Welcome Pediatrics offers prenatal visits to expecting parents at no charge, so that they can meet the doctors and get acquainted with our office. These visits occur at the end of the day to give parents the opportunity to ask questions, see our facilities, and meet the staff that will help their children grow up strong and healthy.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. Take care of yourself and your baby by:
- Getting early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit.
- Getting regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule you for many appointments over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any — they are all important.
- Following your doctor’s advice.
Why do I need prenatal care?
Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.
Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Regular health care is best for you and your baby.
I am thinking about getting pregnant. How can I take care of myself?
You should start taking care of yourself before you start trying to get pregnant. By staying active, eating right, and taking a multivitamin, you can help keep yourself and your baby healthy even before it is conceived. This will help you have a healthy pregnancy and lower your chances of having a baby born with a birth defect.
Here are some ways to take care of yourself before you get pregnant:
- Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly (30 minutes per day most days of the week is best), and get enough rest and sleep. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of food and exercise are best for you.
- Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) every day. The best way to do this is to take a daily multivitamin with this amount of folic acid. Getting enough folic acid every day before you get pregnant and during early pregnancy can help prevent certain birth defects. Many breakfast cereals and other grain products are enriched with folic acid. But only some products contain 400 mcg of folic acid per serving. Always check the labels to be sure you’re getting your daily dose.
- See your doctor for a complete check up. Make sure that you’ve had all your shots, especially for rubella (German measles). Rubella can cause serious birth defects. Chickenpox can also be dangerous during pregnancy. If you’ve had chickenpox and rubella in the past, you should be immune to them. If not, talk to your doctor about the vaccines.
- Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines (including herbal remedies) you are taking. Some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy.
- Stop smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. Ask your doctor for help. Members of your faith community, counselors, or friends can also give support.
I'm pregnant. What should I do or avoid for a healthy baby?
Some things you can do to take care of yourself and the precious life growing inside you include:
- Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
- Get early and regular prenatal care. Whether this is your first pregnancy or third, health care is extremely important. Your doctor will check to make sure you and the baby are healthy at each visit. If there are any problems, early action will help you and the baby.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, and calcium – rich foods. Choose foods low in saturated fat.
- Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to be active for 30 minutes, most days of the week. If you don’t have much time, get your exercise in 10 minute segments, three times a day. Learn more about how to have fit during pregnancy.
- If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, STOP! These can cause long-term harm to your baby. Ask your doctor for help.
- Ask your doctor before taking any medicine. Some are not safe during pregnancy. Remember that even over-the-counter medicines and herbal products may cause side effects or other problems. So ask your doctor before taking these products too.
- Avoid hot tubs, saunas, and x-rays.
- If you have a cat, ask your doctor about toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by a parasite sometimes found in cat feces. When left untreated toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects. Your doctor may suggest avoiding cat litter and working in garden areas used by cats.
- Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish.
- Stay away from chemicals like insecticides, solvents (like some cleaners or paint thinners), lead, and mercury. Not all products have pregnancy warnings on their labels. If you’re unsure if a product is safe, ask your doctor before using it.
- Avoid or control caffeine in your diet. Pregnant women should have no more than two servings of caffeine per day. Remember that teas, sodas, and chocolate may contain caffeine.
- Stay active. Most women continue working through pregnancy. Few jobs are unsafe for pregnant women. But if you’re worried about the safety of your job, talk with your doctor.
- Get informed. Read books, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with experienced moms.
- Ask your doctor about childbirth education classes for you and your partner. Classes can help you prepare for the birth of your baby.
I don't want to get pregnant right now. But should I still take folic acid every day?
Experts recommend that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Even women with very little chance of getting pregnant should get their daily dose of folic acid. This is because many pregnancies are not planned. Often women don’t know they are pregnant for a number of weeks. And some birth defects happen during this very early part of pregnancy.
Taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day will help prevent some birth defects that happen in early pregnancy. If a woman doesn’t start taking vitamins until the second or third month of pregnancy, it may be too late to prevent birth defects. Folic acid may also have other health benefits for women.
