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Top Pregnancy Questions

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First Trimester

Q: What should I expect at my first doctor's visit?

A: The telltale "plus" sign popped up on your at home pregnancy test. Now what? Welcome to the world of prenatal care!

The doctor says:
"Your first visit should be within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. In my own personal opinion, the sooner the better. Be prepared to talk about family history and your own personal health history. You can also expect a general physical exam, a number of blood tests and maybe a sonogram."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Things the Doctor Will Cover:

  • There are a whole list of blood tests you might get including: a hepatitis screen, HPD screens, a blood levels test, blood type, and tests for immunities against childhood illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella.
  • The doctor will talk to you about what to expect over the next nine months
  • You will find out how frequent your exams will be and when to expect your next visit.
  • You may discuss genetic testing
  • Some doctors will give you an ultrasound. If your doctor chooses not to, she may tell you when to expect your first one.
  • Your doctor may discuss diet, foods and activities to avoid, exercise and sex.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"At my first visit, my doctor put a fetal monitor on my stomach and I could hear my baby's heartbeat. I was nine weeks pregnant and it made me weep," says Katie, Mom of one.

Q: What do I need to register for?

A: If you want to be certain that your nest is feathered before the stork arrives, makes sure you ask for the right baby gear.

The pediatrician says:
"Think practically when a new baby is on the way, and don't get carried away picking out expensive items. Be prepared to dig into your own wallet to supplement what you get at your shower because often times people buy gifts not on your registry. Think simple. Avoid unnecessary clutter like baby bottle warmers, monitors and pricey toys. Babies don't need that stuff and neither do you! Bells and whistles won't help the adjustment - what helps is hands-on parenting, being flexible and a sense of humor."
--Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP, is the CEO and Chief Editor of Pediatrics Now

The List:

  • The essentials: diapers, wipes, baby bottles, formula, pacifiers
  • Clothes: Newborns need practical clothes - onesies and sleepers that are easy to take on and off
  • Receiving and swaddle blankets
  • A car seat. Make sure you get a new one, not a hand-me-down because you can't be certain if that seat has been in an accident and infant seats must be replaced after even one car accident.
  • A stroller. Pick one where the infant seat can clip in so you can easily transfer a sleeping baby from the car to the stroller.
  • A crib. Choose one with a firm mattress that meets all federal safety standards.
  • Check the www.cpsc.gov website for recalls of all major products before you make your purchase.
  • Stuff for mom: witch hazel pads, hydrocortisone cream, nursing pads and nursing bras, a donut pill and a foot massager. A baby may be coming home, but a mom has just given birth.
  • Be prepared to make a run to the store after the baby comes. Invariably there will be something that you overlooked that your baby will need.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"The first time I went into Babies 'R' Us, I nearly had a panic attack. How would I afford all this stuff? But it turns out you don't really need everything they tell you that you do. Bring along a trusted friend who's had kids--she'll tell you the real deal," says Julie, Mom of one.

Other Moms say:

  • Everyone will buy you clothes, so don't bother registering for that.
  • Whatever you do, don't forget to register for your biggest necessity: a Diaper Genie!
  • If you're gutsy or have rich friends and relatives, register for the stroller and crib and other big ticket items. Ch-ching!

Q: How much weight should I gain while I'm pregnant?

A: Fighting that craving for ice cream and Doritos might seem impossible, but if you don't want Weight Gone Wild, you just might have to.

