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A woman gave birth to an infant boy 10 hours ago. Where would the nurse expect to locate this woman’s fundus?
a. One centimeter above the umbilicus
b. Two centimeters below the umbilicus
c. Midway between the umbilicus and the symphysis pubis
d. Nonpalpable abdominally

Within 12 hours after delivery the fundus may be approximately 1 cm above the umbilicus. The fundus descends about 1 to 2 cm every 24 hours. Within 12 hours after delivery the fundus may be approximately 1 cm above the umbilicus. By the sixth after birth week the fundus normally is halfway between the symphysis pubis and the umbilicus. The fundus should be easily palpated using the maternal umbilicus as a reference point.


Which woman is most likely to experience strong afterpains?
a. A woman who experienced oligohydramnios
b. A woman who is a gravida 4, para 4-0-0-4
c. A woman who is bottle-feeding her infant
d. A woman whose infant weighed 5 lbs, 3 ounces

Afterpains are more common in multiparous women. Afterpains are more noticeable with births in which the uterus was greatly distended, as in a woman who experienced polyhydramnios or a woman who delivered a large infant. Breastfeeding may cause afterpains to intensify.


A woman gave birth to a healthy infant boy 5 days ago. What type of lochia would the nurse expect to find when assessing this woman?
a. Lochia rubra
b. Lochia sangra
c. Lochia alba
d. Lochia serosa

Lochia serosa, which consists of blood, serum, leukocytes, and tissue debris, generally occurs around day 3 or 4 after childbirth. Lochia rubra consists of blood and decidual and trophoblastic debris. The flow generally lasts 3 to 4 days and pales, becoming pink or brown. There is no such term as lochia sangra. Lochia alba occurs in most women after day 10 and can continue up to 6 weeks after childbirth.


Which hormone remains elevated in the immediate after birth period of the breastfeeding woman?
a. Estrogen
b. Progesterone
c. Prolactin
d. Human placental lactogen

Prolactin levels in the blood increase progressively throughout pregnancy. In women who breastfeed, prolactin levels remain elevated into the sixth week after birth. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease markedly after expulsion of the placenta and reach their lowest levels 1 week into the after birth period. Human placental lactogen levels decrease dramatically after expulsion of the placenta.


Two days ago a woman gave birth to a full-term infant. Last night she awakened several times to urinate and noted that her gown and bedding were wet from profuse diaphoresis. One mechanism for the diaphoresis and diuresis that this woman is experiencing during the early after birth period is:
a. elevated temperature caused by after birth infection.
b. increased basal metabolic rate after giving birth.
c. loss of increased blood volume associated with pregnancy.
d. increased venous pressure in the lower extremities.

Within 12 hours of birth women begin to lose the excess tissue fluid that has accumulated during pregnancy. One mechanism for reducing these retained fluids is the profuse diaphoresis that often occurs, especially at night, for the first 2 or 3 days after childbirth. Postpartal diuresis is another mechanism by which the body rids itself of excess fluid.
An elevated temperature would cause chills and may cause dehydration, not diaphoresis and diuresis. Diaphoresis and diuresis sometimes are referred to as reversal of the water metabolism of pregnancy, not as the basal metabolic rate. Postpartal diuresis may be caused by the removal of increased venous pressure in the lower extremities.


A woman gave birth to a 7-lb, 3-ounce infant boy 2 hours ago. The nurse determines that the woman’s bladder is distended because her fundus is now 3 cm above the umbilicus and to the right of the midline. In the immediate after birth period, the most serious consequence likely to occur from bladder distention is:
a. urinary tract infection.
b. excessive uterine bleeding.
c. a ruptured bladder.
d. bladder wall atony.

Excessive bleeding can occur immediately after birth if the bladder becomes distended because it pushes the uterus up and to the side and prevents it from contracting firmly. A urinary tract infection may result from overdistention of the bladder, but it is not the most serious consequence. A ruptured bladder may result from a severely overdistended bladder. However, vaginal bleeding most likely would occur before the bladder reaches this level of overdistention. Bladder distention may result from bladder wall atony. The most serious concern associated with bladder distention is excessive uterine bleeding.