How often should I see my doctor during pregnancy?
Your doctor will give you a schedule of all the doctor’s visits you should have while pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll see the doctor more often. Most experts suggest you see your doctor:
- about once each month for the first six months of pregnancy
- every two weeks for the seventh and eight month of pregnancy
- every week until the baby is born
If you are over 35 or your pregnancy is high risk because of health problems (like diabetes or high blood pressure), you’ll probably see your doctor more often.
What happens during prenatal visits?
During the first prenatal visit, you can expect your doctor or nurse to do the following –
- ask about your health history including diseases, operations, or prior pregnancies
- ask about your family’s health history
- do a complete physical exam
- do a pelvic exam with a Pap test
- order tests of your blood and urine
- check your blood pressure, urine, height, and weight
- figure out your expected due date
- answer your questions
At the first visit, you should ask questions and discuss any issues related to your pregnancy. Find out all you can about how to stay healthy.
Later prenatal visits will probably be shorter. Your doctor will check on your health and make sure the baby is growing as expected. Most prenatal visits will include –
- checking the baby’s heart rate
- checking your blood pressure
- checking your urine for signs of diabetes
- measuring your weight gain
While you’re pregnant your doctor or midwife may suggest a number of laboratory tests, ultrasound exams, and other screening tests.
I am in my late 30s and I want to get pregnant. Should I do anything special?
As you age, you have an increasing chance of having a baby born with a birth defect. Yet most women in their late 30s and early 40s have healthy babies. See your doctor regularly before you even start trying to get pregnant. She will be able to help you prepare your body for pregnancy. She will also be able to tell you about how age can affect pregnancy.
During your pregnancy, seeing your doctor regularly is very important. Because of your age, your doctor will probably suggest some additional tests to check on your baby’s health.
More and more women are waiting until they are in their 30s and 40s to have children. While many women of this age have no problems getting pregnant, fertility does decline with age. Women over 40 who don’t get pregnant after six months of trying should see their doctors for a fertility evaluation.
Experts define infertility as the inability to become pregnant after trying for one year. If you think you or your partner may be infertile, talk to your doctor. She or he will be able to suggest treatments such as drugs, surgery, or assisted reproductive technology.
Where can I go to get free or reduced-cost prenatal care?
Women in every state can get help to pay for medical care during their pregnancies. This prenatal care can help you have a healthy baby. Every state in the United States has a program to help. Programs give medical care, information, advice, and other services important for a healthy pregnancy.
During pregnancy visiting your doctor regularly is very important. Regular check-ups throughout the nine months of pregnancy is called prenatal care. This consistent care will keep you and your baby healthy, spot problems if they occur and prevent difficulties during delivery.
Become a partner with your doctor to manage your care. Keep all of your appointments — every one is important! Ask questions and read to educate yourself about this exciting time.
Your doctor or midwife will give you a schedule for your prenatal visits. An average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. You can expect to see your doctor more often as you approach the end of your pregnancy. A typical schedule includes visiting your doctor or midwife:
- about once each month during your first six months of pregnancy
- every two weeks during the seventh and eighth month of pregnancy
- weekly in the ninth month of pregnancy.
If you are over 35 years old or your pregnancy is high risk because you have certain health problems (like diabetes or high blood pressure), your doctor or midwife will probably want to see you more often.
Woman at doctors
The first time you see your doctor you’ll probably have a pelvic exam to check your uterus (womb) and to have a Pap tests. After the first visit, most prenatal visits will include:
- checking the baby’s heart rate
- checking your blood pressure
- checking your urine for signs of diabetes
- measuring your weight gain
Prenatal Tests and Procedures
While you are pregnant your doctor or midwife may suggest a number of laboratory tests, ultrasound exams, or other screening tests. Read on to find out the basics of the most common tests done during pregnancy.
