoid anemia.
According to research, the earlier doctors offer this medication, the better the outcome. Early detection of Rh incompatibility is critical for initiating this therapy process.
Avoiding fluid buildup
Without immunoglobulin treatment, 24 percent of fetuses experienced fluid accumulation, according to the researchers. This occurred in only 4% of treated pregnancies.
During Rh-incompatible pregnancies, regular antibody screening is critical. Because each pregnancy is different, individuals should consult with a medical team to identify the best care for them.
Immunoglobulin treatment prior to delivery may alleviate symptoms of Rh incompatibility. In the event that this does not occur, a medical expert may suggest one of the following options:
In some cases of Rh incompatibility, an early delivery may be the best option. A medical expert may advise inducing labor once a fetus’s lungs have formed. While the baby is still inside the uterus, this can help protect it from any further risks.
Doctors may advise an exchange transfusion after delivery. This procedure substitutes a newborn’s blood with that of a healthy donor. Exchange transfusion is especially beneficial for newborns born with jaundice.
This therapy can also be used to treat neonatal jaundice. The baby is subjected to as much light as possible during phototherapy. This reduces the amount of bilirubin in a newborn’s blood.
There is no single treatment that will work for all Rh-incompatible pregnancies. Regular check-ins and tests with a doctor can assist decide the best course of action for each parent and newborn.
During pregnancy, Rh incompatibility is uncommon. Doctors, on the other hand, urge that all pregnant people undergo exams and tests early in their pregnancy.
There are numerous diagnostic and therapy options available for people who have Rh incompatibility. Regular antibody testing can be very important in preventing complications for both the parent and the child.
Pregnant people with Rh incompatibility can have a healthy pregnancy and birth with proper therapy.
All you need to know about IVF
IVF is the most frequent and effective type of assisted reproductive technology for assisting people in becoming pregnant. When other treatments have failed, IVF can help you get pregnant.
An egg is fertilized outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanted in a person’s uterus.
The most frequent and effective type of assisted reproductive technology is in vitro fertilization (IVF) (ART). ART is used to conceive roughly 2.1 percent of kids born in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With IVF, there’s also a higher risk of multiple births.
The IVF procedure is discussed in this article. It covers everything from success rates to expenses to screenings and everything in between.
What is IVF
Louise Brown, the first baby born through IVF, was born in 1978. IVF is credited to Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe, who worked together on the treatment.
An egg grows and matures in the ovary during a normal pregnancy. The ovary releases the egg during ovulation.
The sperm go via the uterus and into the fallopian tube in search of the egg, which they pierce and fertilize. After that, the fertilized egg, or embryo, adheres to the uterus wall and begins to develop into a baby.
IVF, on the other hand, may be a viable alternative for the following reasons:
- male factor infertititly or abnormal sperm parameters
- a person’s fallopian tubes are blocked
- a person is unable to get pregnant naturally
- a person or couple is diagnosed with unexplained infertility
The IVF process
One IVF treatment cycle might take 3–6 weeks, according to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the United Kingdom. However, depending on their risk factors and the treatment’s effectiveness rate, a person may require more than one round.
Depending on the clinic, several techniques may be used. IVF, on the other hand, usually entails the following steps:
Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation is another name for superovulation. Luteinizing hormone or follicle-stimulating hormone are both found in fertility treatments. The ovaries create more eggs than usual as a result of these hormones. Transvaginal ultrasound scans can be used to track the ovaries’ growth and development.
A person can also use donated or frozen eggs as an option.
2. Retrieving the eggs
To extract eggs, doctors use a minor surgical technique known as “follicular aspiration” or “egg retrieval.”
A tiny needle is injected through the vaginal wall and into an ovary under ultrasound supervision. The needle is connected to a suction device that suctions out the follicular secretions and eggs. This procedure is carried out by doctors for each ovary.
3. Insemination, fertilization, and embryo culture
The obtained eggs are mixed with sperm and maintained in a temperature-controlled facility. The sperm should penetrate the egg after a few hours.
The sperm is sometimes put straight into the egg. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is the term for this procedure (ICSI). Frozen sperm obtained via testicular biopsy could be used.
