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Pregnancy FAQ

Are there certain tests I should get during my pregnancy?
Yes, there are five general tests: blood, urine, Rh factor, paternity, and ultrasound. They are broken down by trimester.

Why do I need a glucose test?
The glucose test is routinely performed at about 24 weeks to 28 weeks to screen for gestational diabetes, one of the most common complications of pregnancy. All pregnant women are at risk for this condition, even those who have never had diabetes. Gestational diabetes can adversely affect the health of both Mom and baby, although once detected, it can be easily managed.

Is it true that a new genetic test can determine a baby’s sex early in pregnancy?
Yes, a simple blood test (Pan-Ethnic Carrier Test; InheriGen, InheriGen Plus) can be done as early as 7 weeks pregnant. It screens for more than 160 inherited diseases and 500 genetic mutations, including cystic fibrosis and fragile X syndrome. In addition, it reveals whether fragments of the Y (male) chromosome are present in the fetal DNA in the mother’s blood, which would indicate you’re having a boy.

How important is exercise during my pregnancy?
It’s very important. Simple aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, recumbent bicycling, and stretching are great ways for you to build and maintain cardiovascular strength. They are also known to help ease the strain of labor and delivery. Learn more about exercising during pregnancy.

Is yoga good for me during pregnancy?
Absolutely, yoga is great for you and your baby. It teaches you things like breathing deeply, keeps you limber, and tones your muscles. Hot yoga classes and poses that require you to lie flat on your back for longer than a couple minutes aren’t a good idea, however.

How do I know if I’m having an ectopic pregnancy?
There is a great deal of pain associated with this type of pregnancy, especially while urinating or having a bowel movement. Symptoms also include vaginal bleeding, weakness, and sharp or stabbing pains in the abdomen.

How early in my pregnancy should I pack a bag for the hospital?
It’s never too early to prepare for your big day. In fact, packing your bag early is good — that way you can add to it or subtract from it as time goes on. Besides packing for you and your baby, it’s important to pack for the other parent, siblings, grandparents and anyone else who’s likely to be present at that time. We’ve created a list of items for everyone who may be at the hospital during the birth of your baby. Check it out here.

I’m over age 35. Is it too late to consider pregnancy?
Studies show that many women are waiting until this age to conceive, for many different reasons. If you’re healthy, you should have a healthy pregnancy. Learn more here.

How important is health insurance?
Having health insurance is important whether you’re pregnant or not, but having it during your pregnancy is crucial. The financial cost of a pregnancy can be overwhelming, considering all the tests and exams that are necessary for monitoring your health and your baby’s. There are government programs available to anyone who needs them. Learn more about the various health insurance programs.

What government insurance programs are available?
Medicaid and WIC are available nationwide. Certain states also offer discount programs such as Maternity Advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it; insurance is very important for your well-being and your baby’s during and after pregnancy.

Can I have an x-ray while pregnant?
If you had an x-ray before finding out you were pregnant, don’t worry, but routine dental x-rays and other radiographic studies or CT scans should be avoided until after delivery. Your doctor may give you the okay to have an x-ray when the risk of not having one outweighs the risk of having one.

Should I get genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling is important for all expectant parents. It is meant to help you understand what you may pass on to your children through your genes. Genetic screening is especially recommended for people of certain ethnic backgrounds. You may be a carrier of a genetic disease and not know it. Genetic screening will help your doctor determine whether your baby is at risk for a genetic disorder.

When will I feel the baby moving?
Most moms will feel their baby moving for the first time around the 18th to 22nd week of pregnancy. However, this sensation of life, or “quickening,” can occur anywhere in the 14th to 26th weeks.

Is it normal to feel cramping after sex?
Yes, cramping during and after sex is common and harmless during most pregnancies. It is not a sign that you are hurting the baby. Having sex during pregnancy is safe, and any cramping should not stop you from enjoying sex.

Are there times when sex may be limited?
Your doctor will tell you if you should avoid sex. Intercourse may be restricted or limited in high-risk pregnancies. It will probably be restricted if you are having preterm labor or if you have an incompetent cervix or placenta previa. It may be restricted if you have bleeding or a history of miscarriages. Learn more about sex during pregnancy here.

