HOW FAR ALONG AM I?
For women with monthly menstrual cycles, the age of the pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last cycle; there are 40 weeks in the average egg cycle from preparation in the ovary to the end of pregnancy. Assuming that you ovulated 2 weeks after your last cycle started, conception occurred at week 2 of the egg cycle; your baby should be born about 38 weeks later. If you have an irregular cycle, your due date will be based on measurement from your first ultrasound.
SHOULD I BE ON A PRENATAL VITAMIN?
1000 mcg Folic acid and 75 mg Vitamin B-6 should be started the month prior to pregnancy to help reduce the risk of spina bifida; more folic acid may be recommended if you have a family history of spina bifida. Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins with folic acid added and are important to take on a daily basis during pregnancy to ensure nutritional balance. Calcium may be drawn from your bones or teeth as Baby’s skeletal system begins to form around 12 weeks. To protect your health, we recommend 1200 mgs. calcium daily. This equals 4-5 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt. If you do not enjoy dairy products or you are lactose intolerant, a calcium supplement can be taken; 600 mg twice a day is recommended to optimize absorption. DHA supplements are important to add to your daily nutritional plan if your diet does not include fish 3 times a week. DHA supplements contain Omega-3 and essential fatty acids that help support good brain and eye development.
WHAT’S UP WITH FISH AND DELI MEATS?
Certain fish live in contaminated environments and consequently have higher levels of mercury in their tissues. The FDA recommends avoiding consumption of fish with higher levels of mercury, especially during pregnancy. For a list of what you can safely consume, see what has been provided below. Deli meats and unpasteurized dairy products can contain listeria, a bacterium that has been associated with miscarriage and fetal infection. Please be certain that your dairy products have been pasteurized and heat all processed meats until they are steaming hot to guard against infection. It is best to limit your intake of processed foods (fast food, frozen entrées, and canned goods) as they contain added salt and preservative chemicals that are not in the best interest of anyone’s health.
WHAT MEDICATIONS ARE SAFE TO TAKE?
Please see the medication list below for safe choices during pregnancy. If you need something that is not on the list, contact your nurse for further assistance.
HOW MUCH WATER DO I NEED TO DRINK?
During pregnancy, it is vital to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to early labor and even to miscarriage in extreme cases. Plan to consume 6-8 glasses of fluids daily including: water, milk, decaf tea or soda, fruit juices or soymilk. It is preferable to limit caffeine intake while pregnancy. Common products containing caffeine are coffee, tea, some sodas, and chocolate.
CAN I GET MY HAIR COLORED?
Highlights added to your hair with foils are considered safe in pregnancy as they do not sit on your scalp and so are not absorbed into the bloodstream. There are no studies that prove the safety of color products use during pregnancy, and therefore our best advice is to choose processing that does not sit on the scalp.
CAN I TAKE TUB BATHS?
Normal temperature baths (98-100 degrees) are safe during pregnancy. Avoid exposure to higher temperature hot tubs or saunas, especially in the first trimester to the reduce risk of spina bifida. If you have frequent yeast infections or bacterial infections, you may want to switch to showers.
CAN I TRAVEL?
As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, feel free to take trips by car/plane up to 30 weeks gestation; we do not recommend leaving the country unless it is absolutely necessary. Be sure to have a contingency plan in place at your destination and take time to stop and stretch along the way. You have an extra half-gallon of blood in your body when you are pregnant and relaxed blood vessels to accommodate it; consequently, you at greater risk for blood clot formation when you sit for long periods of time. Plan to stand up and walk around for five minutes or so every 2 hours to avoid clot formation and to encourage a rich oxygen supply to the placenta.
CAN I GO TO THE DENTIST?
Please do! Routine dental care is especially important during pregnancy. If your dentist needs a note from us, we will be glad to provide one; just ask at your next office visit.
HOW DO I PRE-REGISTER WITH THE HOSPITAL?
St. Elizabeth Hospital is where our doctors deliver. The Center for New Life is located on the third floor of the hospital; that is where you want to go when you are in labor. All the rooms on that floor are private rooms. Unless you deliver by C-section, you can plan to labor and stay in the same room; having Baby room in with you is optional. We encourage you to preregister for your delivery by the end of your fifth month by going to www.christushospital.org. If you need to make financial arrangements with the hospital, start early! There are discounts for cash deliveries if paid up front. Prenatal educational classes are offered at no charge to those who deliver at St. Elizabeth; the topics range from prepared childbirth to breastfeeding to infant/child CPR classes. Check out the events calendar at their website for more info!
CAN I KEEP MY CAT?
Cats that go outside can be exposed to toxoplasmosis via wild food sources. You can be exposed to this parasite if you change the litter box of an infected cat. Cats that never go outside are at a very low risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. Loving your cat is perfectly safe while you are pregnant, but to be on the safe side, have someone else change the litter box!
CAN I PAINT THE BABY’S ROOM?
Water-based paints are safe to use when you are pregnant. Make sure your room is well ventilated, and take frequent breaks to rest and stretch your muscles. As your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts making you a bit less stable on your feet; we recommend letting someone else paint those hard to reach places!
DO I HAVE TO SLEEP ON MY LEFT SIDE?
By your third trimester, the weight of the pregnancy could possibly decrease the blood flow in the large blood vessels that are close to your spine. While no evidence exists that lying on your back is harmful to your baby, lying with your abdomen tilted to the left or right would certainly optimize blood flow. Obviously, you are not in control of positions once you fall asleep! Before your third trimester, fall asleep in any position you like! If you have a pre-existing heart condition, please contact your nurse for further clarification.
WHY ARE MY BREASTS SO TENDER?
Elevated hormone levels in early pregnancy can cause your breast to enlarge rather quickly and become very sensitive – even to the point of painful! While this condition is uncomfortable, it won’t last forever. As the pregnancy progresses, the tenderness usually fades and breast size returns to normal about 6 weeks after delivery or 6-8 weeks after you wean baby from breast-feeding.
Some Closing Thoughts on Pregnancy
For most women, pregnancy is a healthy state of being. Remember to take your prenatal vitamin daily, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine (wear sunscreen), drink 6-8 glasses of fluids daily, eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and rest when you feel the need. From time to time you may have some symptoms that are troublesome. You should contact your physician immediately if you have the following:
- Temp over 100.2 F
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea that lasts more than 12 hours
- Headache unresponsive to Tylenol /acetaminophen
- Visual disturbances
- Swelling that has not resolved after a night’s sleep
- Vaginal discharge with foul odor or itching
- Painful, urgent urination, or scant urination
- Fluid leakage from the vagina
- Increasing pelvic pain
- Decreased fetal movement
- Contracting more than 4 times in an hour before 37 weeks
- The feeling that something is not right
Maintaining a healthy sexual relationship is safe in pregnancy. Some women find with higher hormone levels that they enjoy intercourse more in pregnancy. At times, you may have less interest as you battle nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness. Positions can be challenging as your abdomen grows. Keeping an open line of communication with your mate is crucial. There are many of ways to express affection, so have fun and be creative. If sex is uncomfortable, discuss it with your physician. We are honored to be sharing this life-changing journey with you and it is our goal to provide you with the very best health care during your pregnancy. Please feel free to call if you have any problems or questions.