Baby Beats

August 21, 2008 12:00 AM

Q: Before pregnancy, I felt little heart flutters from time to time when I was nervous or suddenly exerted myself. Since I’ve been pregnant, I get them several times a day and not for any obvious reason. Is that anything to be concerned about?

A: The flutters are probably heart palpitations, a sign of a temporarily fast or irregular heartbeat. Most everyone has them from time to time. Pregnancy, along with exercise, stress, and caffeine, can make them occur more frequently. If you don’t experience dizziness or shortness of breath at the same time, these palpitations are probably harmless. Rarely, they’re associated with a serious heart condition, so if you do experience dizziness or shortness of breath, I recommend a consultation with a doctor who specializes in internal medicine.

Heading Down

Q: I’m in my third trimester and my baby has flipped positions several times, from feet down to head down to feet down again. As I’m getting closer to my due date, I want to make sure she stays head down. Is there anything I should do—or not do—to discourage her from flipping again?

A: Unfortunately, there’s no position or exercise you can do that will improve your chances of a headfirst baby. Certain factors, including your uterus shape and the amount of amniotic fluid, can increase the likelihood of a breech presentation—meaning the baby is positioned with her rear end or feet toward your pelvis. But none of these factors are directly related to your actions.

As the due date draws closer, most babies settle into a head-down position—breech presentation occurs in only about 5 percent of all single-fetus deliveries. If the baby is breech when you’re within a few weeks of your due date, your ob/gyn can sometimes manipulate her into a head-down position by feeling her through your abdomen.
This is known as an external version. It can be uncomfortable for you, and there are minimal risks to the baby, so it’s usually conducted somewhere an emergency delivery can be performed if needed.

The Fuzz

Q: Now that I’m pregnant, my neck seems to have sprouted a lot of peach fuzz. What’s the reason for this? Isn’t hair growth usually the result of testosterone? If testosterone is the cause, is it because I’m having a boy? Will it go away?

A: The testosterone from a male child can’t affect you. But your skin is just one part of your body that’s affected by carrying a child of either sex. Pregnancy can cause hair to grow in new places: chin, breasts, and cheeks are all common. And overall, your body deposits more skin pigment, or melanin, during pregnancy. It can make moles look darker, give you a line on the belly from the navel down, the linea negra, or cause darkening of the skin on the face, called melasma or the “mask of pregnancy.” Darker skin can also make previously invisible hair more visible. Depending on the reason behind it, the extra fuzz should go away after you deliver, or at least become less noticeable.

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