Pregnancy problems answered by our expert
Q: I’m five months pregnant, and my scan showed that my baby has a choroid plexus cyst on her brain. I was told they go away, but can you put my mind at rest?
A: Antenatal screening is designed to monitor you and your baby’s development, and most of the time the screening is routine as it confirms that everything is normal. As scanning equipment has become more sophisticated and the skill of sonographers has improved, our knowledge of the developing foetus has increased. This means that sometimes things are detected on the scan that are part of the normal process, but which we would not have known about previously. A choroid plexus cyst is simply a collection of fluid that forms within the part of the brain that produces a fluid to protect it. The cyst is where the fluid collects, and as the baby grows and develops, the tubes that circulate the fluid become bigger and the cyst disperses. These cysts are nearly always gone by around 24 weeks of pregnancy and they do not harm the baby’s brain or development. However, if you remain concerned, discuss it with your midwife or doctor.
Q: I’m 25 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and she sometimes stops moving, which causes me to panic! Why does she go quiet?
A: At 25 weeks your baby will be moving around a lot, but she is still quite small and needs to kick hard for you to feel it. Women mainly feel the movements when their baby kicks out towards the front – if her movements are towards your back you may not feel them. Your baby will also have periods of quiet when she is asleep.
If your baby seems less active, you may just have been busy and simply not noticed her moving. Sit with your feet up and have a drink, put your hand on your tummy and you will probably quickly notice her moving. If you have any concerns, contact your midwife, who will arrange for you to be monitored if necessary.
Q: I saw my GP two-and-a-half weeks ago to tell him I’m pregnant, but I have heard nothing yet from either a midwife or the hospital. Is this normal?
A: Your GP should have informed your midwife that you are pregnant and she will contact you to arrange an appointment. She will ask you about your medical history and your family history, and plan your pregnancy care with you.
This appointment may take place at home or the doctor’s surgery when you are about eight to 10 weeks pregnant. Your midwife will arrange for you to have an early scan, showing if the pregnancy is progressing normally, confirm how many weeks pregnant you are and detect how many babies are there. The midwife will also discuss the other screening tests that you will be offered. She will explain what each test is for and then give you and your partner some time to discuss which tests you want to have.
Before you meet your midwife you might find it helpful to write down the questions you want to ask. The midwife will give you a lot of information about what to expect, but it is best to get your concerns addressed otherwise you might not remember all of what you hear. The midwife will also discuss with you how often you will see her during your pregnancy. If you haven’t heard from your midwife in the next week, ask your GP how you can contact her.
Q: I’m happy that I’m having a baby, but I’m frightened that I won’t know what to do! How will I cope?
A: It is normal to feel nervous about parenthood, but it’s important that you relax and enjoy time with your newborn. You and your baby are the priority, so make the most of offers of help so you can be together. Activities that used to be simple – such as going to the shops – will now seem like an expedition, but you need to accept that life will be different. You will very quickly develop a routine and enjoy a different way of life. There is usually someone around to offer advice, but this can be contradictory, particularly if parents and in-laws want to help. Think about whether things seem right for you and your baby – talk to your midwife or health visitor if you’re unsure.
Q: My baby is breech, and she’s always kicking my bladder, which is very uncomfortable. I don’t think I can put up with it for another 12 weeks! Is there anything I can do to make her turn?
A: At around 28 weeks the baby has a lot of room to move around, and most babies turn to head down before they are due, so it is unlikely that you will suffer from this discomfort for the rest of your pregnancy. However, there are some exercises that you can try, which may encourage your baby to turn and which might also relieve the discomfort on your bladder.
Swimming is a great exercise in pregnancy, as the whole of the body is supported in the water and this means that you can move around freely without putting undue pressure on your joints. What’s more, the buoyancy from the water may help you to relax the strong abdominal muscles, giving your baby more room to move. When you are sitting at home or at work, meanwhile, ensure that you are sitting up straight so that you are not slumped in a chair, as this will reduce the amount of room the baby has to change position. Some women find that sitting cross-legged or in a hands-knees position with the bottom higher than your shoulders may also help to move the baby. You might not find this position very comfy, though, and it is important not to try it straight after a meal as it might cause heartburn.
Although your bladder may feel uncomfortable, it is important to ensure that you keep drinking adequate fluids – if the bladder is full it may also help the baby to turn. Some women have had a degree of success with acupuncture in turning a breech baby, although it is important to find a qualified practitioner. If the baby still hasn’t turned by 36 weeks, your midwife will refer you to an obstetrician, who may discuss trying to turn the baby.