Pregnancy Overview

Congratulations on your pregnancy! We are glad that you have chosen us to take care of you during this very special time. Please feel free to ask any questions at any time. This information is provided to answer some commonly asked questions.

If you need to inquire about starting prenatal vitamins or folic acid, please call our office. Prenatal vitamins can be refilled as needed throughout your pregnancy by calling your pharmacist.

You will get most of the vitamins and minerals you need from a healthy diet. However, it is difficult to get enough calcium, iron, and folic acid (a B-vitamin that helps to prevent defects of the brain and spinal cord known as neural tube defects) from the food you eat. Therefore, we recommend that you take a prenatal vitamin every day. Because neural tube defects originate during the first month of pregnancy (before many women know they are pregnant), it is desirable for women of childbearing age to take folic acid supplements before conception. This will help reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

During your pregnancy, you will usually be seen for regular visits every four weeks until 28 weeks; every two to three weeks until 36 weeks; then weekly until delivery. We will do a number of routine tests to assess your health and the health of your baby. These include a standard blood pregnancy profile and a pap smear and cultures at your first visit; blood tests for diabetes and anemia in the second trimester; and a vaginal culture for Group B Strep at 35-37 weeks. We offer a Quadruple Screening Test at 15-21 weeks to screen for Spina Bifida and Down’s Syndrome. Amniocentesis will be offered (as indicated) for women age 35 or over or for any woman who has other risk factors for genetic abnormalities. We offer everyone a routine screening sonogram at 18-22 weeks. This test is not always covered by insurance. Please check with your insurance provider.

To help your baby get a head start in life, we encourage you to eat a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, dairy products and other calcium-rich foods, and iron-rich foods. A weight gain of 20-30 pounds is ideal for women with a pre-pregnancy weight in the normal range. You may eat up to 12 ounces (approximately 2 average meals) per week of fish or shellfish that are lower in mercury including salmon, canned light tuna, pollock, catfish, and shrimp. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore (white) tuna per week. They should also avoid eating any game fish without first checking its safety with their local health department. For more information about the risks of mercury in fish and shellfish or for information about specific types of fish, visit the FDA’s Food Safety Website at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html. For information about the safety of locally caught fish and shellfish, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Fish Advisory website or contact your State or Local Health Department.

Maintaining a regular exercise routine during pregnancy will help relieve some of the common discomforts of pregnancy (such as backache and constipation), relieve stress, and will help you feel your best. There is also evidence that it may help prevent gestational diabetes. Before starting an exercise routine, discuss it with your physician, even if you were active before becoming pregnant. Your doctor will be able to provide you with guidelines for exercise based on your current condition and your medical history. Patients with bleeding or spotting, a low-lying placenta or placenta previa, threatened or recurrent miscarriages, previous premature births, a history of early labor, or a weak or incompetent cervix should not exercise.

Smoking & Drugs

Of course smoking, alcohol intake, and illegal drug use should be avoided during pregnancy. Everything that is taken into your body during pregnancy has an impact on your growing baby and use of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs can cause serious complications. Unfortunately, domestic violence is all too common in women’s lives, especially during pregnancy. If you have a problem in any of these areas, please discuss it with your physician.

We recommend that you follow these guidelines for use of the following substances:

Caffeine

When used in small amounts, caffeine intake during pregnancy is considered safe. Limit intake to the equivalent of two (2) caffeinated beverages per day.

Artificial sweeteners

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has assured the public that the safety of aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) is clear-cut, saying that aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives of all time. The FDA and the joint FAO/WHO (Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N. and the World Health Organization) Expert Committee on food additives have deemed sucralose (Splenda) safe for everyone to consume, including pregnant women. However, some still question whether these sweeteners are safe to use during pregnancy. Therefore, especially if you have concerns, we recommend limiting intake of these sweeteners. (Patients with PKU should not use aspartame at all during pregnancy.) There are many questions about the safe use of saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low) during pregnancy. Therefore, we recommend against the use of saccharine during pregnancy.

Sunscreen

We recommend use of a PABA-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, preferably higher.

Hair Dye or Highlights

If you color or highlight your own hair, the FDA recommends wearing gloves when applying hair dye, not leaving dye on your hair any longer than necessary, and rinsing your scalp thoroughly with water after the use of hair dye.

Should you experience any minor illnesses or medical conditions during pregnancy, please refer to our list of Safe Medications During Pregnancy.

By 20 weeks please be sure to register at Taylor Regional Hospital and choose a pediatrician. You will need to remember to bring a newborn car seat to the hospital on the day of discharge.

After your baby is born, please call to schedule a postpartum visit. We look forward to seeing you (and your baby) four to six weeks after delivery.

Again, congratulations!