Screening tests measure the risk of having a baby with some genetic birth defects. Birth defects are caused by problems with a baby’s genes, inherited factors passed down from the mother and the father. Birth defects can also occur randomly in people with no family history of that disorder. Women over the age of 35 have the greatest risk of having babies with birth defects.
The benefit of screening tests is that they do not pose any risk to the fetus or mother. But screening tests cannot tell for sure if the baby has a birth defect. So, they do not give a “yes” or “no” answer. Instead, screening tests give the odds of your baby having a birth defect based on your age. Women under the age of 35 will find out if their risk is as high as that of a 35 year old woman. For women over age 35, screening tests will help them find out if their risk for their age is higher or lower than average.
Some common screening tests used during pregnancy include:
- Targeted ultrasound – The best time to receive this test is between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most major problems with the way your baby might be formed can be seen at this time. But some problems like clubbed feet and heart defects can be missed on ultrasound. Your doctor also will be able to see if your baby has any neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. This test is not the most accurate for finding out whether your baby has Down syndrome. Only 1 in 3 babies with Down syndrome have an abnormal 2nd trimester ultrasound. In most cases, your doctor can find out the sex of your baby by using ultrasound.
- Maternal serum marker screening test – This blood test can be called by many different names including multiple marker screening test, triple test, quad screen, and others. This test is usually given between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It checks for birth defects such as Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or open neural tube defects. Doctors take a sample of your blood. They check the blood for 3 chemicals: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) (made by the liver of the fetus), and two pregnancy hormones: estriol and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Sometimes, doctors test for a fourth substance in the blood called inhibin-A. Testing for inhibin-A may improve the ability to detect fetuses with a high risk of Down syndrome.Higher levels of AFP are linked with open neural tube defects. In women age 35 and over, this test finds about 80% of fetuses with Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or an open neural tube defect. In this age group, there is a false positive rate (having a positive result without actually having a fetus with one of these health problems) of 22%. In women under age 35, this test finds about 65% of fetuses with Down syndrome, and there is a false positive rate of about 5%.
- Nuchal translucency screening (NTS) – This new type of screening can be done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It uses an ultrasound and blood test to calculate the risk of some birth defects. Doctors use the ultrasound exam to check the thickness of the back of the fetus’ neck. They also test your blood for levels of a protein called pregnancy-associated plasma protein and a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Doctors use this information to tell if the fetus has a normal or greater than normal chance of having some birth defects.In an important recent study, NTS found 87% of cases of Down syndrome when done at 11 weeks of pregnancy. When NTS was followed by another blood test done in the second trimester ( maternal serum screening test), 95% of fetuses with Down syndrome were identified.Like all screening tests, the results are sometimes misleading. In 5% of women who have NTS, results show that their babies have a high risk of having a birth defect when they are actually healthy. This is called a false positive. To find out for sure if the fetus has a birth defect, NTS must be followed by a diagnostic test like chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis.NTS is not yet widely used. If you are interested in NTS, talk to your doctor. If she is unable to do the test, she can refer you to someone who can. You should also call your insurance company to find out if they cover the cost of this procedure. NTS allows women to find out early if there are potential health problems with the fetus. This may help them decide whether to have follow-up tests.
Diagnostic tests can give definite “yes” or “no” answers about whether your baby has a birth defect. But, unlike screening tests, they are invasive or come with a risk of miscarriage. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are the two most commonly used. Both tests are more than 99% accurate for finding these problems. These tests also can tell you your baby’s sex. In most cases, results take about two weeks.
This test is performed in pregnancies of at least 16 weeks. It involves your doctor inserting a thin needle through your abdomen, into your uterus, and into the amniotic sac to take out a small amount of amniotic fluid for testing. The cells from the fluid are grown in a lab to look for problems with chromosomes. The fluid also can be tested for AFP. About 1 in 200 women have a miscarriage as a result of this test.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
This test is performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The doctor inserts a needle through your abdomen or inserts a catheter through your cervix in order to reach the placenta. Your doctor then takes a sample of cells from the placenta. These cells are used in a lab to look for problems with chromosomes. This test cannot find out whether your baby has open neural tube defects. About 1 in 200 women have a miscarriage as a result of this test.
