Pregnancy health Q&As answered by our midwife

It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re pregnant, so our midwife answers all your pregnancy health worries

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Q: At my 20-week scan, I was told I have a low-lying placenta and will need another scan at 36 weeks. Could this be a problem?

A: During labour, the cervix opens and acts like a door out of the womb, so it’s important that the placenta doesn’t block your baby’s exit route. Some women, like you, discover that their placenta is positioned close to the cervix, but when re-scanned later, around 90% find it’s moved away as the uterus has grown and stretched.

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When the placenta lies right across the cervix it’s called placenta praevia, and a caesarean section is necessary, but this only occurs in 10% of women with low-lying placenta. You’ll be advised to go straight to the labour ward if you have any bleeding, and sex may also be off the cards during your pregnancy. Then it’s a matter of just waiting. Most women will be re-scanned around 34 weeks. Even if you do have a placenta praevia, most women recover well from a planned caesarean and their baby’s born safely.

Q: There’s been an outbreak of chickenpox at my daughter’s nursery. I’m 6 months pregnant – should I be concerned?

A: Chickenpox is very common on childhood, which means most adults are immune. If you’re not sure whether you had chickenpox as a child, arrange with your midwife to have a blood test. This’ll confirm whether you have antibodies that make you immune.

If you did catch chickenpox during pregnancy it could cause problems with your baby’s development up to 28 weeks, and after 36 weeks your baby could be born with the infection. You can’t be immunised now you’re expecting, but if you did catch chickenpox you’d be given an injection of antibodies to make the symptoms milder and your recovery quicker. Only 3 in every 1,000 women catch it during pregnancy though, so try not to worry.

Q: I’m 8 weeks pregnant and hate the thought of blood tests as I’m terrified of needles. What should I do?

A: It’s important to talk to your midwife and let her know how you feel because, trust me, you’re not alone. Your midwife can give you some cream to numb the area of your arm so you won’t feel the needle, or even arrange for you to have hypnotherapy to help address your fears.

Although your midwife will advise you to have all sorts of blood tests, the good news is they only involve one needle. You’ll be offered a test to check your blood group, which is really important in case you need a blood transfusion, and also a test for anaemia. There are various infections and viruses which can affect your baby’s health that blood tests highlight, so you may feel your desire to know the answers is greater than the fear of the needle.

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Q: I’m 16 weeks pregnant and have been feeling itchy and sore around my vagina. The doctor prescribed cream for thrush, but it hasn’t cleared up. What else can I do?

A: Thrush is a yeast infection that thrives in warm, moist conditions and can cause a creamy white or watery discharge, as well as itching or burning down below. It isn’t very serious, and won’t harm your baby – although you must be miserable and beside yourself with itching. To sort out asap, you need to go back to your doctor or midwife, who can take a swab from the area, which will then be sent away to a lab to find out exactly what the cause is, as it could be a different type of infection. Chances are it is thrush, which is more common in pregnancy as your vagina is rich in a sugar called glycogen, which helps thrush to thrive. If that’s the case, you’ll probably be prescribed a pessary, which puts cream inside the vagina – more effective than just applying cream to the outside area.

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