The fertilized egg divides into two and develops into an embryo. Many fertility clinics offer preimplantation genetic testing once the embryos have reached the blastocyst stage (PGT). An embryo is screened for chromosomal abnormalities or aneuploidies using this approach.
One or two of the best embryos are used in the transfer. The uterine lining is then prepared for the embryo’s implantation using hormones and other drugs.
4. Embryo transfer
The womb may receive more than one embryo at a time. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the amount of embryos you’ve transferred.
Typically, the doctor will only transfer one embryo at a time. Several risk considerations must be considered before deciding to transfer more than one embryo, which should be discussed with a clinician.
The embryo is transferred using a thin tube or catheter around 3–5 days after conception. It enters the uterus via the vaginal canal. A pregnancy begins when the embryo adheres to the uterine lining, a process known as implantation, and embryo growth proceeds.
IVF success rates
According to the CDC, the percentage of planned egg retrievals that resulted in live birth deliveries in 2019 was:
- 52.7% among people aged under 35 years
- 38% among people aged between 35–37 years
- 24.4% among people aged between 38–40 years
- 7.9% among people over the age of 40
These figures differ depending on where the procedure is performed.
The most important risk factor affecting the success rate of IVF is age.
However, there are a number of other elements that can influence your chances of success, including:
- the cause of infertility
- ovarian reserve test results
- whether or not pregnancy or a live birth has occurred before
- the strategy that will be used
In the United States, the average cost of an IVF cycle ranges from $10,000 to $15,000. Some insurance companies, however, fund infertility treatments like IVF. As a result, a person with health insurance may be able to save money on IVF treatment.
Coverage will be determined by the health insurance company and the state in which the individual resides. Currently, 17 states in the United States have laws requiring insurance companies to cover or offer coverage for infertility treatment.
Due date calculator for IVF
A due date calculator can be used to calculate an estimate of a person’s due date.
Many websites, including Flo Health, have a calculator that may be used to determine a person’s due date based on information such the embryo transfer date and the type of transfer they had. The calculators include the following:
- Day 3 embryo transfer
- Day 5 embryo transfer
- IVF with own eggs
- IVF with fresh donor eggs cycle
- Fresh donor embryos cycle
To establish the sex of the embryo and to rule out any genetic anomalies, screening and testing are available.
Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) was originally a process used by clinicians to discover genetic diseases in the DNA of an embryo. These could cause a birth defect or a developmental problem.
Doctors are now using this approach to determine the sex of an embryo before it is implanted during IVF. Doctors can examine the embryo’s chromosomal make-up to predict whether it will be male or female.
Preimplantation testing is available at about 72 percent of contacted ART facilities, according to a 2018 survey.
IUI vs. IVF
Intrauterine insemination (IUI), commonly known as artificial insemination, is a method in which sperm is delivered directly to the uterine cavity via a catheter. This method shortens the time and distance that the sperm must travel to fertilize the egg.
This differs from IVF, which involves combining eggs and sperm outside of the body in a controlled setting.
IUI is typically used to treat couples with unexplained infertility and mild male factor infertility. In addition to IUI, a woman may be given medicine to help her ovulate. During the ovulation time, a doctor will inject the sperm into the uterus.
In comparison to IVF, IUI is a quick treatment that takes about 5–10 minutes. IUI is also less expensive than IVF. Without insurance, IUI costs between $300 and $1,000 on average.
IUI, on the other hand, is less successful than IVF.
The body’s natural processes will take over once the sperm is put into the uterus by doctors. Doctors can use IVF to check if an egg has been fertilized and choose the best embryo (s).
IUI has a success rate that is roughly a third of that of IVF.
In addition, IUI may not be an appropriate reproductive treatment in the following situations:
- is in their late 30s or over 40
- has low-quality eggs
- has a low number of eggs
- has blocked fallopian tubes
- has severe endometriosis
If the reason for infertility treatment is severe male factor infertility, this treatment is equally ineffective.
Insemination vs. ICSI
ICSI is a fertilization procedure that involves injecting a single sperm into an egg.
ICSI is a frequent treatment for male factor infertility in couples. It may also boost the chances of fertilization in people who have had previous IVF failures. It’s also for preimplantation genetic testing-enabled cycles.
