Especially if this is your first pregnancy, you probably have a million questions. Ask them! Don’t hesitate to get all the information you can out of your doctor or midwife. He or she is a professional and will be glad you want to know.
Here are a few of the most common questions, and a little information to get you started.
1. How Much Weight Should I Gain?
The answer is: enough, but not too much. You don’t want to become obese. Not only is the weight hard to lose afterward, but obesity puts you at increased risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and hypertension. It can even make delivery difficult.
It depends on your body mass index, but a woman of average weight should gain 25-35 pounds unless she’s having more than one baby! Also, your rate of gain will change over the pregnancy. During the first trimester, your baby hardly weighs anything, and you may have morning sickness, so you could even lose weight. Your doctor will calculate your BMI and monitor the progress of your weight gain along with other vitals.
2. What Should I Eat and Drink?
Your OB-GYN will look at your total health picture and help you choose a healthy diet for pregnancy. Ask your doctor if your weight is within healthy parameters, if you should reduce salt, and what your daily caloric intake should be. If you are taking prenatal vitamins and eating fresh vegetables, fruit, proteins, and healthy fats, you’ll be less likely to crave pickles and ice cream.
3. What Shouldn’t I Eat or Drink?
Advice changes; in the 1940’s pregnant women smoked, and British doctors advised a pint of dark beer for nursing mothers! Consider that everything you eat and drink goes into your baby.
Especially during the first trimester, avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, and of course, don’t smoke anything.
Avoid fried food, junk food, and preserved or smoked meats in large quantities. Ask your doctor to give you the facts about your weight and what you need to do to have a healthy pregnancy.
4. How Long Should I Work?
If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, there is no reason to stop working before your due date. If you get maternity leave, you may want to save that time for after the baby is born. However, you don’t have to work until the last minute. Who needs their water to break in the break room?
Discuss your work conditions with your doctor. He or she can tell you whether you can continue to work full time, or suggest reduced hours and accommodations, and can give you a written explanation for your employer.
5. What About My Prescriptions?
If you take prescription medications, ideally you should discuss this with your doctor before you get pregnant. Certain life-saving drugs can harm your baby.
The FDA categorizes medications according to the level of risk to pregnant women, so you can look it up yourself. If your medication is a category A, B, or even C, you’re probably OK. But if you depend on a class D or X medication, your doctor may be able to find an alternative for you.
6. What About Over the Counter Medicines?
Again, you can check the FDA list, but the short answer is, always ask your doctor. When in doubt, don’t take it, especially in the first trimester. There’s a short list of medications that most doctors say are fine, like Tylenol instead of NSAIDs or aspirin. Ask your doctor if he or she has a list of OTC medications you can take for common ailments during your pregnancy.
7. What is a Birth Plan and Do I Need One?
Birth plans list everything you want the people around you to know about you and your preferences during and after labor. Some entries are for your partner and family, and some are for medical personnel. You can decide about labor assistance, medical interventions, pain management, and even where your partner stands!
Write your birth plan 6-8 weeks before your due date, so you have time to discuss it with your family, partner, doctor, and/or midwife. You can find plenty of templates online, but don’t let their suggestions drive what you decide for your birth plan. You can always change your mind, so don’t worry about the details too much.
8. Changes and Symptoms to Expect During Pregnancy: When Should I Worry?
If this is your first pregnancy, the changes you experience during pregnancy may be alarming. Most of these are normal, but severe headaches, blurry vision, vomiting, swelling hands and feet, rapid weight gain, cramping, or bleeding could signal a problem. If your baby is kicking less than usual, your doctor may ask you to count the kicks. If you are worried, go ahead and call.
9. Who will Deliver the Baby if My Doctor/Midwife isn’t Available?
If your doctor or midwife has an emergency and can’t be there for you, he or she has an alternate lined up. Some birth centers also work according to schedules, so you could just get whoever’s on call. Discuss this with your doctor or midwife and try to meet that person ahead of time, just in case. Your written birth plan will be useful to get them up to speed in a hurry!
10. What Will I Feel Like After Childbirth?
It’s normal to be sore and tired, but watch out for excessive bleeding, chest pain, severe headaches, and feelings of despair and anxiety, called Post Partum Depression. If your symptoms are severe, call 911.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now advises more ongoing postpartum care than in the past. Make sure you have good contact information for your doctor and/or midwife, and follow up on all your postpartum checkups. Consider hiring a doula, who will provide physical and emotional support during the weeks following delivery.
We hope these questions will be a good start for you. Just remember, nothing is as important as your health and the health of your baby. Part of that is your emotional health. Surround yourself with love, relax, and enjoy your pregnancy.
Breathnach, T. (2019, March 26). How to write a birth plan: Birth plan template. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.madeformums.com/pregnancy/writing-your-birth-plan/
Kate Marple|Medically reviewed by Rae Cherng, M. (2020). Pregnancy symptoms you should never ignore. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-body/pregnancy-symptoms-you-should-never-ignore_1622
Krebsbach, L., MD. (2018, August 09). Is it safe to work up until my due date? Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://news.sanfordhealth.org/womens/can-i-work-up-until-my-due-date/
Rasminsky, A. (2018, July 31). Timeline of Postpartum Recovery. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/postpartum-recovery-timeline
Your Postpartum Checkups. (2020). Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/your-postpartum-checkups.aspx