The nurse caring for the after birth woman understands that breast engorgement is caused by:
a. overproduction of colostrum.
b. accumulation of milk in the lactiferous ducts.
c. hyperplasia of mammary tissue.
d. congestion of veins and lymphatics.

Breast engorgement is caused by the temporary congestion of veins and lymphatics, not by overproduction of colostrum, overproduction of milk, or hyperplasia of mammary tissue.


A woman gave birth to a 7-lb, 6-ounce infant girl 1 hour ago. The birth was vaginal, and the estimated blood loss (EBL) was approximately 1500 mL. When assessing the woman’s vital signs, the nurse would be concerned to see:
a. temperature 37.9° C, heart rate 120, respirations 20, blood pressure (BP) 90/50.
b. temperature 37.4° C, heart rate 88, respirations 36, BP 126/68.
c. temperature 38° C, heart rate 80, respirations 16, BP 110/80.
d. temperature 36.8° C, heart rate 60, respirations 18, BP 140/90.

An EBL of 1500 mL with tachycardia and hypotension suggests hypovolemia caused by excessive blood loss. An increased respiratory rate of 36 may be secondary to pain from the birth. Temperature may increase to 38° C during the first 24 hours as a result of the dehydrating effects of labor. A BP of 140/90 is slightly elevated, which may be caused by the use of oxytocic medications.


Which statement by a newly delivered woman indicates that she knows what to expect about her menstrual activity after childbirth?
a. “My first menstrual cycle will be lighter than normal and then will get heavier every month thereafter.”
b. “My first menstrual cycle will be heavier than normal and will return to my prepregnant volume within three or four cycles.”
c. “I will not have a menstrual cycle for 6 months after childbirth.”
d. “My first menstrual cycle will be heavier than normal and then will be light for several months after.”

“My first menstrual cycle will be heavier than normal and will return to my prepregnant volume within three or four cycles” is an accurate statement and indicates her understanding of her expected menstrual activity. She can expect her first menstrual cycle to be heavier than normal (which occurs by 3 months after childbirth), and the volume of her subsequent cycles will return to prepregnant levels within three or four cycles.


The interval between the birth of the newborn and the return of the reproductive organs to their normal nonpregnant state is called the:
a. involutionary period because of what happens to the uterus.
b. lochia period because of the nature of the vaginal discharge.
c. mini-tri period because it lasts only 3 to 6 weeks.
d. puerperium, or fourth trimester of pregnancy.

The puerperium, also called the fourth trimester or the after birth period of pregnancy, lasts about 3 to 6 weeks. Involution marks the end of the puerperium, or the fourth trimester of pregnancy. Lochia refers to the various vaginal discharges during the puerperium, or fourth trimester of pregnancy.


The self-destruction of excess hypertrophied tissue in the uterus is called:
a. autolysis.
b. subinvolution.
c. afterpain.
d. diastasis.

Autolysis is caused by a decrease in hormone levels. Subinvolution is failure of the uterus to return to a nonpregnant state. Afterpain is caused by uterine cramps 2 to 3 days after birth. Diastasis refers to the separation of muscles.


With regard to the after birth uterus, nurses should be aware that:
a. at the end of the third stage of labor it weighs approximately 500 g.
b. after 2 weeks after birth it should not be palpable abdominally.
c. after 2 weeks after birth it weighs 100 g.
d. it returns to its original (prepregnancy) size by 6 weeks after birth.


After 2 weeks after birth, the uterus should not be palpable abdominally; however, it has not yet returned to its original size. At the end of the third stage of labor, the uterus weighs approximately 1000 g. It takes 6 full weeks for the uterus to return to its original size. After 2 weeks after birth the uterus weighs about 350 g, not its original size. The normal self-destruction of excess hypertrophied tissue accounts for the slight increase in uterine size after each pregnancy.