The doctor says:
"It depends on what your starting weight is. On average a woman should gain about 25 pounds during pregnancy. However, if you are overweight, your doctor might recommend gaining less. Or if you are underweight, she might recommend that you gain more."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Eating Right:

  • On average a pregnant woman should eat 300 calories more per day than normal. Try to stick with that and try not to overdo it.
  • Be careful about what you eat. Stick to low-calorie healthy foods rather than high calorie foods.
  • Curb your cravings. Your mind might be telling you that you must eat a dozen donut holes, but your body doesn't need them.
  • Stay active. Exercise regularly throughout your pregnancy. In the third trimester be sure to avoid heavy weightlifting or anything that might cause you to fall.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"They say to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. Just do your best to eat healthy and move and don't focus so much on the number. It really stressed me out because my doctor would get on my case the months that I gained more weight. It really sucked the beauty out of my pregnancy," says Rebecca, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • For a singleton pregnancy, the doctors and books say 25-35 pounds if you start at a normal weight. But seriously, I don't know anyone who gained less than 40.
  • I personally gained 55 pounds with my daughter and the same amount carrying twins. It came off at the same rate, too.
  • Try not to obsess about the numbers on the scale. I know, easier said than done!

Q: How can I minimize stretch marks?

A: Think of stretch marks as Nature's way of reminding you that you bore children. And you thought the kids were reminder enough!

The doctor says:
"There's not much you can do about stretch marks. There are all kinds of lubricants and moisturizers on the market that claim they minimize stretch marks, but most women who get really bad stretch marks have a family history of them or gain too much weight during pregnancy. Most of the creams on the market are just that - creams."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"Great question! I say you either get them or you don't--it's all genetics. But if you find a way to actually avoid them, let us know!" says Pam, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • How to minimize the appearance of stretch marks? Don't look down!
  • Vitamin E. Use it every chance you get.
  • I don't think there's anything that will completely prevent them. Bummer.

Second Trimester

Q: I've heard toxoplasmosis can be really dangerous for my baby. Do I have to get rid of my cat?

A: It's bad enough that precious Kitty will lose her place in the home when Baby arrives, but to lose her home, too!

The doctor says:
"No. You don't need to get rid of your cat. If you have a house cat that has always been a house cat, there isn't even a risk of toxoplasmosis because it is carried in feline stool. So if your cat doesn't have access to other cat's stool, he can't contract it. However, if your cat goes outside at all, don't change the litter box. Leave that task to your husband."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite that can be found in contaminated cat feces, soil and food. In most people the parasite is not terribly harmful, however for pregnant women it can cause serious health problems.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"I didn't get rid of my cat, but I made sure I did not change the litter box, which really wasn't too much of a disappointment for me! It's one of the biggest perks of pregnancy in my book. A few women I know got the Littermaid electronic litter box when they were pregnant," says Karen, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • I was paranoid about having my cat, but my husband dealt with her during my pregnancy.
  • I have an inside cat, so I changed the litter box without worry. But I always wore rubber gloves, though.

Q: Why are my nipples dark and huge? They look like pancakes!

A: Your belly isn't the only thing that grows when you're pregnant. Watch your breasts take on a life of their own.

The doctor says:
"It's hormonal. Hormonal changes increase blood flow and alter the breast tissue. So your nipples and areolas will get larger and darker and you may notice on your areolas, too. No need to worry, in time, after you deliver, your breasts will return to their previous size and color."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Other Breast Changes
While you're busy preparing the nursery for your new baby, your breasts are gearing up to nurse him. Here are some other boob changes to look forward to:

  • You may experience nipple tenderness, soreness, and sensitivity to touch
  • Your breasts may increase in cup size by one to two cups
  • You may get stretch marks on your breasts as they grow
  • You may be able to see veins beneath your breast

Tips for Sore Breasts:

  • If your breasts are sore, try wearing a pregnancy bra at night
  • Buy soft, supportive, cotton bras and avoid under-wire.
  • Nursing bras are great for pregnancy. Just remember to choose bras that are roomy for your growing breasts

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"My nipples got so dark and huge that you could see them through shirt. I started wearing nursing pads while I was pregnant just to keep from having a peep show," says Suzy, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • I was convinced mine got big so my daughter would have a larger "target" when breastfeeding.
  • Just thinking about how big and sore my nipples were still makes me cringe!

Q: Am I really going to get hemorrhoids while pregnant?

A: Hemorrhoids are pregnancy's itchy little secret. Take comfort that not all Moms are cursed with them.