What to Eat While Pregnant
What you eat right before and during your pregnancy can affect the health of your growing baby. Even before you start trying to get pregnant, you should take special care of your health. Eat healthy meals and snacks and take a multivitamin every day. If you’re unsure about eating healthy during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.
Do I really need to "eat for two?"
Pregnant woman measuring bellyWhile you are pregnant, you will need additional nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy. But, that does not mean you need to eat twice as much. You should only eat an extra 300 calories per day. A baked potato has 120 calories. So getting these extra 300 calories doesn’t take a lot of food.
Make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy either. If you do, your unborn baby might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Low-calorie diets can break down a pregnant woman’s stored fat. This can lead to the production of substances called ketones. Ketones can be found in the mother’s blood and urine and are a sign of starvation. Constant production of ketones can result in a mentally retarded child.
How should my diet change now that I'm pregnant?
If you are eating a healthy diet before you become pregnant, you may only need to make a few changes to meet the special nutritional needs of pregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a pregnant woman needs only 300 calories a day more than she did pre-pregnancy. The ADA recommends that pregnant women eat a total of 2,500 to 2,700 calories every day. These calories should come from a variety of healthy foods.
But what pregnant women eat is more important than how much. A pregnant woman needs more of many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients than she did pre-pregnancy. To get enough nutrients, pregnant women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and eat healthy foods from the four basic food groups everyday including –
- Fruits and Vegetables — Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily.Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to your diet and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy.One Serving Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice One Serving Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice
- Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals — Pregnant women should eat 6 to 9 servings of whole-grain or enriched breads and/or cereals every day.Whole-grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some breakfast cereals are enriched with 100% of the folic acid your body needs every day. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects. Eating breakfast cereals and other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy.One Serving Cereal/Bread = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
- Dairy Products — Pregnant women should try to eat 4 or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products every day.Dairy products provide the calcium you and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products are also great sources of vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, fight infection, and vision. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. If you are 18 or younger, you need 1,300 mg of calcium each day.Try to eat low-fat or non-fat milk and milk products to lower your fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu. If you are lactose intolerant or can’t digest dairy products, you can still get enough calcium. There are several low-lactose or reduced-lactose products available. In some cases, your doctor might recommend a calcium supplement.One Serving Dairy = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese
- Proteins — Pregnant women and their growing babies need 10 grams of protein more than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women should eat 60 grams of protein every day.Two or more 2-3 ounce servings of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry without skin, or two or more 1 ounce servings of cooked meat contain about 60 grams of protein. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good sources of protein. But don’t rush out and buy high protein drinks! Women in the United States regularly eat more protein than they need. So you probably won’t have to make an effort to eat the needed 60 grams of protein a day.Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. These can make you sick and may harm your baby. Pregnant women should also avoid deli luncheon meats.Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for you and your baby. Protein-rich foods also have B vitamins and iron important for your blood.One Serving Protein = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 oz. meat also = 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 T. peanut butter
What other nutrients do I need for a healthy pregnancy?
Folic acid: Pregnant women need 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of folic acid every day to help prevent birth defects.
Folic acid is important for any woman who could possibly become pregnant. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of a baby’s brain or spine called neural tube defects. Getting enough folic acid can also help prevent birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease.
Getting enough folic acid is most important very early in pregnancy, usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. So, at least one month before you try to become pregnant you should make sure you’re getting enough folic acid. Women who are already pregnant need to get enough folic acid every single day.
An easy way to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin every day. Most multivitamins sold in the U.S. contain enough folic acid for the day. But be sure to check the label! Choose a multivitamin that contains 400 mcg or 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for folic acid.
Another way to get enough folic acid is to eat a serving of breakfast cereal that contains 100% DV for folic acid, every day. Check the nutrition label on the box of cereal to be sure. It should say “100%” next to folic acid. Orange juice, spinach and legumes are also good sources of folic acid.