With regard to after birth pains, nurses should be aware that these pains are:
a. caused by mild, continuous contractions for the duration of the after birth period.
b. more common in first-time mothers.
c. more noticeable in births in which the uterus was overdistended.
d. alleviated somewhat when the mother breastfeeds.

A large baby or multiple babies overdistend the uterus. The cramping that causes after birth pains arises from periodic, vigorous contractions and relaxations, which persist through the first part of the after birth period. After birth pains are more common in multiparous women because first-time mothers have better uterine tone. Breastfeeding intensifies after birth pain because it stimulates contractions.


Post birth uterine/vaginal discharge, called lochia:
a. is similar to a light menstrual period for the first 6 to 12 hours.
b. is usually greater after cesarean births.
c. will usually decrease with ambulation and breastfeeding.
d. should smell like normal menstrual flow unless an infection is present.

An offensive odor usually indicates an infection. Lochia flow should approximate a heavy menstrual period for the first 2 hours and then steadily decrease. Less lochia usually is seen after cesarean births and usually increases with ambulation and breastfeeding.


With regard to after birth ovarian function, nurses should be aware that:
a. almost 75% of women who do not breastfeed resume menstruating within a month after birth.
b. ovulation occurs slightly earlier for breastfeeding women.
c. because of menstruation/ovulation schedules, contraception considerations can be postponed until after the puerperium.
d. the first menstrual flow after childbirth usually is heavier than normal.


The first flow is heavier, but within three or four cycles, it is back to normal. Ovulation can occur within the first month, but for 70% of nonlactating women, it returns within 12 weeks after birth. Breastfeeding women take longer to resume ovulation. Because many women ovulate before their first after birth menstrual period, contraceptive options need to be discussed early in the puerperium.


As relates to the condition and reconditioning of the urinary system after childbirth, nurses should be aware that:
a. kidney function returns to normal a few days after birth.
b. diastasis recti abdominis is a common condition that alters the voiding reflex.
c. fluid loss through perspiration and increased urinary output accounts for a weight loss of more than 2 kg during the puerperium.
d. with adequate emptying of the bladder, bladder tone usually is restored 2 to 3 weeks after childbirth.

Excess fluid loss through other means occurs as well. Kidney function usually returns to normal in about a month. Diastasis recti abdominis is the separation of muscles in the abdominal wall; it has no effect on the voiding reflex. Bladder tone usually is restored 5 to 7 days after childbirth.


Knowing that the condition of the new mother’s breasts will be affected by whether she is breastfeeding, nurses should be able to tell their patients all the following statements except:
a. breast tenderness is likely to persist for about a week after the start of lactation.
b. as lactation is established, a mass may form that can be distinguished from cancer by its position shift from day to day.
c. in nonlactating mothers colostrum is present for the first few days after childbirth.
d. if suckling is never begun (or is discontinued), lactation ceases within a few days to a week.

Breast tenderness should persist for 24 to 48 hours after lactation begins. That movable, noncancerous mass is a filled milk sac. Colostrum is present for a few days whether the mother breastfeeds or not. A mother who does not want to breastfeed should also avoid stimulating her nipples.


With regard to the after birth changes and developments in a woman’s cardiovascular system, nurses should be aware that:
a. cardiac output, the pulse rate, and stroke volume all return to prepregnancy normal values within a few hours of childbirth.
b. respiratory function returns to nonpregnant levels by 6 to 8 weeks after birth.
c. the lowered white blood cell count after pregnancy can lead to false-positive results on tests for infections.
d. a hypercoagulable state protects the new mother from thromboembolism, especially after a cesarean birth.

Respirations should decrease to within the woman’s normal prepregnancy range by 6 to 8 weeks after birth. Stroke volume increases, and cardiac output remains high for a couple of days. However, the heart rate and blood pressure return to normal quickly. Leukocytosis increases 10 to 12 days after childbirth and can obscure the diagnosis of acute infections (false-negative results). The hypercoagulable state increases the risk of thromboembolism, especially after a cesarean birth.