The doctor says:
"Not necessarily. Not all women get hemorrhoids. Some women are prone to getting them. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to prevent them except to make sure that your stools are regular and soft."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Tips for keeping hemorrhoids at bay:

  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Make sure you have a diet high in fiber
  • Rest during the day. Women who stay on their feet for long periods of time put more pressure on their pelvic floor.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"I did! Yuck! It was not fun, but I think many times it comes with the territory. I can promise you the kids will make it all worth it in the end," says Danielle, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • Umm...Yeah! And they are going to hurt like a bitch.
  • Don't let a hemmy get out of control. When it starts to really hurt, call your doctor. There are great remedies that only come through a prescription, but if you wait too long it will be so painful you'll barely be able to walk.

Q: How do I get people to stop touching my belly?

A: You'd think your bump was a magic lamp, from all the strangers who rub it all day.

The doctor says:
"Unfortunately that's one of those things about pregnancy. There's not much you can do unless you want to put a sign on your belly that says "Do not touch." People think it's a communal baby and that it's not really an extension of your body. It's mostly older women who do it; they really feel like you're a member of the sisterhood now. There's not much you can do to stop them. It's just really uncomfortable."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Keeping Unwanted Hands at Bay:

  • Be honest. It is your body. Politely tell unwanted fondlers that you'd rather they not touch
  • Put your own hands on your belly when a suspected fondler approaches. Less room to touch.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"Ask them to stop. Say 'I'd rather you not touch me there.' People might think you're being rude, but blame it on the hormones!" says Brenda, Mom of one.

Other Moms say:

  • When they ask you how far along you are, just stare at them blankly. Even if you look like you're about to pop, they will think they're wrong, feel horrified, and try to make a quick getaway.
  • Tell them you are a germophobic.
  • Just say touching the belly might make you go into labor. They'll stop quick!

Third Trimester

Q: My baby was kicking and now nothing. Should I be worried?

A: By the end of pregnancy, moms get pretty used to their baby's kicks. When they suddenly stop, it can be pretty scary.

The doctor says:
The baby isn't going to move every hour. Think about the movements over the course of several hours and make sure you're feeling something. And remember that the baby's movements decrease as the pregnancy goes on because the amount of space that the baby has to move in decreases.
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Making Your Baby Kick:
Have something to eat and drink something sweet, like orange juice. Then lie on your left side and relax. Give it an hour. If, in the course of an hour, you don't feel any movements, call your doctor.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"I stopped feeling my baby kick the night before I went into labor. I called my doctor after I drank some juice and still felt nothing. She sent me to the hospital. After a brief stint on a baby monitor and an ultrasound, the doctors determined that my baby was just fine. I was back at the hospital 36 hours later in heavy labor. My husband and I called it our midnight practice run," says Eleonora, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • You shouldn't expect any regular kicks until later in your pregnancy, like after 28 weeks.
  • The most important thing is to know your baby's movement patterns. If you notice a big change, then you should start to count kicks.
  • My baby used to kick mostly at night so I didn't worry if I didn't feel much during the day.

Q: What is an episiotomy? Do I need one?

A: Sorry ladies, when something the size of a watermelon gets squeezed through something the size of a lemon, it's not always a perfect fit.

The doctor says:
"An episiotomy is the incision an obstetrician makes in the vagina that is supposed to make room for the baby to come out. Some doctors do it because they're afraid that as the baby's head comes out that the vagina will tear. So they make a clean cut. More recently they've found that episiotomies aren't necessary. It's better for a woman to have a small tear than to have an episiotomy. Many doctors are shying away from giving routine episiotomies and are instead recommending that women do their own prep with perinatal massage."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York


A Tip to Avoid an Episiotomy:
Perinatal massage: Late in the third trimester massage the area with lubricant by stretching and pulling back. You or your partner can do this.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"It's where the doctor has to cut you down there. Yes, I had one. When the doctor stitched me up, she gave me a 'husband stitch' (or that's what she called it). She said she made me 'tighter' down there. Don't know if it worked or not, but I thought it was an interesting concept," says Leah, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • My husband referred to it as 'the cut in the butt.' Although funny, I don't think that's an anatomically correct description of what happened.
  • It really grossed me out to hear about it before birth, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds. And if you have an epidural like I did, you won't feel a thing.