ICSI is linked to a slightly greater risk of birth abnormalities, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, including:
- Angelman syndrome
- Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
- autism spectrum disorder
- intellectual disability
During IVF, many people will have few to no adverse effects. Some people, however, may develop negative side effects. These may include the following:
- abdominal pain
- sore breasts
These symptoms are most common during the IVF ovarian stimulation phase. The following side effects may occur in a small percentage of people:
- vomiting or abdominal pain that requires hospital admission
- shortness of breath
Some people may have changes in mood as well.
Is it painful?
Although some people may suffer moderate discomfort throughout the IVF process, it is usually not painful.
There may be mild bruising and pain at the injection site because IVF involves the infusion of fertility drugs. Abdominal cramps, which can be unpleasant, is another possibility.
Because pain medication is provided before the procedure, the egg retrieval technique is usually painless.
Embryo transfer is frequently painless as well.
Risks with IVF
The following are some of the hazards connected with IVF:
Medication side effects
Some people may experience side effects from the drugs used during treatment.
The following are some of the probable negative effects of IVF drugs:
- hot flashes
- enlargement of the ovaries
- difficulty sleeping
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
- difficulty breathing
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
The drugs used to stimulate the ovaries to generate eggs can cause OHSS in rare cases. This occurs when a person’s body overreacts to the prescriptions they’re taking, causing their hormone levels to rise.
OHSS people have a large number of developing follicles as well as high estrogen levels. This causes fluid to cause into the belly, causing bloating, nausea, and abdominal swelling.
The following symptoms may occur in people with severe OHSS:
- blood clots
- shortness of breath
An abnormal number of chromosomes, known as chromosomal aneuploidy, is the major cause of pregnancy loss, whether in IVF or spontaneous conception.
An embryo is tested with PGT to look for aneuploidy.
When more than one embryo is transferred to the uterus, the chances of conceiving twins, triplets, or more infants increase.
Pregnancies with multiple fetuses can lead to:
- significant increase in the mother’s blood pressure
- double the mother’s risk of developing diabetes
- preterm birth or low birth weight
In people who have a higher likelihood of conceiving twins, the doctor may prescribe that only one embryo be transferred.
What to know about epilepsy and pregnancy:
During pregnancy, people with epilepsy may have various symptoms. While some symptoms, such as hormonal changes and increased stress, are uncommon, they can be managed with the right medical care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epilepsy affects around 3.4 million people in the United States. According to researchers, the majority of cases of the disease are caused by hereditary factors. There are, however, a variety of therapies available to help patients manage their epilepsy.
Individuals who have epilepsy and become pregnant should seek medical advice. They can have a healthy pregnancy and birth if they are given the necessary care.
Continue reading to learn more about epilepsy and pregnancy.
Epilepsy and conception
There is no evidence that epilepsy makes it more difficult to conceive. Women with and without epilepsy who were trying to conceive were compared in a 2016 studyTrusted Source, and the researchers observed no difference in conception time between the two groups.
Another study published in 2016 in the journal Neurology looked at conception and pregnancy in women with and without epilepsy. There were no significant differences between the two groups, according to the study.
People with epilepsy who want to get pregnant should contact with their doctor for more information.
Epilepsy in a pregnant woman
Those who have epilepsy may have additional health issues during pregnancy. People with the syndrome may have more seizures during pregnancy in various circumstances because:
- Changes in weight can have an impact on how the body reacts to drugs.
- Seizures can be triggered by elevated stress levels.
- Seizures can be exacerbated by hormonal changes.
This is, however, a rare occurrence. Approximately two-thirds of epilepsy people do not have more seizures during pregnancy.
However, it is critical to have regular check-ups with a medical practitioner; regular doctor’s appointments can help lower the risk of seizures.
Drugs and medicines for epilepsy
To treat epilepsy symptoms, a variety of medications are available. The following are some of the most commonly prescribed antiepileptic medications (AEDs):
- valproic acid
Various AEDs have been connected by health professionals to certain hazards during pregnancy. Some AEDs, for example, can raise the risk of neurodevelopmental problems.
These dangers, however, are uncommon. As a result, doctors advise that people with epilepsy continue to take AEDs while pregnant.