Does sex during the last weeks of pregnancy trigger labor?
Neither intercourse nor orgasm trigger labor. Most physicians agree that sex in late pregnancy is safe and will allow patients with normal pregnancies to have sex as often as they like and as near to their delivery day as they like.

I have heard that anemia is common during pregnancy, can it be prevented?
It is easy to prevent anemia by eating iron-rich foods, along with foods containing vitamin C to increase iron absorption. Testing for anemia is done at your first prenatal visit. If your iron levels are low, your doctor will prescribe a daily iron supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin.

Should I get a flu shot?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all women who are pregnant during flu season should receive a flu shot — in injection form. FluMist, given via the nose, is made from live flu virus and is not recommended for pregnant women. Even more important than the flu shot, however, is the TDaP shot, which protects you and your baby from a dangerous bacterial infection called pertussis—aka whooping cough). Learn more here.

My vaginal discharge is heavier than it was before pregnancy, should I be concerned?
No, the usually thin, milky, mild-smelling discharge (leucorrhea) can be quite heavy at times but should not be a concern. An increase in vaginal discharge is normal throughout pregnancy. It is your body’s way of keeping the birth canal and vagina healthy and free of infection.

Should I be eating differently while I am pregnant?
Proper nutrition during pregnancy is very important, and weight gain and weight loss during pregnancy are pressing concerns for many mothers-to-be. While it is important to do research on your own, your doctor is the best source of information about what you should eat.

I am worried about my child developing a food allergy; should I restrict my diet?
If you are allergic to a certain food, you should not eat it when pregnant, or at other times. But if you do not have food allergies, eating foods that are common allergens, such as peanuts and eggs, is not likely to increase the chance of your baby having food allergies later in life.

Do I have to give up caffeine while I’m pregnant?
It is up to you, but most research recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 mg or less a day. This includes caffeine from all sources, not just coffee. Studies have shown that caffeine intake, even at levels lower than 200 mg, is associated with lower birth weight and fetuses who are small for their gestational age. 

Can having a few alcoholic drinks very early in pregnancy harm the fetus?
Many women will not know they are pregnant early on and may have a few drinks before the test says “Positive.” It is always better to be cautious and avoid alcohol if you can. A few drinks should not harm the baby, but no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy.

When is a hot bath too hot for baby?
For the expectant mom, a hot bath is great tension reliever that can be enjoyed anytime during pregnancy. However, anything — whether a hot bath, hot tub, or exercise — that raises the body temperature over 102°F and keeps it there for a while can be hazardous to your developing baby.

Is it safe to drink herbal tea during pregnancy?
There is not enough evidence to show that drinking herbal teas in pregnancy is safe. The FDA recommends that pregnant women limit or avoid herbal teas, so you should not drink them unless you are cleared to by your doctor.

My face is littered with pimples; is this normal?
Breakouts during pregnancy, although unsightly, are a normal response to hormonal changes. Washing your face a few times a day, eating well, drinking lots of water, and choosing skin care products carefully may help. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any acne medication.

I thought being pregnant would make me happy, so why am I sad all the time?
Many pregnant women feel the ups and downs of life more keenly. These normal mood swings tend to abate after the first trimester, when hormone levels are at their peak. If your sadness persists despite efforts to deal with mood swings and is accompanied by other symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, you should contact your doctor. You may have depression. Getting the right help is important.

I have had loose stools on and off for weeks, is my baby losing weight?
More frequent loose stools should not harm your baby. If you have more than three loose bowel movements per day, or if stools are watery, bloody, or mucous-stained, physician intervention may be necessary. It is important to avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids.

What can I do about my heartburn and indigestion?
If you experience heartburn even after avoiding triggers, eating small meals, and eating slowly, don’t worry, it is okay to take over-the-counter antacids during pregnancy. Chewing sugarless gum a half hour after a meal can reduce excess acid. Also try wearing clothing that is loose around the waist.

[Page updated September 2015]