Which condition, not uncommon in pregnancy, is likely to require careful medical assessment during the puerperium?
a. Varicosities of the legs
b. Carpal tunnel syndrome
c. Periodic numbness and tingling of the fingers
d. Headaches

Headaches in the after birth period can have a number of causes, some of which deserve medical attention. Total or nearly total regression of varicosities is expected after childbirth. Carpal tunnel syndrome is relieved in childbirth when the compression on the median nerve is lessened. Periodic numbness of the fingers usually disappears after birth unless carrying the baby aggravates the condition.


Several changes in the integumentary system that appear during pregnancy disappear after birth, although not always completely. What change is almost certain to be completely reversed?
a. Nail brittleness
b. Darker pigmentation of the areolae and linea nigra
c. Striae gravidarum on the breasts, abdomen, and thighs
d. Spider nevi

The nails return to their prepregnancy consistency and strength. Some women have permanent darker pigmentation of the areolae and linea nigra. Striae gravidarum (stretch marks) usually do not completely disappear. For some women spider nevi persist indefinitely.


Childbirth may result in injuries to the vagina and uterus. Pelvic floor exercises also known as Kegel exercises will help to strengthen the perineal muscles and encourage healing. The nurse knows that the patient understands the correct process for completing these conditioning exercises when she reports:
a. “I contract my thighs, buttocks, and abdomen.”
b. “I do 10 of these exercises every day.”
c. “I stand while practicing this new exercise routine.”
d. “I pretend that I am trying to stop the flow of urine midstream.”

The woman can pretend that she is attempting to stop the passing of gas or the flow of urine midstream. This will replicate the sensation of the muscles drawing upward and inward. Each contraction should be as intense as possible without contracting the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs. Guidelines suggest that these exercises should be done 24 to 100 times per day. Positive results are shown with a minimum of 24 to 45 repetitions per day. The best position to learn Kegel exercises is to lie supine with knees bent. A secondary position is on the hands and knees.


Which maternal event is abnormal in the early after birth period?
a. Diuresis and diaphoresis
b. Flatulence and constipation
c. Extreme hunger and thirst
d. Lochial color changes from rubra to alba

For the first 3 days after childbirth, lochia is termed rubra. Lochia serosa follows, and then at about 11 days, the discharge becomes clear, colorless, or white. Diuresis and diaphoresis are the methods by which the body rids itself of increased plasma volume. Urine output of 3000 mL/day is common for the first few days after delivery and is facilitated by hormonal changes in the mother. Bowel tone remains sluggish for days. Many women anticipate pain during defecation and are unwilling to exert pressure on the perineum. The new mother is hungry because of energy used in labor and thirsty because of fluid restrictions during labor.


Which finding 12 hours after birth requires further assessment?
a. The fundus is palpable two fingerbreadths above the umbilicus.
b. The fundus is palpable at the level of the umbilicus.
c. The fundus is palpable one fingerbreadth below the umbilicus.
d. The fundus is palpable two fingerbreadths below the umbilicus.

The fundus rises to the umbilicus after delivery and remains there for about 24 hours. A fundus that is above the umbilicus may indicate uterine atony or urinary retention. A fundus that is palpable at or below the level of the umbilicus is a normal finding for a patient who is 12 hours after birth. Palpation of the fundus 2 fingerbreadths below the umbilicus is an unusual finding for 12 hours after birth; however, it is still appropriate.


If the patient’s white blood cell (WBC) count is 25,000/mm on her second after birth day, the nurse should:
a. tell the physician immediately.
b. have the laboratory draw blood for reanalysis.
c. recognize that this is an acceptable range at this point after birth.
d. begin antibiotic therapy immediately.

During the first 10 to 12 days after childbirth, values between 20,000 and 25,000/mm are common. Because this is a normal finding there is no reason to alert the physician. There is no need for reassessment or antibiotics because it is expected for the WBCs to be elevated.


Which documentation on a woman’s chart on after birth day 14 indicates a normal involution process?
a. Moderate bright red lochial flow
b. Breasts firm and tender
c. Fundus below the symphysis and not palpable
d. Episiotomy slightly red and puffy

The fundus descends 1 cm/day, so by after birth day 14 it is no longer palpable. The lochia should be changed by this day to serosa. Breasts are not part of the involution process. The episiotomy should not be red or puffy at this stage.


