You’ve taken the prenatal vitamins. The home pregnancy test was positive and now your doctor has confirmed: You’re pregnant!
Congratulations! So many thoughts, feelings and questions go through the minds of first-time expecting mamas. While most parents are over-the-moon with excitement, at the same time, it can seem like there are a million things to consider: Can I eat this? What symptoms are normal? Am I supposed to be gaining this much weight? What vaccinations should I get and when? The list goes on and on.
Our very own Dr. Sara Jaber, an OBGYN at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, gave us the run down on some common questions heard in her office. Hopefully, you’ll feel a little less stressed, and a little more at ease, now with the little one on the way!
Q: While pregnant, what medications are safe for me to take?
A lot of women, once they find out they are pregnant, stop taking all their medications immediately, but I encourage my patients to be cautious. It’s recommended you ask your physician about the safety of continuing medications as soon as you find out you are pregnant. With some medications, the risks may outweigh the benefits.
Q: When is the best time for me to travel during my pregnancy?
I assure my patients that commercial airline traveling is absolutely fine in uncomplicated pregnancies up until about 37 weeks. At that point, your chances of going into labor become quite high, and I recommend staying close to home in case of sudden changes that need attention. If you do fly, check with the airline. Some have policies requiring pregnant women to provide a doctor’s report to board the plane.
Q: How often do I get to see my OBGYN?
Usually, in the first and second trimester, we see patients every four weeks. Then, beginning at 28 weeks, we will check you out every other week until you reach week 35. At that point, we will want to see you once a week until delivery. Of course, I encourage my patients to schedule an appointment as soon as possible with any rising concerns or new symptoms.
Q: How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?
This all depends on your BMI at the onset of pregnancy. If you have a lower BMI, you have enough room to gain more weight than a mother who has a higher BMI. The number of pounds gained ranges from 11-20 pounds in obese patients (those with a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2) versus 25-35 pounds for women at a normal weight (where BMI is between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2). Typically, in the first trimester, weight gain should be minimal, between one and four pounds. It’s also important to note that even though you do need extra calories when you’re pregnant, it’s not necessary to ”eat for two.” The average woman needs roughly 300 additional healthy calories per day in the later stage of pregnancy. This will help her gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
Q: What are abnormal symptoms to look for throughout my pregnancy?
Vaginal bleeding is a big thing to look out for, especially in the second and third trimester as it could be a sign of a serious complication with the placenta. Also, as babies grow in the womb, moms begin to feel and become accustomed to their little movements. If you feel a decrease in the normal daily activity of your baby, try eating a snack and lie on your side in a quiet place to focus on feeling your baby’s movements. You should feel 10 different movements within a two hour window. If after three hours you haven’t felt movement, contact your physician.
Q: When can I learn the gender?
Normally between 18-22 weeks is when you can learn if you are having a little boy or little girl. Let the nursery decorating begin!
Q: What foods, drinks, activities, etc. should I avoid?
The obvious ones to avoid are alcohol, recreational drugs, and smoking. Then there are things like raw fish and eggs, and uncooked meat that you need to stay away from. Also, be careful when eating soft cheeses like brie, feta and that cheese dip at your favorite local Mexican restaurant. These cheeses may contain a certain type of bacteria that has been linked to infections in newborns. If the cheese is made from pasteurized milk, then it is safe to eat.
Q: How long can I work when I’m pregnant?
Pregnancy is not a disease; you are not sick. If you’re a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy and depending on the circumstances of your job, you may be able to continue working until the very end of your pregnancy, or close to it. Even if your job requires minimal standing and do not involve strenuous activity and lifting, take care of yourself while you’re pregnant by:
- Taking breaks
- Dressing comfortably
- Drinking lots of water
- Not skipping meals
- Resting when you can
- Not overdoing it
- Reducing your stress
Q: Is there anything I can do to manage morning sickness?
Morning sickness is typically at its worse in the first trimester. It’s always worth experimenting with non-drug options first to relieve symptoms, so you don’t expose your baby to medication unnecessarily. I have found that Vitamin B6 can help expecting mothers with nausea until around the 12-week mark, when morning sickness tends to improve significantly, although it might not disappear completely. But if home remedies don’t help, ask your doctor which anti-nausea medicines might relieve your morning sickness. Several supplements and drugs are considered safe to take, although not all of them work for everyone.
Q: How will I know when I’m in labor?
You will start to feel painful, regular contractions that will not go away with rest. With some women, their water will break before the onset of contractions. And whether it comes out in a large gush or a small trickle, this is a signal that it’s go-time! True labor is increasingly intense and more frequent (about every 5 minutes, consistently, for an hour). In some cases, though, the onset of strong, regular contractions comes with little or no warning. It’s different for every woman.
Q: What’s the biggest piece of advice you can offer a first-time expecting mother?
Being pregnant is such a special time in a woman’s life. Enjoy every moment and don’t stress. You’ve got this!
Your health is too important to leave to chance. Let us help you find the physician that’s right for you.