Pregnancy FAQ

What can I do to relieve constipation?

At least half of all pregnant women seem to have problems with constipation. One reason for this may be changes in hormones that slow the movement of food through the digestive tract. Sometimes iron supplements may also cause constipation.

During the last part of pregnancy, pressure on your rectum from your uterus may add to the problem. Here are some suggestions that may help:

  • Drink plenty of liquids – at least 6-8 glasses of water each day, including 1-2 glasses of fruit juice such as prune juice.

  • Liquids (such as coffee, tea and cola) which make you go to the bathroom should not be consumed. They will tend to create a negative water balance in your body and thus make your stools harder and more difficult to pass.

  • Eat food high in fiber, such as raw fruits and vegetables and bran cereals.

  • Exercise daily – walking is a good form of exercise. If those forms of treatment are not successful, you might consider skipping your prenatal vitamin for a few days, and adding a daily dose of Milk of Magnesia until regular again.

  • The iron in the prenatal vitamin worsens constipation.

  • If there is a boulder at the opening that you can't pass, then probably the best bet is the use of a disposable enema or a glycerin suppository. The enemas come in water and oil retention. The longer you hold them the better they will work. (sounds gross, eh? Not to the desperate.)
Pregnancy FAQ

May I travel during pregnancy?

Most women can travel safely until close to their due date. For most women, the most comfortable time to travel is in the middle of pregnancy. Problems are least likely to happen during this time. During pregnancy, many women have concerns about seat belts. There is no question that you are much better off wearing your seat belt during pregnancy.

The baby is very well protected in the uterus from trauma, but car accidents are the most common source of trauma during pregnancy. The most common reason for fetal death is maternal death, and maternal death is much less likely in mothers who wear seat belts. Both lap and shoulder belts should be worn at all times. The lap belt should be worn low on the hips, not over the uterus. Also remember that after delivery, an approved car seat must be in you car in order to take your baby home from the hospital. We recommend you not sit with your legs crossed and that you get out to walk every two hours.

People also have concerns about flying during pregnancy. In general, there does not seem to be an increased risk for women who fly during pregnancy. Any woman who sits for long periods of time without getting up for a walk is at risk for developing a blood clot in her legs. For this reason, on flights over two hours, you should get up, stretch your legs, and take a walk up and down the aisle. Because of this, an aisle seat is usually advisable.

Our office recommends that patients do not travel at all in their ninth month, and restrict travel to within two to three hours from home during their eighth month.

Pregnancy FAQ

Are saunas, hot tubs, and tanning booths safe during pregnancy?

The use of saunas, hot tubs, and tanning booths is not recommended in pregnancy. The extreme temperature could potentially damage the developing baby. Extremely hot baths are not recommended during pregnancy. Bath temperatures should be below 100 ° Fahrenheit.

Pregnancy FAQ

Is it safe to exercise and continue work during pregnancy?

Exercise can help strengthen muscles used in labor and delivery and lessen some of the discomforts of pregnancy. It may give you more energy and make you feel better. The type of exercise you can do during pregnancy depends on your health and how active you were before you became pregnant.

This is not a good time to take up a new, hard sport. If you were active before, you can continue to be within reason. If, for example, you play tennis, you can still play unless you have special problems or feel very tired. A good "rule of thumb" is to limit exertion to about 2/3 of what you could do before pregnancy.

Most of the time, a healthy woman with no complications in her pregnancy can keep working until the end of her pregnancy. Some may need to make some changes. If you are experiencing problems that you feel may be related to your job, please discuss this at one of your office appointments.

Your family should be able to help you at home as fatigue increases at the end of your pregnancy.

Pregnancy FAQ

Is it normal for swelling to occur?

A certain amount of swelling (called edema) is normal during pregnancy. It occurs most often in the legs. Elevating the legs usually makes the swelling less by the next morning. Swelling can begin during the last few months of pregnancy, and it may occur more often in the summer.

Let your doctor or nurse know if you have swelling in your hands or face, because this may be a sign of another problem. A clue that your hands are swollen is that your rings are too tight. Never take medications (water pills) for swelling unless they have been prescribed for you.

  • Elevate you legs when possible.
  • Rest in bed on your side.
  • Lie down with your legs raised on a small footstool or several pillows.
  • Do not wear stockings or socks that have a tight band of elastic around the legs.
  • If you must sit a lot on the job, stand up and move around from time to time.
  • Try not to stand still for long periods of time.
Pregnancy FAQ

What can I do for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy?

