Frequently Asked Questions During Pregnancy

IMG_8070What medications or supplements are safe to take during pregnancy?

Medications cross the placenta and enter the baby’s bloodstream, so it is important to be mindful of the medications you are taking during pregnancy. Refer to our “Safe Medications” handout for a list of safe over-the-counter medications. Please inform us of medications and supplements you are taking or have taken earlier in your pregnancy so that your Women’s Care provider can discuss them with you.

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

You may travel by plane until you are close to delivery (35-36 weeks). On long flights, walk around the plane every few hours, stretch your legs, and make sure you are well-hydrated. After 36-38 weeks, it is more prudent to stay close to home unless there are extenuating circumstances. Most airlines will refuse you passage in your last month of pregnancy, unless you have a note from your doctor.

During a car trip, stop every couple of hours to walk and move around. Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt. Buckle the lap belt low on your hip bones, below your belly; never secure the lap belt across your belly.

Can I have dental work done while I am pregnant?

A dental exam early in pregnancy will help ensure your mouth stays healthy. When you visit the dentist, let them know you are pregnant. Dental x-rays with abdominal shielding and Novocain are safe during pregnancy. Most dental offices require a release from your physician; please let us know at least one week in advance of an upcoming appointment so we may provide the appropriate release.

When will I feel my baby move during my pregnancy?

Most women feel movement between 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. During the second half of pregnancy, your baby’s movements will become stronger and more active. If you notice any decrease in your baby’s movement, be sure to let us know right away.

Is it safe to paint while I am pregnant?

Avoid exposure to lead and oil-based paints. If you paint, use only latex paint in a well-ventilated area. Avoid exposure to paint removers, thinners and paintbrush cleaning solution.

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Can I have my hair colored, permed, or straightened while I am pregnant?

Hair treatments such as coloring, perms and straightening are found to be safe during pregnancy.

Are hot tubs, baths and saunas safe for me to use during my pregnancy?

A warm bath can be a safe and relaxing treat during pregnancy. However, it is not safe for you to become overheated in a hot tub, very hot bath, or sauna, so we recommend avoiding hot tubs during your pregnancy.

Can I have caffeine during my pregnancy?

Caffeine is found in coffee, cola, energy drinks, soft drinks, teas, and chocolate. At this time, there is no evidence that small amounts of caffeine are harmful to the fetus. We recommend limiting your caffeine intake to two (6 oz) caffeine drinks per day.

Is cigarette smoke harmful to my unborn baby?

Yes. If a woman smokes during pregnancy, her baby is exposed to harmful chemicals such as tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, a low birth weight baby, SIDS, and the likelihood of health problems during infancy. We strongly recommend that you quit smoking and avoid exposure to second hand smoke.

Learn more about tobacco alcohol and drug use in pregnancy.

Can I drink alcohol while I am pregnant?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it quickly reaches her fetus. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is in your baby’s blood. There is no known safe level of alcohol for a fetus. Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause problems for your unborn baby. The more a pregnant woman drinks, the greater the danger to her baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of miscarriage or a preterm delivery.

I have been exposed to Fifth disease (Parvovirus.) Should I be concerned?

Usually, there is no serious complication for a pregnant woman or her baby because of exposure to a person with Fifth disease. About 50% of women are already immune, and these women and their babies are protected from infection and illness. Sometimes, however, the virus can cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy or severe anemia in the fetus if later in pregnancy. There is no evidence that Fifth disease causes birth defects or mental retardation. If you have been in contact with someone who has Fifth disease, or if you have an illness that might be caused by Parvovirus, please contact us right away so we can determine if blood tests are needed.

Should I undergo genetic counseling and/or testing?

If your are 35 years of age or over at the time of delivery, or if you have a family history of birth defects, mental retardation, or certain medical conditions, we offer genetic counseling and genetic testing. Your physician can give you more information regarding these tests.

What is Quad Screen or Sequential Screen?

This maternal blood test screens for open neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida. It also provides information about the risk of Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Remember, this is only a screening tool, and if the results are positive, further diagnostic testing may be necessary. You can discuss these options with your Women’s Care provider. The Quad Screen is blood work (done on you) at 15-19 weeks. The Sequential Screen combines blood work and ultrasound measurements at 11-13 weeks with blood work at 15-19 weeks to provide a slightly more thorough analysis. Insurance coverage for these tests varies greatly. It is a good idea to call your insurance company to see what they provide and discuss these tests with your Women’s Care provider.

Learn more about screening for birth defects.

When will I have an ultrasound?

