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Most Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy

By Emily Lockhart

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Andrea Eisenberg, MD

Pregnancy, especially if it is your first, is jam-packed full of weird and wonderful changes occurring within your body. It’s no wonder questions arise!

That’s why we’d like to put the minds of expectant moms at ease by addressing the nine most frequently asked questions about pregnancy. And, of course, answering those questions as best as we can…

What Are The Earliest Signs of Pregnancy?

Wondering if you’re pregnant? A pregnancy test is the way to know for sure. But what if it’s too soon for accurate results? You may notice some subtle signs of pregnancy—fatigue, nausea, frequent urination, aversions to foods that you normally love, morning sickness, breast swelling and tenderness, and a missed period if you are very regular with menstruation.

How Do I Calculate My Baby’s Due Date?

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now how do you know when you can expect your baby? The average pregnancy lasts 280 days from the last menstrual period, or more precisely, 266 days following your last ovulation cycle (or approximately 40 weeks). Remember this will be an estimate and not a definite certainty.

A quick trick to estimate your due date is to subtract 3 months, then add a week to the first day of your last menstrual period. If your period is regularly every 4 weeks, this should be a fairly accurate estimate.

Is It Safe to Have Sex When Pregnant?

Typically, sex is perfectly safe in pregnancy—right up until delivery. So put aside your fears that intercourse will hurt your baby. The amniotic sac, the uterus, and the mucus plug in the cervix all provide strong protection your baby.

However, there some instances where your doctor may tell you to abstain from intercourse altogether while pregnant, such as if you risk premature labor, or if you suffer from placenta previa (the placenta is too close to the cervix), or vaginal bleeding.

What Should I Expect From My First Prenatal Checkup?

  • A lot will happen at your first prenatal visit and it’s best to be ready for a lengthy appointment that will include the following:
  • A blood and urine test to confirm you are pregnant and estimate your due date
  • A detailed medical history review
  • A general physical health exam to examine weight, blood pressure, heart, lung, pelvic, and breast, health
  • A blood test to check for things like anemia, existing STDs, and genes to rule out any genetic disorders (if it’s in your medical history)
  • A pap smear and culture to check for vaginal infection and cervical cancer
  • A urine test to check for infection, as well as measure sugar and protein levels
  • A discussion about your nutrition and lifestyle, and to answer any questions you might have about your pregnancy

How Important Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are vital in the wake of the increased demands of pregnancy. Growing a new person isn’t easy on your body, and you will require additional vitamins and minerals in your diet—like folic acid, calcium, and iron—for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Rather than just selecting a prenatal vitamin yourself, talk to your doctor or midwife about if you need a special formulation (i.e., in cases of anemia or nutritional deficiencies), and if a tablet, capsule, or liquid prenatal vitamin will work most efficiently.

What Can I Do To Prevent Heartburn?

Heartburn plagues most expecting women due to a growing uterus and progesterone, a hormone that relaxes muscles (including the stomach valve) to ready the body for pregnancy—both allowing acid into the esophagus.

However, you can use certain tricks, such as eating smaller and more frequent meals, taking a walk after meals, keeping the head and chest elevated while you sleep, wearing loose clothing, sipping ginger root tea, and taking antacids to alleviate indigestion and gas.

How Can I Prevent Stretch Marks?

Approximately 90-percent of pregnant women develop stretch marks as their body grows during pregnancy on the stomach, thighs, buttocks, and breasts. You don’t have to be in the majority! You can do your part to prevent stretch marks by drinking lots of water to keep skin hydrated, by massaging your skin daily with a moisturizer or oil that’s high in vitamin A and vitamin E (i.e., cocoa butter) to prevent stretch marks, and increase circulation and tissue repair; and by consuming a diet that’s rich in skin-supporting vitamins—E, C, A, and zinc.

What Types of Fitness Activities Are Safe For Pregnant Women?

You no longer have to swear off exercise during your pregnancy. There are ways to stay active, fit, and safe while you await the arrival of your little bundle of joy. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, gentle, low impact exercise—such as low gravity swimming, aqua aerobics, walking, jogging (if you did it before your pregnancy), yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and dance are all totally safe.

Just steer clear of activities with jumping or shaking movements, or contact sports that pose fall, collision, or injury risks.

Why Is My Doctor Screening For Gestational Diabetes?

Many doctors do routine tests for gestational diabetes for pregnant women who are older than 25-years-old, have a family history or ethnicity that is prone to the condition, are obese, have delivered a baby over 9-pounds in weight, or have had a previous instance of gestational diabetes with another pregnancy.

The condition affects approximately 10-percent of all pregnancies and is caused by hormonal shifts that lead to glucose intolerance that can affect both mom and baby—just while pregnant.

MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Andrea Eisenberg, MD is a board certified OB/GYN in the Metro Detroit area. She has dedicated her life to caring for women through all stages of their lives -- from adolescence, to delivering babies, and later into menopause. Her special interests include minimally invasive surgeries, adolescence, family planning, infertility, and menopause. In her spare time she writes about the human side of medicine on her blog and has several essays published in a variety of journals. To decompress, she enjoys trail running and baking.

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