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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Hair growth and breast feeding

Question:  I really just want to know why the hair under my arms has stopped growing since I started breast feeding! The same thing happened when I breast fed my first son. I suppose it's linked with hormones? I can't find anything on the internet about it!

If anyone knows and has time to reply - I'd love to know!! Thanks. E.S. (Greece)

Answer: As it happens, you are not the first person to ask this question. In fact the hair issue spans a spectrum, from lack of growth to actual loss of hair, something that can be alarming when it is scalp hair.

Whilst this phenomenon has quite often been blamed on breast feeding, this is in fact not the case. It happens to bottle feeding mums too. You can find details of the explanation for the phenomenon in the answer we gave to a similar question earlier. Just click here:

Smoking heroin in early pregnancy

Question: I kicked my heroin habit roughly 2 months ago, I went through it cold turkey and built my self up with ensure plus drinks and was prescribed Xanax.  I found out 2 weeks ago that I am pregnant, I have cut down to just one 250 microgram Xanax a day and hope to be finished with them in 5 days.  I don't know how far I'm gone but my problem is that I had a small number of relapses. I smoked heroin, never injected and the smoke I had in the last few weeks wasn't a huge amount but have I still done permanent damage to my little baby?? I am so worried.... D. (Ireland)

Answer: it is very unlikely that you have done damage to your unborn baby. It is obvious that you are quite motivated to stay away from heroin and care deeply for your baby. That bodes well for the battle ahead because, believe me, the temptation to relapse will be big. You need to make use of all the help available to keep you on track. Damage usually comes from sustained use in pregnancy. I do, however, need to mention that the use of Xanax and similar drugs known as benzodiazepines is not advised during pregnancy. Benzodiazepines in general (though not Xanax in particular) have been associated with birth defects. The generic name for Xanax is Alprazolam. Best wishes.

Severe anaemia in late pregnancy

Question:  At 8 months pregnant my iron level is 6.5 what my risk during labour. Y (Jamaica)

Answer: A haemoglobin level of 6.5g/dl is quite severe anaemia. In any setting that will be regarded as dangerous with only about four weeks from delivery. The main concern is that your body will not be able to tolerate even a modest blood loss. This situation is genuinely risky. You need to get medical attention promptly. Unless you suffer from sickle cell disease, you should be getting iron and the only practical option at this late stage is to get it as an infusion intravenously. If this is not available, then get it in the form of injections but these will take many days (you will need more than a dozen) and you don’t really have this much time. If both options are unavailable, then look at the possibility of getting a blood transfusion to get your Hb level to about 10g/dl. That will require about five units of blood. If you have no access to any of these then start taking oral iron now but that is a very poor option at this stage of your pregnancy. Whatever you do, please don’t ignore this issue.

Reversal of sterilisation

Question:  What is the likely success of reversing sterilisation. I had my tubes tied when I had my last caesarean section 3 years ago. M.N. (UK)

Answer: The success depends on how it was done and the state of your tubes now. The quoted success rate is around 40-60%. You also need to be aware that there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Seeing as you are in the UK, you also need to know that this service is no longer available on the NHS. Privately it will cost you a few thousand pounds. You may therefore wish to consider the option of IVF which has a similar sort of cost.

Conception and pregnancy test

Question:  Hi. I was just curious as to how long it takes after intercourse for a pregnancy to occur and when does HCG levels show on a sensitive home pregnancy test? Thanks for your time. S. (USA)

Answer: It is normally a matter of seconds after ejaculation happens that conception takes place. That is, if ovulation has already taken place and the egg is readily available to be fertilized.

Sometimes this is not the case as sexual intercourse may take place before ovulation has taken place. If the egg was to be released within 24 hours of the act of sexual intercourse, fertilization might still happen resulting in successful conception. It means therefore, conception could take place several hours after the act. The pregnancy hormone hCG is produced by the trophoblastic tissue which will later form the placenta and gestational sac. Trophoblastic tissue develops after implantation has taken place, something that occurs about a week after conception and is complete a week later. This is around the time when the concentration of hCG is high enough to give a positive urine pregnancy test. The most sensitive tests will give a positive results about 2 or 3 days before the period is due or around 12 days after conception. The process of conception is described in more detail here:

Breech vaginal delivery

Question:  I am 33 weeks with my second baby. The scan today showed that it is breech and my doctor says they will turn the baby but if that fails I will have to have a caesarean. My mum says I was breech and she had me just fine. Why can’t doctors do that now? I really don’t want to have a caesarean! J.E. (UK)

Answer: Doctors can and still often deliver babies leading with breech. However, and this is important; there is now incontrovertible evidence that breech babies are prone to more complications than those leading with the head. Since the results of a large international study showed this evidence almost a decade ago, it has been almost universally accepted that mothers with breech babies at term should be offered an attempt at turning a baby, the so-called ‘external cephalic version’ or, failing that, a planned caesarean section. This policy also means there are now few doctors with expertise in delivering breech babies because this is a special skill. Because it is so infrequently done in modern obstetrics, even those who were experts in doing this in the past will have become ‘rusty’ through lack of practise. I would strongly urge you to listen to your doctors on this.

More questions and answers on the next page