If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant, a lot of questions are probably running through your mind right now. It’s completely natural to have a long list of questions–especially if this is your first pregnancy. A number of significant changes take place within your body during this special time in your life, and some of those changes aren’t so easy and obvious to navigate on your own.
From the moment you find out you’re pregnant to the day you give birth, you’re going to need to know some very important things. A few of these things include what you should do and what you shouldn’t do while you’re carrying your baby, what symptoms to expect while you’re carrying your baby, and what steps you should take to ensure your baby is developing as healthily as possible. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to better understand how your life can continue as normal and what parts of your life will need to change.
Of course, there are some frequently asked questions almost all women ask about pregnancy. Which procedures to undergo, what the big no-nos are, what to expect from doctor’s appointments for the next nine months, and so on, are important topics to bring up with your doctor. We will us answer 10 of the most commonly asked questions about pregnancy to give you a head start on your journey.
What are the earliest signs that I’m expecting?
The most obvious sign that you’re pregnant is a late or missed period. However, there are other early signs that could indicate pregnancy. These include:
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Light spotting between menstrual cycles
- Food aversions and cravings
- Increased urination
- Mood swings
- How do I calculate my baby’s due date?
You can calculate your due date by adding 280 days, or 40 weeks, to the first day of your last menstrual cycle. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate, and due dates can vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors.
- Is it safe to have sex when pregnant?
Good news! Yes. Your amniotic sac and uterus muscles will protect your baby while a thick mucus plug that seals your cervix will protect the baby against any infection.
That said, as your pregnancy progresses, you may have to experiment to see what works best. For some women, sex simply isn’t comfortable toward the late stages of pregnancy. Do what feels right, and listen to your body.
- What should I expect from my first prenatal checkup?
A lot will happen at your first prenatal visit. Make sure you come prepared for a lengthy appointment that will include:
- A blood and urine test to confirm you are pregnant and estimate your due date
- A detailed review of your medical history
- A general physical health exam to examine your weight and blood pressure, as well as your heart, lung, pelvic, and breast health
- A blood test to check for things like anemia, existing STDs, and antibodies to rule out any genetic disorders (if any exist in your medical history)
- A pap smear and vaginal culture to check for vaginal infection and cervical cancer
- A urine test to check for infection, as well as to measure sugar and protein levels
- A detailed discussion about your nutrition and lifestyle, with time to answer any questions you might have about your pregnancy
- How important is it to take prenatal vitamins?
In a word, very. Beginning at the first trimester of your pregnancy, your baby will need different nutrients to ensure healthy development. Prenatal vitamins fill any gaps you may leave open from your daily diet. Prenatal vitamins contain a variety of vital vitamins and minerals including folic acid, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. When paired with a healthy diet, you’ll be able to meet all your baby’s nutritional needs.
- What can I do to prevent morning sickness?
Morning sickness is one of the most common, and dreaded, side effects of pregnancy. While you may not be able to prevent it 100% of the time, there are some things you can do to ease it.
- Instead of eating large meals a few times a day, eat small amounts throughout the day.
- Eat protein-rich foods.
- Try cold meals instead of hot meals.
- Keep a journal to monitor what you eat and when you have morning sickness. Use this information to adjust your diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Avoid strong smells and odors.
- How can I prevent stretch marks?
From the moment you find out you’re expecting, you need to adopt a moisturizing regimen. There are several stretch mark prevention creams and oils on the market–choose one and use it on the affected area twice a day. It can also help to exfoliate your stretch mark-prone areas once a week and massage your skin regularly.
- Which types of fitness activities are safe for pregnant women?
If your doctor gives you the OK, it’s a great idea to get some exercise throughout your pregnancy. Not only will it help with your overall wellness, but it can also help ease the common discomforts associated with pregnancy and help prepare you for labor and delivery. Some safe exercises you can do while pregnant include:
- Brisk walking
- Swimming and low-impact water aerobics
- Riding a stationary bike
- Yoga and pilates
- Strength training
- Why is my doctor screening me for gestational diabetes?
A gestational diabetes screening is a routine and very important part of your prenatal care. Every woman is tested for gestational diabetes at least once during her pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs when your body loses its sensitivity to insulin, which causes higher than normal blood sugar levels. This only occurs during pregnancy and typically goes away once you’ve delivered your baby.
- Do I need to be vaccinated against whooping cough?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all pregnant women should get vaccinated against whooping cough. Read more about the important vaccinations you should get when you’re pregnant in our article: TDAP During Pregnancy.