The following suggestions may be useful in relieving nausea and vomiting:

  • Remember, "any calorie is a good calorie" so eat what stays down for you.
  • Foods may not be well tolerated include greasy or fried foods, as they take longer to leave the stomach or very sweet foods or spicy hot foods or foods with strong odors.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals, that is six small meals and snacks.
  • Drink fluids between meals, not with meals.
  • Eat foods that are at room temperature or cooler. Hot foods may trigger nausea.
  • Drink beverages chilled or cold. Decaffeinated soda is often well tolerated. Don't opt for diet soda, you need the calories right now.
  • Eat slowly and rest after meals. It is best to rest sitting in an upright position for about one hour after eating.
  • Dry toast, soda crackers, or dry pre-sweetened cereals may relieve periods of nausea.
  • Keep track of when you feel nausea and what causes it.
  • If continued vomiting occurs, do not eat or drink anything until the vomiting has stopped. As you feel better, try some small amounts of clear liquids (broth, Jello, apple, grape, or cranberry juice, and/or popsicles.)
  • Tart or salty foods such as lemons or pickles may help decrease nausea.
  • Avoid mixing hot and cold foods at a meal, as it may stimulate nausea.
  • Ask your doctor about medicine to control nausea.
  • Avoid eating in a room that is stuffy, too warm, or has cooking smells/odors that may disagree with you.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.
  • To avoid the sight/smell of foods, eat meals out or have others bring prepared food to you.
  • Call your doctor if you are unable to keep anything down for more than two days or fainting or vomiting blood or rib pain or Jaundice (skin is greenish or yellow) or your weight drops more than five pounds within a week.
Pregnancy FAQ

Will I have a miscarriage?

When bleeding happens, it is frightening. "Am I losing the baby?" is bound to be the biggest fear in early pregnancy. Bleeding in early pregnancy does not usually mean miscarriage, but it can be one of the early signs that the pregnancy is not going well. "How can I tell what is going to happen?" There are two different ways to investigate bleeding in early pregnancy.

When bleeding happens very early, hormone levels can be measured and followed to help determine if things are going well. HCG and Progesterone levels can be checked in your blood, and if the level of progesterone and the increase in HCG levels is normal, your pregnancy is probably doing well. HCG levels in early pregnancy should double about every three days. "When can we see the baby on sonogram?" The pregnancy sac can be seen before the baby.

When HCG levels are greater than 1500, Dr. Daum should be able to see the sac with transvaginal sonograms. If the sac is not visible at this hormone level, the possibility of an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy must be considered. If the sac is seen in the uterus, the baby and a heartbeat should be able to be seen by about 6 1/2 weeks from the last period. Seeing the heartbeat usually means that things will be OK. "How will I know the danger is over?" When the baby's heartbeat is seen, everyone can breathe a little easier. Miscarriages usually happen before 10 weeks of pregnancy, and are very unusual after 12 weeks.

When bleeding happens and the heartbeat is there, more frequent sonograms may be done to make sure the baby is growing normally. When bleeding stops and the pregnancy reaches 9 to 10 weeks, usually the danger is past. "Why do miscarriages happen?" Most early miscarriages happen because something went wrong with the combination of the sperm and the egg.

The majority of first trimester miscarriages contained an abnormal number of chromosomes. Normal pregnancies have 46, but miscarried pregnancies may have 45, 47, broken chromosomes, or completely duplicated sets. Health problems and severe illness can be related to miscarriage, but are not common. Most losses are random events and not related to your feelings, stress, or physical activity.

Unless you have had multiple miscarriages in a row, your risk of miscarriage in your next pregnancy should not increase. Have faith, things should go well next time.

Pregnancy FAQ

Am I in labor?

For women at term deciding when to go the hospital is not always easy. Sometimes it will seem like labor and next thing you know you have been sent back home. Many times these frustrations are unavoidable. It can be difficult to tell whether labor is true or false labor.

Your goal should be to get to the hospital when labor is advanced enough that your cervix will be dilating. If you are observed for several hours and your cervix doesn't change, you may be sedated and sent back home to wait. If this happens it doesn't mean you're not in early labor, and it certainly doesn't mean you're not in pain. It probably means you are still in prodromal labor, and that more time is needed to enter active phase labor.

In general, 5:1:1 is an easy rule to remember. Your contractions should be 5 minutes apart (or closer), lasting for 1 minute, for 1 hour of timing. If you make all three of these criteria you will probably be in early labor. Don't worry too much about not getting there in time. Most women will have contractions as close as 2 minutes apart as they enter the advanced stages of labor.

If your water breaks, well, the 5:1:1 rule doesn't apply. Within a reasonable period of time you should go to the hospital. What is a reasonable period of time? Within a few hours. Don't stay at home for long periods of time waiting for contractions. If you aren't sure what to do, call Dr. Daum, M.D. He will help you decide how to proceed.

Dr. Paul Daum, M.D. Provides Complete OB/GYN Services

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