A routine ultrasound between 18-20 weeks is performed to make sure your baby is growing as it should, confirm your estimated due date, and screen for fetal abnormalities. The ultrasound also evaluates the position of the placenta, checks for opening or shortening of the cervix, determines the amount of amniotic fluid, and verifies whether you are carrying one baby or more. Depending on the baby’s positioning at the time of the ultrasound, it is possible to confirm your baby’s sex at this time. It is important to remember that this is a medical examination, and visitors should be limited. Please call the office to review recommendations for ultrasound attendees. In many cases, women need only one ultrasound examination, but for a variety of medical reasons, your doctor may order additional scans during your pregnancy.

What about cystic fibrosis screening?

You may discuss cystic fibrosis or other carrier testing screening with your Women’s Care provider. Please let your provider know if you have an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage as you may be at risk for other genetic diseases that should be screened. These screening tests can show whether your baby has an increased risk of inheriting one of these diseases.

Learn more about prenatal screening of cystic fibrosis.
Learn more about preconception carrier screening.

Are vaccines safe during pregnancy?

The flu vaccine is one that is proven to be safe during pregnancy. We strongly recommend that all women who will be pregnant during flu season (November-March) receive a flu vaccine. Vaccines to avoid are: MMR, chicken pox, and Lyme disease. Talk to your doctor before receiving any other type of vaccinations.

The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is also recommended during pregnancy. This decreases the likelihood that your baby will contract whooping cough in the first few months of life. It is recommended that all people who will care for the baby have a recent pertussis vaccination.

Can I videotape the birth of my baby?

It is the hospital’s policy not to allow video cameras of any sort in the delivery room. Videos may be taken after the birth if allowed by the staff and doctor. Cameras taking still photos may be used unless directed otherwise by the physician.

What do I do in an emergency?

A Women’s Care physician is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you with any emergent concerns. During regular office hours, please contact our office to speak with your specific doctor or assistant. If you have questions regarding an emergency, please call the office and connect with our after-hours service and on-call physician.

Is it safe to have sex while I am pregnant?

Unless otherwise instructed, you may continue to have intercourse until the onset of labor. Do not have intercourse if you have vaginal bleeding, if your water breaks or if you are being treated for premature labor.

What can I do to prevent stretch marks?

Stretch marks may appear on the belly, thighs, and breasts. Unfortunately, no lotions or creams prevent them.

Will I deliver on my due date?

The duration of the average pregnancy is 40 weeks (280 days). The emphasis is on the word “average.” Only about 4% of all women will actually deliver on their due date. However, over 90% will deliver within two weeks of that due date. If you should go more than one week past your due date, other tests may be performed. If this situation arises, it will be discussed with your doctor.

When should I take maternity leave?

You may continue your employment as long as you wish. Some women feel too tired and uncomfortable by the 38th week to carry on full-time employment. If you think you have an unusual occupation that may adversely affect your pregnancy, bring it to our attention early. Please check with your employer regarding your maternity leave benefits. Many women take advantage of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave allowed by the Family/Medical Leave Act.

Should I take a childbirth class?

We encourage you and your spouse or labor support person to enroll in a childbirth class. Information about locations and class times is available in our office. We offer free classes for our patients at both our Eugene and Springfield locations.

Click here to learn more about and register for newborn, breastfeeding and birth classes.

What are the fees for obstetrical care?

The fee schedule for obstetrical care will be discussed with you early in your pregnancy with the Patient Account Representatives in our office. Please remember that the hospital and pediatrician have a separate set of fees.

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

If you are the appropriate weight for your height and body build, you should gain between 15-40 pounds. Depending on your particular body type, weight recommendations may change. Please discuss these with your Women’s Care provider.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

We are frequently asked about exercise in pregnancy. For the mother, exercise has excellent physical and emotional benefits. Exercise will help you feel your best and remain healthy while your body rapidly changes. It can also help prepare you for labor and delivery. Women at risk of premature labor, growth restriction (decreased blood supply to the placenta), or other high-risk conditions should not exercise and will be reminded of this by their provider. Women who were in good shape prior to pregnancy may continue to work out at their previous levels, as it is rare for a fit woman to overheat while exercising. Based on this information, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends:

  • Continue mild to moderate exercise. Regular exercise (at least three times per week) is preferable to intermittent exercise.
  • Avoid exercise lying directly on your back after 12 weeks.
  • When exercising, make sure you drink lots of water and modify your exercise by how you feel.

Exercise Generally Considered Safe in Pregnancy includes:

  • Low Impact Aerobics/Pregnancy Fitness Classes
  • Cycling/Stationary Bike
  • Elliptical Machine, Treadmills
  • Jogging, Walking or a Day Hike
  • Swimming/Water Aerobics
  • Weight Training
  • Prenatal Yoga and Pilates

Learn more about exercise during pregnancy.

How can my partner be supportive and prepared throughout my pregnancy?

At Women’s Care, we welcome the support of partners, family, and friends during this special time. Partners or close support are welcome to attend our classes. Reading support materials is a good idea for them to be more involved.

Learn more about a father’s guide to pregnancy.