Changes in blood volume after childbirth depend on several factors such as blood loss during childbirth and the amount of extravascular water (physiologic edema) mobilized and excreted. A after birth nurse anticipates blood loss of: (Select all that apply.)
a. 100 mL.
b. 250 mL or less.
c. 300 to 500 mL.
d. 500 to 1000 mL.
e. 1500 mL or greater.

The average blood loss for a vaginal birth of a single fetus ranges from 300 to 500 mL (10% of blood volume). The typical blood loss for women who gave birth by cesarean is 500 to 1000 mL (15% to 30% of blood volume). During the first few days after birth the plasma volume decreases further as a result diuresis. Pregnancy-induced hypervolemia (an increase in blood volume of at least 35%) allows most women to tolerate considerable blood loss during childbirth.


A 25-year-old gravida 2, para 2-0-0-2 gave birth 4 hours ago to a 9-lb, 7-ounce boy after augmentation of labor with Pitocin. She puts on her call light and asks for her nurse right away, stating, “I’m bleeding a lot.” The most likely cause of after birth hemorrhage in this woman is:
a. retained placental fragments.
b. unrepaired vaginal lacerations.
c. uterine atony.
d. puerperal infection.

This woman gave birth to a macrosomic boy after Pitocin augmentation. The most likely cause of bleeding 4 hours after delivery, combined with these risk factors, is uterine atony. Although retained placental fragments may cause after birth hemorrhage, this typically would be detected in the first hour after delivery of the placenta and is not the most likely cause of hemorrhage in this woman. Although unrepaired vaginal lacerations may cause bleeding, they typically would occur in the period immediately after birth. Puerperal infection can cause subinvolution and subsequent bleeding; however, this typically would be detected 24 hours after delivery.


On examining a woman who gave birth 5 hours ago, the nurse finds that the woman has completely saturated a perineal pad within 15 minutes. The nurse’s first action is to:
a. begin an intravenous (IV) infusion of Ringer’s lactate solution.
b. assess the woman’s vital signs.
c. call the woman’s primary health care provider.
d. massage the woman’s fundus.

The nurse should assess the uterus for atony. Uterine tone must be established to prevent excessive blood loss. The nurse may begin an IV infusion to restore circulatory volume, but this would not be the first action. Blood pressure is not a reliable indicator of impending shock from impending hemorrhage; assessing vital signs should not be the nurse’s first action. The physician would be notified after the nurse completes the assessment of the woman.


A woman gave birth vaginally to a 9-lb, 12-ounce girl yesterday. Her primary health care provider has written orders for perineal ice packs, use of a sitz bath tid, and a stool softener. What information is most closely correlated with these orders?
a. The woman is a gravida 2, para 2.
b. The woman had a vacuum-assisted birth.
c. The woman received epidural anesthesia.
d. The woman has an episiotomy.

These orders are typical interventions for a woman who has had an episiotomy, lacerations, and hemorrhoids. A multiparous classification is not an indication for these orders. A vacuum-assisted birth may be used in conjunction with an episiotomy, which would indicate these interventions. Use of epidural anesthesia has no correlation with these orders.


The laboratory results for a after birth woman are as follows: blood type, A; Rh status, positive; rubella titer, 1:8 (EIA 0.8); hematocrit, 30%. How would the nurse best interpret these data?
a. Rubella vaccine should be given.
b. A blood transfusion is necessary.
c. Rh immune globulin is necessary within 72 hours of birth.
d. A Kleihauer-Betke test should be performed.

This patient’s rubella titer indicates that she is not immune and that she needs to receive a vaccine. These data do not indicate that the patient needs a blood transfusion. Rh immune globulin is indicated only if the patient has a negative Rh status and the infant has a positive Rh status. A Kleihauer-Betke test should be performed if a large fetomaternal transfusion is suspected, especially if the mother is Rh negative. The data do not provide any indication for performing this test.