First Pregnancy Tips List
Starting to Show
Many first-time pregnant women cannot wait to show so they can begin wearing maternity clothes and look pregnant. But when does this typically happen?
Should a first-time-pregnant mom be concerned if she hasn’t experienced any morning sickness?
According to Dr. Errol R. Norwitz, professor at Yale University School of Medicine and co-director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, it varies, but the uterus with the growing fetus inside can typically be felt above the pelvic bone at around 12 weeks or 3 months. This is usually when you begin to notice your belly increasing in size. “Even before you can feel your uterus above the pelvis, however, you may notice other changes, such as swelling of your ankles and engorgement of your breasts,” says Dr. Norwitz.
“I’m almost 3 months along and I’ve only gained 3 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight,” says Claire B. from Pacifica, Calif., who had a miscarriage last year and is pregnant again. “I feel my body changing and I’ve noticed I’m starting to show. When should I expect to start seeing the pounds add on and how much weight gain is typical?”
During the first three months of pregnancy, a woman will normally gain between 2 and 3 pounds, says Dr. Norwitz. From the beginning of the 4th month and until term, a steady gain of about 1 pound per week is desirable, although a spurt of 2 pounds is not unusual. There should be a steady weight increase. “By the end of pregnancy, a normal weight woman will have gained between 25 and 35 pounds,” says Dr. Norwitz. “There are different parameters if you are underweight, overweight or obese.”
“I didn’t take prenatal pills until I was 4 weeks pregnant, because I didn’t know I was pregnant,” says Rachel W. from Queens, N.Y. “Should I be worried?” She also wants to know how careful to be since the pills are huge and make her nauseous.
Dr. Inga Zilberstein, an OB/GYN in private practice in Manhattan, says we receive a certain – hopefully adequate – amount of nutrients from our food. “In spite of the fact that the prenatal vitamins are usually big, and now daily dosage usually involves two pills – vitamin and DHA – they are very important for maternal well-being,” she says. “Mother uses her resources to support fetal growth and therefore depletes her stores of the vitamins. DHA is very important for maternal cardiac and cognitive health among other aspects.”
Dr. Zilberstein says if you can’t take the vitamins in the beginning, you can wait until the initial nausea ends and then it becomes easier. You can also take them at night. There are also smaller pills and chewable versions available. And DHA can be ordered in a liquid form from special pharmacies.
This is another concern Rachel W. has – there seems to be a long list of forbidden foods for pregnant women. She wants to know if there are serious dangers. “If I keep everything in moderation, won’t I be OK?” she asks.
“Most moms are OK even when they eat fish in large quantities or eat raw fish, or unpasteurized cheeses,” says Dr. Zilberstein. “However, non-pasteurized cheeses, some cold luncheon meats and refrigerated cold raw fish (smoked salmon) can carry Listeria, which can give serious illness to a fetus.”
Dr. Norwitz says fish is a nutritious and healthy source of protein. Most dietitians or nutritionists suggest you eat two servings of fish each week. However, some fish contain mercury, which in large amounts may be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system. Not all fish carry this risk, and you can learn more here.
Cramping During Pregnancy
Sometimes Rachel W. has serious cramps, which has her scared. It makes her wonder if something is going on with the baby. Is cramping normal during the first trimester?
“Cramping is very common during the first trimester,” says Dr. Zilberstein. “It happens due to the fact that the uterus grows.”
Can I exercise during pregnancy? This is one of the most common questions Dr. Norwitz gets from his first-time moms. “Unless there is a medical reason to avoid exercise during pregnancy, it is recommended that you partake in moderate exercise, particularly if you did regular exercise prior to your pregnancy,” he says.
Exercise helps avoid excessive weight gain and is associated with a more rapid recovery after delivery, he says. “However, pregnancy is not a time to over exercise in order to lose weight,” Dr. Norwitz says. Avoid sports that put you at high risk for injury, and listen to your body. Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion.
Should a first-time-pregnant mom be concerned if she hasn’t experienced any morning sickness? “There is no concern when a woman doesn’t feel any morning sickness,” says Dr. Zilberstein. “Even though morning sickness is reassuring, every pregnancy is different. Some women don’t feel sick at all, and some feel sick at night. There is no correlation between the health status of a pregnancy and morning sickness.”
This will come as a relief to Stephanie Vieira of Philadelphia, Pa., who is 17 weeks pregnant with her first child. She didn’t experience any nausea in her first trimester. At first she considered herself lucky, but has heard that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy baby.
When can you relax and know the odds of miscarriage are gone? Miscarriage is a very common event, says Dr. Norwitz. “Most of these occur in the first trimester, before 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. After 14 weeks, the risk of miscarriage decreases substantially, but it never goes away altogether.” After 20 weeks of gestation, the term intrauterine fetal demise or stillbirth is used rather than miscarriage, says Dr. Norwitz. “This is rare in otherwise healthy pregnant women,” he says.
Many first-timers worry if they can dye their hair while pregnant. “Although there have been no tests showing that hair dye is dangerous to the unborn child, many obstetric care providers will choose to be conservative and follow the philosophy that it is better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Norwitz. He notes that some women opt for highlights instead of full coloring after the first trimester since the dye does not penetrate the scalp.
A Glass of Wine
When Ivana S. of Cape Coral, Fla., found out she was pregnant, she was drinking wine with dinner every night since she’s European. She stopped drinking because her American friends mentioned that their doctors told them not to drink. “What’s the truth about wine consumption during pregnancy?” she asks.
“Alcohol is potentially dangerous to the unborn child,” Dr. Norwitz says. Alcohol crosses the placenta and enters the fetal bloodstream, where concentrations of alcohol in the fetus are at least as high as those in the mother. The damage of alcohol is permanent and can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other serious problems.
“No safe amount of alcohol consumption has been established in pregnancy,” Dr. Norwitz says. “For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid drinking alcohol entirely. That said, most complications are seen in women who are heavy drinkers (more than three drinks per day).”