Congratulations! You're pregnant! To give your baby a good possible start, take especially good care of yourself during your pregnancy. Here are answers to questions newly pregnant women often ask. This information will help you understand what you should and should not do until you see your doctor.


    What do I do first?

    Make an appointment with an obstetrician as soon as possible. Your primary care practitioner can help you with referrals. At your first visit, the obstetrician will take a medical history and perform a physical exam including a pelvic exam. If you are due for a TCT (Pap) it will be performed as well. He or she will also take blood and urine samples to test for blood type, anemia, viral infection, and other important information. If you are beyond a month after conception, a transvaginal ultransound examination will also be performed to evaluate the initial health of your pregnancy. After this first visit, you will probably see your doctor once a month for the first 7 months, and then more frequently towards the end of your pregnancy.


    Do I need any special diet or vitamins?

    Start taking a multivitamin immediately if you are not already doing so. You can get prenatal vitamins at the drug store, without a prescription. A vitamin supplement is not a substitute for a nutritious diet, however. It's important to eat balanced nutritious meals. Every day, try to have:

    •    3 servings daily of high protein food (meats, eggs, seafood, peas or beans)

    •    4 servings daily of milk products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt) 

    •    4 servings daily of breads, cereals, pasta or rice

    •    3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables

    •    At least eight 8-ounce glasses of water or other fluids (avoid excessive caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, cola)

    Do not diet unless your obstetrician advises you to do so.  Our nutritional experts at our Wellness Center are also available to assist you with nutritional plans designed specifically for pregnant women.

    Can I exercise?

    Walking and swimming are good ways to get exercise while you are pregnant. Other sports, such as tennis and running, are fine, too, as long as you were used to them before you became pregnant and you avoid overexertion. Our fitness experts at our Wellness Center are also available to assist you with exercise programs designed specifically for pregnant women.

    Can I travel?

    Air travel is safe throughout an uncomplicated pregnancy. Make sure that you take frequent breaks at least every two hours to get up and walk around. While you are seated in a car or plane, always wear a seatbelt (fastened low and use a shoulder harness if ridig in a car).


    Is sex safe?

    Sexual intercourse is perfectly safe during an uncomplicated pregnancy.

    Are cats safe to keep in the house?

    Most obstetricians feel that pet cats are fine; however you should avoid cleaning out the litter box yourself because of the rare, but possible transmission of toxoplasmosis. Good hand washing is always recommended.


    What do I need to avoid?

    •    Smoking has been linked to premature births, low birth weights, and increased risk of miscarriages and stillbirths, and delayed mental and physical development. If you smoke, STOP

    •    Alcohol use is correlated with an increase risk of miscarriages and premature births. Heavy drinking is associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is a pattern of serious mental and physical defects. To be safe, avoid all alcohol until you discuss this with your doctor. Although it is possible that a safe level of alcohol intake may be safe, there is no known proven level that has been definitively shown to be safe

    •    Some fish may contain levels of mercury that could be harmful to a developing baby. Avoid swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish. Dairy products containing unpasteurized milk can make you sick when you're pregnant. Stay away from soft cheeses including brie, feta, camembert, blue-veined cheeses such as Roquefort, and Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco and queso de hoya

    •    Medications, including all over-the-counter remedies such as aspirin, cold medicines, nose sprays, douches, etc., should be avoided unless you ask your obstetrician first. An occasional Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches or pseudoephedrine for severe sinus congestion is permissible if necessary. Please refer to our expanded list of safe medications in your pregnancy handbook

    •    All illicit drugs should always be avoided

    •    X-rays may be used when medically indicated. A lead shield should be used to cover your abdomen and pelvis. Current airport scanning technology is believed to be safe

    •    Deet insect repellent is safe, and mosquito bites should be avoided to prevent transmission of Zika Virus which can be very dangerous to a developing pregnancy


    What symptoms might I expect early in the pregnancy?

     •    Morning sickness is the common name for nausea and vomiting of early pregnancy. More than half of all pregnant women report some kind of morning sickness. No one knows exactly why this happens, but hormonal and metabolic changes, digestive    troubles, and emotional factors all likely play a role. Most women have the symptoms only in the morning but some women have  it all day long or only later in the day. In most cases, eating crackers or dry popcorn can help. Avoid greasy foods and large amounts of fluids when nauseated. Also try eating smaller, more frequent meals. Contact your doctor if nausea and vomiting become severe or persist

    •    Frequent urination commonly occurs early on in pregnancy. It is probably caused by hormonal changes and, as the pregnancy progresses, by pressure on the bladder. Since urinary tract infections are also more common in pregnant women, be sure to let your doctor know if you have a burning sensation when urinating or feel as if you can't fully empty your bladder

    •    Constipation and hemorrhoids also occur early on in pregnancy. Try eating high fiber foods and lots of fluids to help soften your stools


    What are signs of trouble?

    If you develop pelvic or abdominal pain, or bleeding from the vagina, call your obstetrician immediately.


    You are starting out on a great adventure. Take care of yourself, relax, and enjoy this special time in your life. Good luck and congratulations!

    This document is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.


    © 2018 The General Hospital Corporation.

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