HiPP's A-Z of pregnancy & child health

The A-Z contains information on many aspects of pregnancy 
and child health. It is arranged alphabetically so you can find what you are looking for with ease. If you are at all concerned about your health or your child’s health, please consult your health professional.


There are three stages of labour:

The first stage

In this stage the contractions will soften the cervix and the cervix will begin to gradually dilate. During this time you may experience a 'show'. When the cervix has dilated to 3-4 centimetres you are said to be in 'established' labour. Strong regular contractions lasting about 45 to 60 seconds and coming every 5 to 10 minutes will indicate that you are in established labour. The time interval from established labour to full dilation (10 centimetres) will vary, but often takes longer with a first labour.

The second stage

This stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated and lasts until the birth of the baby. Contractions will become stronger and closer together and you may feel the urge to push with each one; these contractions will push the baby down the birth canal.

The third stage

This is the delivery of the placenta. After the baby is born, more contractions will expel the placenta. An injection of syntometrine will be offered to the mother to speed up the delivery of the placenta.

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This is the name for the body hair that develops on a baby's body in the womb. It usually disappears by the time a baby is born, but babies can be born with some lanugo remaining - often over their shoulders and down their spines. The hair will rub off soon after birth.

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Lazy Eye

Some children suffer from a squint (strabismus), where the eyes are misaligned - either all the time or some of time. This may need to be corrected by the wearing of an eye patch on the good eye - forcing the other eye to work properly. It is important that any eye problems are identified as soon as possible. If your baby or child is squinting, seek medical advice. You may be referred to an eye specialist.

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LCPs is short for ?long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids' which are a type of unsaturated fats that play many useful roles in the body. Two of the most common LCPs are the Omega 3 LCP known as DHA, and the Omega 6 LCP known as AA.

AA and DHA are important components of the retina of the eye and of the brain and they are therefore of major importance during the visual and neurological development of babies in the last 3 months of pregnancy and first few months after birth.

During pregnancy, your baby receives LCPs through your placenta. Both DHA and AA are present in breastmilk. That is why pregnant and breastfeeding mums need to make sure they take plenty of LCP rich food.

Babies whose LCP intake is plentiful during pregnancy and first few months of life through breastmilk or an infant milk with added LCPs, show better visual development and speech, thinking and movement skills when older. Also, the blood pressure tends to be lower in childhood which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Research shows that mums with insufficient intake of LCPs during pregnancy run a higher risk of having babies with smaller heads which may be associated with slower development and consequently poorer academic achievement.

LCPs are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, tuna). Fish is a good source of both AA and DHA and meat and eggs are particularly rich in AA.

If you are not sure your intake of LCPs is sufficient in pregnancy, consult with your healthcare professional whether to take any supplements, there are many available in the market.

AA and DHA can be made from other fats in the diet by babies, but the ability to do so is very limited in the first few months of life, so a dietary source of AA and DHA is desirable to ensure optimum nutrition and development in bottle fed babies in the first 4-6 months of life. Hence, it is very important that you choose an infant milk for your baby which contains LCPs.

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Let-down Reflex

When babies suckle at the breast, hormones are triggered which, in seconds, cause milk stored in your breasts to be squeezed down ducts inside your breasts towards your nipples.

This is known as the let-down reflex - for some it is just felt as a tingling sensation, others have likened it to a metal band tightening around their breasts! The reflex can also be triggered by your baby crying (or even by a hot shower). Milk is likely to leak out - which is why it is a good idea to wear breast pads when possible.

Visit The Breastfeeding Network for more information, advice and support on breastfeeding:

The let-down reflex can be affected by anxiety or tiredness, so breastfeeding mothers should try to rest and relax as much as they can.

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Linea Nigra

This is the name for the vertical, pigmented line which can appear down from the navel during pregnancy. It usually fades afterwards.

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This is an infection that can cause severe problems in pregnancy and for newborn babies (and also in the elderly and others with reduced immunity). The bacteria causing listeriosis can be present in certain foods which you are advised to avoid during pregnancy. These foods include unpasteurised milk, blue cheese, mould-ripened cheeses, unwashed pre-packed salads, pâté of all kinds. You should also ensure that any ready-made meals are thoroughly reheated. Take care to wash hands before and after handling food. Pregnant women should avoid contact with sheep during the lambing period (January to April). Find out more about foods to avoid during pregnancy. 

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This is the name for the vaginal discharge experienced for 2-6 weeks after the delivery of a baby. The womb contracts and gradually sheds the rest of its lining. At first the lochia is red, then pinky brown and then gradually becomes colourless before stopping naturally. To guard against the risk of infection It is advisable to use pads and not tampons.

Lochia is a normal post-natal experience. You should seek medical advice, however, if:

  • The discharge remains heavy and bright red for more than one week
  • You are needing to use more than one sanitary towel in an hour
  • You have large blood clots
  • The discharge is offensive (smelly)
  • You have a fever or chills

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Low Birthweight

The official classification of ?low birthweight? is a baby who is born weighing under 2500g or 5.5lb. Smoking and consuming large amounts of caffeine (more than 300mg) during pregnancy can lead to a low birthweight. A low birthweight may impact upon infant mortality and may cause health problems later in life e.g. the onset of type 2 diabetes. Find out more information on caffeine levels in everyday food and drinks. For help giving up smoking visit the NHS website.

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