Iron: Pregnant women need twice as much iron — 30 mg per day — than other women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women start taking a low-dose iron supplement (30 mg/day) or a multivitamin with iron beginning at the time of their first prenatal visit. Ask your doctor what she recommends. Prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor or those you can buy over-the-counter usually have the amount of iron you need. But be sure to check the label to make sure. Pregnant women should also eat lots of iron-rich foods. Some good sources of iron include lean red meat, fish, poultry, dried fruits, whole-grain breads, and iron-fortified cereals.
Pregnant women need extra iron for the increased amount of blood in their bodies. Iron helps keep your blood healthy. Plus, your baby will store iron in his body to last through the first few months of life.
Too little iron can cause a condition called anemia. If you have anemia, you might look pale and feel very tired. Your doctor checks for signs of anemia with the routine blood tests taken at different stages of your pregnancy. If your doctor finds that you have anemia, she will give you a special iron supplements to take once or twice a day.
Calcium: Pregnant women aged 19 to 50 years should get 1,000 mg/day of calcium. Younger pregnant women need even more — 1300 mg/day.
Most women in the U.S. don’t eat enough calcium. So many pregnant women will have to change their diets to get their fill of this important mineral. Low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products are great sources of calcium. Eating green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and breakfast cereal can also provide calcium. If your diet is not providing 1,000 mg/day of calcium, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Water: Pregnant women should drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Plus, pregnant women should drink another glass of water for each hour of activity.
Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy. It carries the nutrients from the food you eat to your baby. It also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Drinking enough water, especially in your last trimester, prevents you from becoming dehydrated. Not getting enough water can lead to premature or early labor.
Juices also contain water. But juice also has a lot of calories that can cause you to gain extra weight. Coffee, soft drinks, and teas with caffeine actually reduce the amount of fluid in your body. So caffeinated drinks do not count towards the total amount of water you need every day.
Should I take a multivitamin during my pregnancy?
Yes. Most doctors recommend that pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin every day. This ensures that you and your baby get enough important nutrients like folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent serious birth defects of your baby’s brain and spine. These birth defects often happen before most women know they are pregnant.
Even women who plan carefully to eat healthy every day sometimes fail to get important nutrients. Taking a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin will guarantee you daily dose of needed nutrients. But don’t overdo it. Taking more than one multivitamin daily can be harmful.
Should I eat fish when I'm pregnant?
Fish and shellfish can be part of a healthy diet. They are a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But almost all fish and shellfish contain a harmful substance called mercury.
Mercury mainly gets into our bodies by the fish we eat. Only high levels of this metal seem to be harmful to developing babies. So the risk of mercury in fish and shellfish depends on the amount and type you eat.
By following some tips you can get the healthy protein and omega-3 fatty acids in fish and avoid mercury. Use these guidelines –
- Do NOT eat any shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called golden or white snapper) because these fish have high levels of mercury.
- Do not eat more than six ounces of “white” or “albacore” tuna or tuna steak each week.
- Do not eat more than 2 servings or 12 ounces total of fish per week.
- Choose shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, or “light” tuna as they contain less mercury.
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an average weight gain of 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy. But the amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight before you became pregnant and your height.
According to ACOG:
- If you were underweight before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 28 and 40 pounds.
- If you were overweight before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 15 and 25 pounds.
Check with your doctor to find out how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you.
You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester. Doctors suggest women gain weight at the following rate:
- 2 to 4 pounds during the first trimester
- 3 to 4 pounds per month for the second and third trimesters
Recent research shows that women who gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy and who fail to lose this weight within six months after giving birth are at much higher risk of being obese nearly 10 years later.
Total weight gained during pregnancy includes six to eight pounds for the weight of the baby. The remaining weight consists of fluid, larger breasts, larger uterus, amniotic fluid, and the placenta. Make sure to visit your doctor throughout your pregnancy so he or she can check on your weight gain.
Is it hard to lose weight after pregnancy?