People with epilepsy should also take folic acid during pregnancy, according to medical experts. For those with the condition, this supplement can lessen the risk of some congenital impairments by up to 86 percent.
Before making any modifications to their AEDs, people with epilepsy should visit their doctor.
During pregnancy, people with epilepsy require specialized care. These people should be looked after in the following areas.
Counseling and education
During prenatal checkups, individuals with epilepsy should consult a specialised care team. An OBGYN, midwife, neurologist, and mental health counselor could be part of this team.
People with epilepsy can benefit from quality education to help them have a safe and successful pregnancy. Counselors can also assist in keeping track of stress patterns in order to lessen seizure risk.
Checkups on a regular basis
Over 95% of epilepsy-affected pregnant people have a healthy delivery. There is, nevertheless, a tiny risk of certain problems.
Individuals with epilepsy should undergo regular check-ups during pregnancy to avoid this risk. Medical professionals can keep an eye on the fetus to ensure that it develops normally.
Consistent checkups with a solid medical team, like with any pregnancy, are essential.
How to get ready
Education is the most effective strategy for people with epilepsy to prepare for pregnancy. Learning about risk factors, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, is the first step toward managing them.
Individuals should speak with their doctors about how to use AEDs. Take the smallest dosage of AED required to control symptoms, according to healthcare professionals. AED levels in the blood can also be monitored by doctors throughout and after pregnancy.
People with epilepsy should consume a well-balanced diet and keep their stress levels low throughout pregnancy. These tips can assist you in having a healthy pregnancy.
Parental and baby considerations
Being a parent or caregiver with epilepsy can be daunting, and many people worry that their condition will negatively affect their children.
According to studies, parents of children with epilepsy have many of the same concerns. They may be concerned about:
- not been able to care for their child due to a seizure.
- as a parent, not being able to achieve their own standards
- being in need of greater assistance and support than other parents
It is not simple to become a parent or caregiver. Before and throughout pregnancy, all people, regardless of their health, have comparable worries.
Individuals suffering with epilepsy may find solace in devising strategies to address their issues. They may, for example, establish or start a support group for people who have similar concerns, or they could keep a list of phone contacts on hand for case they need a helping hand.
Anxiety and apprehension are common emotions you experience as a parent. While people with epilepsy may have additional concerns, both the parent or caregiver and the newborn can thrive with the correct information and support network.
Delivery and labor
The great majority of epileptic people have a normal labor and delivery experience. For many of these people, the most terrifying aspect of childbirth is experiencing a seizure.
According to studies, 98 percent of people with epilepsy do not have a seizure during delivery. The chance of major problems during labor, on the other hand, is normally low.
Individuals who have epilepsy should, of course, take extra measures when planning their labor and delivery. These can include the following:
- selecting a medical center that is suited to treat epileptic patients
- collaborating with a skilled team of medical experts
- reducing the number of stressors in the delivery room
Making a birth plan can also help to reduce the stress and worry that comes with giving birth. Furthermore, adequate knowledge and support are essential for a healthy labor and delivery experience.
Breastfeeding and postpartum care
Parents with epilepsy may be concerned that nursing will affect their children. AED people can be concerned that their medication would hurt their children.
However, studies have shown that most AEDs are safe to use while nursing. As a result, doctors advise that people who are on AEDs continue to nurse.
Breastfeeding can also aid in the parent-child bonding process. Breastfeeding enhances infant nutrition and the immune system, hence medical specialists advise people with epilepsy to do so if at all possible.
Individuals with epilepsy, in particular, require important postnatal care. It could include the following:
- analyzing stress levels
- finding nighttime support to ensure good sleep
- regular blood tests to check medication levels
- screening for postpartum depression
Many new parents and caregivers may be concerned about the risks associated with epilepsy. Working with a postnatal care team to alleviate these worries and improve parent and child health is critical.
Certain dangers may exist for epileptic people before, during, and after pregnancy. They can, however, have a healthy labor and delivery with the correct planning and support.
People who have epilepsy should talk to their doctors during their pregnancy. Counseling and education are crucial in their quest to become parents.
People with the condition can have a positive and healthy pregnancy with the right medical treatment and support.