Q: Are there any ways/foods to induce labor?

A: When you get to the end you'll do anything to get that baby out. Before you waste our time walking a marathon, find out if it's worth the effort.

The doctor says:
"No. All those remedies are old wives tales. Even sex. It doesn't work. It's fun, but it doesn't work. You're always going to have anecdotal stories of someone who drank a bottle of castor oil and went into labor, but that's all it is, an anecdotal story."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Famous Home Remedies:

  • Sex
  • Walking
  • Castor oil
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Spicy foods
  • Herbal supplements

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"I tried sex, castor oil and the 'magic' salad at a local restaurant. None of it worked. Others swear by the three," says Patricia, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • I was told to have sex for the pitocin. I had lots of sex right up until labor.
  • I did a lot of walking to hopefully bring the baby down. I was hiking the day my water broke.

Q: Is it true I'll poop during childbirth?

A: On top of exposing your private bits to every Tom, Dick and Harry, you have to poop in front of all of them too. Is there no end to the humiliation?

The doctor says:
"If there's anything in there, it will come out because everything evacuates. Does anyone care? Absolutely not. It's expected. Everybody expects it and nobody cares and we protect the baby from it. By the time you get to that point, you really don't care. I couldn't care if a janitor walks in at that point, I just want that baby out."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"Maybe. But being naked and sweaty pushing a watermelon out of a keyhole, you won't even care. (So I'm told, I had a c-section)," says Cindy, Mom of two.

Other Moms say:

  • I have no idea if I pooped or not. It wasn't like the nurses were pointing and laughing. A baby definitely came out, though. That I remember.
  • Yes, I pooped all over the bed. It was embarrassing, but I lived.
  • I pooped. I'm convinced God makes you poop during childbirth because you are going to be dealing with poop for the next several years.


8 comments so far | Post a comment now
STUBBLETT June 3, 2008, 11:33 PM

THE PAIN IS SO BAD WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL EVERYONE IN THE ROOM COULD BE POOPING AND YOU WOULDNT CARE. P.S. WATCH OUT FOR THE SHOULDERS THERE THE WORSEST NOT THE HEAD.

heather July 16, 2008, 7:06 PM

i cant believe im so worried about the pooping situation. im only 6 mos pregnant and already dreading the possability!!!!!

Emily August 26, 2008, 1:29 AM

I didn’t poop when I had my daughter because my doctor woudln’t let me eat for about 24 hours before they induced me. Sucked because I was VERY hungry but at least I was spared having everyone see my poop lol

myresha August 28, 2008, 3:32 PM

im only 3weeks pregant and im going through alot right now like argueing with him,eating like crazy sleeping,i have pain every 15 min.my back hurts,legs hurts and we always argueing.but before i got pregant we was fine now he just been tripping.but i know he loves me.

carla November 2, 2008, 4:11 PM

I am on my 4th pregnancy and so far they have been all natural births. I never pooped on the delivery table with any of my kids even though it felt like I was going to. But if you are smart you will go with the uperderil.
And myresha did you mean 30 weeks pregnant? if you are having pains at 3 weeks you ened to go to the hospital.

elizabeth November 6, 2008, 9:45 AM

i m 3 months pregnant but i still go for my monthly period is there any problem with this or it occurs

Jodi January 9, 2009, 11:12 AM

i would like to comment on the discussion about hemorrhoids.
if your hemorrhoids are chronic you should consider calling a Center for Colorectal Health they can connect you with docs around the Country that specialize in the non surgical elimination of hemorrhoids.NO PAIN.

Meriah G May 28, 2009, 8:56 PM

Im seventeen years old and im 5months pregnant i know im a young pregnant female. Well anyways OMG i cannot sleep at night and when i do i end up sore everywhere its really painful. What can i do to have a good night rest?


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