If you gain too much weight during pregnancy it can be hard to lose weight after you have your baby. During pregnancy, fat deposits can increase by more than 33 percent. Most women who gain the recommended amount of weight lose the extra weight in the birth process and in the weeks and months after birth. Breastfeeding also can help you lose extra weight by burning extra calories. Breastfeeding burns at least 500 calories each day. Find out more about what you should eat and avoid while breastfeeding.
Should I avoid alcohol while I'm pregnant?
There is no safe time during pregnancy for you to drink alcohol. There is also no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. When you are pregnant and you drink beer, wine, hard liquor, or other alcoholic beverages, alcohol gets into your blood. The alcohol in your blood gets into your baby’s body through the umbilical cord. Alcohol can slow down the baby’s growth, affect the baby’s brain, and cause birth defects.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is a term describing a range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Some people with FASD have abnormal facial features and growth and central nervous system problems. People with FASD may have problems with learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision, and/or hearing. These problems often lead to problems in school and social problems. The effects of FASD last a lifetime.
If you are pregnant and have been drinking alcohol, stop now and talk to your doctor. Avoiding alcohol will help keep your baby healthy. If you need help to stop drinking, talk with your doctor or nurse. Find out more about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Can I drink caffeine while I'm pregnant?
Caffeine is a stimulant found in colas, coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, and some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Large quantities of caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness and insomnia as well as low birth-weight babies. Caffeine is also a diuretic and can rob your body of valuable water.
Some studies show that drinking caffeine during pregnancy can harm the fetus. Other research suggests that small amounts of caffeine are safe. Talk to your doctor before drinking caffeine during pregnancy. Caffeine is an ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Talk with your doctor before taking any drugs or medicines while pregnant.
Why do pregnant women crave certain foods?
The desire for “pickles and ice cream” and other cravings might be caused by changes in nutritional needs during pregnancy. The fetus needs nourishment. And a woman’s body absorbs and metabolizes nutrients differently while pregnant. These changes help ensure normal development of the baby and fill the demands of breastfeeding once the baby is born.
I have diabetes. How should I eat while pregnant?
If you already have diabetes and would like to get pregnant, your chances of having a healthy baby are good. But, it’s important to plan your pregnancy and follow these steps:
- Get your diabetes under control before you get pregnant. Try to get your blood sugar under control three to six months before you get pregnant.
- Always keep your blood sugar under control during your pregnancy. Keep food, exercise, and insulin in balance. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you follow a special meal plan. Remember, as your baby grows, your body changes, and these changes will affect your sugar levels. If your blood sugar rises too high, the increased sugar crossing into the placenta can result in a large, over-developed fetus with birth defects or an infant with blood sugar level problems.
- Be sure to get enough of the B vitamin folic acid, every day. Women with diabetes might be at increased risk for having a baby with a serious birth defect. Getting enough folic acid each day can help reduce this risk.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy and usually goes away after the birth of the baby. If you have gestational diabetes, this means that you have a high amount of sugar in your blood during pregnancy. This form of diabetes can be controlled through diet, medication, and exercise, but if left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health problems for both you and your baby. If you develop gestational diabetes, your doctor will refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you with special meal plans to control your blood sugar.
Why do I get morning sickness and nausea, and what can I do about it?
Morning sickness and nausea are common in pregnant women. Most nausea occurs during the early part of pregnancy. In most cases this discomfort improves when you enter the second trimester. For some women, morning sickness and nausea might last longer, even for the entire nine months.
The changes in your body can cause nausea and vomiting when:
- you smell certain things,
- you eat some foods,
- you are tired,
- you are stressed,
- or for no apparent reason
You may be able to reduce nausea by changing when and what you eat. Try these tips:
- Eat smaller meals, such as six to eight small meals instead of three larger ones each day.
- Don’t go for long periods of time without eating.
- Drink fluids between, but not with, meals.
- Avoid foods that are greasy, fried, or highly spiced.
- Avoid strong, foul and unpleasant odors.
- Rest when you are tired.
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